MemorialDay 2015

Memorial Day Messagefrom Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

While every Memorial Day is marked with solemn remembrance, in2015 we take special note. This year — as we mark the 150th anniversary of theend of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 65thanniversary of the start of the Korean War, the 40th anniversary of ourdeparture from Vietnam, and the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield inthe lead-up to the Gulf War — we honor and remember those who perished inthose wars, just as we recall the more than 6,800 American service members whogave their lives since Sept. 11, 2001.

To the families of our fallen patriots: we lack the words todescribe what you feel on Memorial Day, because try as we may — as we must –we can never fully know it. But we do know what your sacrifice means to us, toour country, and to a world that still depends so much on America for itssecurity.

As our nation remembers the service and sacrifice of previousgenerations, we as a people recognize that the men and women serving in uniformtoday — active-duty, guard, and reserve — are as humble, patriotic, andselfless as any generation that has come before. They, alongside theirfamilies, continue that tradition of service to country that makes our militarythe finest fighting force the world has ever known. Nearly 200,000 of thesesoldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are currently serving beyond our shores,protecting us far from home, and will not be able to spend this holiday withtheir loved ones. Today, and every day, we honor them and their families withour heartfelt thanks and support.


Vietnam: How the Communist Grinches StoleChristmas

February 6, 2015 – by Michael Benge

Alphonse Karr’s 1839statement “Plus change, plus c’estla chose.” (The more things change, themore they remain the same) is still valid in former Indochina after decades ofbrutal dictatorships.

As an agent of Moscow,whose loyalty was not to the Vietnamese people but to the World CommunistMovement (the Comintern), Ho Chi Minh, announced theestablishment of the Indochinese Communist Party on February 18, 1930. The goalwas to dominate French colonial Indochina – Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – aswell as the rest of SE Asia. The Khmer Rouge was also a creation of Ho.Although he died in 1969, the Vietnamese communist party has yet to give up onHo’s dream, amoeba-like, Vietnam is economically and politically neo-colonizingits two neighboring vassal states – Laos and Cambodia – with regimes that arecreations of Hanoi. Hanoi has agreements with both regimes to have “advisers”in every department of government; including those dealing with religion.

The Vietnamese regime isextremely paranoid over organized religion, for it competes with and is indirect opposition to the political religion of communism. The regime’sgreatest fears are Christianity and Buddhism.

In 2001, Christian Montagnards in the Central Highlands of Vietnam held massdemonstrations seeking the right to worship freely. This triggered severe crackdownsby the repressive communist regime that resulted in large numbers of Montagnards killed, thousands of others arrested, torturedand imprisoned, many of whom remain so today. After the protests, thousands of Montagnards fled the brutality and sought asylum inneighboring Cambodia causing an international political embarrassment andchange in Vietnam’s communist party leadership.

In case one suffers fromthe illusion that there is no longer religious persecution, this might wake youup, for the brutal communist Grinches in both Vietnamand Laos have done it again: They’ve stolen Christmas from the Protestant Montagnards, Hmong and other Christian groups, especiallythose who worship in house churches or outdoors.

Compass Direct reported in 2013 that “communist authorities slammed thedoors on Christmas celebrations in two of the Vietnam’s largest cities” and inmore than 10 provinces, “in what probably was the highest profile move recentlyto step up persecution of Christians.” Authorities also banned Mgr. MichaelHoang , theCatholic Bishop of Kontum, from celebrating ChristmasMass with faithful Christian Montagnards. Althoughthe 2014 reports have yet to come in, it is indicated they did it again, givenreports from Gialai province. In all likelihood theywill again ban the celebration of Easter as well. This year the communistgovernment used the holiday season to pursue a violent crackdown on Montagnards and the Hmong ethnic minority.

In Vietnam, only churchesthat have a communist-ordained pastor and are registered with and controlled bythe government are allowed to conduct modest services to observe Christian holydays. One of Vietnam’s many religious mandates is that to become a pastor orpriest and register a church one must first pledge to put the “State” (i.e.,communism) before God. Some places go as far as to require the hanging of alarge picture of Ho Chi Minh instead of a cross in the appropriate location inchurches.

