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Refugee Experience Part One

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  • Refugee Experience Part One

    I've worked for a refugee settlement program in the Philippines. My job was to process Indochinese refugees bound for the U.S. While I was there, I had the pleasure of interviewing ARVN military personnel- Generals, Majors, Lieutenants. It was an amazing experience for me to see the other side of the war through the words of men who fought together with the Americans.

    What really touched me was when they mentioned names of American personnel they knew during the war and asking me if there was a way to find out if they made it out or not. They even had pictures of American personnel posing with them. After so many years, these ARVN soldiers still think about the American friends they met.

  • #2
    ARVN statements

    Certainly gives cause for reflection, doesn't it? Most reports you see that reference the ARVN portray them as indolent, incompetent, disinterested and wholly corrupt. Tends to add a new dimension to the "was it worth it?" argument, doesn't it?
    Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
    (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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    • #3
      when get into the details either into the war or out of the war, those men and women are just men and women, just anyone else.... they love, hate, be warm, cold, mean, generous ... all kinds and all the time... they are human beings with same feelings as everyone else.
      Attn to ALL my opponents:

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      • #4
        Originally posted by hogdriver View Post
        Certainly gives cause for reflection, doesn't it? Most reports you see that reference the ARVN portray them as indolent, incompetent, disinterested and wholly corrupt.
        It should make you wonder about who was making those reports and why.

        Tends to add a new dimension to the "was it worth it?" argument, doesn't it?
        Nope. There was never any question for some of us.

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        • #5
          Not the whole picture

          Miss Saigon, there was a lot of truth to those reports, but they were not the whole picture. Some of the very best units of the war were ARVN, and also a lot of the mediocre. Likewise, some of the very best low level troop commanders of the war were ARVN, but most advisors generally agree that the ARVN system was such that these men often failed to make it above Captain. And ARVN enlisted soldiers often got tasked with non-military duties, such as maintaining their officers quarters. The very best of the ARVN were either killed in combat, or stayed until the end. Understand that for the great majority of Vietnamese in that period, loyalty to the family came before loyalty to the country. Thus when the end was in sight, most thought first of their families. I served under two Vietnamese special forces officers. Both commanded in the 81st Airborne Rangers. One had a bank account in Switzerland, into which he made scheduled deposits, and one came from a family so wealthy he could have been living on the Cote d'Azur, chasing girls. The first made it out and now lives in Florida, the second (Ton That Thuan) was killed at Bu Prang on 11 Nov 69.
          dit: Lirelou

          Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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          • #6
            And I personally have met an American supply sgt who was steeling govt washing machines, watches, and various govt property and selling them on the side in Germany. He hinted that even cars could be had but never actually confessed to this. He said anything was possible, you just had to have someone in the purchasing chain for the right rank of officer or diplomat. I don't know where his bank accounts were. You are career military. You know this is true and plenty of this goes on.

            For every corrupt Vietnamese Army soldier there were also corrupt Americans. But all I ever hear about are the problems with the ARVN. That, of course, because the Republic of Vietnam was not rich and could not absorb the cost of criminal behavior like wealthy America can. That and because people were looking for any reason to impugn the justice of our cause.

            And of course, the leaders of the worker's state were probably the most corrupt of all. And still are. But because they could use fear to descipline their soldiers and squash any dissent against the war back home they fielded quite a dedicated fighting force didn't they?

            I wonder how well any nation's forces fight when the enemy is coming down the streets of their home towns and their families are in danger? Or even if only their family is hungry and they aren't getting paid enough to take proper care of them? Would Americans or any first world soldiers be any different?

            I get tired of Americans judging the ARVN and the Vietnamese by American standards, when they aren't even consistent about that. How often do we hear that even in 72 when the ARVN fought well, they did so with US air support. Well, who used the Air support in Vietnam in the first place? Even today. The US won't deploy a squad without a SOFLAM and a few million dollars worth of Shock and awe, yet the ARVN wasn't any good without US air support?
            Last edited by Miss Saigon; 27 Aug 08, 11:16.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Miss.Saigon View Post
              And of course, the leaders of the worker's state were probably the most corrupt of all. And still are. But because they could use fear to descipline their soldiers and squash any dissent against the war back home they fielded quite a dedicated fighting force didn't they?
              Fear and squashing dissent? You have lot to learn about the other side, MS. Just because your side could not motivate your own soldiers, doesn't mean anyone successful in doing that must have used fear and squashing.

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              • #8
                Altus,

                Comparing North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese is pointless. They were different peoples separated by a common heritage. In my eyes it is a bit like comparing Yankees (especially New Englanders) to Southerners. Another comparison may well be Canadians and Americans. If you want to get a bit further away, but similar, Poles and Lithuanians.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                  Comparing North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese is pointless. They were different peoples separated by a common heritage. In my eyes it is a bit like comparing Yankees (especially New Englanders) to Southerners. Another comparison may well be Canadians and Americans. If you want to get a bit further away, but similar, Poles and Lithuanians.
                  This is not as simple, Pruitt. Comparing DRV and RVN along the North/South provenance line is tricky, if you consider the fact that a large portion of RVN's top administration and ARVN commanding circles were actually Northerners, whereas the most influential members of the CPV Politburo, and a large part of PAVN corps of officers, from the top down, were actually Southerners.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by altus View Post
                    Fear and squashing dissent? You have lot to learn about the other side, MS. Just because your side could not motivate your own soldiers, doesn't mean anyone successful in doing that must have used fear and squashing.


