Musings on the Diem Coup

 

Fascinating memo dictated by President Kennedy on the Diem Coup on November 4, 1963.  Kennedy expresses regret about the coup.  His analysis of it, and its likely effects, is impressive.  Not so impressive is Kennedy allowing an action to take place which he had such misgivings about.  What Kennedy would have done about Vietnam, if he had not been assassinated eighteen days after he dictated the memo, is one of the great what ifs of post World War II American history.

Published in: on March 31, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Musings on the Diem Coup  
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Jimmy Stewart Flies His Last Combat Mission

 

I didn’t realize he flew combat missions in Vietnam:

 

20 February 1966: Brigadier General James M. Stewart, United States Air Force Reserve, flew the last combat mission of his military career, a 12 hour, 50 minute “Arc Light” bombing mission over Vietnam, aboard Boeing B-52 Stratofortress of the 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bombardment Wing. His bomber was a B-52F-65-BW, serial number 57-149, call sign GREEN TWO. It was the number two aircraft in a 30-airplane bomber stream.

Go here to read the rest.  A great actor, a greater patriot.

Published in: on February 25, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Jimmy Stewart Flies His Last Combat Mission  
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My Place Is With Them

 

The video above depicts Father Michael Quealy saying Mass in Vietnam. The video has no sound, but without words we can see the fervor with which the priest is saying Mass.  That was all Father Quealy.  Whatever he did in this world he did 100%.

Born in New York City on September 11, 1929, he dreamed as a boy of being a missionary in Asia.  He would go to Asia, as a priest, but as a Chaplain in the Army.  A graduate of Seaton Hall University and Maryknoll Seminary, he had served as a priest in the diocese of Mobile Alabama, before joining the Army as a chaplain in 1965.  He did so to bring the sacraments to soldiers on the battlefield in Vietnam.  As much as it was in his power, he wanted no soldier to die fighting and go into eternity spiritually unarmed.

Assigned to the third brigade of the First Infantry Division, the Big Red One, in June 1966, he quickly began hitching rides on medical evacuation choppers.  They would be going to where the fighting was, and as far as Chaplain Quealy was concerned, that was where he needed to be.  He would land, help with the wounded, usually under fire, and give the Last Rites to the dying.  He did not check to see if the dying were Catholics, reasoning that the sacrament would do no harm to non-Catholics, and might do them an infinity of good.  Troops began to talk about this Catholic Chaplain who was fearless.

Eugene Tuttle, a soldier with the Big Red One, recalled Father Quealy:

My battalion was near Father Quealy’s the day he was killed in Tay Ninh province on Nov. 8, 1966. The terrible news reached me the next day, He had heard my confession in Lai Khe about a month earlier. Young men dying was bad enough, but it seemed like a sacrilege for a priest to be killed while providing comfort to the wounded and dying. I had met him months earlier on my first full day in the field, when before boarding our tanks and APCs, to be sent out as “bait” until reinforcements could rescue us, Chaplain Quealy invited the Catholics among us to join him. He told us that reconnaissance had just confirmed the VC were dug in and waiting for us in the bush. He then draped his stole over his shoulders, reminded us that an Act of Contrition could substitute for confession when one was in immediate danger of death. It was an unforgettably dramatic moment, and the chaplain was an unforgettably kind man. I regret just learning of this opportunity now to pay long overdue homage to him. God bless his soul!

On November 8, 1966, Father Quealy heard about fighting near Tay Ninh and rushed to get aboard a medical copter.  A staff officer tried to dissuade him, saying that it was much too dangerous a situation.  Father Quealy did not even slow down, but shouted over his shoulder, “My place is with them!”

The first battalion, twenty-eight infantry was under such intense fire that the helicopter Father Quealy was on board had to circle for an hour before it could land.  When it did, Father Quealey  charged into action.  Here is a report of what happened next: (more…)

Published in: on August 4, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on My Place Is With Them  
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Tour of Duty

 

For a friend who recently passed away and who served his own tour of duty in Vietnam.  He loved the television show Tour of Duty (1987-1990) that followed a platoon  of  American soldiers in Vietnam.  CBS failed to purchase the rights to the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black for reruns or DVDs, so replacement music is used instead, which is a great shame.  I have seen few videos more evocative of time and place than the intro to Tour of Duty with Paint It Black.  The second and third seasons of Tour of Duty added soap opera and adventure elements which detracted from the realism of the show, but the first season is highly recommended by me for anyone wishing to see a realistic depiction of what life was like for the men who fought one of America’s more unpopular wars and who usually served their country far, far better than their country served them.