Most Montagnardand Hmong Christians refuse to worship under these conditions, so they holdservices in their homes. However, anyone who participates in unauthorizedreligious activities, including worship in house churches, outdoor prayerservices, protests or demonstrations against reprisals is guilty of“undermining Vietnam’s national unity.” Minorities with unauthorized cellphones also fall under this category. Violators are subject to ten years ormore imprisonment, tortured, and deprived of adequate nourishment and medicaltreatment that often results in their death.

Technologies provided byU.S. and U.K. companies allow the communist regime to closely monitor cellphones and conversations on land lines of suspected dissidents and advocates ofdemocracy, human rights and religious freedom; especially those used by Montagnards and Hmong Christians. The communists alsoexercise strict control over the media, Internet, blogs and social-networks,and “violators” are severely punished. In spite of the regime’s terroristtactics, some still brave reprisals and a smattering of information on abusesekes out.

Somewhat recently, theauthor received a dated list of 344 Montagnardpolitical prisoners from the Jarai tribal group in Gialai province who are languishing in prisons and jailsunder horrendous conditions, primarily for their Christian beliefs and forworshiping in their homes instead of communist-controlled Potemkin churches.The sole legal communist-sanctioned Protestant church in Gialaiprovince for Montagnards to worship in isthe Hoi Thanh Tin Vietnam, presided over by Siu Y. Kim a government-ordained “Pastor” who hasoften been seen accompanying police raids on Montagnardhouse churches.

According to WikiLeaks (id#78561), based on discussions with Kim, the U.S. Embassy and JohnHanford, the Ambassador-at-Large ofthe United States for International Religious Freedom, submittedfalse reports of alleged vast improvements in religious freedom for the Montagnards. Kim, a known disinformation agent, duped these“useful idiots,“ and their reports resulted in the State Department delistingVietnam as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for egregious violations ofreligious freedom. CPC listing was a diplomatic embarrassment to the Vietnamesegovernment.

Only a handful of Jarai have been released from prison since the list wascompiled. The list doesn’t contain names of other imprisoned Christian ethnicminorities from other provinces, such as the Rhade inDarlac, Banhar in Kontum, the Mnong in  , the Stieng in Phuoc provinces, the Hmong and other tribal groups inNorthern and Southern Mountainous provinces. Nor does the list contain names ofthe Khmer and Cham in the Southern part ofVietnam or others of different religious beliefs, such as Buddhists, Muslimsand Catholics who are also imprisoned for their beliefs. A comprehensive listof all those imprisoned for practicing their religious persuasions would make abook.

Vietnam, a nation of 86million, has 3.6 million Communist Party members, and maintains a police forceestimated at 1.2 million, including the Special Religious Police Force (SRPF – An ),one of the largest per-capita special religious police forces in the world.

Additionally, there aregovernment-paid forces belonging to the Vietnamese Fatherland Front (VFF:  Nam), a state-funded parastatal organizationcontrolled by the VietnameseCommunist Party.

 These VFF thugs, most often led byplainclothes police, are used as enforcers to carry out “spontaneous” actionsagainst targeted groups while giving the communist regime plausible deniabilityfor the property damage, beatings and deaths they inflict.

Althoughhuman rights abuses and religious repression against Christian minorities andthose of other religious persuasions have not abated, the communist regime hasgotten a little smarter, for it stopped the kangaroo court public show trials. Nowbelievers are just quietly arrested and jailed; or “disappeared.” Often theirfamilies have no idea if they are alive or dead.

The communistregime’s alleged easing of restrictions on religious freedom is only lipservice. Decree 92, the much-heralded amended regulation on church registrationthat became effective January 1, 2013, was supposed to “clear up and smooth theprocess.” Instead, house-church leaders say, it has only further slowed churchregistration; applications are either denied or ignored. A Committee ofReligious Affairs official pointed out to church leaders that many provincesstill do not have a church registration policy. Thus, local authorities arestill allowed to make independent decisions regarding qualifications, whatconstitutes violations of policy and what punitive actions can be taken.Progress on religious freedom in Vietnam, at least in rural areas, has clearlyflat-lined.

