Thursday, July 29, 2010

Afghanistan America's Longest War?

It's Afghanistan, if you believe the media. I guess it all depends on when you start counting and when you stop.

Officially it's still the Vietnam War, which began with Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 and ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975. That's the period of time the Veterans Administration considers when determining "Vietnam Era Service".

But by rights that war really started with the fall of the French colonial empire in Indochina in 1954, immediately after which we stepped in to take up the slack because we could not stand it if Vietnamese people were given a vote in their own government.

Because, surprise, they would have voted overwhelmingly for Ho Chi Minh.

But I digress, sort of. It appears that the media is counting Vietnam as ending in 1973 when the last combat troops left. But, as this article points out, the first casualty of the Vietnam War (if you don't count the WWII Flying Tiger John Donovan, shot down in 1942) was Richard Fitzgibbon in 1956, and the last were twoMarine embassy guards, Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge, who both died on April 29, 1975.

And that makes the Vietnam War very nearly 40 years long. But it doesn't make for good headlines and news-crawl alerts, nor does it make for snappy End the War in Vietnamistan signs that proclaim Afghanistan as the new "longest war".

What do I care, anyway. I'm just one of those pushy sticklers for historical accuracy, which appear to be a dying breed...


Anonymous said...

After the war ended; I don't remember if any one died, but I think some did. Remember the American ship the mar..something? Somebody scewed up and North Nam grabbed it and took it to some island. Ford's Sec of the Navy wrote that the Big K, the Sec of State went nuts. It was a manhood thing or something. He ordered all Nam ships sunk. The Navy didn't and sent the planes looking for whites on local boats and found them. Big K wanted them sunk. The Sec of the Navy would not do it, but they found the sized ship. As nam was trying to find someone to give it back too, the marines stormed the beaches. Most but not all were driven off the island. I don't know about the others. The whole thing was covered up. But Fords Secretary of the Navy wrote about it years later.

Anonymous said...

War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. George Orwell,

Farnsworth68 said...

Ah, yes, thank you, anon. I apparently had "misplaced" my memory of the one-notorious "Mayaguez Incident" of May 12-15, 1975. The ship was seized by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge and 18 Americans were killed -- including three who were still alive when they were left behind in the evacuation -- in the successful rescue of the crew. Read the article for the full report of America's last gasp of the Vietnam War.