Episode 80: The Second Indochina War, Part 8

 

 

Episode 80 is now available, and as promised, we are going back to follow the Second Indochina War in Vietnam.  Today we look at events in 1964, with special attention on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and learn what caused the United States to get totally involved in the war.  This is the last episode of the podcast scheduled for 2019, so Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year and all that!

https://blubrry.com/hoseasia/53235202/episode-80-the-second-indochina-war-part-8/

(Transcript)

This episode is dedicated to Andrew M., for making a donation to the podcast.  I am recording this in mid-December 2019, so thank you for ending the podcast year on a happy note.  May the upcoming year be a blessed one for you.  I will also add your name to the new webpage I am creating to honor the donors; you’ll hear more about that near the end of the episode.  Now we’ve got a lot to cover today, so without more ado, let’s get started.

Episode 80: The Second Indochina War, Part 8

or, The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

Greetings, dear listeners!  I am recording this in the middle of December, and this is the last episode scheduled for 2019.  So if you are listening to this in 2019, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or happy whatever other holiday you celebrate at this time of the year!  Chances are, this is a busy time for you, and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to me.  As promised, today the narrative returns to the Second Indochina War in Vietnam, what you probably call the Vietnam War or the American War, depending on which side you’re on.  Here we will cover the events from November 1963 to December 1964, basically telling the story of how the United States became fully committed to fighting in Vietnam.

It has been a while since we looked at the war in Vietnam; Episodes 71, 72 and 73, to be exact.  There we covered events in Vietnam from 1955 to 1963.  Then we took a six-episode break from the narrative, four episodes to cover the war happening in Laos at the same time, and two episodes on special topics.  In case you missed episodes 71 through 73, here is what was in them:

The First Indochina War, waged between the French and the Vietnamese communists, then called the Viet Minh, ended with Vietnam becoming independent, but divided in two, into a communist North Vietnam, led by Ho Chi Minh,  and an anti-communist South Vietnam, led by Bao Dai, the former emperor.  However, in the south the new prime minister, Ngo Dinh Diem, soon ousted Bao Dai and proclaimed himself president.  Now elections were supposed to take place in 1956 to create a government that would reunite Vietnam, but Diem never allowed those elections to be held.  That gave the communists the excuse to start the Second Indochina War, by sending guerrillas into South Vietnam, to recruit followers and commit acts of violence.  At first the guerrillas were a loosely organized force, but from 1960 onwards they were known as the National Liberation Front in the communist world, and the Viet Cong in South Vietnam and the Western nations.

Because this was the Cold War era, the United States favored South Vietnam from the start.  But by the beginning of the 1960s it was clear that South Vietnam was losing, despite all the military aid the Americans were sending.  Thus, in 1961 the Americans started sending military “advisors” to show the South Vietnamese how to use the equipment they were receiving.  Chief among these advisors were helicopter pilots, because the equipment included helicopters – indeed, this was the first conflict in which helicopters were extensively used.  Soon these pilots were also flying missions against the Viet Cong.  American servicemen were not supposed to get involved in the war, and the Kennedy administration in Washington kept this activity secret for as long as possible.  Still, the Viet Cong continued to win wherever the Americans weren’t present, so the United States sent more and more “advisors” – without changing the course of the war.

In Saigon, Diem looked good during his first years as president – the United States went so far as to call him the “miracle man of Asia” – but after the 1950s became the 1960s, Diem started looking more like an incompetent dictator.  Two of the best examples of this were the “Strategic Hamlet” program, which sought to isolate peasants from the Viet Cong by moving the peasants into fortified villages, and Diem’s discrimination against South Vietnam’s Buddhist majority, in favor of the Catholic minority.  In 1963 Washington started dropping hints that it would like to see someone else running the country.  Well, officers in the South Vietnamese army, called ARVN for Army of the Republic of Vietnam, were planning to do just that.  At the beginning of November 1963, they staged a coup in which Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were killed.  All of Vietnam celebrated for a few days afterwards; the South because they thought better times were coming next, and the North because they thought with Diem gone, they would soon win the war.  But if you think Vietnam’s troubles were over, then you need to listen on.  Can we have a little music?

