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Vietnam documentary on PBS

Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior MemberPosts: 2,467 Senior Member
I've been watching the Vietnam documentary on PBS. This has been a totally incredible and detailed documentary on Nam. Over the years I've really studied Nam and thought I was pretty smart on the subject. I've been humbled as I really knew very little after four nights watching this. What I find truly intriguing is the footage and interviews from the former Vietcong and North Vietnamese soldiers and officers. There's always two sides to any conflict and this is the first time I've really gotten to hear from north's views. Ho Chi Min was a tactical genius, the corruption in the south was off the scales.

This was a war that was never going to be won by our side, we knew it and it we kept throwing man power and bombings hoping it would turn the tide. It never did and we lost so many good men and women and came out with the same end result!

If you haven't been watching this documentary has proven to be a gem! If you have I'd like to hear your thoughts so far
Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

John 3: 1-21
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Replies

  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    I was onky able to watch the first episode so far.

    After the maps combined with historical context, I think I have alot better understanding of the past mindset driving the fear of the red tide. Before seeing it explained on screen like that I was confused as to how our leaders got so hysterical about it.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    I've watched the first 2 episodes so far. What gets me is how Ho Chi Minh attempted to contact at least 2 different U.S. presidents for help in gaining independence(before he went Commie), and neither president received the messages. The intelligence community never gave the messages to the 2nd president. Plus the fact we had OSS people in Vietnam during WWII helping Ho fight the Japs.

    If France had left Vietnam alone after 1945 I don't think Ho would have gone Commie and war wouldnt have been necessary.

    Another thing, is I don't understand how a high ranking American officer can just dismiss, out of hand, reports from his jr/subordinate officers.

    I know hindsight is 20-20. But a blind man should have been able to see that that situation wasn't going to end well.

    BTW, the 1st president was Wilson in 1919, and the 2nd was either FDR or Truman. Can't remember which now
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    I've been watching it.....got to say, the whole thing really takes me back....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    I've watched three episodes. There's definitely an agenda going on with how it's being presented.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior Member Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    I remember as a kid my pop would watch Walter Cronkite every night and the war in Vietnam. I was too young to understand the war over there. All I really understood was the cold war air raid siren drills we would go through at school. This was where all us kids in school would proceed to the hall, kneel forward into a ball and wonder if Russia had sent an atomic bomb our way.

    The summer of 68 I was eight years old and a bunch of us kids were at the neighborhood pool playing and swimming. As if it was yesterday I remember a friend of mines mom came in with a chaplain and army officer. She was crying and the two men were helping her to walk. She called her two sons over and they huddled together. My friend ran off crying screaming no no no you're lying!

    We all knew their dad flew helicopters for the army. Later that day we found out his dad had been shot down and killed in Nam. That was the first time in my life I really understood the war in Vietnam. All of us kids cried over the loss of my buddies dad, it was just so hard to comprehend at that age. Then we began to understand how all the military kids felt with their dads and older brothers who were over fighting in Nam. My young life was changed forever that summer day in 68.

    I've found this documentary extremely educational and view points from the North Vietnamese soldiers unbelievably enlightening. This was the war I grew up with, guess that's why I have such an interest in it.
    Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

    John 3: 1-21
  • AntonioAntonio Senior Member Posts: 2,986 Senior Member
    Looking forward to see it....hope it's posted in YouTube since we don't have PBS on our local cable service. Vietnam war is a fascinating historical proof of how everything can go wrong in the worst possible sequence.
  • Big Al1Big Al1 Senior Member Posts: 8,545 Senior Member
    Burns has a subtle way of putting a liberal slant in his documentaries!!
  • Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior Member Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    Big Al1 wrote: »
    Burns has a subtle way of putting a liberal slant in his documentaries!!

    I've got to be honest, I haven't seen a liberal slant or any other slant that I could pick up on. What I've been watching has been put together very well showing both sides of the war. You're getting insight on president, his staff and Generals I've never seen before as well as Ho Chi Min and his staff, Generals and soldiers. So far it's been outstanding!
    Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

    John 3: 1-21
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,416 Senior Member
    I saw it on the guide, but hadn't started watching it until last night after seeing the discussion here. I set my DVR to record the season. I was pretty skeptical at first, knowing that since it's on PBS, it'll likely lean pretty liberal. I did see some of that in the bit that I watched before I went to bed, but didn't seem as bad as I expected. I'll have to start from the beginning and watch more of it to really decide.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    From the perspective of someone who was there, or at least close by in a combat support role, for quite a while, anything produced by Ken Burns holds zero interest to me. He's the most despicable sort of liberal, a sneaky, "holier than thou" kind with an agenda he slips in under the radar at every opportunity.