For example,according to reports from Gialai province, SRPFOfficer Hai arrested and brutally beat Christian Montagnardsfor worshiping in house churches rather than in Siu Kim’s officially sanctionedchurch in Pleiku city several miles from theirvillages; an expensive and lengthy trip they cannot afford.

. In October2014, in Chu Distric,Siu , and Rahlan from village; Siu Teland Siu Hoang from Tai village, Rahlan Dal, Sur Bvillage were arrested and beaten were Rahlan (female), Siu , Rahlan , and Hit from Tot village, and H’Nhep and her husband Rahlan of Tao village were all arrested and severely beatenby SRPF Officer Hai. The houses in all villages in Gialiaprovince suspected to be places of worship are under constant surveillance24/7. Hai also said that celebrating Christmas was banned.

The Vietnamesecommunists restrict travel to sensitive areas such as the Central Highlands andthe tribal areas in the northwest; when allowed access, outsiders are closelywatched by the police, and foreigners must always be accompanied by governmentchaperones (i.e., minders). The regime controls all media and communistofficials and their puppet clerics are the only ones allowed to speak toforeign officials and news reporters.

Even so, anundated video appeared on YouTube in mid-2014 showing Vietnamese police beatingHmong Christians and destroying their church in Northern Vietnam. A trickle ofinformation has also emerged through VietCatholic andVatican news services, and from local NGOs such as Morning Star News (MSN), a501(c3) reporting solely on persecuted Christians).

. In southern Vietnam’s Phuoc province where StiengMontagnard Christians make up a large part of thepopulation, authorities are trying to force the consolidation of congregationsof long-established village churches into the legally recognizedstate-controlled Evangelical Church of Vietnam-South. Authorities began byoutlawing crosses in and on village church.

According toMSN, “inciting social hostility has become a key way government officials tryto contain, or at least slow, the growth of Christianity among ethnicminorities in rural Vietnam.” Usually, VFF “thugs are used by the government as‘spontaneous’ enforcers and reported as fellow villagers.” The followingincidents took place in the northernmost region of Vietnam, noted for theprevailing violence against ethnic Hmong Christians who are a particular targetof communist officials.

. On Feb. 26, in neighboring Bien Province, VNFF thugs beat a Christian family –including Hang their 9-year-old girl – and drove them from the village. Public Securityofficers Hang Da and Cu recruited the mob from outside the village andtook them to the home of Hang and ordered and his family of nine toimmediately recant their Christian faith and revert back to the practice ofancestor worship. refused, and the officersordered the VNFF thugs to attack the family. They did so vehemently, swingingshort lengths of electrical cable at both adults and children, who sustainedlarge welts and bruises. The thugs were then ordered by officers and to ransack thehouse. They took valuable legal papers (e.g., birth certificates and healthinsurance policies), foodstuffs and personal effects; then demolished theirhouse. Finally, after three hours of abuse, the officers announced theconfiscation of the family’s rice fields and that the family was permanentlyexpelled from Bien Dong District. They thenincited the mob to chase them away. The family is now living in the forestwithout a home and according to ”day after daywe do not know how we will live or where we will end up…”

. In adjacentSon La Province, in Yen District, Christian A Say reported four Hmong Christian families in Marchwere similarly threatened. The four families’ formal affiliation with thelegally-recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam-North (ECVN-N), did not sparethem; commune officials told them that Christianity did not exist in theirvillage of Cu. They were told by Mr. Tuyen, chairman of the People’s Committee of Tan Commune, that “You cannot believe in Christ – ifyou do, you and the other families who do must leave this village!” VMFF thugsincited by authorities threatened to destroy the Christians’ homes and killthem unless they recanted. On March 25, as a further warning, thugs barged intoSay’s home and began beating him and his wife with chairs, kicking and punchingthem, and then drug his wife, , out to their yard by herhair.

