Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

    Support MFO

  • Donate through PayPal

"Hue 1968"

edited December 2021 in Off-Topic
Mark Bowden. 2018.

Same fellow who wrote "Black Hawk Down." In early 1968, I was 14 and wanting to be finished with the 8th Grade in school. Bowden's book is choc-full of heartbreaking blow-by-blow details from both sides of the battle for Hue. I honestly don't know how anyone can keep all those people straight, weaving the narrative threads together, the way he's done it. This book is compelling, real and human--- despite the inhumanity of war. Bowden includes some humorous tid-bits, too. When warriors are able to catch their breath, they'll find dark humor amid the absurd violence, if only to hang onto their sanity.

Westmoreland, LBJ and the other top brass simply failed to read the circumstances. They failed to recognize what was actually happening, concentrating instead on an expected attack against Khe Sanh which never materialized. That is to say, Khe Sanh was never the main target, though we all know that some serious shit happened up there.

I was just coming of age. Too many young marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors never got the chance to grow up. The Medics and Corpsmen and chaplains were incredibly brave, and they paid the ultimate price, along with the others. To say nothing of the civilians killed. But so often, how could you TELL whether they were civilians???

There were ARVN personnel who served well, but generally, they were not up to the task.
I hereby declare that this book is required reading for anyone with an interest in that war. I bet there are some on this forum who personally served over there, and/or during that era. Bowden's account is powerful.


  • +1 Rono served, perhaps Ted, and perhaps other forum members that I don't recall.
  • Howdy folks,

    Thanks for sharing @Crash. I just ordered the book.

    Couple of things. I arrived in country mid-March 1968 just after Tet. I was company clerk and later admin chief of CoA, 1stReconBn, 1stMarDiv for 20 months. If you've ever seen the movie or TV series MASH, think of me as RADAR of a Marine Corps special forces unit for 20 months. My unit had ground reconnaissance operations for all of I Corps from the east coast west and into Laos.

    TET was brutal and ugly just like war is when you are allowed to fight. It also cost the war effort the 'hearts and minds' of Americans.

    As for Khe Sanh, too much Marine blood was spilled there for them to turn around and give it up. It effectively ended the war for the Marine Corps. After they abandoned it, the Marine Corps 'Esprit de Corps' got on board a Freedom Bird and flew back to the states. After Khe Sanh, the Marines were just trying to survive along with their brothers.

    So, you had two major mistakes by upper management. Not foreseeing TET and surrendering Khe Sanh. The first cost them the support of the American people and the second cost them the support of the Marine Corps.

    It can pretty much be summed up with them trying to fight a clean war. A police action, if you will. YOU CANNOT FIGHT A CLEAN WAR. We've been trying since Korea and all we have to show for it are zero geo-political gains and lots of body bags. War means you kill everything that moves including women, children, sheep, cows, goats, cats and dogs. And if it doesn't move, you blow it up. You keep doing this until they surrender. Period. Now, this is really ugly. Perhaps the uglies endeavor us humans have invented. It should and must be avoided whenever possible. Now, if you cannot wage total war like this and this if this is offensive to you, you need to invite your adversaries over for dinner and have them bring their kids to meet yours. There is no middle ground.

    The only reason the bastards are getting away with this bullshit today, is that they're using drones and mercenaries instead of American men and women. We've got troops on the ground in over 100 countries . . . and it's bankrupting us and our grandkids.

    How about we bring all the troops home and defend the shores. We could cut $500B per year off the of the defense budget and improve our technology, training and military preparedness in the process. Spend the $500B on universal health care and education. National defense starts with a healthy educated population.

    rono gets off his soap box and goes back to being a grumpy old geezer.

    And so it goes,

    Peace and wear the damn mask,

    S/Sgt R. V. Overton, Admin Chief
    CoA, 1stReconBn, 1stMarDiv, FMF WesPac
    March 1968 - November 1969
  • @rono I'm so glad you chimed in. I'm reminded by your words of the Ace fighter pilot, Robin Olds, who had the chance to meet and talk with LBJ. On the History Channel, his daughter quoted him this way:

    "Mr. President, with all due respect to you as our Commander In Chief, get us out of this goddam war."

    "And how do you expect me to do that, son?"

    "It's simple, sir. Just WIN it."

    McNamara was busy micro-managing the war as Sec. of Defense, as I recall from the news, and later things I've watched and read. Clark Clifford, who joined the Cabinet later on, could see the contradiction of Westmoreland constantly asking for more troops, but claiming that victory was near. The NVA and "Charlie" didn't care about not crossing into other countries like Laos and Cambodia. And is it even possible to win a war when you can't take and HOLD ground? So much of the country is jungle and forest. The US was propping-up a corrupt regime in Saigon, anyhow.

    My father achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Corps. He was a D.I. at Parris Island, and for a good bit of time was sent to the Aleutians (Adak) during the Korean War years.
    Thanks again for writing.
Sign In or Register to comment.