<Interlude>

As bad as Ngo Dinh Diem was, his successors were worse.  Diem was at least able to maintain order, for most of the time that he was in charge.  The generals who succeeded him were total incompetents, who spent more time fighting each other than the Viet Cong. In the year and a half following Diem’s assassination, South Vietnam had ten different governments. 

The first head of state after Diem, General Duong Van Minh, didn’t have the skills to run a government, and wasn’t even very interested in doing so.  Once he confided to a reporter that he would rather pursue his hobbies: playing tennis, and raising orchids and exotic birds.  Minh shared power as the leading member of a twelve-member military revolutionary council; supposedly this was set up to make sure one of them did not gain too much power, but Minh really established the council so he could pass some of his responsibilities to others.  In practice, however, the council members argued constantly, and because each member had the power of the veto, it usually took unanimous approval to get anything done.  A civilian government was set up under Diem’s former vice president, Nguyen Ngoc Tho, who now served as prime minister, but it was merely a front organization which existed to hide the activities of the council.

In late January 1964, less than three months after Minh took over, Nguyen Khanh, a general who was not a member of the council, seized power in a bloodless coup.  Khanh had also taken part in the coup against Diem, but the other generals did not trust him, so they put him in charge of the I Corps, the part of ARVN in the northernmost part of South Vietnam; he resented not being given a more important command, like that of the troops near Saigon.  Once in charge, he did away with Tho’s civilian government, expanded the Military Revolutionary Council from 12 to 50 members, and changed its name to the High National Council.  Because Minh was more popular, the United States put pressure on Khanh to keep Minh around, though now he was powerless.

The chaos in Saigon was matched by increasing Viet Cong success in the countryside.  In the first two weeks after Ngo Dinh Diem’s assassination, the Viet Cong staged 400 attacks.  By March 1964, they controlled about 40% of the countryside and 50% of the rural population.  However, afterwards  they began to suffer setbacks.  Most of the peasants mainly wanted to get rid of Diem, and after Diem was gone, communism became less appealing to them.  In fact, many peasants preferred the post-Diem government over the communists, because members of the new government were too busy fighting with their personal quarrels to bother the peasants much.

At this point, I should take a timeout to explain the changes taking place in North Vietnam’s leadership, which outsiders were completely unaware of while they happened.  The first reason for these changes was that Ho Chi Minh was getting old.  Although I have mentioned the Ho Chi Minh Trail several times in recent episodes, I haven’t had much to say about Ho Chi Minh the man since the First Indochina War ended, and that is because he wasn’t playing as active a role in leading the Vietnamese communists as he had in the past.  In 1960, when he reached the age of seventy, he started turning over his powers and responsibilities to other senior Communist Party members, especially the premier, Pham Van Dong, and the new Hanoi party boss, Le Duan.  Both of them have been mentioned in the podcast before, but I must confess that I mispronounced Le Duan’s name when he appeared, in Episode 72; there I called him “Le Duan,” but afterwards found out that the Vietnamese pronounce the “D” in his name like a “Z.”  To complete the list of North Vietnamese leaders, Vo Nguyen Giap continued to command the armed forces, and Truong Chinh, the former party boss, was now chairman of the National Assembly.  Henceforth, Ho Chi Minh would remain admired by everyone north of the Demilitarized Zone – the North Vietnamese people called him “Bac Ho,” meaning “Uncle Ho,” – but he was mostly a figurehead for the rest of his life.

