I enlisted when the missile Cuban crisis came up. I heard duty’s call. So, I had the opportunity, particularly when I got a commission in the Marine Corps, which taught us what Communism was. I understood. I was not a useful idiot, as Lenin had called those who preferred sound to sense and didn’t really study to know what Communism was all about. I knew, and I passed that on to my men. Our families back home are being indoctrinated every night by Walter Cronkite, Morely Safer.
Tonight on the Worldview Weekend Hour, do you know the truth about Vietnam? Perhaps your father or your grandfather served in Vietnam. Perhaps they were ones that were, well, the victims of insults when they came home. Are you aware of the information operation that took place during the Vietnam War by the Communists? What can we learn from the Vietnam War and how the liberals and the Communists turned the hearts of Americans against defeating Communism? What can we learn that helps us understand not only the ongoing fight against Communism, but now our fight against Islam as the Marxists and Muslims have joined forces for a Red-Green Axis?
My guest is Udell Meyers, United States Marine, Vietnam Vet, Retired. The Worldview Weekend Hour begins right now.
Morely Safer: – outskirts of the village of Cam Ne with elements of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines. And we were walking into this village when you can hear what happened. [Sound of equipment] This is what the war in Vietnam is all about. [Sound of people speaking Vietnamese] The old and the very young. The Marines have burned this old couple’s cottage because fire was coming from here.
Now when you walk into the village, you see no young people at all. Fire was coming from automatic – light automatic weapons fire was coming from all of these villages. It’s not really one village; it’s a string of huts. [Vietnamese woman crying and talking] And the people are left – come this way, Khan – the people that are left are like this woman here, the very old. [Sound of equipment]
It first appeared that the Marines had been sniped at, and that a few houses were made to pay. Shortly after, an officer told me he had orders to go in and level the string of hamlets that surrounds Cam Ne village. And all around the common paddy field that feeds these hamlets, a ring of fire. A hundred and fifty homes were leveled in retaliation for a burst of gunfire.
In Vietnam, like everywhere else in Asia, property – a home – is everything. A man lives with his family on ancestral land. His parents are buried nearby. Their spirit is part of his holding. If there were Viet Cong in the hamlets, they were long gone, alerted by the roar of the amphibious tractors and the heavy barrage of rocket fire laid down before the troops moved in. The women and the old men who remained will never forget that August afternoon.
The day’s operation burned down a hundred and fifty houses, wounded three women, killed one baby, wounded one Marine, and netted these four prisoners – four old men who could not answer questions put to them in English. Four old men who had no idea what an ID card was.
Today’s operation is the frustration of Vietnam in miniature. There is little doubt that American fire power can win a military victory here. But to a Vietnamese peasant whose home is a – means a lifetime of back-breaking labor, it will take more than presidential promises to convince him that we are on his side. Morely Safer, CBS News, near the village of Cam Ne.
Brannon Howse: But notice that Morely Safer said that this is what Vietnam was all about. As he’s filming this guy torching this hut, he says this is what Vietnam was all about. Again, giving the impression that what Vietnam was all about was just a US serviceman going around burning down the innocent huts.
I got some history I went and looked up. I did my own study on this and read reports of people that were actually there, and it turns out that this little collection of huts was part of a whole network of little towns or villages known as Cam Ne, and they were heavily – the Viet Cong, the Vietnamese Communists had infiltrated those areas, taken up sniper firing from those huts, had dug in tunnels all around, had booby trapped the hedges. I mean Morely Safer is not reporting exactly what happened at all. He acts like, “Oh, it was just a few little sniper rounds coming from there, and then they went in and just burned everything down, innocent people.”
Udell Meyers: Exactly.
Brannon Howse: What – tell us your first-hand knowledge of being there and knowing what was going on.
Udell Meyers: I can’t tell you how hard it – hard it was to see that again. It brings back too many memories of how hard it was on the men that were part of these things and being portrayed in a – with a lie as something that was not justified. Those were clips of any number of things that were put together. He had to leave much before. He rarely was on a mission at the time it was taking place, mostly afterward and filling in a false story of which that is the men that were there in Cam Ne (3) – there were some from the recon units that had been there.
What had happened – and, Brannon, the atrocities never got reported of the North Vietnamese. Very often what we – we had what we called counter mortar radar. It had been developed before the Vietnam War. And these were mobile units that could be towed behind a truck. And they would be set up in areas where – let’s say the Da Nang airfield, where if rockets or mortars were coming in from the enemy, these counter mortar radar units could track the trajectory of those incoming rounds right down the tubes of the guns from which they were fired; it was that accurate. And they were used.
