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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Vietnam War

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Vietnam War The Battle for Vietnam. .

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  #1  
Old 03 Nov 11, 11:08
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Battle of Ap Bac

North Vietnamese stamp commemorating the victory at Ap Bac.



Wiki account of the battle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ap_Bac
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  #2  
Old 03 Nov 11, 21:48
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Interesting battle.

Last edited by Ricthofen; 03 Nov 11 at 22:36..
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  #3  
Old 03 Nov 11, 23:39
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Actually, Ricky, what makes that stamp really interesting is that the flag shown is not allowed to be flown nowadays except on specific orders and occasions. (i.e., 2008 Tet 40th anniversary).
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Old 04 Nov 11, 18:01
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First item on the stamp I focused on was the VC [NLF] flag. Most would probably focus on the burning chopper, but, as with Lima Lima, I find the VC flag to be most interesting.

While at District, we paid our hooch maid to have her friends hand-make [sew] VC flags for us. Each cost us 200 P [piasters] [$2.00 US] to have made. It was against GVN law for the VNese to own, have in their possession or make VC flags. However, my Counterpart, the District Chief, was the law and since he benefited from the sandbags, cement and barbed wire we scrounged, he he didn't object to the lawlessness of our enterprising "cottage industry."

After repeated beatings during river washings and bleaching in the sun, we spread the battered-looking flags on the dirt berm of our compound and sprayed them with .30 cal bullet holes. This gave them that captured war trophy, official appearance. These "genuine" war trophy flags were worth a 1,000 times their weight in gold for trading material. The warrant officers, who controlled issuing authority at the various supply points at the massive Long Binh logistical complex, spent their entire tour hiding inside the wire. Their chance to capture or otherwise obtain a war trophy to take home with them was absolutely zip, zero, nada.

The sight of, and chance to get their hands on a "genuine", bullet ridden VC flag was a greater temptation than they could control. They loaded us down with all we could carry and invited us to return for more. The follow-on price were easy-to-get VC sandels made from old truck tires.

Of personal interest is the story of the battle and reference to the US Advisor involved, then LTC John Paul Vann. After his retirement from the Army, JPV served as the Deputy for CORDS [DEPCORDS] in III, IV and II CTZs. When the Agency withdrew its assets from the Delta to consolidate its operations in Saigon, I was re-detailed from the Agency to CORDS, IV CTZ. I spent the next year working for JPV as his chief of the newly formed Field Operations Division. To many who were involved with the "other war' or the "silent war", JPV was the iconic leader for COIN operations. After working for him for a year [extening at his request], he became the big brother I never had.
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Old 06 Nov 11, 07:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honolulu Dick View Post
First item on the stamp I focused on was the VC [NLF] flag. Most would probably focus on the burning chopper, but, as with Lima Lima, I find the VC flag to be most interesting.

While at District, we paid our hooch maid to have her friends hand-make [sew] VC flags for us. Each cost us 200 P [piasters] [$2.00 US] to have made. It was against GVN law for the VNese to own, have in their possession or make VC flags. However, my Counterpart, the District Chief, was the law and since he benefited from the sandbags, cement and barbed wire we scrounged, he he didn't object to the lawlessness of our enterprising "cottage industry."

After repeated beatings during river washings and bleaching in the sun, we spread the battered-looking flags on the dirt berm of our compound and sprayed them with .30 cal bullet holes. This gave them that captured war trophy, official appearance. These "genuine" war trophy flags were worth a 1,000 times their weight in gold for trading material. The warrant officers, who controlled issuing authority at the various supply points at the massive Long Binh logistical complex, spent their entire tour hiding inside the wire. Their chance to capture or otherwise obtain a war trophy to take home with them was absolutely zip, zero, nada.

The sight of, and chance to get their hands on a "genuine", bullet ridden VC flag was a greater temptation than they could control. They loaded us down with all we could carry and invited us to return for more. The follow-on price were easy-to-get VC sandels made from old truck tires.

Of personal interest is the story of the battle and reference to the US Advisor involved, then LTC John Paul Vann. After his retirement from the Army, JPV served as the Deputy for CORDS [DEPCORDS] in III, IV and II CTZs. When the Agency withdrew its assets from the Delta to consolidate its operations in Saigon, I was re-detailed from the Agency to CORDS, IV CTZ. I spent the next year working for JPV as his chief of the newly formed Field Operations Division. To many who were involved with the "other war' or the "silent war", JPV was the iconic leader for COIN operations. After working for him for a year [extening at his request], he became the big brother I never had.
HD, The much criticed Mark Moyar, in 'Triumph Forsaken', is highly critical in turn, of JPV with respect to his tactics at Ap Bac and the way that JPV used the media in the wake of the battle.

Did he share with you any insights in to either of these aspects of the battle?
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Old 06 Nov 11, 16:54
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RE: Did he share any insights ...

Understand that JPV received much criticism for his part in the Ap Bac fiasco. It is well to remember that JPV was an Advisor, not the commander of the RVN units involved in the fight. The VN commander, JPV's Counterpart, allowed the situation to become one wherein the VC survived [slipped away] to fight another day. Simply **** poor performance [PPP] on the part of the ARVN commander.