Hanoi hasagreements with its neighbors to provide “advisors” to all government agencies,including those dealing with religion. Hanoi fears that Hmong Christians inLaos and Vietnam might unite and coordinate activities with Montagnardsin an attempt to force change in religious policies toward them.

. Accordingto The Wall Street Journal (Silent Night in Laos, 01/08/2015), “Intensifiedreligious freedom violations directed against ethnic Laotian and Hmong Christianbelievers are increasingly violent and egregious, with independent religiousceremonies and Christmas celebrations Believers have been arrested,tortured, killed, or have simply disappeared.” It is well known that the LaoPeople’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) has absolute control over the press andcivil society; nevertheless, some human rights advocates believe that theChristmas crackdown on Hmong Christians was coordinated with Hanoi.

. The Voice of the Martyrs reports that on Sunday, Jan. 18, Mennonite PastorNguyen Hong Quang and his associate pastor werebrutally beaten by five men, assumingly VNFF thugs, in broad daylight nearthe Bible College in former Saigon that Quangfounded and still leads. The five men attacked the pastors withoutprovocation, hitting them in the head with bricks and rocks until theycollapsed to the ground. The attackers continued their assault even after thepastors were on the ground, kicking them repeatedly. Both pastors were taken toan emergency room for treatment. Pastor Quangsuffered a broken nose, broken ribs and injuries to his teeth and jaw. And ofcourse, no arrests have been made in the assault.

Since thepre-Christmas crackdown, scores of Christian Montagnardhave fled the terror in the Central Highlands to hide in the jungles ofCambodia’s northeastern Rattanikiri province in hopesof gaining asylum and religious freedom. However, they are between a rock and ahard place for there is a considerable presence of Vietnamese “advisors” in Rattanikiri who pay Cambodian border police “bounties”reportedly in excess of a month’s pay for every Montagnardcaptured and turned over to them for deportation and imprisonment in Vietnam.How many groups arrived, and how many have been caught and deported is unknownfor the numbers arriving are confusing and those deported go unreported.

According toThe Phnom Penh Post, Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for local human rightsgroup Adhoc, and an associate monitor, criticized thegovernment for arresting a family of five Montagnards– a mother and father, their two young sons, and 9-month-old daughter – onSunday January 5th. The next day in an interview with Voice of America,Interior Ministry spokesman four-star General Khieu Sopheak denied reports of the arrest and stated, there areno Montagnards in the province only “illegalVietnamese immigrants.” Sopheak then threaten Thy bystating that if he didn’t withdraw his assertions, he would be sued. Thystressed that reports of the arrests on Sunday were true and confirmed byaccounts from villagers and activists, and said he would not back down. Thethreats against Thy once again extended to social media recently as a Facebookaccount called “ Phatsrok,”which Thy lleges is controlled by a senior provincialofficial, invited ISIS militants to “cut off” his tongue.

The first toarrive was a group of 13 Montagnard Christians whofled after the pre-Christmas crackdown on religion in the Central Highlands ofVietnam and went into hiding from the border police in the jungles of Rattanikiri. Malnourished and ravaged by malaria and denguefever, after a month an intermediary was finally able to put them in touch witha UNHCR team who took them to Phnom Penh and helped them gain asylum status.Later, three others joined them. Nonetheless, they are still in danger for theCambodian communist regime is closely allied with and under the influence ofits Hanoi patron that insists all Montagnards bereturned to Vietnam.

During a tripto Hanoi and Phnom Penh in February 2007, Ellen Sauerbrey,assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, rang thedeath knell for any favorable U.S. policy toward our former allies. At a pressbriefing in Hanoi she stated that she believed communist officials, who assuredher that the Montagnards enjoyed religious freedom,were not being persecuted and could travel freely to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoior the Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City to voice any grievances. Yes, and pigs canfly too. Sauerbrey then held another press conferencein Phnom Penh and told Cambodian communist officials that Montagnardsshould stay in Vietnam and those seeking asylum in Cambodia should be returnedto Vietnam. In 1992, the Cambodian government ratified the United Nationsmultilateral treaty relating to the Status of Refugees agreeing to allowall asylum seekers access to asylum procedures. Nevertheless, acting on Sauerbrey’s advice and Hanoi’s pressure, the Cambodianregime forced UNHCR to close its refugee camps and the police have relentlesslypursued Montagnard asylum seekers and deported them.In effect, Sauerbrey set the State Department’sunofficial policy toward our former allies that remains in place today.

