Archive for May, 2015

Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2015 by Ian Pham

KontumPhotograph via Steve Shepard/The Battle of Kontum

Wettemann Jr., Robert P. Review of Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, by Thomas P. McKenna. Oral History Review 39, no. 2 (2012): 387-389.

Thomas P. McKenna served in the Vietnam War as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During the U.S. drawdown in 1972, McKenna was still fighting alongside the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), taking on the invading North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at the Battle of Kontum. His book provides a firsthand account of the fighting at Kontum, where the ARVN and their remaining U.S. allies would once again ward off an invading NVA force three times their size.

Robert P. Wettemann Jr. provides a review of McKenna’s book, offering some valuable insight into yet another military achievement by the ARVN and their U.S. allies. Also taking place during the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in the spring of 1972, the Battle of Kontum saw the South Vietnamese, with the support of the few U.S. forces still in Vietnam, foil another attempt by the communists to overtake the South. The brunt of the fighting took place in the last two weeks in May of 1972, where, in the words of Wettemann, “… a single ARVN division held off the equivalent of three divisions of North Vietnamese soldiers…”

A concise summary of McKenna’s book is presented in Wettemann’s source. Opening with the steady departure of U.S. forces as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, Wettemann’s review of Kontum gives coverage of the various stages of the battle, all the way up to the ARVN’s successful elimination of the NVA from the city.

As an academic resource, Wettemann’s review of Thomas P. McKenna’s book provides useful information on the Battle of Kontum, and gives readers some much-needed insight into the points of views of the ARVN and their U.S. allies. The South Vietnamese soldiers and their American advisors fought valiantly at Kontum to crush the North Vietnamese invasion. In authoring this review, Robert P. Wettemann Jr. helps tell this true story of another understated military success by the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States.

Annotated Bibliography: Gary Lester’s Book Review of “Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam” by Lam Quang Thi

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Photo, An Loc BattleImage via Amazon

Lester, Gary. Review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam, by Lam Quang Thi. Air Power History (2010): 56.

Dr. Gary Lester’s review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam provides a concise and informative summary of former ARVN General Lam Quang Thi’s book. According to Lester, “Hell in An Loc is an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during its moment of great crisis in the spring of 1972…” It was then that the U.S. was steadily drawing down its forces in Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese built up their forces for an ambitious military operation to overrun South Vietnam.

In his review, Lester presents many insightful information from General Thi’s book, such as the details of North Vietnam’s 1972 Easter Offensive, a massive military campaign that was even larger than the Tet Offensive of 1968. The enemy’s “three-pronged” operation would find its way to the town of An Loc, where South Vietnam’s 5th Division, consisting of only 7,500 soldiers, confronted and repelled a 21,000-strong North Vietnamese onslaught.

Facing a massive invading force three times their size, the outnumbered ARVN forces incurred losses of 2,300 deaths, while dealing a crushing blow to the North Vietnamese Army, who suffered a loss of 6,500 deaths at the hands of the South Vietnamese. The attack on An Loc lasted from April to August of 1972, ending with the successful defense of the town by the ARVN against the invading North. The ARVN forces were provided with powerful air support from their remaining U.S. allies, who, along with the South Vietnamese Air Force, dealt heavy damage to enemy tanks and artillery.

An important note that Lester pinpoints in his review is the valor and bravery displayed by the “too often voiceless” soldiers of South Vietnam, in a significant battle that was largely ignored by American media. An Loc’s omission from America’s news coverage is an important point acknowledged in Lester’s review, a vivid example of the media’s bias towards the Republic of Vietnam, and how the Southern point of view is methodically neglected and distorted by the majority of Western journalists. Lam Quang Thi’s account of the Battle of An Loc, in the words of Gary Lester, “is a testimony to the courage and bravery of the ARVN garrison at An Loc. The book tells the South Vietnamese side of the story and renders justice to the South Vietnamese soldiers who withstood ninety-four days of horror and prevailed.”

Reading Lester’s review alone, one gains great insight into the Battle of An Loc, as well as a clearer understanding of the Vietnam War, a hotly debated subject in which South Vietnam and the ARVN are almost always misrepresented.

