Episode 82: The Second Indochina War, Part 10



All right, Episode 82 of the podcast is available a day ahead of schedule!  Today we continue the ongoing narrative about the Second Indochina War in Vietnam, covering events for the rest of 1965, and culminating with the battle of Ia Drang.



This episode is dedicated to Neil G., Jacob T., and Marilyn E.: all of them made donations to the podcast.  What’s more, this is Jacob’s second donation: at the end of the episode I will tell you what he gets for that.  To all three of you, thank you for your support.  This is going to be a busy year for the podcast, and you helped the year get started right.  Now let’s go to the episode you helped make possible!

Episode 82: The Second Indochina War, Part 10

or, Escalation

Greetings, dear listeners!  And welcome back to our ongoing series on the Second Indochina War, also known as the Vietnam War if you are in the United States, or the American War if you are in Vietnam.  Sometimes I call this the unofficial Vietnam War podcast, because there is at least one other podcast claiming to be the official one.  Anyway, this is the sixth episode in the podcast covering the Vietnamese phase of the conflict; there are also four episodes about the war in Laos.  I am assuming that most of you are veteran listeners, but if this your first visit to this podcast, here are the episodes you need to listen to, in order to be up to date on what the podcast is covering now:

Episodes 71, 72, 73, 80, and 81, for the war in Vietnam.
And Episodes 74, 75, 78, and 79, for the war in Laos.

Last time, we finally saw the United States send ground troops to Vietnam, after various individuals had warned for years that ground troops would be needed to stop the spread of communism.  The Americans did not suddenly declare war and immediately send as many troops, ships and planes as possible, the way they did against Japan in World War II.  Instead the American buildup had been a gradual process, stretching back to the days right after North and South Vietnam became independent nations.  First the Americans sent money and military equipment, to help South Vietnam defend itself from communist North Vietnam and from the communist guerrilla force rising up within its borders – the Viet Cong.  When that didn’t change the course of the new war that broke out in the second half of the 1950s, the United states sent over military advisors, to train the army of South Vietnam, also called ARVN, for Army of the Republic of Vietnam.  That didn’t work either, because the South Vietnamese resisted their enemies only half-heartedly; we saw that after the officers overthrew President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, they were more interested in fighting each other than the communists.  Eventually some of the American advisors, namely helicopter pilots, got involved in the firefights between ARVN and the Viet Cong.  However, this also did not turn the tide of the conflict, so in 1965 the rest of the US armed forces intervened, taking over the anti-communist side of the war.  But even the first few American units weren’t enough to replace the troops that South Vietnam was losing, so in the middle of 1965 the American general in charge, William Westmoreland, requested a lot more troops – and got them.  On the other side, North Vietnam began sending its own troops into South Vietnam, beginning the transformation of the conflict from a guerrilla war to a conventional war, a process that would not be completed until after the Tet Offensive of 1968 – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves now.

Throughout the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, the average American – the “man on the street,” so to speak – was only vaguely aware of the war in Southeast Asia.  If he thought about it at all, he probably saw it as a second front or a continuation of the war fought in Korea in the early 1950s; chances are, he knew nothing about Vietnam and Laos.  Most of the time he thought about other things, from the space race with the Soviet Union to the popular new programs on TV.  Then after Lyndon Johnson became president, most Americans realized they were involved in a hot war, not a “Cold War” like what had been the case for the past decade.  In previous episodes I gave the count on the number of Americans involved in Vietnam at the end of every year.  Here are those numbers again:

For 1961 = 685.
For 1962 = 11,300.
For 1963 = 16,300.
For 1964 = 23,300.
Now for the end of 1965 – are you ready for this? – = 184,300.  The human commitment was matched by a financial commitment; the war was costing Washington more and more dollars every year.  For example, on August 4, 1965, just a week after President Johnson granted Westmoreland’s request for more troops, he asked Congress for an additional $1.7 billion for the war effort.