Often, this was the lot of the Advisor. If your Counterpart wasn't willing to aggressively take advantage of the VC's weakness, you stewed in your own frustration. You did not have the authority to fire your Counterpart and take command of the situation. You carried the burden that your Counterpart's PPP was a direct reflection on yourself. You avoided complaining, because that was considered to be an admission on your part that you didn't have a positive relationship with your Counterpart, and, therefore, were ineffective or didn't poses the right stuff to get the job done.

In the instance of Ap Bac, JPV attempted to report the miserable ARVN performance to his higher. He was told to keep his mouth shut and not say anything that would reflect badly on ARVN. JPV continued to argue his case, POed the chain-of-command, and, since he had an outstanding Korean war record and over 20-years active duty time, he was "invited" to retire.

As far as the media is concerned, it is debatable if JPV used the press or the press used JPV. Ap Bac occurred fairly early in the war, at a time when the press was eager to pounce on anything it thought to be newsworthy. It focused negative attention on a matter the Army preferred to keep quiet. In the end, JPV didn't control the press. Final thought, having been an Advisor and understanding the frustration of not being able to influence the behavior of a Counterpart, I do not find fault with the way JPV coped with the situation.

Did he share insights? Unfortunately, he didn't. Not as far as Ap Bac was concerned. Being the boss, JPV rarely socialized in a casual or extended manner with his staff section chiefs. In social gatherings he was friendly, showed interest in people, yet remained in control of the conversation. He rarely, if ever, discussed himself or his earlier exploits. During my initial interview with him [he had to approve my re-detail to CORDS] he knew I was Range qualified, so he told me of his assignment as CO of a Ranger company while in Korea and his respect for Rangers and Ranger training. That was the only time that I experienced him speaking about himself.
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Old 07 Nov 11, 11:33
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Often, this was the lot of the Advisor. If your Counterpart wasn't willing to aggressively take advantage of the VC's weakness, you stewed in your own frustration. You did not have the authority to fire your Counterpart and take command of the situation. You carried the burden that your Counterpart's PPP was a direct reflection on yourself. You avoided complaining, because that was considered to be an admission on your part that you didn't have a positive relationship with your Counterpart, and, therefore, were ineffective or didn't poses the right stuff to get the job done.
Amen! And that will forever remain the lot of the American advisor. The bottom line is that in the end, the indigenous bear the ultimate responsibility for winning or losing their war. Any U.S. advisory effort can only assist them in doing either. And that is a point that a great many of our critics, especially those enamored of 'imperial' labels, fail to understand.
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Old 07 Nov 11, 16:26
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I guess cpt Ba had changed a lot after Ap Bac, since he and JPV one more time worked together during defense of Kontum in 1972. An ARVN officer (Division CO. at that time) was higly valued by Vann and other Americans after thet battle. Not a coward who deserves to be shot any more? A little bit strange, cause You're a coward or You're not.
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Old 13 Nov 11, 01:28
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Originally Posted by lirelou View Post
Actually, Ricky, what makes that stamp really interesting is that the flag shown is not allowed to be flown nowadays except on specific orders and occasions. (i.e., 2008 Tet 40th anniversary).
So the NLF flag can't be flown without permission and only on specific occasions. Interesting. I'd have thought that the NLF flag would have been flown with the national flag on government buildings etc., especially in the South.
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Old 13 Nov 11, 02:00
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So the NLF flag can't be flown without permission and only on specific occasions. Interesting. I'd have thought that the NLF flag would have been flown with the national flag on government buildings etc., especially in the South.
How many days after the fall in '75 did the NLF flag fly? I'd guess that it was relatively few, and that most of the NLF would have been purged pretty quickly. I find it surprising that the NLF flag is flown at all.
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Old 13 Nov 11, 02:28
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How many days after the fall in '75 did the NLF flag fly? I'd guess that it was relatively few, and that most of the NLF would have been purged pretty quickly. I find it surprising that the NLF flag is flown at all.
Well, that's true. There may be unfortunate political implications for Hanoi in flying the NLF's flag.
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Old 13 Nov 11, 07:17
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hmmmm, I don't believe that TWO flags for Vietnam would have worked out; after all (supposedly) it was all about "Nationalism" to unite one Country.

The PAVN was the "People's Army" and the NVA were the "State's" army. The PAVN (NLF) had it's own "underground" Gov't. Hanoi sure didn't want that to remain in place.

Just my thoughts.


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Old 13 Nov 11, 08:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEN JENSEN View Post
hmmmm, I don't believe that TWO flags for Vietnam would have worked out; after all (supposedly) it was all about "Nationalism" to unite one Country.

The PAVN was the "People's Army" and the NVA were the "State's" army. The PAVN (NLF) had it's own "underground" Gov't. Hanoi sure didn't want that to remain in place.

Just my thoughts.


Ken, the current President Truong Tan Sang was an NLF medic.

Good to see actually, after the procession of Northern party hacks and war dodgers who preceded him.

It's only taken 30 something years
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