Podcast Footnote: Truong Chinh’s real name was Dang Xuan Khu.  The name we call him by is an alias, a nom de guerre that he chose, after he became a communist.  “Truong Chinh” is Vietnamese for “Long March,” and it commemorates the 6,000-mile-long march that the Chinese communists went on, in 1934 and 1935, to escape the army of Chiang Kai-shek.  This is considered the crucial turning point in the history of Chinese communism, because Mao Zedong became leader of the Chinese Communist Party in the middle of it, and because the communists stopped losing battles to the Nationalists after the Long March was over.  Truong Chinh lost his job as leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party, because he was blamed for the abuses that happened during the land reform program of the mid-1950s; we covered this in Episode 71.  Nevertheless, he did not suffer much from this demotion, and remained one of the most important people in Hanoi until he retired in 1987.  End footnote.

The other reason for the split in Hanoi was the split in Communism in the outside world, between the Soviets and the Chinese.  The communist government in China was young and full of beans; Mao wanted to continue the communist revolution, no matter what the cost, until communism ruled the whole world, because China could keep going on, even if it lost hundreds of millions of people in the struggle.  Moscow, on the other hand, had been under less aggressive leadership since the death of Stalin, and they were appalled at this idea; they thought that there must be a way to win without sacrificing millions of their own people, and would negotiate peace with non-communists when it was in their interests to do so.  Since North Vietnam was receiving aid from both the Soviets and the Chinese, both had influence in Hanoi.  Ho Chi Minh had traveled extensively early in his career, and thus favored the Soviet approach; he thought the way things were going, they were sure to win, so it wouldn’t hurt to negotiate a cease-fire with the enemy.  However, Le Duan and Truong Chinh wanted to continue campaigning aggressively until South Vietnam was crushed.  When the Hanoi leaders met near the end of 1963 to decide what their strategy should be, now that South Vietnam and the United States had new presidents, Ho Chi Minh’s moderate approach was outvoted.  That would play an important part in what happened in 1964.
 
Back to South Vietnam.  Nguyen Khanh may have been more clever than Duong Van Minh, but otherwise he was just as incompetent.  Between January and October 1964 he served as president, prime minister, and for a little while he held both jobs at the same time.  There were several coup attempts while he ran the show, and once he resigned.  In March the US Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, came to Saigon in an effort to promote stability, by telling everyone that Khanh was the South Vietnamese leader that Washington supported, but after the visit the Saigon government continued to resemble a revolving door, where military officers and politicians went in and out with unsurprising regularity.  I will not be describing all of the political upheavals here, because most did not make a difference in the “big picture.”

*****

In Episode 73 we ended the narrative by pointing out that three weeks after Diem’s downfall, the American president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson – LBJ for short – took his place.  Johnson’s favorite hero was a previous president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and like Roosevelt, Johnson would launch a big package of domestic reforms, which he called the “Great Society.”  Because the Great Society was his priority, he saw Vietnam as a nuisance, a distraction; moreover, if he acted too aggressive in foreign policy, he ran the risk of being called a warmonger.  Still, he did not want to be the first American president to lose a war, and on November 24, 1963, just two days after becoming president, he met with the US ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, and promised he would not “lose Vietnam.”

In Washington, Johnson chose to keep the men Kennedy had surrounded himself with; Robert McNamara stayed on as Secretary of Defense, and Dean Rusk continued to be the Secretary of State.  In Vietnam, though, Johnson wanted his own people in charge.  Ambassador Lodge resigned in 1964 so that he could run for president once more, and Johnson picked Kennedy’s favorite soldier, General Maxwell Taylor, to be the new ambassador.  To lead American forces in Vietnam, Johnson replaced Paul Harkins, the commanding general we saw previously, with General William C. Westmoreland.  As a highly decorated veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, and a former Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Westmoreland looked like an excellent choice.

Like other vice presidents who move into the top spot when the president dies or resigns, Johnson felt he needed to win a presidential election in order to be seen as a legitimate president.  Therefore he saw the 1964 presidential election as the first important test of his administration.  Although the polls showed Johnson well in the lead, his Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, accused him of being “soft on communism.”  To prove that wasn’t the case, he would have to get tough on the North Vietnamese at some point, and dropped hints that he would do so.  For example, when the joint chiefs of staff came to a White House reception on Christmas Eve, 1963, Johnson told them, quote, “Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war.”  Unquote.