And there will be still more troops coming.  Westmoreland soon realized that because this was a war without frontiers; the Viet Cong could be driven away from one spot, but they would return after their opponents had moved elsewhere.  In this situation, progress was not measured in territory gained, but in the number of casualties inflicted.  Therefore Westmoreland’s strategy was to make this a war of attrition, by killing more Viet Cong and North Vietnamese than could be replaced.  By doing this, and by bringing in more Americans, the war would eventually reach what Westmoreland called the “crossover point,” enemy forces would break, and just like in World War II, the Americans would charge to victory.  For the Americans, the main question was where this crossover point was.

Of course all those troops are going to need logistical support, so overnight an entire infrastructure was built up in South Vietnam to accomodate them.  Stanley Karnow, Time-Life’s Southeast Asia correspondent, described the buildup in the book he wrote after the war, “Vietnam, A History,” so I will use his words here.  Quote:

<Insert Stanley Karnow quote>

Saigon also got a modern, capitalist economy, as it was flooded with every luxury or necessity the troops could ask for, including guns and ammo, oil, spare parts, sports clothes, cameras, radios, tape recorders, soap, shampoo, deodorant, razors, and, of course, condoms.  A lot of American-made items were stolen from PXs and warehouses, to be sold on the black market, and wherever the troops were based, trades in prostitution and narcotics sprang up.  Every form of weapon in the American arsenal, except nuclear warheads, was brought over for field testing, and every branch of the military got involved in Vietnam, because as American officers explained at the time, quote: “”It’s the only war we’ve got.”  Unquote.

Podcast footnote: In the 1960s all modern cities had problems with air and water pollution.  Before long, all the American activity mentioned here gave Saigon a serious pollution problem, too.  Some Americans stationed in Saigon joked that the quickest way to end the war would be to invite Ho Chi Minh to visit Saigon.  After one look – and after smelling the South Vietnamese capital – the North Vietnamese leader would leave, saying, “I don’t want any part of it.”  End footnote.

Never before had so much military and industrial power been brought to bear against such an insignificant opponent; North Vietnam in the mid-1960s was a third-rate military power, at best.  We saw during the First Indochina War that Ho Chi Minh described his conflict against the French as a struggle between "grasshoppers and elephants"; now, as Stanley Karnow put it, he was a microbe facing a leviathan.  But microbes carry diseases, which even the greatest monsters can catch.  To continue this analogy, eventually the American leviathan would catch the microbe’s disease.


Of course, at this stage most Americans figured there were few problems in Vietnam that couldn’t be solved with a sufficient application of brute force.  One of those who disagreed with this approach was the US ambassador to South Vietnam, former General Maxwell Taylor.  Taylor resigned in July 1965, but he stayed in the Johnson administration for the rest of Johnson’s presidency, becoming a Special Consultant to the President, Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and President of the Institute for Defense Analyses.  To replace Taylor as ambassador, Johnson brought back his predecessor, Henry Cabot Lodge.  This time Lodge held the ambassador’s post until 1967.

At first, the Viet Cong concentrated their attacks in Quang Nam, the province containing Da Nang, because that was where the first American troops had landed.  On July 1, 1965, an 85-man Viet Cong group reinforced by a 13-man North Vietnamese sapper unit launched a ground and mortar attack against Da Nang air base, using one 57mm recoilless rifle, four 82mm mortars, grenades and assorted demolition equipment.  They destroyed three aircraft and damaged three more.  Then they withdrew when the Marines guarding the air base fired back.  Although no enemy was confirmed killed by the Marines, blood trails leading away from the airfield were found the following morning.

In response to the raid, the Marines increased the area they patrolled outside the base to include Cam Ne, a collection of six villages.  The Viet Cong controlled these villages with around 100 fighters, and the villages were full of traps: trenches, tunnels, bunkers, fighting holes, mines, tripwires designed to set off grenades or mortar shells, sharpened Punji sticks poised to stab an unsuspecting person going by, and so on.  Naturally there was heavy fighting when the Marines first came here, and they encountered a trap every few yards within the villages; at least seven Marines were killed as a result.  On August 1 the Marines sent in four Marine A-4D Skyhawks to attack the villages with bombs, rockets and cannon fire.  Then on August 3 the Marines came back to Cam Ne, and this time they burned down the villages, destroyed whatever the peasants owned, especially stockpiles of rice, and removed the peasants, to be relocated to an area the South Vietnamese government controlled.