    Once forces are committed to combat, anything less than a total effort toward a quick, decisive victory wastes precious lives and resources. We were betrayed by the politicians who put us in harm's way, and our own fellow citizens who were too cowardly to stand with us, literally or figuratively. That sort of thing can never be forgotten, nor forgiven!
    Jerry
  • Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior Member Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    Once forces are committed to combat, anything less than a total effort toward a quick, decisive victory wastes precious lives and resources. We were betrayed by the politicians who put us in harm's way, and our own fellow citizens who were too cowardly to stand with us, literally or figuratively. That sort of thing can never be forgotten, nor forgiven!
    Jerry

    Jerry, I think he's done a great job showing what Johnson and his staff were doing behind the scenes and what was being told to the American public. He also shows the rise in resentment from the college ranks and poor black america. When they ran out of resentments from the poor areas especially black areas of the country and then had to cut into the middle class and white sectors is when things really went south and the protesting really took off! How the government got the universities to provide information on students who dropped below a given GPA and then were drafted.

    I'm as diehard to the right as most here and I don't see the slant of liberalism to show anything but what really happened. From 63 to 67 (as far as the show has gone so far) Johnson was told we could never win this war and we should bow out as gracefully as possible and eat crow while we can and save lives. This is never hidden and you get to hear Johnson's actual recorded phone calls to his chief of staff and Westmoreland.

    He's not sugar coating this documented but showing the real history and facts of what really went on, on both and all sides of the equation.
    Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

    John 3: 1-21
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,416 Senior Member
    Again, I'll reiterate that I've only watched a little bit of it so far. So I can't say that I have a great overall opinion of the series at this point. From what I saw last night, the part that caught my attention was the same old portraying and presenting a negative perception of the US troops. Making it seem as though it was common for US troops to go into civilian villages, kill innocent people, destroy all their food and burn their huts down. Same kind of impression that was intentionally given in the movie Platoon, IMO. And the same kind of image painted by these people that went a long way toward creating these people's hatred of the soldiers and the mistreatment of them when they came home.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Monday morning quarterbacking is easy, especially 40 years after the fact when there aren't many people left to call BS. I wonder how the "journalists" in 2050 will massage the facts about Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran (coming soon) and Korean War II?
    Jerry
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Yeah, there was a bit of hellraising from the black community, and the college dweebs that were in college to avoid the draft. There was a feeling that blacks made up a disproportionate number of the draftees, but the figures don't lie. The college crowd pitched a fit when they had to suddenly make a target GPA. Oh, the horror of having to actually learn something while in college!

    http://www.americanwarlibrary.com/vietnam/vwc10.htm

    https://www.militaryfactory.com/vietnam/casualties.asp

    And it's worth noting the number from each state that were casualties. The South, being only an approximate third of the U.S. population had some very high numbers of KIA in the war.

    McNamara's part in screwing up the military micromanaging it fornicated up a lot. Like not chrome lining chamber and rifling in the M-16, not providing cleaning kits with the rifles, and allowing ball powder to be substituted for the stick powder; the ball powder gummed up the works RIGHT NOW in that wet environment. Ball powder increased the cyclic rate of full auto fire to the point that rifles were breaking in the field, case heads were being ripped by the extractors rendering the rifle useless. And on and on. And the non-chrome lined chambers and bores rusted overnight in the humid climate. And remember, NO CLEANING KITS PROVIDED WITH THE RIFLES! McNamara was so FREAKIN' STUPID that he expected a dead enemy soldier for every bullet fired and lots and lots of dead enemy for every bomb dropped. While an intelligent man, he had no common sense whatsoever.

    The 'documentary' makes much of civilian deaths in North Vietnam during the bombing campaign. Dropping bombs from high altitude is not an exact science as wind causes drift of the bombs on the way down. And the North Vietnamese Army put a LOT of their equipment including SAM missile launchers and AA batteries right in the middle of populated areas. That makes collateral damage a sure thing. The Taliban and ISIS using human shields ain't a new concept.