While Nguyen Khanh was running South Vietnam, he called, more than once, for the United States to end the Viet Cong threat by supporting an invasion of North Vietnam from the South, thereby turning the tables by moving the battleground to the North.  Khanh thought that with the Americans backing him up, he couldn’t lose, but the Americans refused to cooperate, feeling that an invasion of North Vietnam did not have much chance of success.  The North Vietnamese agreed; Ho Chi Minh called it, quote, “sheer stupidity,” unquote, and he also said this about it.  Quote:  “How can he talk about marching north when he cannot even control areas in the immediate vicinity of Saigon?”  Unquote.  And the US Central Intelligence Agency had already smuggled teams of agents into North Vietnam, to assassinate officials and blow up important buildings and other structures, but the North Vietnamese government had such a strong grip on the country, that it was able to capture nearly all the agents before they could carry out their missions.

Still, something different would have to be done.  For the first few months of his presidency, Johnson kept US involvement in Vietnam at the same level as Kennedy had it in 1963, though it was now costing the United States $2 million dollars a day, and the defeat of the communists looked no closer than it was before.  In March 1964, the US National Security Council recommended the bombing of North Vietnam, but President Johnson only approved having the Pentagon make plans for such a campaign.  Then in May, Johnson’s aides began work on a Congressional resolution supporting the President’s war policy in Vietnam, which they would introduce when an opportunity came to expand the war effort.

That opportunity would come in the following summer.  While an invasion of the North at this time had been ruled out, the South Vietnamese navy could gain mastery over the waters off North Vietnam’s coast, in preparation for a future invasion.  To do this, the Americans encouraged South Vietnamese speedboats to go into the body of water called the Gulf of Tonkin, raid offshore islands and locate radar transmitters – while American warships watched all this from a distance.  The commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp, thought that as long as the Navy stayed at least eight miles from North Vietnam’s coast and at least four miles from the islands, the North Vietnamese would not retaliate.

*****

Well, that is what he thought.  On July 30, 1964, South Vietnamese commandos in unmarked speedboats embarked on their latest raid in the Gulf of Tonkin.  This time they bombarded Hon Me, an island with an enemy radar station, and Hon Ngu, an island three miles from Vinh, one of North Vietnam’s busiest ports.  An American destroyer, the USS Maddox, went with them and observed the action.  Then on August 2, three North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the Maddox, ten miles from the Red River delta.  They fired three torpedoes and machine-guns, but only a single machine-gun bullet struck the Maddox, no Americans were killed or injured.  In response, three U.S. Navy fighters from the carrier Ticonderoga attacked the patrol boats, sinking one and damaging the others.  Captain John Herrick of the Maddox wanted to finish off the two damaged boats, but he was ordered to pull back and wait for further instructions.  Ten days later, North Vietnamese propaganda claimed that they had shot down one American plane and damaged the other two, while not saying a word about casualties on their side.

At the White House, President Johnson heard about the incident.  Because there were no American casualties, he decided against retaliation.  Instead, he sent a diplomatic message to Hanoi warning of "grave consequences" from any further "unprovoked" attacks, and ordered the Maddox to resume operations in the same waters where the attack had occurred.  In addition, another destroyer, the USS C. Turner Joy, would accompany the Maddox.  The two American vessels sailed a zigzag course, which at the nearest points came within eight miles of North Vietnam’s coast.  Meanwhile, the South Vietnamese boats went after new targets, about 75 miles north of the 17th Parallel.  On the evening of August 3, thunderstorms rolled in, affecting the accuracy of electronic instruments on the destroyers.  Crew members reading their instruments, and intercepting radio messages from the enemy, believed they were under torpedo attack from North Vietnamese patrol boats again.  Their sonars detected twenty-two torpedoes, and the ships maneuvered wildly to dodge them; there were no torpedo hits.  The battle lasted from 8 PM to midnight, with officers on the destroyers thinking they had sunk two or three enemy boats; eight fighters from the Ticonderoga came to help, but their pilots saw nothing worth shooting at.  Thus, as soon as the battle was over, Captain Herrick wondered if any enemy had attacked them at all.