The Cam Ne incident got worldwide attention because a CBS reporter, Morley Safer, and a South Vietnamese cameraman, Ha Thuc Can, went with the Marines, and reported on everything they saw.  The film footage they took was shown across the United States on the CBS Evening News when the network got the story, while newspapers ran pictures of a Marine setting a hut on fire with a cigarette lighter.  The story played down the Viet Cong activities that brought the Marines to the villages in the first place.  Senior commanders in Vietnam declared the story was distorted and incomplete, and CBS got a lot of complaints from patriotic viewers for broadcasting the story.  One of the complaints came from President Johnson himself, who woke up CBS president Frank Stanton with an angry phone call.  I won’t quote Johnson’s words here; they’re not suitable for a family-friendly podcast.  If you’re looking for examples of media bias involving Vietnam, here’s one of the first.

On August 5, the Viet Cong struck again, destroying two million gallons of fuel in storage tanks near Da Nang.  Two more Marines were killed near Cam Ne on August 9, and that brought the Marines back to secure Cam Ne once and for all.  They came in force to search again for Viet Cong hideouts on August 18, but this time, the villagers were given full warning of the Marines’ arrival.  The entire village was cleared with no difficulty; no casualties were taken by the Marines, no enemies were found in Cam Ne, and shelters were built for homeless Vietnamese civilians.


Meanwhile, in another part of Quang Nam Province, came the first battle where regimental sized units on both sides clashed.  A Viet Cong defector informed the local South Vietnamese general that the 1st VC Regiment was planning to attack Chu Lai, an American air base, from Van Tuong, a village twelve miles away.  The Americans acted first by launching a pre-emptive strike, called Operation Starlite.  Five Marine battalions took part in an amphibious assault of the beach next to Van Tuong, backed up by tanks, helicopters and ships.  The Viet Cong were taken completely by surprise, in part because ARVN was not informed of the Marines landing on the beach before it took place, thereby eliminating the possibility that a South Vietnamese informer would pass this information on to the enemy.  There was only organized resistance on the first day of the battle, August 18, but fighting continued until August 24, when the last Viet Cong fled the area.  By the time it was over, 45 Americans and 614 Viet Cong had been killed, making Operation Starlite the first major victory in the war for the Americans.  The Viet Cong learned that the tactics they had used successfully against ARVN did not work so well against US Marines, and it would be many months before they would stand to fight against the Marines in another battle.

Two months after Operation Starlite, came the first battle between American and North Vietnamese forces.  In October 1963, the US Army Special Forces had established a camp at Plei Me in the Central Highlands, 25 miles south of Pleiku and less than 20 miles from the Cambodian border.  It was one of several camps near Pleiku that were used to work with the local Montagnards, or hill tribesmen, and to gather intelligence on North Vietnamese infiltration of the area.  Two years later, in October 1965, it was defended by 12 Americans, 14 South Vietnamese, and around 400 Montagnards; the wives and children of the Montagnards lived with them in the camp.  Two North Vietnamese regiments, with an estimated 4,200 men between them, moved to take Pleiku; on the night of October 19, 1965, they attacked a Montagnard patrol from Plei Me, then they overran an outpost near the camp, killing all 25 defenders after their ammunition ran out, and then they attacked the camp itself.  The American commander at Plei Me, Lt. Colonel Harold Moore, called in airstrikes, and the next day, helicopters arrived to drop supplies into the camp and bring reinforcements, 12 Americans and 250 South Vietnamese.  An armored relief column containing 1,400 men came to the rescue from Pleiku; the North Vietnamese ambushed it twice, but were driven off each time.  The column reached Plei Me on October 25, and the North Vietnamese ended their siege of the camp; by this time, bombs and napalm from the airstrikes had destroyed all vegetation surrounding the camp, meaning the attackers no longer had any place to hide.  Westmoreland visited the camp after the siege, sent in elements of the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division, and authorized them to pursue and destroy the North Vietnamese units as they withdrew.