And it ended up that the Viet Cong got onto this in a hurry; the NVA got onto it. And what they started doing, then, was they would dig tunnels into these villages so that they could escape. They would set up their mortars as was in the first case that we found this out, and then they would fire a salvo, and they would pull all of that in, and themselves in underground, and then we would immediately fire back on that, and here would be all these people in the village – the poor innocent people that didn’t know what was going to happen, and they would be killed.
And then, the next morning, they would have the media out there to show what we had done without telling what had happened before. Now, because of the nature of our compassion for people, we had to stop one of our great technical capabilities. We could not do that. They were willing to sacrifice all of these people and –
Brannon Howse: The Vietnam Communists were?
Udell Meyers: Yes. A very strategic part of what we could have done, we had to stop doing – and we did stop doing, to our credit. Because we saw their strategy to set up in these villages and do this very act, and then we would be presented as we did this without provocation, just as Cam Ne (3) – without provocation. A few sniper rounds? No. That place had been used over and over and over by the Vietnamese, and the people were still there; they didn’t flee. We tried to move people out of those areas, and that was portrayed as forcing them off of their land, when in fact, we were trying to protect them.
So, all I can say in regard to that is lies, lies, lies, and people believed them, along with all the other things that were being presented.
Brannon Howse: Well, I want to take you to a website – history.net. And the history.net has a whole piece on the Cam Ne story that Morely Safer just talked about. Let’s see if we can put it into context. Here’s what they write over at history.net – quote –
The men of Company D, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, which conducted the mission at Cam Ne, gave a somewhat different account. Their goal was to clear the Cam Ne village complex. US intelligence reported that Viet Cong, local and main force troops, were present in company strength. The attack began at 1000 hours on August 3rd, and the attacking force arrived in amphibious tractors or LVTs. Three of the LVTs quickly became stuck in the mud. After dismounting from the armored tractors, the Marines took small arms fire from a tree line to the southeast.
Three platoons advance across open rice paddies along a thousand-foot front. One marine was wounded during the stage of the attack. As Marines pushed forward, the VC – Vietnamese Communists – withdrew into the hamlets of Cam Ne. According to the commanding officer of the units involved, Cam Ne had been fortified by the Viet Cong into something not unlike what the Marines had encountered in World War II – caves, tunnels, fortified trench lines, spider holes, and punji stakes were in evidence. Nearly impenetrable hedgerows ran around the perimeter of the village and between village structures. LVTs were used to breach and crush the hedgerows, setting off booby traps as they pushed into the village.
The civilian population was uncooperative. Marines received heavy and concentrated small arms fire, including from automatic weapons and probably one machine gun from VC hiding in the village. The Marines returned fire with small arms and 3.5-inch rockets. The impact of one of those rockets caused secondary explosions in the tree line from which fire was being received, indicating the presence of booby traps. The secondary explosion caused a further detonation of explosives from booby traps and mines located in hedgerows around the village.
According to the commander’s report, heavy small arms fire continued throughout the period the Marines were in the village. Reportedly, most of the structures were burned by rocket fire directed toward hostile fire from the huts. Others were destroyed by flamethrower or grenade action used to neutralize VC positions. One platoon leader, Second Lieutenant Ray G. Snyder, claimed Cam Ne was an – quote – “extensively entrenched and fortified hamlet” – end quote. The platoon commander noted that – quote – “in many instances, burning was the only way to ensure the house would not become an active military installation after the troops had moved on past it” – end quote.
By mid-afternoon, Company D had uncovered 267 punji stake traps and pits, 6 Malayan whip booby traps, 3 grenade booby traps, 6 antipersonnel mines, and 1 multiple booby trapped hedgerow. Fifty-one huts were demolished, along with 38 trenches, tunnels, and prepared positions. At that point, during the mid-afternoon, it became evident that the Marines were not able to complete their mission before darkness. Captain Herman West ordered his men to withdraw back to the Yen River.
While leaving the village, the Marines received automatic weapons and small arms fire from VC who had repositioned themselves in a nearby tree line. The Marines called in artillery and mortar fire on the VC positions. The fire stopped, and the Marines boarded their amphibious tractors. When they entered the Ka Do River, the Marines again came under enemy fire from the south bank. They returned fire and enemy fire ceased.