    And Johnson micromanaged the bomber flight paths making them use the same ones over and over causing unacceptable losses of the BUFFs to the point that there was a near mutiny among the bomber pilots. And Johnson even picked the targets. He didn't allow bombing of Hanoi until the place was a HUGE AAA battery of SAMs and AA guns. And the losses were unacceptable when they finally did get to start pounding Hanoi. Should have been bombing Hanoi from day one 24/7 before the buildup.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Jeff in TX wrote: »
    Jerry, I think he's done a great job showing what Johnson and his staff were doing behind the scenes and what was being told to the American public. He also shows the rise in resentment from the college ranks and poor black america. When they ran out of resentments from the poor areas especially black areas of the country and then had to cut into the middle class and white sectors is when things really went south and the protesting really took off! How the government got the universities to provide information on students who dropped below a given GPA and then were drafted.

    I'm as diehard to the right as most here and I don't see the slant of liberalism to show anything but what really happened. From 63 to 67 (as far as the show has gone so far) Johnson was told we could never win this war and we should bow out as gracefully as possible and eat crow while we can and save lives. This is never hidden and you get to hear Johnson's actual recorded phone calls to his chief of staff and Westmoreland.

    He's not sugar coating this documented but showing the real history and facts of what really went on, on both and all sides of the equation.

    That's the way I've seeing it too. Kennedy and Johnson both knew there was no.way we could win. There is audio of Johnson saying as much. They both agonized over what to do. Yet, they feared the spread of communism. I have to remind myself that this was happening in a different time under circumstances I was not old enough to remember.
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    From the perspective of someone who was there, or at least close by in a combat support role, for quite a while, anything produced by Ken Burns holds zero interest to me. He's the most despicable sort of liberal, a sneaky, "holier than thou" kind with an agenda he slips in under the radar at every opportunity.

    Once forces are committed to combat, anything less than a total effort toward a quick, decisive victory wastes precious lives and resources. We were betrayed by the politicians who put us in harm's way, and our own fellow citizens who were too cowardly to stand with us, literally or figuratively. That sort of thing can never be forgotten, nor forgiven!
    Jerry

    I agree 100% with your 2nd paragraph. The 9nly other documentary of his that I've watched was The Civil War. I enjoyed that.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    You really had to be there on the Okinawa taxiways for a full 12 hour shift, riding a "launch truck" and watching three of those magnificent bombers struggle into the air every four hours, with bomb loads so heavy they couldn't carry enough fuel to get to the target and had to fuel up on the way, and wonder how many of them would actually make it home. The usual bomb load was 37,500 pounds of bombs PER PLANE! Between Okinawa, Thailand, and Guam, the B-52's flew a thousand missions a month for several years. With that tonnage of high explosives, we could have leveled most of the north- - - -Hanoi and Haiphong harbor in particular. That doesn't count all the guys like Ned who saw things from a lot more up close and personal basis in the smaller planes, or the guys on the ground who really lived through hell. We didn't lose, the politicians gave it away with their refusal to make us effective. All the pontificating after the fact is about as worthless as the sniveling cowards who are doing it- - - - -the ones who have never worn the uniform of their country and stood in defense of our freedom!
    Jerry
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    You really had to be there on the Okinawa taxiways for a full 12 hour shift, riding a "launch truck" and watching three of those magnificent bombers struggle into the air every four hours, with bomb loads so heavy they couldn't carry enough fuel to get to the target and had to fuel up on the way, and wonder how many of them would actually make it home. The usual bomb load was 37,500 pounds of bombs PER PLANE! Between Okinawa, Thailand, and Guam, the B-52's flew a thousand missions a month for several years. With that tonnage of high explosives, we could have leveled most of the north- - - -Hanoi and Haiphong harbor in particular. That doesn't count all the guys like Ned who saw things from a lot more up close and personal basis in the smaller planes, or the guys on the ground who really lived through hell. We didn't lose, the politicians gave it away with their refusal to make us effective. All the pontificating after the fact is about as worthless as the sniveling cowards who are doing it- - - - -the ones who have never worn the uniform of their country and stood in defense of our freedom!
    Jerry

