“The Idiocy of War”


Chinook helicopter

C.J. Hughes – Aug. 2017: “Long, unpopular and ultimately a failure, the Vietnam War remained so controversial after it ended that many veterans were loath to discuss their combat experiences in the conflict for decades—even among close family members. But taboos may be lifting. New books, an upcoming documentary series and a revived Broadway musical, among other works, are directing fresh attention to a war that triggered a tumultuous era that parallels our current polarized age. That newfound interest is being noted gladly by some of the hundreds of Dartmouth alumni who served in Asia and encountered an indifferent or hostile world when they returned. ‘The pendulum has swung enormously,’ says Tony Thompson ’64, who spent a year in Vietnam with the Army at a punji-stick-ringed bunker by the Ho Chi Minh trail, and later by the North Vietnam border, where he participated in search-and-destroy missions. Neither the Bronze Star nor the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry he earned prepared him for the enmity he faced upon returning to Hanover in 1965 to finish his degree. One night, as he was hanging out in the basement of his fraternity, Gamma Delta Chi, a fellow member called Thompson ‘a moral coward’ for his service. Stung by a point of view that was gaining traction, Thompson moved off campus to White River Junction, Vermont, for his last two years of studies. ‘I didn’t wear Vietnam as a badge of honor or of dishonor,’ Thompson says. ‘I still have no regrets.’ Other alums, especially those who served later in the 1960s, are more critical of their country’s involvement in the war. They say it was a needless entanglement in a conflict between Vietnamese factions and that it was executed so poorly it turned many combatants into pacifists. ‘What I saw was the idiocy of the war,’ says Francis ‘Bud’ McGrath ’64. One night in 1967 when McGrath was stationed at an Army camp near Saigon, a noise near the camp touched off an hours-long, bullets-and-bombs assault involving machine guns, howitzers and even B-52 bombers, which were diverted to join the massive strike. When the smoke cleared, a patrol ventured out to find no evidence of any enemy—just a single, dead monkey. …”
Dartmouth Magazine – C.J. Hughes (Aug 2017)


U.S. troops aid the wounded at Tan Thoi Nhut in March 1968.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Draft board, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Lyn. Johnson, Marijuana, R. McNamara, Saigon, Viet Cong, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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