The Marines estimated the enemy force at Cam Ne at between 30 and 100 soldiers. When the VC withdrew, they carried off their dead and wounded. No bodies were found. Although estimated VC casualties were placed at seven, one ten-year-old Vietnamese boy was killed, and four villagers were wounded, having been caught in a firefight between the Marines and the VC. Total marine casualties at Cam Ne were three killed in action and 27 wounded. Marines had been in the Cam Ne village complex on July 12th and had taken casualties.
The subsequent operation on August 3rd was not envisioned to be a routine patrol. The Marines expected that Cam Ne would be occupied by VC soldiers, that it was mined and booby trapped, and that the operation would be dangerous. Those factors governed their conduct. The action at Cam Ne included more than CBS showed during its news report of August 5th. Marine commanders were resentful that this was not made clear during Safer’s report. Quote – “War is a stupid and brutalizing affair” – end quote, wrote the editors of the Marine Corps Gazette – quote – “this type of war, perhaps more than others, but this does not mean that those who are fighting it are either stupid or brutal. It does mean that the whole story should be told, not just a part of it” – end quote.
Now again, notice that this report is saying even after they started withdrawing, they were getting fire. And I’ve read more reports they were getting fire from the VC that had buried underground and then were popping back up as they were withdrawing.
Udell Meyers: Exactly.
Brannon Howse: So, Morely Safer’s report that this was nothing but just revenge, that there was nothing going on, you had – you just had – we just reported that there were Marines killed.
Udell Meyers: It was an active firefight.
Brannon Howse: Sure it was.
Udell Meyers: It wasn’t an after effect; it was actually ongoing. And, of course, he didn’t report it that way. They went in at 10:00 in the morning, that’s 1000 hours, and that was also that it was daylight; the people could see what was going on. And they were going in for a purpose that was not to annihilate, as he said, or to burn down the village.
Brannon Howse: Well, one of the other people – other than Morely Safer – at CBS was Walter Cronkite
Udell Meyers: Yes, sir.
Brannon Howse: And he also put out a report in ’68. Basically he’s saying this war can’t be won.
Udell Meyers: Hue – the battle of Hue.
Brannon Howse: Okay, let’s watch that.
Udell Meyers: Yes, sir.
Walter Cronkite: To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past, who suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months, we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gap before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victims, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could. This is Walter Cronkite, goodnight.
Brannon Howse: So, what are your thoughts, and what did you guys think when you saw that?
Udell Meyers: Well, Hue was a victory, and he portrayed it as a defeat. And lives were lost there, and what was gained was a victory, and they turned it around as a defeat and encouraged the people that we’re now at a point where we’d better go to the negotiation table.
Brannon Howse: So, you believe by losing the Vietnam War, America basically showed itself to be some kind of paper tiger instead –
Udell Meyers: Exactly – well, a great term. You see, when LBJ came in, and he ran on the great society, and, of course, Martin Luther King was able to pull away from the war. He said, you know, “Fulfill your commitment that you were going to make,” and distracted from that.
Brannon Howse: In other words, we have footage we’ll get to, but Martin Luther King, Jr., was saying, “Don’t use the money to fight the war, use it to give out social programs.”
Udell Meyers: Exactly.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: The promises of the great society have been shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam, making the poor white and Negro bear the heaviest burden, both at the front and at home.
[Sounds of artillery fire]
Martin Luther King, Jr.: The world now demands a maturity of America, that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our defensive in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn softly from our present way. The New Testament says, “Repent.” It is time for America to repent now.
As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. And I say this morning that it is my hope that every young man in this country who finds this war objectionable and abominable and unjust would file as a conscientious objector.
Udell Meyers: And so, I told our men, we have a purpose, and we’re over here, and you don’t have to look any further than to the things that are happening to these people here at the hands of the Communists, at the hands of the Communists who are being supported by Communist China. I carry a bit of lead from a Chi-Com AK-47 that was supplied, both ammo and arms, by China. Most of our aircraft were shot down by SAM missiles provided and manned by Russia.
And so, we focused on the immediate, and we saw the need. We saw children; we saw people that were suffering at the hands of Communism. But to come home and to see that people had been duped into believing these who were protesting, which was a part of Marxist strategy. And so, the men that were there, and those that came home, and they saw what had happened to their country, they’re broken – broken men. And they have joined me, many of them, in trying to tell the people that what we need to do is get back to the basis of this country and what it was founded on, the very Word of God.
[Applause and cheers]
Udell Meyers: Thank you.