*****

These were the two encounters that came to be known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.  Although there were questions about whether there had been one attack or two, the Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly recommended a retaliatory bombing raid against North Vietnam.  In the United States, the news media greatly embellished the second attack with spectacular eyewitness accounts, though no journalists had been on board the destroyers.  This prompted President Johnson to retaliate.  On August 4, the first bombing of North Vietnam by the United States took place as oil facilities and patrol boat bases were attacked without warning by 64 U.S. Navy fighter bombers.  One hour after the air raids began, President Johnson went on TV to tell the American people about it.  Quote: “Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense, but with positive reply.  That reply is being given as I speak with you tonight.”  Unquote.

Two Navy jets were shot down during the bombing raids, and one of the pilots, Lt. Everett Alvarez of San Jose, California, was captured.  Premier Pham Van Dong happened to be visiting the area northeast of Hanoi that Alvarez had raided, and he briefly met with Alvarez, before Alvarez was taken to a prison in Hanoi, the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” as American prisoners of war would soon call it.  Alvarez was the first of nearly six hundred Americans who would be brought there over the next eight years; he was not allowed to leave until after the signing of a cease-fire agreement in 1973.

Speaking of Hanoi, we don’t know to this day who ordered the patrol boats to attack American ships; generally it is assumed that Le Duan did it.  Ho Chi Minh was furious; you may remember that back during the First Indochina War, he tried to get the Americans to support his side, instead of the French.  In 1964 he was still optimistic that the communists would win, but victory would be a lot easier if they didn’t have to fight the Americans, and now the Americans had the excuse they needed to get directly involved in the conflict.

Opinion polls taken on August 5, the day after the first American raids, reported that 85 percent of Americans supported President Johnson’s bombing decision.  Numerous newspaper editorials also come out in support of the president.  Johnson’s aides, including Defense Secretary McNamara, decided that the next step would be to get Congress to pass a White House resolution, that would give the President a free hand in Vietnam.  However, there was one senator who did not support this – Wayne Morse from Oregon, a man who was considered the most annoying member of Congress.  Morse had been tipped off by someone in the Pentagon that the Maddox was not an innocent bystander, the victim of an unprovoked attack, but had in fact been involved in the South Vietnamese commando raids against North Vietnam.  When McNamara went to Capitol Hill to sell the resolution to the Senate, Morse confronted him about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and McNamara declared that the U.S. Navy, quote, "…played absolutely no part in, was not associated with, was not aware of, any South Vietnamese actions, if there were any…"  Unquote.  Yeah, right.

Morse was considered a pompous windbag, and the rest of the Senate did not pay attention to him, so on August 7, 1964, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution put forward by the White House, allowing the President "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force" to prevent further attacks against U.S. forces.  This gave the president the power to wage an undeclared war in Vietnam.  The resolution was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives, while in the Senate, only two voted against it.  One of the opposing senators was Wayne Morse, of course; the other was Ernest Gruening of Alaska, who said, quote,  "all Vietnam is not worth the life of a single American boy."  Unquote.

Soon after the resolution was passed, the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, decided it was time to pay a visit to Washington.  U Thant was Burmese, so we will be mentioning him again in a future episode of this podcast, and he offered to host peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam at Rangoon, the capital of his home country.  For a while it did look like negotiations would begin already, because the Soviet Union wanted to cool down the situation in Vietnam, and only the USSR could supply the surface-to-air missiles that North Vietnam needed to defend itself from American bombers.  But then in October the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, was ousted, and his successors, Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin, were more interested in other matters.  As for the Americans, they were more interested in fighting than talking, and in November Election Day arrived.  Johnson won the landslide he had wanted, getting 61 percent of the popular vote, so now he felt he had a mandate from the people as well as from Congress, to set his own policy for Vietnam.  While all this was going on, U Thant’s proposal was quietly forgotten.  You can add it to the long list of missed opportunities that characterize the Vietnam War.