Even if the Montagnard refugees gain UNHCR asylum status, there is noguarantee they will be allowed to relocate to another country any time soon.More than 150 Montagnards who fled religiouspersecution in Vietnam years ago are still languishing in Thailand. While somehave made it into the UNHCR system there, others remain in hiding: all arecaught up in U.S. and Southeast Asian politics. It is unlikely that the US willgo to bat for its former allies, as the Obama administration has shown littleempathy toward endangered Christians.

Since thefall of Saigon in 1975 and the subsequent installation of a totalitariancommunist government, Vietnam has become one of the world’s most egregiousviolators of basic human rights – including the freedom to practice one’sreligion. Human rights groups continually call for investigations intoVietnam’s human right abuses, and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi frequently vows toinvestigate these matters, but nothing seems to result.

Now,President Obama is about to give away the farm by granting Vietnam fullmembership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Unbridled trade relationshas the disadvantage of conceding the only leverage the U.S. has to pressureVietnam to cease human rights abuses, make measurable improvements in religiousand Internet freedoms, and release political prisoners.

Obama isseemingly following the advice of the Bobbsey twins,Senator McCain and Secretary of State Kerry, who have been the strongestadvocates for communist Vietnam. Their rationale is that it’s necessary tocoddle Vietnam to stem China’s influence in Southeast Asia. Whoever harbors thispipe dream must have flunked remedial math, given the disparity in theirpopulations. Recently, in a speech to big labor and liberal Democrats whooppose a major new free-trade deal with Asia, President Obama said the “horseis out of the barn” on America losing jobs overseas and that granting Vietnamfull membership in the TPP would create a more fair trading system.

And the bandplays on.

Michael Bengespent 11 years in Vietnam as a Foreign Service officer and is a student ofSoutheast Asian politics. He is very active in advocating for human rights,religious freedom, and democracy for the peoples of the region and has writtenextensively on these subjects.


The “Narrative”

I am presently working witha group of other vets to help bring the view of our war in Viet Nam to aconference being held later this year.  This has been a drawn out event,marked with a great deal of conflict in some parts, and enormous effort finallyto be able to bring to the conference both the people and the historicalliterature to set the record straight.

After so much talking withso many others in this project, I wrote the note below for all of them. But I think it worth sharing with my brothers in arms, so that some of you whohaven’t kept up on what has gone on in our universities and media newsroomswill understand that the truth of the conflict in which we served will beknown, rather than the false history the antiwar people have so successfullypublicized.

We are still fighting, allthese years later, when I thought I’d be settled back, retired, and hardlythinking of conflict and studying history.  But as I say below, there aregood reasons to put the boots on, pick up the pack and ammo, and march on intoa fight that needs to be won.

The “Narrative”

Iwas reflecting on all the events of the past ten years, since I first becameinvolved in studying and then contributing to the detailed history of the VietNam War. This has taken a tremendous amount of time for me but I have not beenalone in this work. There are many veterans who are historians, and somehistorians who have been very sympathetic to the views many vets have abouttheir service and the war in general.

But unfortunately, academia was invadedduring and right after the war by those who were against the war, and thecommonly publicized history of the war from the great majority of writing donefrom about 1965 through 1985 centered on what I will call The Narrative. Andthose antiwar professors trained others in their way of thinking, so academiais now heavily spotted with the second and even third generation historians whosupport The Narrative the way a preacher supports the Bible.

