The Patriot Files Forums  

Go Back   The Patriot Files Forums > Conflict posts > Vietnam

Post New Thread  Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-29-2023, 06:13 AM
Boats's Avatar
Boats Boats is offline
Senior Member
 

Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sauk Village, IL
Posts: 21,737
Arrow This Vietnam War Veterans Day, these two Navy veterans remember the real final battle

This Vietnam War Veterans Day, these two Navy veterans remember the real final battle, and rescue
By: Erick Peterson - DailyHeard News - 03-29-23 5am
Re: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/202...tle-and-rescue

Photo link: https://www.dailyherald.com/storyima...&noborder&Q=70
Sten Johnson of Woodstock, in the water, rescues a wounded Marine from the waters off Cambodia's Kho Tang island during the Mayaguez incident in May 1975 -- the last battle of the Vietnam War. Courtesy of Wayne Stewart

On Wednesday the nation recognizes Vietnam War Veterans Day on the 50th anniversary of the end of ground operations in the war. But two local Navy veterans are among those with experience in the war who say the final battle came nearly 26 months later.

Sten Johnson of Woodstock was an electrician aboard the U.S.S. Henry B. Wilson in May 1975 when he jumped into the water near the Cambodian island of Koh Tang to help rescue Marines whose helicopters had been shot down during a fierce firefight with Cambodia's Khmer Rouge. The Cambodians had seized the American merchant vessel S.S. Mayaguez and its crew of 39 in disputed waters, leading President Gerald R. Ford to order a massive rescue mission.

A U.S. Navy ship found the Mayaguez abandoned, and military officials incorrectly believed its crew members were in captivity on Koh Tang. A U.S. aerial attack and land invasion of the island failed to locate the crew members.

But the Henry B. Wilson, which was supposed to assist with the attack, found the Mayaguez crew on a crowded Thai fishing boat. The merchant sailors had been set free on the vessel.

Telling the tale

Art Ellingsen of Arlington Heights had left the Henry B. Wilson nearly three years earlier but found himself a sought-after interview by broadcast media in central Illinois in the aftermath of the Mayaguez incident.

"They wanted someone who had been on the Wilson," he said, remembering he was asked to wear something with the ship's name on it.

The successful -- but costly -- rescue operation became a morale boost for American efforts and Ford's presidency just weeks after the dispiriting fall of Saigon.

In addition to being commander and chaplain of American Legion Post 216 in Elk Grove Village, Ellingsen has become something of a historian of the incident and the entire service life of the Henry B. Wilson.

Honoring the veterans
This year's Vietnam War Veterans Day marks 50 years since U.S. ground operations ended on March 29, 1973, halting the long warfare in the Southeast Asian country. But as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington attests, American involvement in combat in the region lasted another 26 months. The Mayaguez incident sparked the final battle.

The military fatalities that ensued are the last 41 names on the D.C. memorial -- 25 Air Force pilots and crew members, two Navy corpsmen and 14 Marines lost during the ground and air attack.

That list of names almost certainly would have been longer if it had not been for the intervention of the Henry B. Wilson and the direct actions of crew members like Johnson, said the ship's then-photographer Wayne Stewart of Spokane, Washington.

2nd photo link: https://www.dailyherald.com/storyima...&noborder&Q=80
Sten Johnson of Woodstock, bottom, while a crew member of the U.S.S. Henry B. Wilson, rescues a wounded Marine from the waters off Cambodia's Kho Tang island during the Mayaguez incident in May 1975 -- the last battle of the Vietnam War. - Courtesy of Wayne Stewart

He recalled there being eight to 10 Marines rescued.

"The Marines were pretty well exhausted," Stewart said. "They had been in the water for some time."

The Wilson had been at the evacuation of Saigon in late April 1975. But the ship was already up by Taiwan when it received the call to respond to the capture of the Mayaguez, Johnson recalled.

Apart from having to refuel and resupply in the Philippines, it rushed to Kho Tang island, where faulty intelligence believed the Mayaguez crew was being held.

The Wilson had acquired a firefighter's reputation for responding to any emergency where it could help. It had armaments that made it rare for the crew to be concerned about its own safety, Johnson said.

"It really had a record for pounding and destroying," he said. "I wasn't worried about a thing."

Johnson's responsibility was to repair any fault or damage to the ship to keep it operating at maximum efficiency during any battle.

He expected to spend the entirety of the mission deep inside the Wilson. But when he heard about the number of downed and injured Marines in the water, he believed their rescue was beyond the ability of the ship's single certified rescue swimmer and sought out the executive officer.

"I said, 'XO, I want to go after them,'" Johnson recalled.

