Vietnam

How a patch of ground forged a man’s future, stole a part of his soul, and gave it back to him 30 years later

A tantalizing archival discovery suggests the perils of historical evidence

FOR MORE THAN A DECADE NOW, TENS OF THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS HAVE BEEN LEAVING LETTERS AND SNAPSHOTS, CIGARETTES AND CLOTHING AND BEER FOR THEIR FRIENDS, LOVERS, AND PARENTS WHO NEVER MADE IT BACK FROM VIETNAM

The faces of the American Dead in Vietnam” was Life magazine’s cover story on June 27, 1969. Photographs and brief biographies of the 242 Americans killed in action during one week, from May 28 to June 3, marched on for pages. Read more >>
It is dawn in Washington as Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, walks quickly from his helicopter at Andrews Air Force Base to board the jet bound for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Waiting for him there is a classroom full of the Army’s most successful and promising officers, colonels, and lieutenant colonels newly chosen to command brigades and battalions. Some of these officers will have fought in Grenada, in Panama, in the Gulf War, or all three. It is possible they will have to lead their soldiers in some other conflict before they leave command. Sullivan wants them to know who leads them. Read more >>

Jack Kennedy came into the White House determined to dismantle his Republican predecessor’s rigid, formal staff organization in favor of a spontaneous, flexible, hands-on management style. Thirty years Bill Clinton seems determined to do the same thing. He would do well to remember that what it got JFK was the Bay of Pigs and the Vietnam War.

In early October of 1963, Rep. Clement Zablocki, a Wisconsin Democrat, led a House Foreign Affairs Committee fact-finding delegation to South Vietnam. Invited to the White House when he returned, Zablocki told President John F. Read more >>

Jan Wollett found herself on the last flight of refugees out of a crumbling Da Nang in 1975

Early in 1973 a woman named Jan Wollett applied for a job as a flight attendant with World Airways, based in Oakland, California. Read more >>

A civilian adventurer gave us the best artist’s record of America in Vietnam.

He didn’t want the job but felt he should do it. For the first time, the soldier who tracked down the My Lai story for the office of the inspector general in 1969 tells what it was like to do some of this era’s grimmest detective work.

In the early spring of 1969 I was an Army colonel recently assigned to the office of the inspector general in Washington, and I was not particularly happy about it; I have always disliked living in Washington, and I think that most infantry officers would rat Read more >>
I was saddened by the responses of so many eminent Americans when asked “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?” Myths about the nature of U.S. involvement predominate and cloud the real lessons that must be learned if we are to avoid another such tragedy. Read more >>

That was the question an Oklahoma high school teacher sent out in a handwritten note to men and women who had been prominent movers or observers during the Vietnam War. Politicians and journalists and generals and combat veterans answered him. Secretaries of Defense answered him. Presidents answered him. Taken together, the answers form a powerful and moving record of the national conscience.

Last year my principal and friend, Rick Elliott, told me that he wanted the Vietnam War to be covered more thoroughly than it had been in the social studies classes at our junior high school in Pryor, Oklahoma. Read more >>

After a year at the University of Missouri boning up on American history, a Chinese professor tells what she discovered about us and how she imparts her new knowledge to the folks back home in the People’s Republic.

In my mind, my life has been very uneventful. Read more >>

The first major engagement of the U. S. Army in Vietnam was a decisive American victory. Perhaps it would have been better for all of us if it had been a defeat.

ALTHOUGH IT HAS been almost thirty years since the beginning of our military involvement in Vietnam and almost twenty years since American ground combat forces were committed to battle there, many still find the Vietnam War difficult to un Read more >>

LBJ AND VIETNAM

He was an old-fashioned man by the purest definition. Forget that he was enamored of twentieth-century artifacts—the telephone, television, supersonic airplanes, spacecraft—to which he adapted with a child’s wondering glee. Read more >>