Cronkite’s left wing bias confirmed

Writing about the Vietnam War in 2000
Regarded as a watershed, too, was press icon Walter Cronkite’s Feb. 27, 1968, broadcast saying the war was “mired in stalemate” and the “only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as honourable people . . . “. During TET 68 the NVA and Viet Cong lost 45,000 soldiers, ten times that of the Allies. If that isn’t a victory then what the hell is? The planned ‘uprising of the people’ brought a few thousand people to the notice of the Republic of Vietnam. The nineteen communists who occupied the grounds of the US embassy in Saigon did so for minutes only before being killed. They never got inside the building All doom and gloom for North Vietnam but Cronkite managed to turn it around and successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It was clearly an invasion by the North and the South wanted nothing to do with it. However let’s not ruin a good story with a few facts. The left still screamed ‘Civil War’ and the press agreed. Cronkite’s shift into the enemy camp – followed in short order by the editors and opinion-makers at Time and Life magazines – made it acceptable and almost fashionable for journalists to oppose the war. “For the first time in modern history,” wrote Robert Elegant of the Los Angeles Times, “the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and, above all, on the television screen.”
Today in the US, journalists have used the FOI laws to catch up with my earlier assessment
Communist North Vietnam had launched an invasion of South Vietnam in 1960, creating the “National Liberation Front of South Vietnam,” or Viet Cong, as surrogates to wage war. In the March-April 2010 issue of Military Review, in an article titled, “Lessons Learned from Vietnam,” Dr. William L. Stearman revisits the controversial period of 1968-1969, which was critical for the Vietnamese Communists because, despite Cronkite’s claims, they had actually been militarily defeated by U.S. and South Vietnamese troops during their Tet Offensive. Stearman notes that Cronkite’s hasty and faulty verdict on the war came after “a quick trip” to Vietnam in late February 1968. The Tet Offensive “was a major North Vietnamese blunder,” notes Uwe Siemon-Netto, an international journalist who covered the war. At Tet, he writes, Hanoi lost 45,000 men and its entire infrastructure in the south. “Yet major United States media outlets portrayed Tet as a defeat for their own side,” he said, referring to Cronkite and others. “Following Tet, [President] Johnson announced that he would not stand for re-election. Though a military victory for the United States and its allies, Tet ultimately marked the beginning of their defeat.” Stearman concluded, “…thanks to U.S. media, the enemy won the war where it most counted — in the United States.”
The Left wing of the US (and Australia for that matter) were always pushing for a unilateral freeze and disarmament of the US military – never their friends in the USSR. A couple of teasers;
…Senator Ted Kennedy made an offer to the Soviets to help organise opposition to Reagan’s pro-defence policies …a young Barack Obama wrote sympathetically about groups involved in the “nuclear freeze” campaign and the dangers of “militarism” but expressed the hope for total disarmament. My own feeling is that it is a reflection of the views enunciated by Walter Cronkite that show a benign view of the Soviet Union.”
And just in case you believe that the Russians are now benign;
While the Soviet political system may not exist, the Russians have continued many of the old Soviet-style intelligence and influence operations. The book, Comrade J, based on the revelations of a Russian master spy, Sergei Tretyakov, identified former Clinton State Department official and now Brookings Institution head Strobe Talbott as a dupe of Russian intelligence. Talbott had been a columnist for Time magazine, where he wrote about the need for world government, a cause also embraced by Walter Cronkite.
For those interested in the truth of history it is a good article to read. For those of the Left who have accidentally arrived on the site – go away before you learn something.

McCain Video from 1973

STOCKHOLM — Previously unseen footage emerged Thursday showing Republican presidential candidate John McCain as a prisoner of war in Hanoi on the day his Vietnamese captors released him to the U.S. military. Erik Eriksson, a former reporter from Swedish broadcaster SVT, told the Associated Press he found the video in the network’s archives while conducting research for a book about his experiences as a Vietnam War correspondent From the Los Angeles Times
McCain grimaces as he steps off a bus with other prisoners. He has a pronounced limp. He puts both feet on a step before continuing, but does not use crutches. The prisoners stand in rows until a Vietnamese official calls their names. McCain, like other prisoners, briskly walks up to salute and shake hands with U.S. military officers. Although only 37, he has white hair. Then the footage shows prisoners walking to a U.S. plane
The commo bastards.