    My uncle was a navigator/bombadier(sp?) on a B 52 during the war.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    He had a tough job. There were two guys on the lower deck. The navigator got the plane to the target and back. The "radar nav" (bombardier) actually flew the plane on the bomb run via a joystick connected to the autopilot while looking down through a high magnification scope in the bottom of the plane, correcting the drop for airspeed, altitude, wind drift, and a bunch of other variables. He had a bunch of electronic devices to help out, but it was definitely a highly skilled job to get a bunch of "dumb" gravity bombs on target from 40K feet and 500 MPH or so.
    Jerry
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,766 Senior Member
    I've always been a my country right or wrong kind of guy. But, from what I've read over the years, gleaned on my own, I've come to the conclusion that we backed the wrong side.

    Ho's desire was to get the French out of VN, and while he was truly a nationalist, he'd align with anyone who would help him accomplish this goal. We had the chance and didn't, so he proclaimed"communist", and that's where his help came from.

    No denigration to the men and women who served there, but the reunified VN doesn't look too communist to me, and the country is certainly doing better now than I think it would be doing under the govt we were supporting.

    Iraq may be judged the same, eventually. Afghanistan is a whole different can of worms.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    If you look at the number off U.S. weapons in the hands of the North Vietnamese at the beginning of the war you can tell the OSS/CIA was clearly courting Ho Chi Minh in the early days...I have seen a profusion of BARs and Browning LMGs in their films..,
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,766 Senior Member
    My dad was in the OSS. Maybe my perspective is jaded. LOL.
    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    The first episode kinda said Ho aligned with who would help him.

    I don't doubt for a minute that we were helping him early on. Most likely things got muddy when his leadership was challenged later.

    Edit
    One of the coolest things I've ever seen on the internet was a great big fully operational model of a B52 with real jet engines, and the whole nine yards.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,766 Senior Member
    early wrote: »
    The first episode kinda said Ho aligned with who would help him.

    I don't doubt for a minute that we were helping him early on. Most likely things got muddy when his leadership was challenged later.

    I think things got muddy when DeGaulle decided to get back into the game and played the "we were allies once" card.

    We should have bombed the French right then and there.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    A long time ago I read " Hell in a Very Small Place" recounting the battle of Dien Bien Phu.... couldn't get over what brilliant tacticians the French were..." Let's build a firebase in a valley ......"
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    A long time ago I read " Hell in a Very Small Place" recounting the battle of Dien Bien Phu.... couldn't get over what brilliant tacticians the French were..." Let's build a firebase in a valley ......"

    You've also to admire an enemy that'll manhandle artillery pieces and ammo over and through those mountains
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Linefinder wrote: »
    I think things got muddy when DeGaulle decided to get back into the game and played the "we were allies once" card.

    We should have bombed the French right then and there.

    Mike

    Don't forget that the French were in Vietnam for a long time because they had huge rubber tree plantations there. They were there for the economic reason of protecting those plantations as much as anything else. Kind of like we went to Cuba to protect the investments of the U.S. sugar companies heavily invested in Cuban sugar cane and sugar production.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,464 Senior Member
    I've been taking my time with it on the DVR (Damn them for airing during deer season prep season!)

    Four episodes in, I can't really accuse Burns of any kind of "slant".

    If we learn anything from the 20th and early 21st centuries, it should be that attempting to govern or form governments from thousands of miles away without understanding the culture on the ground never works out well.

    That, and that trying to fight a war from that same distance with less determination than the other guy living on that ground will cancel out a great deal of your whizbang equipment and logistics advantages right quick.

    But what I think I enjoyed most was listening to the usual PBS lead-in:

    "Major support for The Vietnam War was provided by This Organization, That Organization, This Bunch of Rich Folks. . .and Viewers Like You"

    Yeah, I know that's not what it really means, but still - :spittingcoffee:
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    I watched most all the episodes. I thought it was pretty good. My only critisizem would be that not more American veterans weren't interviewed.

    I wasn't aware of the extent of Jane Fonda's involvement before. She should have been charged and tried for treason.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    With as many really good long range riflemen as there were over there, I'm still amazed she managed to survive the whole trip. The outdoor amphitheater that she and her traitor buddies used on Okinawa to spew their vitriol was overlooked by several wooded hills that would have made for some excellent sniper positions.
    Jerry
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