Haunting memories of Vietnam
Regarding “Is doomsday around the corner in Iraq?” (Opinion, Tom Engelhardt, March 15): In the second-to-last paragraph of this piece, the following false claim appears, “In that conflict (Vietnam) too, Americans were repeatedly told that the U.S. couldn’t withdraw because, if we left, the enemy would launch a ‘bloodbath’ in South Vietnam. … But when the last American took that last helicopter out, the blood bath didn’t happen …”
I don’t know, or care, where Engelhardt was when we evacuated our embassy in Saigon, but even though I was not on “the last helicopter out” that day, I was an eyewitness to what happened there. The bloodbath conducted by the Viet Cong against civilians who had supported Americans was already well under way during and months after the evacuation.
One of the reasons most people never saw this stems from the fact government censors ordered Navy personnel to throw this developed film overboard, preventing the American public from viewing footage of bodies stacked like cord wood and drainage ditches overflowing with blood.
If this bloodbath never occurred, why did Gen. William Westmoreland apologize years later to the American people for the mistakes that happened in South Vietnam?
Why was U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin almost arrested by the Marines and forced to evacuate as President Gerald Ford ordered him to leave more than 400 Vietnamese civilian employees behind to be slaughtered?
Why did thousands of refugees risk and lose their lives along with all their possessions as they attempted to escape Vietnam in overloaded rafts, small boats, helicopters and small airplanes?
Just because [someone] didn’t see the bloodbath in Vietnam in the news doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Unfortunately, I was an eyewitness to it, and it haunts me to this day.
Dave HardestyTracy, Calif.