What is The Narrative? Well, it consists of abunch of “accepted” or “well known” talking points, whichgo like this.

the conflict in Viet Nam was between the trueliberators from the French and the corrupt southern part of the country, whichwas ruled by an unelected power elite who were resisting the unification of thenation out of various selfish motives

as a civil war, the USA had no business being there inthe first place, and the excuse that it was about stopping internationalCommunism was just propaganda

the involvement of the USA was based on blatant lies suchas the false reports of attacks on US warships and false theories like theDomino Theory

fighting against the many true nationalists ofthe South, who were then aided by the aroused and committed brother patriots ofthe North, while the ARVN were never really able to fight well, was animpossible military situation, so the war was unwinnable from the start

American meddling never did anything exceptworsen the situation for the Vietnamese people, and America’s gross overuse of weaponrydevastated much of the country irresponsibly, and caused deaths of hundreds ofthousands of innocents

American troops were disproportionatelyminorities, and the general bad attitudes of both the officers and men resultedin the routine occurrence of atrocities that were covered up

in the end, the brave Vietnamese patriots, anirregular group of guerrillas with old weapons and few resources, outfought theworld’s biggest and best equipped army

all of this could have been avoided if only theUSA had lived up to the commitment made in the Geneva Accords for the holdingof countrywide elections, which would have peacefully resolved the situationand unified the country under Ho Chi Minh

Every one of those points isfalse, and actually easily disproven by facts, records, and the personaltestimony of those who were there, not just Americans, but plenty of Vietnameseas well. Yet the great majority of Americans, and foreigners for that matter,generally believe some or most of those points. And the media have done a greatjob as well in supporting The Narrative.

Fighting against this are acomparative minority of historians and witnesses to history, like myself. Ispent all of ’68 running up and down I Corps, working with various grunt units,but also seeing things from the viewpoint of other units, like the HST teams,the pilots, the S-6 scouts, and others. I sure don’t know everything, but Isure know we were not raping and pillaging and murdering every day, and in factwe were doing medical aid visits to every little village we stopped at. (And Ihave the pictures to prove it.) And we were certainly not outfought by eitherthe VC or the NVA, although they were damn good fighters at times.

Since the war I have metmany other vets, and some of our POWs, and many Vietnamese who were in thefight and survived to come here to live. I’ve ready many good books on eventsof the war, and cross-checked them with other books and sometimes with thepeople who were there for the events described in the books. So I have become afairly decent amateur historian, and even wrote a booklet for students to helpthem avoid being led astray by The Narrative. (Whitewash/Blackwash: Myths ofthe Viet NamWar)

I do lectures at highschools and colleges, and sometimes meet in the audience some antiwar people,and then the discussion gets a bit warm. I don’t argue feelings, but stick tofacts and logic, usually facts the other side has never heard, or chooses todisbelieve, and they aren’t always too good with logic. And they invariably getangry at me, and things go downhill, and I get accused of being biased or lyingor just really stupid. Most of the people listening to all this tend to startlooking at me like I actually know something, and looking at the other guyswith rejection in their eyes. But it never slows down the antiwar people, theyare like committed disciples of Hanoi,and nothing makes a dent in how they see things. They just get more passionateas they argue, until they get really mad.

But if I really help educatesome people, change some minds, it seems like adding a drop of water to a dirtyocean. It takes up a lot of time, but more than that, gives me a lot offrustration and concern at a pretty high level.

And far, far too often, Iget the terrible feeling that all of us still working at the true history ofthe war are fated to be Don Quixote, tilting at the windmills of academia. Thatthe sheer momentum of that triple-damned Narrative cannot be overcome, or evendented seriously. It is a truly sickening thought.

But why do we go on, whymust we go on?

Two reasons: The second isthat it is a continuing part of our service to the nation, to try to get thereal history studied and understood, so that we can eventually reap thebenefits of really learning the lessons of that war. Or conversely, to help thenation avoid the disasters that will continue to accrue by accepting the falselessons of the war. This is no small matter.

But the first reason is allthose names on The Wall, and all the others who served, and suffered. I includein that our brothers in arms of the ARVN and the Montagnards,some of whom still suffer to this day.