3rd photo link: https://www.dailyherald.com/storyima...&noborder&Q=80
The Thai fishing boat with the released crew of the S.S. Mayaguez aboard as it was discovered by the U.S.S. Henry B. Wilson during the rescue mission for the captured U.S. merchant vessel and its crew off the coast of Cambodia in May 1975. - Courtesy of Wayne Stewart

The officer immediately asked him if he was qualified. Johnson replied that he wouldn't be volunteering if he couldn't swim.

Among the injuries of the Marines he encountered in the water were second- and third-degree burns from the explosion of their helicopters by missile strikes.

Stewart said a ship like the Wilson would normally have tried to soften up enemy ground forces before such a Marine invasion but couldn't get there before the go-ahead to begin the land and helicopter assault.

Though Johnson has to think hard about whether there was any connection between his actions that day and his later becoming a part-time firefighter in Crystal Lake, he believes both decisions were simply following the call of the right thing to do.

"At the time, I never even thought about it," he said. "When I look back at it, I did my time in the Navy, and I was always proud of my time in the Navy. ... A lot of people that didn't serve really don't understand what people gave up when they served."

Vietnam War Veterans Day
Vietnam War Veterans Day officially was recognized only six years ago. But while most veterans agree it's a positive development to receive such recognition at all, Ellingsen says the date could have been better chosen.

While March 29, 1973, may have more meaning to the ground-based Army forces that got to leave that day, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has included the fallen up to May 1975, Ellingsen noted.

Johnson said he believes Vietnam War veterans didn't begin to share the respect other veterans received until Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Ellingsen said he didn't feel that was true until after 9/11, a decade later.

Johnson said Vietnam War Veterans Day is probably best observed by remembering the good days, the bad days and those who gave all they had.
"When I think about it," he said, "I think, 'Thank God it's over.'"
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Personal note: Never say never! One reacts by instinct and an internal power of
an unknown realm - comes out of each of us - at certain times. To see your mates
in trouble is the trigger to do whatever is needed at that moment. You'd be
surprised how many times people do this. No thanks needed to most - it just
happens - without regards of personal thought or personal harm. I call it a gift
of sorts - to do something at that very moment - say's it wasn't his or her time
to be seriously injured or killed. Believe me - everyone at one time or another
will have this happen - to him or her. It's just so spontaneous you just react!
-
__________________
Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
sendpm.gif Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 03-29-2023, 07:04 AM
Boats's Avatar
Boats Boats is offline
Senior Member
 

Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sauk Village, IL
Posts: 21,737
Arrow U.S. troops left Vietnam 50 years ago: Here are 3 key questions American defense lead

U.S. troops left Vietnam 50 years ago: Here are 3 key questions American defense leaders must ask today
BY BILL RIVERS, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 03/29/23 8:30 AM ET
Re: https://thehill.com/opinion/national...ust-ask-today/

PHoto link: https://thehill.com/wp-content/uploa...6&h=493&crop=1

Note: U.S. military personnel left Vietnam 50 years ago this week.

America’s two decades of involvement wouldn’t officially end until 20 months later, when the last civilian advisors from the most powerful country on earth were airlifted from the roof of their embassy in Saigon, literally chased out of the country by communists.

Numbers alone fail to capture the war’s true cost to the United States. Still, we must look: 1 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars; 150,000 wounded; more than 58,000 Americans killed.

Fast forward now to the present era, and the U.S.-Vietnam relationship is dramatically different. Vietnam was America’s 10th largest goods trading partner in 2020. According to the Department of Commerce, that same year, U.S. goods exports to Vietnam were nearly $10 billion, up 270 percent from the a decade prior. Today, Vietnam is a top ten market for U.S. food and agricultural products.

On the security front, in stark contrast to the 1960s and 1970s, Vietnam now seeks to bring America into southeast Asia — to counterbalance China. One salient example among many: In 2018, Vietnam issued an unprecedented invitation to U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to make a port visit to Cam Ranh Bay — the first since the war ended in 1975.

And while the partnership between Hanoi and Washington has endured several recent missteps, that any partnership exists at all would have been unimaginable to the men fighting in the cities, jungles, and rice paddies 50 years ago.

Viewing the sacrifices of those men through the lens of today’s near-complete reversal of the strategic situation, perhaps it is only natural to ask now, five decades later, a hard question: “Was the war worth it?”

The answer depends on how we read history.

Two general camps can be described.

For the first camp, the answer is a clear “no.” While honoring the service of those who fought and died in Vietnam, the key lesson, they argue, is to remember how the dominos didn’t fall after U.S. military forces left in 1973. All of Southeast Asia didn’t turn communist. Decision-makers in the U.S. national security firmament should have given more than short shrift to inconvenient reports that contradicted calls for American involvement, like, for example, the 1964 National Board of Estimates report commissioned by the CIA, which concluded Domino Theory was flawed; “a continuation of the spread of Communism in the area would not be inexorable” should Vietnam fall.

For the first camp, the primary rationale for engagement was proved false. For them, the war was terrible mistake.

