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The Vietnam War was the most publicized war during its era; moreover this was the most unpopular war to hit the United States. All over the country riots began to raise, anti-war movement spread all over the states begging to stop the war and chaos overseas. This truly was a failure in the political side of things. For the public, all they saw was a failed attempt in a far away country. Events such as the Tet Offensive where the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong established an all out attack on key locations around Vietnam, and although the Viet Cong was virtually wiped out, this still had a large affect psychologically on the troops as well as the populist back in the United States.
Another atrocity that occurred during this war was the My Lai Massacre. This was the mass murder on unarmed civilians in South Vietnam during March 16,1968. Around November 1969, the world saw this and was outraged with the killings of innocent civilians prompting and giving the public more reasons to stop the war. Although the war was very unpopular, men and women were still fighting and dying for America. Heroes such as Captain John W, Ripley of Dong Ha, Medal of Honor recipients, and overall troops that gave the ultimate sacrifice were forgotten for a brief period. As unpopular as the war was, the American people should still know the stories and good that some of these troops had done for the United States.
This event took place in Vietnam about1972, around the time Americans were withdrawing from the country due to the public demands. A Captain John W. Ripley who has been assigned to overlook and advise South Vietnamese troops did not foresee himself doing such a heroic act to stop further advancement from the North. Captain Riley before being an officer was an enlisted personnel, he went through various amount of rigorous training, furthermore he did cross training with the British Royal Marines, and did a year long tour in Vietnam with the Marines.
Riley’s dedication of duty could not be put in words. His self-sacrifice and steadfast performance to stop the North Vietnamese Army were even greater at this time at Dong Ha. He received information about an advance movement from the NVA into southern parts of Vietnam. A key element of this strategic move was the bridge of Dong Ha. He understood what needed to be done, so without any hesitation he came up with the idea of blowing the whole bridge to stop enemy advancement. Captain Ripley spent hours dangling from his hands in order to carefully plant high explosives under the bridge. After passing out a few times and having to crimp detonators with his teeth, he was able to accomplish his mission. Because of this heroic act, he was able to set back the North Vietnamese Army 3 more years of any further major offensive, ultimately saving countless of lives.
Another positive event that took place during the Vietnam War was around 1966. A small group of counterinsurgency strategic platoon or otherwise were known as the Combined Action Platoon (CAP’s) was assigned by the United States Marine Corps to protect small Vietnamese villages from the Viet Cong insurgents terrorizing civilians. The Marines knew that the local security forces were not strong enough to sustain and suppress enemy attacks, however with the U.S. Marines combing forces with local forces it provided a greater chance to repel enemy insurgents. This particular event happened in the village of Binh Nghia where a squad consisting of twelve Marines was selected to help the local security forces because of the major threat from the Viet Cong. The local forces were barricaded on a hill outside the village fighting the enemy insurgents, the threat was so high that the risked of coming out at night would surely mean death.
Once reinforcement from the Marines arrived in the village things immediately began to change. The Marines created a centralize government with a fortified patrol base which is known in today’s term as a forward operating base (FOB) to help control the village. Together with the local forces, the Marines patrolled, lived, and trained together with the locals.
The villagers began to see the Marines not as a foreign military presence who comes and go after the fighting is done, but a team that was part of the village. The local’s began being more confident especially after a few victories against the Viet Cong, moreover because of this multiple victories the Marines and the local security forces had not seen any contact for about two months. The Viet Cong had moved away from the area, thus resulted in a successful mission. Eventually the Marines were removed from the village after 17 months of living there. The military has always focused in winning the hearts and minds of the local populist even in today’s war.
The public because of all the carnage opposed the Vietnam War. They saw a hopeless battle and in some times believed that it was unwinnable. When the Tet Offensive took placed it shook the American people destroying their morale and support. When the scandal of the village of My Lai took place, this caused an uproar and angered the public giving them a reason to even hate the war and American troops, however at the time with all these chaos they did not realize or even think about the sacrifices men and women had done overseas.
They fell to realize that with all the hate, discontent, and bloodshed happening in Vietnam good things were also being conducted in the country. Military troops were winning the hearts and minds of the local populist, heroes were sacrificing themselves to save both American and Vietnamese lives. Today the majority of Americans understands that there were American troops sacrificing their own freedom to fight a war they did not fully understood, they fought for their country and for their fellow troops on the left and right of them. The Vietnam War was truly a chaotic time for Americans both back home and overseas. With all the different movements occurring at the same time, the majority of Americans only took notice of the bad instead of the good.
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