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Front Page » August 27, 2002 » Opinion » We were soldiers
Published 4,750 days ago

We were soldiers

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The recent movie We Were Soldiers staffing Mel Gibson views the Vietnam War through a different lens than most Hollywood productions.

First of all, it does not portray our Vietnam warriors as dope-smoking degenerates who could not defeat an outgunned third world army, or as genocidal maniacs who brutalized unarmed women and children. It instead presents them as good, patriotic Americans and pays homage to their heroism and sacrifice.

Secondly, it is more history than Hollywood, in spite of the fact that it is a dramatization and not a documentary. The movie is based on the book We Were Soldiers Once... and Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway. The book recounts the savage fighting that took place in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam in November 1965, when 450 "Air Cavalry" troopers testing the Army's innovative new concept of air mobility via helicopter were attacked on all sides by more than 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. The American unit, an element of the Seventh Cavalry (the same unit General Custer commanded), could very well have met its Little Big Horn if not for the exemplary leadership of its courageous commander, then-Lt. Col. Harold Moore.

Joseph Galloway, a reporter who was able to helicopter into the thick of the fighting, was soon forced to pick up a rifle in the raging life-and-death struggle that did not allow any quarter for noncombatants.

The movie only hints that the war effort was hampered by political decisions in Washington. In his interview General Moore does not mince words regarding the political duplicity.

"The fact is that (President Lyndon B.) Johnson would not let us follow the defeated enemy to his death or surrender in Cambodia; so he was allowed to regroup, reinforce, resupply, and redeploy ... The fact is that the enemy had sanctuaries in Laos. Cambodia, southern North Vietnam and northern South Vietnam. And by handing him these sanctuaries, Lyndon Johnson handed enemy forces the tactical and strategic initiative. They could come out of those safe areas at their time and pleasure, take us on, and then go back into those sanctuaries to take care of their wounded, regroup, and get re-equipped. We were denied the tactical and strategic initiative by Lyndon Johnson. The lies and deception of the Johnson administration were so morally wrong, and the enormity of it all is just finally coming out."

In addition to interviewing General Moore, William F. Jasper wrote two major cover story articles: "Vindicating Our Veterans" and "Seven Myths about the Vietnam War."

The first article provides moving accounts of the heroism of Moore's men at the battle of the la Drang. But it also notes that the lessons of Vietnam are applicable today. It points out, for instance, that the same one-world cabal that has mired us in one no-win war after another will do the same with the "war on terrorism" unless stopped.

We Were Soldiers has created new interest in learning the truth about Vietnam. So too has the escalating war on terrorism, which is spreading to dozens of countries and which (we are told) will last for decades.

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August 27, 2002
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