Introducing: The Annotated Bibliography

Posted in Annotated Bibliography, II. History, IV. Columns with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2015 by Ian Pham

History

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Image and quote via Cal U

It is my pleasure to introduce to you all, the new “Annotated Bibliography” feature of Freedom For Vietnam. This new section will feature reviews and discussions on various research materials, which in our case, will likely mostly consist of academic journals and books. It will not be limited to just these, however.

How it will work is that, every now and then, I will write an article/review about an existing source of research, such as a book or journal article. Each newly published blog article, while being a standalone blog article in itself, will also act as an update to the bibliography, which can be found primarily in the “Categories” section of the blog, with another, truncated and alphabetized version in the “Pages” section at the top.

As of right now, there will be three different annotated bibliographic categories, based on three different eras of Vietnamese history: Ancient History, Dynastic History, and Modern History. The lists will be short at first, but with every new update, with every new article, the categories, and the bibliographies themselves, will continue to grow. In turn, you readers will have an increasingly large pool of references to look at, either for your own research, or just for your own entertainment.

By creating this feature, I want to help provide a place of reference, a foundation, in which we can all further our knowledge of Vietnam’s history. I hope it helps, and I hope you all enjoy it.

* As a side note, all the historical categories listed under “Annotated Bibliography” will be marked with an “A.B.” at the end of the name (e.g. “Modern History – A.B.”), in order to distinguish them from the categories under “A Piece of History,” which carry the same name (minus the “A.B.”), and mark the same time periods. This is important as articles from “Annotated Bibliography” will also be listed under the broader “A Piece of History” section, due to their relevance in this category as well.

Fighting Fire With Fire: Protesters in Binh Thuan Fight Back Against Communist Police With Rocks and Molotov Cocktails

Posted in Politics, Videos with tags , , , , , , on May 18, 2015 by Ian Pham

Binh Thuan ProtestPhoto via Dan Lam Bao

The following event occurred just last month, on April 14 and 15, 2015, only two weeks after the major labor strikes that engulfed Southern Vietnam for eight days.

In the province* of Binh Thuan, inhabitants took to the streets to express outrage at the Vietnamese Communist Party’s continued concessions to the People’s Republic of China, whose aggressive and intrusive actions in Vietnamese territory go on unabated, even fostered, by the government in Hanoi.

According to Dan Lam Bao, the people of Binh Thuan have grown fed up with the extensive pollution and environmental damage on their land brought forth by the construction of the Chinese Vinh Tan 2 thermoelectric plant. Prior to the protests, citizens of Binh Thuan were already concerned with the Vietnamese government’s decision to contract Binh Thuan land out to a Chinese company. Many attempts were made by the people to express these concerns to the government, but their objections went continually ignored by the VCP. As a result, with the construction projects going forward and wreaking havoc on the environment in Binh Thuan, the people took to the streets to make their voices heard.

The protesters came out in droves, in the thousands, and, as usual, the Party sent in the police to forcefully suppress the demonstrations. However, following the welcome trend in Vietnam as of late, the protesters fought back against the crackdown forces of the VCP. The authorities were met with fierce resistance. Many protesters threw rocks at the government forces, while others were resourceful enough to use Molotov cocktails to combat the communist police.

As China steadily maintains its encroachment on Vietnam’s territories, using the diplomatic, military, and economic means at their disposal, the VCP seems content on yielding in every case. The Vietnamese communists often avoid the issue at hand in the face of public criticism, all while citing the “friendship” that the two communist nations allegedly share, despite what reality clearly illustrates. The cowardice and treason of the government in Hanoi has sparked anger and disdain among the people of Vietnam.

The protests were captured on video and can be seen below:

Here are some highlights:

Vietnamese Protesters Throw Rocks at Communist Police

A flurry of rocks and other objects are thrown at the communist police. Jeers and insults can be heard from the crowd as they unloaded on the VCP forces.

Binh Thuan Protest

Protesters throw Molotov cocktails at the suppressive police forces on the streets of Binh Thuan.

Binh Thuan Protest 2

VCP police fire shots to intimidate the crowd, only to have them mockingly laugh and taunt in response.

The protests have since subsided. However, I think it is high time that the people of Vietnam stood up more to the VCP and their repressive measures, the way they did in this video, and in Saigon several weeks before that.

I support this development. It’s time to stand up.

Source:

Dan Lam Bao

* Correction: A typo was made saying the “city” of Binh Thuan. This has since been corrected to “province” of Binh Thuan. Apologies for any misunderstanding.