Badcoe’s VC for auction

This from today’s Australian. FOUR weeks ago, auction house chairman Tim Goodman received a call from a wealthy client in the US. The businessman, a passionate military memorabilia collector, had learned that medals and frontline archival material belonging to Australian army Major Peter Badcoe, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967, would feature in Bonhams and Goodman’s May auction, to be held in Sydney on Tuesday.
The collector told Mr Goodman he intended to bid for the Badcoe collection, which includes the only Vietnam War VC medal still in private hands and awarded to Major Badcoe posthumously. The estimated price for the collection, which also features the US Silver Star with Oak Leaf and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Gold Star and Silver Star as well as 37 letters, photographs and audio recordings the major sent to his family, is about $400,000-$600,000.
I’ll watch this one with interest. Will the government help or will private enterprise act to keep the collection in Australia. Kerry Stokes please note

My old mates positively identified

REMAINS found in Vietnam this month have been identified as two Australian soldiers declared missing in action in 1965.
Australian forensic scientists in Vietnam confirmed the remains belong to Lance Corporal Richard Parker and Private Peter Gillson. The pair were killed during a Vietnam War battle in Dong Nai province, east of Saigon. The forensic team reported that dental records, bones, teeth and artefacts found at the burial site, including military dog tags, led to the positive identifications.
If your a first time reader then previous articles covering the long fight to recover the bodies of ‘Tiny’ and Peter are Possible Closure on Hill 82 , More on Hill 82 and We’re taking you home, you’re OK now . There is only one article left to write on the subject and that will be when I hopefully go to the service, presumably in Sydney, to lay them to rest.

We’re taking you home, you’re OK now’

Lance Corporal Richard Parker and Private Peter Gillson were killed in battle in the Vietnam War on November 8, 1965.

Their bodies were never recovered.

I’ve posted on this before and am now happy to pass on a progress report.

There is now hope that the families and army comrades of two Australian soldiers might finally have closure after remains and artifacts were found in a makeshift grave near Ho Chi Minh City.

A volunteer team of Vietnam veterans, who call themselves Operation Aussies Home, said they had found human remains and belongings, including a boot, buttons and a map, believed to be those of the missing soldiers. They had handed the case over to Australian authorities for formal identification.
Last night from Vietnam, Operation Aussies Home leader Jim Bourke said the team had worked on and off for years to find the remains and had been excavating one particular battlefield for almost a month. The discovery had been an emotional for his team, all of whom are Vietnam veterans, he said.
“We just want to send these blokes home after 42 years. It’s been really hard for their mates. Parker’s section commander, for instance, he can tell me the number of days since he left Parker on the hill.
“As the boys were digging deeper and deeper and finding more and more artifacts, they were talking to Parker and Gillson.
“They were saying, ‘We’re taking you home, you’re OK now’.”
Hopefully, some closure to a 42 year old tragedy

Howard visits Long Tan

The Prime Minister visited the battle scene at Long Tan yesterday and according to some veterans it wasn’t before time. I must admit I never felt anguished over the fact that a politician hadn’t visited the area but some obviously have and if that makes them happy then good. I note an old aquaintence gets a quote in the article;

For some veterans, such as Graeme “Breaker” Cusack, the first visit to the Long Tan site by an Australian prime minister was “great – but it’s 30 years too late”.

Breaker, a tattooed bikie and ex officer of 6RAR didn’t actually fight at the battle but was on duty at Nui Dat and now lives in Vung Tau as do quiet a few veterans. Married to locals they live the life of Riley with their military pensions putting them clearly in the millionaire status in the third world local economy.

I watched TV last night and wondered how professional journalists can make so many mistakes. Don’t they check anything? According to the journo D COy was ambushed (it was a encounter battle) by a battalion (it was a regiment plus) outside the Nui Dat Airbase (it was a military base).

The developing signifigence of the battle of Long Tan is discussed here by Peter Edwards an official historian of Australia’s involvement in Southeast Asian conflicts.

Vietnam Veteran’s Day washup

It’s now Sunday and I’ve recovered sufficiently to feel confident enough to write in complete sentences.

I spent the day with Percy Meredith, a digger in Recce Pl 7RAR with me in Vietnam. The previous evening I found a photo of Percy and printed it out for him. As he showed everyone he met I felt the need to apologise for having had a mere child in my platoon. Did I really tell this ‘child’ to do things of a dangerous nature? The short answer is yes and he certainly soldiered at a level well above his juvenile appearance. In fact he was as good as any and a very good forward scout.

We gathered, talked and marched through Brisbane. At the end of the march there was a comemmorative service at the Vietnam Veteran’s memorial in ANZAC Square with Adrian D’Hage, MC being given top billing. I have posted on D’Hage previously and wondered what the Vietnam Vets organization were thinking when they invited him to the event.

He didn’t disappoint delivering a peace message within the body of his speach. One would think that Adrian D’Hage of all people would realize the peace we enjoy is directly attributable to the fact that our young men and woman have gone to war when called.