The North Vietnamese response to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was to start sending regular North Vietnamese soldiers to infiltrate South Vietnam, via the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Here their goal was not only to help the Viet Cong, but also to cause the South Vietnamese government to collapse, thereby winning the war.  And they had to do it before the Americans arrived in large numbers.  By December there were 10,000 North Vietnamese troops in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, carrying sophisticated weapons provided by China and the Soviet Union.

Whereas in the past some Americans were caught in bombings and firefights, now Americans were added to the list of possible targets.   On November 1, the first deliberate attack by the Viet Cong against Americans occurred at Bien Hoa air base, 12 miles north of Saigon.  A pre-dawn mortar assault killed five Americans, two South Vietnamese, and wounded nearly a hundred others.  Unlike what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin, President Johnson dismissed recommendations for a retaliatory air strike against North Vietnam.

*****

Back in Saigon, the political upheavals continued.  While the officers carried out their vendettas against each other, crowds of students and Buddhists demonstrated in the streets, demanding that the junta do more about human rights, and Catholic activists came out to oppose the Buddhists.  October 1964 saw another civilian government set up, with an agricultural engineer, Phan Khac Suu, as the head of state, and the former mayor of Saigon, Tran Van Huong, as prime minister.  Both of them were decrepit senior citizens; Huong was sixty-one years old, and Suu may have been as old as eighty.  Nor were they allowed to do much, because the military council still held the power.  I am mentioning them because Suu was a founding member of the Cao Dai, a local religion that appeared in Episodes 35 and 71 of this podcast; indeed, he was the only member of that religion to become a head of state.  The civilian government lasted for three months, until January 1965, when Khanh got tired of Huong and dismissed him.

On December 20, behind the civilian government that was supposedly in charge, yet another coup took place.  This time Khanh and the younger officers, led by Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and General Nguyen Van Thieu, ousted the older generals from the government, including Gen. Minh.  Maxwell Taylor’s response to the coup showed that he wasn’t the best choice for the job of ambassador.  Although he was an intelligent soldier, Johnson had appointed him largely to keep the Pentagon happy, and he had little patience for the bickering among the South Vietnamese leaders.  Later on Taylor said this about his experience in Saigon.  Quote: “One of the facts of life about Vietnam was that it was never difficult to decide what should be done, but it was almost impossible to get it done.”  Unquote.

Anyway, the day after the coup, an angry Ambassador Taylor summoned the young officers to the US embassy, and scolded them like schoolboys over the continuing instability and endless intrigues plaguing South Vietnam’s government.  He had warned them before that Americans are "tired of coups," and now he warned them again.  This greatly offended the young officers.  Khanh retaliated by lashing out in the press against Taylor and the US, stating that America was reverting to "colonialism" in its treatment of South Vietnam.  Taylor’s response to this was a suggestion that Khanh resign and go abroad.  The truth of the matter was the Americans could no longer live with Khanh, but because they were committed to winning the war, they couldn’t live without him, either.

Speaking of the war, Americans became a Viet Cong target again on December 24, when the Viet Cong set off a car bomb at the Brinks Hotel, an American officers’ residence in downtown Saigon.  Set to go off at 5:45 p.m., during “happy hour” in the bar, the bomb killed two Americans and wounded 58.  Again, President Johnson said no to recommendations for a retaliatory air strike against North Vietnam.

During 1964, the US commitment to save South Vietnam continued to deepen.  There were 16,300 American servicemen stationed in South Vietnam at the beginning of the year, and by the year’s end that number had increased to 23,310.  And that wouldn’t be the maximum; on December 1, President Johnson’s top aides, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and Defense Secretary McNamara, recommended a policy of gradual escalation of US military involvement in Vietnam.  That means the ground troops will be coming from the States next; expect to see them soon!