                    Just one of many books replete with interviews of North Vietnamese who describe in their own words living in fear in North Vietnam or fighting in the south solely out of fear for themselves or their family, not out of dedication to the revolution.

                    As for motivation, your government truly is a motivator. More people fled communist Vietnam than any other communist government in history. Beating out even Stalin. Now that is motivation.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by altus View Post
                      This is not as simple, Pruitt. Comparing DRV and RVN along the North/South provenance line is tricky, if you consider the fact that a large portion of RVN's top administration and ARVN commanding circles were actually Northerners, whereas the most influential members of the CPV Politburo, and a large part of PAVN corps of officers, from the top down, were actually Southerners.
                      Simple? Well, parhaps not as simple as drawing the line at the DMZ, but it is not as complicated as all that either. Vietnam was not Korea. We had a long history of being divided, even though we share a common root. Not unlike the US and Canada. And while it is true that a lot of Northerners occupied ARVN officer position, much of this had to do with Northerners who fled the Communist DRV to go South.

                      Of course, one of the benefits of SO many people having fled Vietnam there are plenty to talk to freely about what the DRV was like. All over the world. There are even plenty of committed Communist VN living in places like Paris who became disillusioned with the DRV and are now willing to talk about, even though they still hate the US. So there are plenty of people to "learn" about it from.

                      And today we can even talk to people in VN about it to a certain extent and in a guarded way. Some of us "overseas patriots" talk to more of those people than others though.
                      Last edited by Miss Saigon; 27 Aug 08, 11:14.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Miss.Saigon View Post


                        Just one of many books replete with interviews of North Vietnamese who describe in their own words living in fear in North Vietnam or fighting in the south solely out of fear for themselves or their family, not out of dedication to the revolution.

                        As for motivation, your government truly is a motivator. More people fled communist Vietnam than any other communist government in history. Beating out even Stalin. Now that is motivation.
                        .

                        NEVER FORGET



                        With Freedom's greasy slop provided by America's anti-Freedom activists during the Vietnam War, like...

                        WILLIAM Jefferson CLINTON
                        DIANE Hillary RODHAM
                        JOHN Fitzgerald KERRY
                        WALTER CRONKITE
                        RAMSEY CLARK
                        TOM HAYDEN
                        JANE FONDA, etc.

                        ...came slamming down hard on many poor undeserving Southeast Asia souls a most horrid:


                        .."JOURNEY from the FALL"..

                        http://www.JourneyFromTheFall.com

                        http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1806248/posts

                        http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1308949/posts



                        NEVER ever AGAIN..!!



                        NEVER FORGET
                        Signed: "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer / Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965, LZ Falcon

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                        • #13
                          MS is right in that comparing an American to a South Vietnamese under those circumstances in the war was like comparing apples to oranges. It is something that I think many overlook. Many of these ARVN were dirt poor themselves and had to turn to alternate means to feed their families.
                          In regards to fighting though, there was a lack of consistency at times.
                          In regards to the northern soldier, he lived in fear and fought in many cases to ensure his and his family's safety. The commies were ruthless against anyone who did not support their cause whether it was a soldier or a simple rice farmer. A great many of innocent villagers were murdered/raped/tortured for not providing rice or lodging or other support.
                          "War is hell, but actual combat is a motherf#cker"
                          - Col. David Hackworth

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Miss.Saigon View Post
                            Just one of many books replete with interviews of North Vietnamese who describe in their own words living in fear in North Vietnam or fighting in the south solely out of fear for themselves or their family, not out of dedication to the revolution.
                            Sorry, but basing your knowledge about North Vietnam on books such as this is like me trying to find what American think about the Vietnam War by interviewing Jane Fonda and Noam Chomsky.

                            As for motivation, your government truly is a motivator. More people fled communist Vietnam than any other communist government in history.
                            You have different things and different periods mixed. Few will defend SRV disastrous post-1975 policies. But during the war, they managed to raise an authentic sense of patriotism in the population. And after American bombs started falling on North Vietnamese villages, little additional motivation was needed.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by altus View Post
                              Sorry, but basing your knowledge about North Vietnam on books such as this is like me trying to find what American think about the Vietnam War by interviewing Jane Fonda and Noam Chomsky.
                              Point taken. However, as much as I hate it, Chomsky and Fonda do represent the thinking and outlook of a significant number of Americans. Not the majority, but one cannot discard all of what they say as representing the fringe. They personally may be on the Fringe, but a lot of their ideas are not confined to the fringe.

                              Of course, the significat difference being that people who want to express their ideas need in the US, no matter how mainstream or how fringe, need not flee the US to be able to express these ideas.

                              [/quote]Few will defend SRV disastrous post-1975 policies. But during the war, they managed to raise an authentic sense of patriotism in the population. [/quote]

                              Yes, but we will never really know for sure how much of this was genuine because the people were never permitted to protest against the war if they did not like it nor were they able to vote for leaders who might want to end the war.

                              As for the post 75 mistakes, in Europe and the US when the people feel that the government has made mistakes, the government is changed. In Vietnam the government is not accountable to the people for its mistakes.

                              And after American bombs started falling on North Vietnamese villages, little additional motivation was needed.
                              Yes. I understand this. Just as Tet motivated the South Vietnamese againt the Northerners.

                              However, Hitler's invasion of Russia also motivated patriotic feelings among normal Russians, but this did not stop the Communists from still needing political commissars with each military unit to maintain party discipline and control. Just as the PAVN had political officers for the same reason.

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