Brigadier d’Hage said the lesson of Long Tan was to show the futility of war and the need for tolerance and acceptance of different cultures and faiths.

I beg to differ, old chap. The lesson of Long Tan was the courage of the participants with the ‘futility of war’ being a very moot point. If we accept futility as ‘uselessness as a consequence of having no practical result‘ I would suggest most wars do have a practical result with the demise of Hitler and Tojo being a good example.

Brigadier d’Hage said Long Tan was also a lesson for more recent conflicts.

“Young men and women are once again paying with their lives in Iraq, in Afghanistan and more recently in Lebanon.”

Negotiation should be the first resource, with war only as a last resort, Brigadier d’Hage said.

Brigadier Adrian D’Hage is himself a lesson in futility espousing words and ideals as the only ammunition against terroists prepared to blow up themsleves and their children in the pursuit of a new world order that doesn’t include infidels. There is no point negotaiting as a first resource with a group who detonate as a first resource.

Jesus Adrian, come back to the world.

There were mobs of KIWIs breasting the bar and as always they are treated as just another digger albeit with funny accents. Considering the NZ impact on the Battle of Long Tan one would imagine that the NZ press would be all over the celebrations of the 40th anniversary but when I linked to the NZ Herald the only mention I could find of Long Tan solicited a subscription to actually read the link.


I later went to Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera to view the Drum Head parade [scroll down to para 5] and the concert. Organizers had found Adrain Cronauer, the original ‘Gooooooooooooood Mornnnnnnnnnnnnnnnning Vietnammmmmmmmmmmmmmm’ DJ and he didn’t disappoint. Neither did grey haired Col Joye and the Joy Boys nor Rhonda Burchmore who sang well albeit with her quality voice and interpretation overshadowed by her long legs appearing to represent a full two thirds of her body length. I stood along side Minister for Veterans Affairs Bruce Billson and his delightfull wife Kate, sharing the musical memories of the era with them and know that they both have a sympathetic approach to Vietnam Veterans.

We stayed late and reminisced until common sense bid me call my daughter Jennifer with a coded message along the lines of Dad…Enoggera…fetch!

It worked.

Vietnam, Long Tan and all that

LABOR backbencher Graham Edwards has stepped up calls for an inquiry into medals issued to veterans of the battle of Long Tan.
Mr Edwards, who lost his legs to a mine in Vietnam, maintains the men who did the real fighting on the day have not been properly recognised, and it was officers who were miles away from the fighting who unfairly won the top citations.
I know Graham well as we served in the same company in Vietnam and I know him to be committed to helping veterans when ever he can. It may come as a surpise to the unitiated but under the old Imperial system bravery medals were rationed in war in the same way that food, water and beer were rationed. If you had the bad luck to be involved in a major battle towards the end of the ration period then, simply put, there were no bravery medals left in the Staff Officers drawer at AHQ, Canberra. As well as soldiering under this anomoly regulations denied soldiers being awarded foreign decorations unless HM Queen Elizabeth herself gave approval as detailed by Bob Buick, Platoon Sergeant 11 Platoon, Delta Company 6RAR in his book “All Guts and no Glory”
On 2 September 1966 a parade was assembled near the Task Force headquarters[Nui Dat] because the Vietnamese Government intended to award honours and decorations for the battle at Long Tan. I think there was a total of 22 decorations – including a posthumous award to a member of the APC Troop who came to our rescue. The whole day turned into a fiasco and I’m ashamed to say AUstralians primarily caused it. The Commander of the Vietnamese Armed Forces and Chief of State, General Nguyen Van Thieu, effectively the Vice President, was told by the Australian government late on the previous night that he could not award Vietnamese decorations to Australians.
This lead to the surreal circumstances where the General’s aids had to go to the local markets and buy gifts to replace the medals.
So, instead of military decorations and awards befitting warriors, the officers received laquered wooden cigar cases, sergeants were given similar cigarette cases and the corporals and privates received the dolls [Vietnamese dolls in national dress].
When I was posted out of SASR I was replaced by Bill ‘Yank’ Akell. Then a Captain, he had been a private signaller in 1966 and was with D Company Headquarters [CHQ] at the battle. Radio operators had difficulty being heard over the maelstrom and at one stage 10 Platoon lost their radio when Private Brian Hornung was shot through the chest [and presumably through the radio as well]
Although wounded he walked back to CHQ and Bill ‘Yank’ Akell raced to 10 platoon with a new radio. ‘Yank’ was the second company signaller in CHQ and as he dashed forward to 10 Platoon through a maelstrom of enemy bullets he killed a couple of Viet Cong with his 9 mm Owen machine carbine. He received the Mention in Dispatches [MID] award for his actions.
The MID was the lowest of all bravery awards and could also be awarded for just doing your job well. Clerks got MIDs for keeping their records straight so no way have I ever accepted that ‘Yank’s’ actions only warranted a MID. From the Australian editorial on 5 Aug; [scroll down]
A combination of incompetence, jealousy and the Imperial medal system led to many Long Tan veterans having their medal-worthy performance downgraded to mere mentions in dispatches. Even the commander of Delta Company, Harry Smith, saw his recommendation for a Distinguished Service Order knocked down to a Military Cross. Adding insult to injury, soon after the fight Canberra blocked an attempt by the South Vietnam government to honour the Australian troops who fought in the battle with bravery citations.
My old mate Graham is right. A review is called for. Some readers may opine that us Vietnam Veterans do go on but after other wars the militay held a end-of war medal review. 20 years after Vietnam the government were embarrassed into holding a similar review for Vietnam and then every success was a long and arduous fight. My father came home from his war a hero and welcomed by all of society. I came home and was asked by an attractive young woman how many babies had I killed. Graham tells how a woman, a member of the church his mother attended, told her she hoped he died of his wounds. A male phoned up parents of one of 7RAR’s dead within days of his demise and told them he deserved to die. This morning’s news relates that ten percent of Vietnam Veterans have committed suicide and we wonder why…..and people wonder why I hate the left wing. I went to the Welcome Home march in Sydney in 1987 to see my mates, not to be welcomed home. Two years ago I wrote a tribute to a mate I lost in Vietnam headed A Letter to Ray. You might like to read it and feel the depth of our compassion. I have also written a piece headed ‘My first patrol’ No heroics, no medals, just a couple of days in the life of an infantryman. I’m taking the day off. I’ll get dressed up and go find some Infantry mates. We’ll go ANZAC Square in Brisbane and remember our absent friends and then maybe go off to a pub somewhere. No, not maybe…I will go to a pub and toast our mates and spit on the communist sympathisers. Stuff ’em. I know I did the right thing.