When it was all over, three Americans, 14 Montagnards and 16 South Vietnamese had been killed at Plei Me, and a slightly larger number in the pursuit, while the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong lost an estimated 850 during the siege and pursuit, meaning Plei Me was a victory for the anti-communist forces.  As it turned out, though, Plei Me was a prelude for a larger battle in the same part of the Central Highlands, the battle of Ia Drang.


The pursuing Americans caught up with the North Vietnamese seven miles from the Cambodian border, in the Ia Drang valley.  Here the 1st Cavalry detected a concentration of enemy troops near Chu Pong Mountain, and  it directed the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, a unit of 450 men, to do a reconnaissance of the area.  For what it’s worth, this was the same 7th Cavalry that George Armstrong Custer had led in the old West, at the disastrous battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.

<Cavalry sound effect>

Since the old West days the 7th Cavalry has replaced their horses with helicopters, but you know that any battle they go into is going to be a bloody one.  Anyway, the commander of the 7th Cavalry battalion was Lt. Colonel Moore again, and he picked three spots near Chu Pong mountain, to use as landing zones, calling them Landing Zones X-Ray, Albany and Columbus.  Because the helicopters, 16 Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Hueys,” could only carry 6 to 8 soldiers per trip, and it took them half an hour to make a round trip between Plei Me and Ia Drang, it would take several hours to bring all the troops in.  On November 14, an hour and a half after the troops started landing, the North Vietnamese 33rd Regiment attacked Landing Zone X-Ray.  This firefight continued all day and into the night.  Although they were completely surrounded, Moore and the 7th Cavalry did not have to make a last stand like Custer did; artillery units and B-52s bombers struck at the North Vietnamese, taking out much of the 33rd Regiment.  On the second morning, the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment joined the battle, and then around noon, two more American units, the 2nd Battalion from the 7th Cavalry and the 2nd Battalion from the 5th Cavalry, arrived as reinforcements.  By the third day, November 16, the Americans had gained the upper hand, driving off the enemy.  The final score was 96 Americans killed and 121 wounded; for the North Vietnamese, 834 were confirmed dead, and it is believed they suffered another 1,000 casualties, which they managed to remove from the battle.

As soon as the Americans realized they had won, the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry was ordered to move cross-country to Landing Zone Albany, and the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Cavalry was ordered to go to Landing Zone Columbus; there the two units would be picked up by helicopters and moved to new locations.  The battalion from the 5th Cavalry made it to Colombus without any trouble, but on November 17, while the battalion from the 7th Cavalry was moving through the jungle in a long column, the 8th battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment sprang a massive ambush.  Of the 400 men in the American unit, 155 were killed, 124 were wounded, and only 84 were able to return to immediate duty after the battle.  Again air support and reinforcements were called in, and the battle around Albany went on until November 18, before the surviving Americans could be rescued.  A minimum of 403 North Vietnamese were killed at Albany.  It was the most successful ambush against U.S. forces during the entire war.


When they heard the news, senior American officials in Saigon declared the Battle of Ia Drang a great victory, because according to their figures, the North Vietnamese had lost twelve soldiers for each American killed.  However, it is more accurate to say that the Americans won the first clash of the battle, at Landing Zone X-Ray, while the North Vietnamese won the second clash, at Landing Zone Albany.  Both sides learned from Ia Drang that they should concentrate on their strengths; the Americans should stick to using their superior air power, while the North Vietnamese learned that if they get as close to the Americans as possible, the Americans will be less likely to use artillery or air power, out of fear that they will inflict “friendly fire” casualties on their own side.