Long, long ago I had tomemorize a WWI poem,InFlanders Fields. Still applicable, still poignant. And the last verses echotoday. “If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep.”

I cannot but think of allthose men, especially those I knew, whose faces are still bright in my all toodeclining memory, or those I saw die and held or carried, whose blood congealed,sticky, on my arms and hands. I cannot let their memories be trampled andsullied by these arrogant fools and enemies of the Republic.

So regardless of thediscouragement, the deep worries, the time my wife says I can’t afford, I’m inthis for the long haul. It will end only when they close the lid on me, and Iam back with those I knew in those awful times.

I want to say that I amproud and honored to be part of this group who are fighting to keep the truthalive. We are perhaps another band of brothers in another battle, one that isso terribly important. I salute them all on Memorial Day, and all the othervets still standing proud for their service; and perhaps we will yet knock overone of those cursed windmills.

Semper Fidelis                              

RJ Del Vecchio


This article about a brave ARVN general deservesto be published, but the author, an American veteran who interviewed thegeneral personally, does not have any contacts with websites that would besuitable for this.  If anyone knows of such a website, please let me knowso I can put them in touch with the author and give this bit of true historythe publication it so well deserves.


“Co Van My (American Advisor),Vietnamese soldier. We the same,” proudly stated South Vietnamese GeneralLy Tong , who was recognized by COUNTERPARTSfor his valor and service at theirannual 2013 reunion in Las Vegas, Nevada.“We fought the communists side by side,” he proclaimed whileembracing former American advisors who fought with the South Vietnamese in theVietnam War.

Colonel Ly Tong commander of the ARVN 23rd infantry division during the Battle for Kontumturnedback three battle -hardened North Vietnamese divisions to save the city fromcapture during the 1972 Easter Offensive.Promoted to Brigadier General after the battle, General expressed his anger against the author Neil Sheehan fortotally ignoring his heroic effort in the book, “A Bright ShiningLie.”

General comments, “Sheehan says I am a bad soldier when I was the Captain in theBattle of , but hiswritings about that battle misrepresent my role and that of the Vietnamesesoldiers that day. We walked into an ambush. Instead a VC company there was amain force reinforced VC Battalion dug in waiting for us.I was the commander of the APC Companyand we had already crossed three canals when we were ambushed by anoverwhelming force.I had asked forprotective screens for our APC’s but the American advisors said wedidn’t need them.Mycommander ordered us to withdraw and not lose any more men that day. I was aCaptain. I had to follow orders”

Captain armored company had eight vehicle commanders killed because there were nobullet shields to protect them.“I learned a lesson that day,” says the General.“Don’t pursue the enemy intothe jungle.The jungle can defeatyou.I used that tactic in Kontum. We never attacked a larger force but engaged themin fortified positions.Anotherlesson was that the M113 armored vehicles should advance on a parallel lineside by side instead of one M113 after another. Ground troops would also bebetter utilized as well. “

What Sheehan doesn’t mention in hisbook, “A Bright Shining Lie,” is that there was a second battle of in which the same SouthVietnamese soldiers of the ARVN 7th Division crushed the 514thVC Provincial Battalion reinforced with members of the 261st MainForce Battalion who were at the first battle.Captain armored unit helped crush the VC in that battle two years later which causedheavy casualties and desertions from the Viet Cong ranks.An honest appraisal of theimprovement of ARVN’s fighting ability could not have ignored that factbut one won’t find mention of it in his book.

Genera expresseshis opinion that the Soviets and Chinese gave their VC/NVA allies newer andmore effective weapons than the USallies. “We were always behind the VC from weapons to organizationincluding fighting methods. They get the AK 47, and then finally the ARVN getsthe M 16. They had the superior RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades) and wehad the 3.5 rocket launchers, and then the LAW. The NVA also had the SovietAT-3 wire-guided missile like the TOW only it could be carried in a single manpack.”

Translated from General book written in Vietnamese, “They operated on the larger size units, andthen we increase the size of our operating units. But after each time likethat, after we suffered losses and lost more able commanders, then we areforced to make some changes, and the Americans would agree to give more aidsetc. Especially in the Battle of , after we lost many brave men, the Americans agree toinstall the bullet shields on the M113.”