For the rest of the numbers, there were currently 514,000 soldiers in ARVN, the South Vietnamese army, and four other countries that opposed communism – South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand – had a combined total of 450 servicemen in South Vietnam.  Opposing them were an estimated 170,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters in the “People’s Revolutionary Army,” which began waging coordinated battalion-sized attacks against ARVN in the villages around Saigon.  This means the odds are against the communists – they are outnumbered by more than three to one.  But with much of the fighting in the jungle, and the Viet Cong using guerrilla tactics, the odds aren’t going to matter as much as you may think.  At the end of 1964, the Viet Cong could go anywhere they wanted in the countryside; although every town and city in South Vietnam was still under government control, for all practical purposes they were islands in a communist sea.

*****

Would you believe we have run out of time already?  Before starting to work on this episode, I thought I was going to get as far as the American ground troops arriving, but don’t worry – they will definitely be here in the next episode!  I’m sure you will want to join me to hear how that turned out, especially if you are one of my American listeners.

Now here is a reminder that early next year, I plan to do a question and answer episode, where you the listener set the topic by asking questions about Southeast Asia, and I will do my best to answer them.  I haven’t gotten any questions yet, so start thinking of some!  You can post them on the podcast’s Facebook page, or drop an email to me at berosus@gmail.com.  That’s B-E-R-O-S-U-S, at gmail.com.

And while you are thinking of those questions, consider supporting the podcast as well.  If you are enjoying the show and want to make sure I can keep the episodes coming, the best way to do it is by making a secure donation through Paypal.  Now you will have to go to the podcast’s home site, on Blubrry.com, if you listen or download it from anywhere else.  The URL for the page is https://blubrry.com/hoseasia/ .   That’s spelled h-t-t-p-s://-B-L-U-B-R-R-Y-dotcom, /H-O-S-E-A-S-I-A/.  Once you are there, click on any episode’s page, scroll to the bottom, and click on the gold button that says “Donate.”  When you do so, you will get your first name mentioned at the beginning of the next episode, and you will be added to the Donor’s Hall of Fame page.

Now what is the Donor’s Hall of Fame page?  I said last time that I was thinking of giving special recognition to the donors.  Well, here is my idea.  As I record this, I am also working on a webpage that will list the first names and initials of the donors.  I’m not finished with it yet, because I’m doing so many other things right now, but it should be ready for viewing a day or two after this episode goes up.  When it is done, I will post links to it on the podcast Facebook page and from Blubrry.com.  Any donation will get your first name or initial on it.  Those who donate in more than one year will receive a special icon next to their name.  Since the icon has to be something associated with Southeast Asia, I have chosen an icon that looks like a water buffalo, called the carabao in the Philippines, since water buffaloes are found in every country of the region, except maybe in Singapore.  So far one donor has qualified for the water buffalo icon; will you be the next?  If you have already donated before, you only have to wait two weeks before donating again, and the water buffalo icon is yours!

<Carabao grunt>

That’s the water buffalo, saying hello!  Now here are the other requests I usually give at the end of each episode.  First, keep those written reviews and ratings coming in.  I appreciate all of them; even those reviews that don’t come with five-star ratings are useful, as constructive criticism.  If you go on Facebook, visit the History of Southeast Asia podcast page, and “like” it if you haven’t done so already.  Last and most of all, I want you to tell anyone you know, who listens to podcasts, about this show.  If they have a job where they spend a lot of time not doing much, if they have a long commute every workday, or if they are planning to go on a long trip soon, this will brighten their days, and hopefully they will thank you for it.  And now it is my turn to give thanks.  Since the next episode will come out on or near New Year’s Day, Happy New Year in advance!  Thank you for listening, and come back when the monsoon winds are blowing right!

<Outro>

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