When President Johnson heard about the battle, he ordered Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who was on a trip to Europe, to make a stop in Vietnam before coming home, to find out what really happened.  McNamara did so, meeting with Ambassador Lodge in Saigon, and then he went to An Khe, the 1st Cavalry Division’s base camp, where he met with the officers involved in the battle, including Moore.  Afterwards, on November 30, McNamara wrote a top-secret memo to LBJ which stated that the enemy had not only met but exceeded the American escalation.  Quote: “We have come to a decision point and it seems we have only two choices:  Either we arrange whatever diplomatic cover we can find and get out of Vietnam, or we give General William C. Westmoreland the 200,000 additional U.S. troops he is asking for, in which case by early 1967 we will have 500,000 Americans on the ground and they will be dying at the rate of 1,000 a month.”  End quote.  McNamara went on to predict that after the additional troops arrived, all they would have is a military stalemate at a much higher level of violence.

On December 15, 1965, LBJ called his council of “wise old men” to the White House:  McNamara, Clark Clifford, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, George Ball and Dean Acheson.  They were meeting to decide what to do next about Vietnam.  As the president walked into the room, he was holding McNamara’s memo in his hand; he shook it at the defense secretary, and said, quote, “You mean to tell me no matter what I do I can’t win in Vietnam?”  Unquote.  McNamara nodded yes.  The wise men talked for two days, but they paid more attention to the 12:1 casualty ratio than to McNamara’s “Option 1” — getting out of Vietnam.  Ultimately they voted unanimously to further escalate the war.

After Ia Drang came several other conventional engagements against the Americans in Binh Dinh Province, the part of the coast just south of Da Nang.  These clashes convinced Vo Nguyen Giap, the North Vietnamese military commander, that in any one-on-one conventional fight between Americans and North Vietnamese, the North Vietnamese would get the worst of it.  Therefore he told the rest of the Politburo in Hanoi that they needed to go back to waging a protracted guerrilla war.  He told them that a conventional war against the Americans now, and for 1966 and 1967, would be suicide; superior fighting spirit was not enough to make up for the amazing firepower and mobility that was the American advantage.  By using small units for ambushes, harassment, and hit and run raids on bases and government offices, the communists would eventually wear down American and South Vietnamese forces, and protect the shadow government the Viet Cong had in the villages.  In other words, the transformation from a guerrilla war to a conventional war, which I talked about earlier, would be delayed until 1968, at least.  Thus, Ia Drang played a major role in shaping the strategy of both sides, for 1966 and 1967.

Podcast footnote:  In 1995, thirty years after Ia Drang and twenty years after the end of the war, General Giap, now 84 years old, got to meet his opponent, former Defense Secretary McNamara.  At the meeting he gave several reasons why the Americans did not defeat the North Vietnamese, of which the most important one was, quote, “the US missed many opportunities to end the war in Vietnam, while Vietnam always took advantage of them all.”  Unquote.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Giap was thinking of Ia Drang and its aftermath when he said that.  End footnote.

After the war, the battle of Ia Drang became the setting for the novel We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young, written by Harold Moore, now a retired general, and Joseph Galloway, a newspaper correspondent who was also present at the battle.  In 2002 this book was made into the movie We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson as Moore.

Our narrative is now up to the end of 1965.  Boy, that was a busy year for Vietnam; it has taken two episodes for this podcast to cover events in 1965!  I said earlier that in 1965, the number of American troops in Vietnam reached 184,300.  Now here are some other statistics to think about.  It is appropriate to talk about numbers here because the advisors to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson saw the war as a numbers game.  When it came to data collecting, chart-making, and calculations, the Vietnam War was more heavily studied while it was taking place, than any previous war the United States was involved in.

Anyway, by year’s end, 2,344 Americans had been killed in Vietnam.  An estimated 90,000 South Vietnamese soldiers had deserted, while an estimated 35,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated the South via the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Up to 50 percent of the countryside in South Vietnam was under some degree of Viet Cong control, meaning the Viet Cong lost some ground; they held around 75 percent of the countryside before the American troops arrived.  Finally, at the end of the year, Time Magazine chose General William Westmoreland as their “Man of the Year” for 1965.