The Regional Forces/Popular forces foughtmany years with American vintage WWII weapons-the M1 rifle and M2 carbinesbefore finally getting the M 16 in 1970.The ARVN also had nothing in their arsenal to match the Russian T54/T55tanks equipped with 100MM guns used later in the war, nor was the US 105 and155 artillery a match for the longer range more mobile NVA 130MM artillerypiece.

And of course, the aggressors from the Northwere better supplied in the end by their Russian and Chinese allies, when Americadeserted their South Vietnamese allies cutting off all aid.

General remembers, “John Paul Vann’s helicopter crashed on the way to seeme.He was flying to our 23ddivision headquarters to share fruit and treats from a promotion party that hehad just attended. I remember himfondly. He always had to have his orange juice every morning with a copy of theStars and Stripes.”

Vann recognized General during the Battle of Kontum as a commander who earnedhis stripes on the front lines and who spent time there encouraging his troops.“Vann said I was the only ARVN commander who could defeat the NVA. I tellhim, don’t say that or I go to jail,” comments General .

General emphatically asks? “Who did the communists liberate when they conqueredthe South?They enslaved the peopleand operated ‘revenge’ camps for years.I spent 13 years in the camps. “Hewas in the same camp as General Le Minh Dao, who fought the last battle at Loc defeating three NVA divisions before running outof supplies and ammunition.

Genial continues. “The communists broke the Paris Peace treaty but no one caredor did anything about it. Using today’s language, they would be calledterrorists because they ruled and conquered by terror. They murdered ourvillage administrators and teachers in the South. “

“You know how General got hissoldiers to charge in human wave attacks at the Battle of Bien ?”asks General .“The communist soldiers knew thatif they didn’t charge to certain death, their families would either bekilled back in their village or they would receive no food. That’s theway the communists do things.”

Sheehan and his journalist partner David Halberstam spent their early careers in Vietnamcriticizing every mistake the ARVN made with little knowledge of the underlyingfabric of Vietnamese society and praising the valiant efforts of the Vietnamesecommunists while ignoring the terror/murder they used to control the peasantsto follow their cause.This writerhas never met a former American advisor who didn’t consider “ABright Shining Lie” to be a propaganda hit piece against the SouthVietnamese Army and the struggling democracy they were attempting to build.

Mark Moyar,author of “Triumph Forsaken” has said that Sheehan andHalberstam didmore damage to USforeign policy than any two journalists in the history of the United Stateswith their naiveté and one-sided reporting.General ,one of the forgotten true patriots in the battle for freedom in Vietnam wouldagree with that. Years after the War in an interview on C-Span, when theyshould have known better, Sheehan and Halberstamdenied that the Communists collected their blood debt from the Southerners inthe reeducation camps where tens of thousands died.

“Who did the communists free?“asks General . “They put everyone inhuge slave labor camps after the war.No Vietnamese is free in Vietnamtoday.The communist party owns andcontrols everything, and the Vietnamese protesting for human rights are injail.”

Rich Webster

Lieutenant/Mobile Advisory Team Leader with the RegionalForces/Popular Forces in Long An and Long KhanhProvinces, 1968/1969.

May 2013

Embassy Statement onDinh Nguyen Kha

andNguyen Phuong Uyen

May 17, 2013

We are concerned by aVietnamese court’s sentencing of Dinh Nguyen Kha to eight years in prison andNguyen Phuong Uyen to six years in prison on subversion charges.

These convictions are partof a disturbing trend of Vietnamese authorities using charges under nationalsecurity laws to imprison government critics for peacefully expressing theirpolitical views.

These actions areinconsistent with the right to freedom of expression and, thus, Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant onCivil and Political Rights and commitments reflected in the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights.

We call on the government torelease prisoners of conscience and allow all Vietnamese to peacefully expresstheir political views. 

Source:Press Release from Embassy in HanoiNorth Viet Nam