The second camp holds that while deeply painful and divisive, the war nevertheless bought strategic time for countries across Asia, newly emergent from colonialism, to develop the institutions and civil society they lacked and so avoid falling to communism.

For this camp, the dominoes stayed standing precisely because America sacrificed so many of her sons in Vietnam. America drew the fire, demanding resources and attention from regional communists and their Soviet backers. Those other nations were able to develop free economies which eventually became markets for American farmers and manufacturers. They also developed more or less open democratic societies with whom the United States could work on the international scene to ensure more favorable conditions for American interests. The primary rationale for fighting in Vietnam was to signal western resolve, both to friends and foes alike.

This camp answers that the war was indeed worth it — and believes that millions of free people across Asia would agree.

Which camp is right?

In philosophy, counter-factual hypotheticals hold no truth value — they are neither right nor wrong. If this holds for both politics and war, then, because the dominoes didn’t fall, we must ask different questions.

Here are three questions that national security deciders, from the E-Ring of the Pentagon to the West Wing of the White House, should consider as they assess the complicated international security landscape 50 years after American soldiers departed Vietnam:

First, are we as a people — all 330 million or so of us, with all our divergent opinions, economic needs and aspirations, and beliefs about America’s role in the world — willing to resource the military arm of a fight commensurate with our political objectives?

If we are not, then the political objectives must be scaled back. This requires something more than just appetite-control; it requires statesmanship — both in dealings in foreign capitals and in committee hearing rooms at home. Americans are still capable of this. They must remember it — and act accordingly.

Second, what consequences will foreign action have at home?

The war may have bought time for Asian countries to develop institutions and grow societal connective tissue, but it cost a rising generation of Americans their trust in their nation’s institutions and tore painfully at their social fabric. Amid the cultural chaos of the 1960s — including racial strife, assassinations, and bitterly contentious elections — the war deepened a divide, opening fault-lines within families, something I explore in my novel of the Vietnam War era “Last Summer Boys.”

On the economic front, it has been argued the billions spent on the war drove the inflation of the 1970s — which carried tectonic consequences all its own.

Walking by history’s lamp-light, today’s decision-makers must assess the impact of foreign intervention on the home-front. One area especially worth considering amid the current recruitment crisis is the impact on attitudes towards America’s military itself.

A the third and final question: How can we be worthy of the sacrifice?

Over nearly 20 years, what began with a few hundred “military advisors” under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy swelled into a bitter contest that would see more than 2.5 million American service members deployed in-country over the course of America’s involvement in the conflict.

Honoring the courage and sacrifice of America’s Vietnam War veterans means being better leaders for the young men and women serving today. And this means being exceptionally careful about committing America’s warriors to a fight.

The world is a far, far better place when Americans hold the preponderance of hard power. It is better still if their leaders use it only in gravest need, after sober analysis of their people’s true national interest. Because, when lawfully ordered, America’s men and women in uniform will unleash devastating power against the country’s enemies. And they will do so at enormous personal sacrifice.

This is the most important question of all, and the true test of whether America gets Vietnam right. It may be 50 years late.

Better late than never.

Bill Rivers served as speechwriter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis from 2017-19. He is a fellow at the Yorktown Institute and the author of “Last Summer Boys,” an Amazon Kindle #1 bestseller in historical fiction.

TAGS: AFTERMATH OF THE VIETNAM WAR COMMUNISM DOMINO THEORY INFLATION MILITARY RECRUITMENT MILITARY STRATEGY POLITICS OF VIETNAM STATESMANSHIP US MILITARY VIETNAM VIETNAM WAR
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Personal note: I was there in 65 & 67 - I lost my Brother to AO and my five friends from the neighborhood. And George Yocum my best friend three houses down from
ours. Six more guys from the neighborhood all wounded or died from AO.
-
Since then we've been waring all around the globe and many more have died
in vain it seems for those Nations who continued to operate in their nations.
-
Why we are Big Brother to all these 3rd world nations is beyond me. But we
do! We still do to this very day - back and forth - we're in we pull out and
we go back in again and again. It makes no sense to me the People lack
the will and sacrifice's needed to remove those Leader's.
-
NATO itself must also stand up in the world today. Though they limit their
boots on the ground and backs off if it gets hit too hard. Stay the Course
is rare on NATO - they don't want to spend the money nor do they want
to loose their men and women to these nations who have no backbone
to fix and/or amend their internal issues at hand.
-
Now we got the crazies running around building nukes and threatening
a Nuclear War. Mankind is its own worst enemy. They just can't get
along or its People lack the will to removed these thugs and emper's
and/or religious zealous who mistreat their own people.
-
Yes - the US has its own internal issues to resolve - but being the
Big Brother to World - is getting really old.
-
__________________
Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
sendpm.gif Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:35 AM.


Powered by vBulletin, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.