Okay, that does it for today!  Join me for the next episode, when we look at the course of the Second Indochina War in 1966, and maybe 1967.  We now know what strategies both sides will follow.  The Americans will use more of what they are using already, meaning more troops for South Vietnam, and more air strikes for North Vietnam.  Meanwhile, the communists are going back to the guerrilla tactics that have served them well in the past.  As for the South Vietnamese, President Johnson will suggest they hold a US-style presidential election; let’s see how that works out.  And speaking of the US, how will Americans back home feel about the war?  Will they give it their united support, the way they did during World War II?  Tune in for that in February 2020 or later; be there or be square!

For the past few episodes I have said I want to record a question-and-answer episode in the near future.  Well, since 2020 began, I have gotten questions from four of you, and because one listener asked more than one, I think I now have enough for the episode.  It will probably come out some time in March; I’m looking for a good spot to interrupt the Vietnam narrative for that special episode, maybe when we get done with the Tet offensive.  Thank you for coming through with the questions; I guess you all had to wait until the holidays were behind you before thinking up some!  If you want to send more questions, contact me on the podcast Facebook page, or email them to Berosus@gmail.com.  That’s B-E-R-O-S-U-S, at gmail.com.


This podcast has depended on listener support to run for three and a half years.  If you are getting something out of the podcast, it is never too early or too late to show your support.  The main way to do that is to make a donation through Paypal.  Donations are secure, and to make one, go to the Blubrry.com page for any episode of this podcast, or to the new Podcast Hall of Fame page, and click on the gold button at the bottom of the page, the one that says “Donate.”  Those who do so will be honorably mentioned in this podcast, and their names will be added to the Podcast Hall of Fame page.

I introduced the Podcast Hall of Fame page in the previous episode.  For those who missed that episode, there is now a webpage where I post the first names or initials of the donors, to make them famous for as long as this podcast endures.  I put a link to the Hall of Fame page on the Blubrry.com page hosting this episode, and on the podcast’s Facebook page.  Those who donate in more than one year will get special recognition, in the form of an icon representing the head of a Southeast Asian animal, the water buffalo, next to their names.  When I created the page, one donor, Wallace D., qualified for the water buffalo icon; now Jacob T. is the second to qualify, because he made another donation two years ago.  Who will be next?

This week I set up another way you can support the podcast financially, through Patreon.  This is probably something I should have done a long time ago, because over the years I have donated to two other podcasts this way.  For those not familiar with Patreon, this is a website that allows you to support various artists by committing to give them a small amount each month.  You can think of it as being like a magazine subscription, and chances are, you won’t miss the money you contribute, but if many people each give a little, it will help the artist a lot!  To visit the Patreon page, go to http://www.patreon.com/historyofsoutheastasia , or click on the links I have shared on the Facebook page or the Blubrry.com page for this episode.  Patreon is spelled P-A-T-R-E-O-N, and historyofsoutheastasia is spelled as one word, no spaces.  Once you are there, you can sign up to support the podcast at $1 a month (that’s less than the price of coffee in a gas station these days!), $3, or $5 a month.  Some benefits are listed, but those were suggested by Patreon, and are likely to change.  Currently I don’t have mugs and T-shirts with the name of the podcast on them, like some other podcasters have.  As I am writing this, one listener, Ed D., has broken the ice already, signing up to become a Patron on the day after I announced the new page.  Welcome aboard, Ed!

Now what can you do for the podcast, that doesn’t involve money?  I’m glad you asked!  In the past couple minutes I have mentioned the Facebook History of Southeast Asia Podcast page more than once.  If you are on Facebook and haven’t liked it yet, do so now, so you won’t have to wait until the next episode to hear from me.  And if you listen to or download the episodes from a place that allows reviews, by all means write one, to spread the word on what you are listening to.  Finally, spread the word in the real world about the podcast; tell your friends, relatives, and anyone else who listens to podcasts.  If I can do it, so can you!  That’s all.  Thank you for listening, and come back when the monsoon winds are blowing right!


