The Snake-Eaters and the Yards


An American officer sits with a group of Montagnards in a military camp in central Vietnam in 1962.

“In 1965, syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak used a frontier metaphor to describe the American Special Forces’ advisory role with Vietnamese tribesmen. ‘Assume that during our own Civil War the north had asked a friendly foreign power to mobilize, train, and arm hostile American Indian tribes and lead them into battle against the South,’ they wrote.  If that historical hypothetical suggested wild possibilities, Evans and Novak used it advisedly. For four years, Special Forces had been training an oppressed minority group in guerrilla tactics, providing them with weapons and acting as de facto aid workers in their communities. When Americans remember Vietnam, we often think of the war as having three major actors: the North Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese, and the American military. But there was another player: the Montagnards. The indigenous Montagnards, recruited into service by the American Special Forces in Vietnam’s mountain highlands, defended villages against the Viet Cong and served as rapid response forces. The Special Forces and the Montagnards—each tough, versatile, and accustomed to living in wild conditions—formed an affinity for each other. In the testimony of many veterans, their working relationship with the Montagnards, nicknamed Yards, was a bright spot in a confusing and frustrating war. The bond between America’s elite fighters and their indigenous partners has persisted into the present, but despite the best efforts of vets, the Montagnards have suffered greatly in the postwar years, at least in part because they cast their lot with the U.S. Army. In a war with more than its share of tragedies, this one is less often told but is crucial to understanding the conflict and its toll. …”
Slate
W – Degar
MONTAGNARDS IN VIETNAM
YouTube: Operation Montagnard 28:28

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Cambodia, CIA, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Laos, Viet Cong, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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