Remember The Titans - POLITICAL UNREST

This U.S. Air Force photo was taken during America’s early active involvement in Vietnam. It shows four C-123 aircraft (also known as “Ranch Hands”) spraying a liquid defoliant over a suspected “Viet Cong” position in South Vietnam. The four specially equipped planes, flying here during September of 1965, were able to cover about 1,000 feet during each pass over dense vegetation. The nickname of these planes relates to President Kennedy’s 1961 authorization of an herbicide program in Vietnam, known as “Operation Ranch Hand.” Click on the image for a full-page view.


In 1971, America was fighting an undeclared war in Southeast Asia. Many people in the country did not support that war. From early American losses, during the Kennedy Administration, through the final U.S. withdrawal, U.S. citizens wondered what the fighting was about—and why they were doing it.

Interestingly, American help was first sought from the enemy himselfHo Chi Minhwhen he sent a telegram to President Truman in 1946. No American troops were sent into Vietnam at that time, however. It wasn't until later, after Vietnam had split in two, that the Eisenhower administration sent its first "advisors" to South Vietnam in 1955.

By that time, Ho Chi Minh's request for help had been granted by America's adversaries. The stage was set for possible confrontation.

When President Kennedy took office his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, tried to determine whether American involvement in Southeast Asia was wise. By By 1963, McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) had learned some interesting facts:

  • Students in South Vietnam did not support their government;
  • Internal discontent with the South Vietnamese regime had "become a seething problem;
  • The war could not be won without a change of leadership in South Vietnam;
  • South Vietnam could not win a war against the North without American help;
  • "This is a Vietnamese war and the country and the war must, in the end, be run solely by the Vietnamese"

McNamara and Taylor even recommended that 1,000 American advisors be pulled out of Vietnam by the end of 1963. They believed that U.S. involvement in the volatile political situation could be over by 1965 and recognized

...any significant slowing in the rate of progress would surely have a serious effect on U.S. popular support for the U.S. effort.

During the Kennedy Administration (and those Administrations which followed) neither the press nor the public was told about those key points. Significant developments and events in Vietnam seemed to take on a different character by the time news reached the people.

As American non-combat military "advisors" assigned to Vietnam were getting killed, however, families of dead soldiers didn't like what they learned:

  • If their sons and brothers weren't fighting, why were they dying?
  • And ... why were they in Vietnam in the first place?

One family demanded some answers from the President.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jul 19, 2019

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"POLITICAL UNREST" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2000. Feb 26, 2020.
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