The Patreon Page Launch


After years of using Patreon to send donations to other podcasts, I have finally set up a Patreon page for my own show, the History of Southeast Podcast.  Take a look around (I know, there’s not much to see yet), and if you’re willing to support the podcast for one or more US dollars a month, consider becoming one of my Patrons.  Thank you for visiting.


Episode 81: The Second Indochina War, Part 9



Happy New Year, and here is the first episode for 2020!  In Episode 81 the first American combat troops come to Vietnam, only to find that their visit will not be a short one, and that a lot more Americans will have to join them.



This episode is dedicated to Will K. and Gabriel S., who made donations to the podcast.  If you were looking to get your donations in before the old year ended, you did it just in time!  And of course I added your names to the new Podcast Hall of Fame page; more about that at the end of this show.  New years are a time for new beginnings, so may this new year be a time of great opportunity and success for both of you.

Today I am going to do something I normally don’t do with the podcast.  I am going to begin the episode with a story.

Like other wars, Vietnam is full of stories, and this may be the most amazing story I have heard about American soldiers in Vietnam.  Lauri Törni was born in Finland in 1919, and over the course of his life he became a war hero in three countries:  Finland, Germany and the United States.  When World War II began, in 1939, he was twenty years old, prime age for military service.  Thus, he served during the four-month conflict which we now call the Winter War, when the Soviet Union invaded Finland.  Then in 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Finland saw it as a rematch and entered the war on Germany’s side; today Finns call the conflict on the Russian Front the Continuation War.  Of course Törni fought in the Continuation War as well.  The Germans gave him additional training, and he was good enough to get into the SS, meaning he was now technically a Nazi.  In the Finnish army he eventually reached the rank of captain and commanded the most elite unit in the Finnish army.  This unit gave the Russians so much trouble that the Russians offered a reward of 3 million Finnish marks for him, dead or alive – the only Finnish soldier to have a bounty on his head.  For his achievements, Törni was awarded the Mannerheim Cross, the highest medal of valor in Finland.

Then in September 1944 Finland surrendered, but by now Törni hated the Soviets so much that he didn’t want to stop fighting when Finland did, so he defected to Germany; because of his past experience, he joined the German army, and soon he won another award, the Iron Cross.  However, Germany also surrendered only a few months later, and Törni ended up in a British prisoner of war camp.  Escaping from that, he returned to Finland, but the Finnish government now considered him a traitor; it first threw him in jail, then changed its mind and pardoned him in 1948.  After that Törni moved to the United States, changed his name to an American-sounding name, Larry Thorne, tried working as a carpenter, and got bored with this.  Then in 1954 he took advantage of a law that allowed foreigners to become US citizens, if they served in the US Army for five years.  Although he was on the other side during World War II, the Army accepted him; during the background check, they found he had killed no Jews during the war, only communists.

Thorne started out in the US Army as a private; he couldn’t transfer his officer’s rank from previous service in other armies, but he was such a talented soldier that he rose quickly through the ranks, and became a captain again.  Because he joined too late to serve in the Korean War, he had to wait a decade before he got his chance to fight the communists again, this time in Vietnam.  For the courage he showed in battle, he was awarded a bronze star and two purple hearts.  On October 18, 1965, he was killed when his helicopter lost its way in fog and crashed into a mountainside, while taking part in a raid on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.  I covered the campaign against the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Episode 78 of the podcast.  The Army did not locate the crash site; Thorne was posthumously promoted to major and given two more medals, the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Finally in 1999, his remains were found, along with those of the three South Vietnamese soldiers that were also in the helicopter, and they were buried in one grave at Arlington National Cemetery.  I told you in Episode 49 how a British general, Orde Charles Wingate, was buried at Arlington because he was on an American plane when it crashed; now you have met the only former Nazi buried there.  And here is one more amazing fact surrounding Larry Thorne’s story; the old soldier that John Wayne played in “The Green Berets” was modeled after Thorne.

Episode 81: The Second Indochina War, Part 9

or, “Good Morning Vietnam!”