Published in: on January 22, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Tour of Duty  
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Hey, Who Did Win the Vietnam War Anyway?

Vietnam Today

 

History is full of ironies and none more so than the development of Vietnam in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  Independent journalist Michael Totten, who specializes in covering wars and desperately poor, ill governed countries, gives us refreshing news about Vietnam:

 

The ruling Communist Party knows better than just about anyone that communist economics are a disaster. Vietnam’s economy has been growing at light speed for a while now. I knew that in advance, and yet it still stunned me. The city trembles with industriousness and entrepreneurship. Small and large businesses are everywhere. Half the residents seem to be in business for themselves. Anything and everything you can possibly imagine is for sale, though it’s not all high-end yet. I saw a Louis Vuitton outlet next to a bootleg CD store, an elegant Western-style café next to low-end bar with hard chairs and no air-conditioning, a Body Shop next to a used clothing store with cast-off second-hand T-shirts from the West, and an art gallery next to a store selling old pots and pans.

Market economies are uneven, no doubt, but they sure as hell beat the alternative. I could hardly believe it, but when I was a kid the Vietnamese stood in long lines on the street to exchange ration coupons for handfuls of rice. Today the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of rice.

Japan and South Korea: watch out. If the economy keeps growing and the political system breaks open, Vietnam will be a country to reckon with. (more…)

Published in: on August 15, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Grunt Padre Honored in Vietnam

Bishop_Joseph_Tri-255x269

As faithful readers of this blog know, I have many times had posts about heroic Catholic Chaplains serving in our military.  A man whose courage beggared description is Servant of God and Medal of Honor recipient Vincent J. Capodanno, known as the Grunt Padre.  I am not ready yet to do a full post on him, wishing to do him justice, but a recent news story in The National Catholic Register caught my eye:

DA NANG, Vietnam — Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Da Nang recently said Mass  in honor of Father Vincent Capodanno, a U.S. chaplain killed during the Vietnam  War, and he encouraged his people to ask the priest’s intercession.

Ted Bronson, a retired Navy Captain, told Catholic News Agency June 26 that  Bishop Tri “is a brave bishop, fostering Capodanno under the umbrella” of  Vietnamese communism.

The Mass, said on June 14, marked the 55th anniversary of Father Capodanno’s  priestly ordination. Father  Capodanno was ordained for the Maryknoll Missionary order, and he later  became a chaplain for the U.S. Navy.

While with Maryknoll, Father Capodanno served in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and  then he requested to be reassigned as a chaplain with the Marines. He was sent  to Vietnam in 1966 and requested an extension to his tour of duty when it was  up.

On Sept. 4, 1967, his unit was in the Que Son Valley near Da Nang, and they  became outnumbered by North Vietnamese forces. As American soldiers were being  gunned down, Father Capodanno went about giving viaticum and anointing  to the dying, as well as medical aid to the wounded.

Shortly after reassuring a wounded Marine, Father Capodanno went to another  soldier who had called out for help. Both he and the solider were shot and died.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1969.

His citation for the Medal of Honor says he “left the relative safety of the  company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire. …  Disregarding the intense enemy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire, he  moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving  medical aid to the wounded. (more…)

Canadians in the American Civil War

A little known fact about our Civil War is how many of our neighbors to the North participated in it.  Some 33,000-55,000 Canadians came south to fight for the Union, and a few hundred Canadians went further south to fight for the Confederacy. Some 29 Canadian soldiers fighting for the Union earned the newly created Medal of Honor.  The Civil War had a major impact on Canadian history.  The confederation of Canada was created in 1867, and the fathers of the confederation, believing that too strong states had helped lead to the American Civil War, ensured the establishment of a strong federal government in Canada. (more…)

Published in: on December 18, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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