Tragedy begets tragedy

History of my Battalion in Vietnam records a bad day.
Tragedy struck when [a Lance Corporal] was accidently shot and killed by a member of the platoon while he was checking the section’s claymores. The soldiers on gun picquet changed over while he was out and information was not correctly passed on. The corporal was coming back into the position crouched low in the grass and all the machine gunner could see was forehead and dark hair approaching
The machine gunner opened up and killed one of his own mates. Back home in Australia the demons visited the machine gunner. He served on in the Army for nearly three decades “hoping to pay back for what he had done” He was actually blameless because he hadn’t been briefed correctly but that didn’t matter…he pulled the trigger…he knew. He visited the local Veterans hospital looking for help. He was sent home with a flea in his ear. Stop making things up….this type of thing simply didn’t happen…go home and get over it This morning he got over it. A long time in the Army…disciplined…do it right…shower…suit…tie…clean shoes. Medals all polished and pinned on correctly. The Infantry Combat Badge, earned all those years ago, pinned on his suit, central and immediately above the medals. Wife asleep…take a chair and some rope….go out into the backyard. Set it all up and take the healing step into oblivion. All at peace now…no more demons. How was your day?

Possible closure on Hill 82, Vietnam

In 1964 I joined 1 section, 1 Platoon, A Coy, 1RAR as a very raw recruit fresh out of Infantry Centre, Ingleburn. The Section 2ic was Lance Corporal ‘Tiny’ Parker and one of the other diggers in the platoon was Peter Gilson. ‘Tiny’ Parker brought me up to speed in Infantry Section work and was a patient and friendly proffessional soldier. We had many a friday happy hour over that year after a weeks hard training or after major exercises, and the team spirit that becomes apparent in infantry developed. Tiny was married then and at Platoon parties I met his wife and the girlfriends and parents of the others in the section and platoon. In March 1965 I was posted to 5RAR as I was a month too young to deploy with 1RAR on their first tour of Vietnam so I left that small band, that team that took me from recruit to soldier and gave me many life-time friendships. We had worked hard and played hard and I was saddened to leave my new ‘family’. Time marches on. I continue training with 5RAR while my old 1RAR platoon was in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. 1RAR was the first Australian infantry unit to serve in Vietnam and was one of the three battalions of the Brigade. On the 8th of November, forty years ago this month my old section and platoon came to grief. Last night Lateline carried a story that may offer closure to all those who fought on that day, to the relatives who have suffered for all these forty years and to me who counted Tiny and Peter amongst my many army mates. Continue reading »
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