Greetings, dear listeners!  Yes, some time back I got a message from one of you saying that Robin Williams was shockingly loud.  However, his movie was set in the year 1965, and this episode is about Vietnam in 1965, so it seemed appropriate to bring him on the show once more.

Speaking of years, this is the first episode recorded in 2020, so if you are listening around that time, Happy New Year!


And before we go any further, I need to give a belated apology.  A very belated apology.  It has to do with Episode 37, which was recorded almost two years ago.  There I said that the British could not defend Singapore against the Japanese because the big gun batteries in the city’s fortresses could not be pointed backward, to fire at an enemy coming from the mainland.  Most of my sources said the same thing, so I repeated it in the recording, but one of you recently pointed out that was not the case.  I had to go to Wikipedia to straighten this one out; mind you, that’s not my first choice when it comes to sources.  It said some of the guns could be turned around, but they were designed to punch holes in naval vessels, up to 24 miles away.  Furthermore, most of the ammunition was armor-piercing shells, which do damage in a relatively smaller area than incendiary or high explosive rounds.  Thus, it was hard to aim the guns at a much closer, spread-out target, in this case an invading army, and that meant they were not very effective.  Sorry about spreading an urban legend; now let’s move ahead to 1965. 

As you know by now, this is the latest episode in the podcast’s ongoing series about the Second Indochina War, also called the Vietnam War by Americans, and the American War by Vietnamese and NPR, the National Public Radio network.  To hear what we covered previously, go to Episodes 71, 72, 73 and 80 for the war in Vietnam, and Episodes 74, 75, 78 and 79 for the war in neighboring Laos.  Here I will summarize the Vietnam phase in a nutshell.  When the First Indochina War ended in 1954, and France got out of its Southeast Asian colonies, Vietnam was independent but divided, into communist North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam.  For a little while in the mid-1950s, they didn’t fight, because both were busy with internal affairs; North Vietnam was engaged with economic and land reforms, which killed so many innocent people that a “Rectification of Errors” campaign came afterwards, while the South Vietnamese government put down rebellions from rival factions, in the Mekong River delta and in Saigon.  However, there was supposed to be an election to form a government for a reunited Vietnam, and this never happened; then the South Vietnamese government went from being a republic to a dictatorship.  By the end of 1964 there was a civilian government, led by President Phan Khac Suu and Premier Tran Van Huong, but it was a powerless front organization.  The real power was held by a military junta in which General Nguyen Khanh was the most important member.

The Second Indochina War began in the late 1950s, when North Vietnam trained communist guerrillas, and sent them south to wreak havoc and recruit and train more guerrillas.  By the end of 1960, these guerrillas called themselves the National Liberation Front, but to the outside world they were better known as the Viet Cong.  The United States responded by sending military aid, but after they received it, the South Vietnamese armed forces did no better than they had before, so beginning in 1961, the United States sent “military advisors” to go with the equipment already going over there.

Though more and more Americans went to South Vietnam every year, the Viet Cong continued to win, and in 1964 North Vietnamese troops began infiltrating the south, making the communist force even tougher.  Nevertheless, the officers that ran South Vietnam continued their petty bickering; they thought it was more important to fight each other, than to fight an enemy that could destroy them all.  By the end of the year the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese partners controlled about 75 percent of South Vietnam’s countryside, and could move freely through the rest.  All that was left to the Saigon regime were the cities, and if they started falling to the enemy, the war would soon be over.  US President Lyndon Johnson and his aides were firm believers in the “Domino Theory,” thinking that if they did not stop communism in Vietnam, it would spread to the rest of Southeast Asia, so they were not about to pull US forces out of Vietnam.  Instead they made a total commitment to winning here.  Soon American ground forces would arrive; to the Americans, Vietnam seemed like an example of the saying, “If you want to make sure something is done right, you gotta do it yourself.”  And that’s where we were when the last episode ended; now let’s resume the narrative!



Because President Johnson had not responded to recent attacks in Saigon and at Bien Hoa, the nearby US air base, the communists now gambled that any US intervention in Vietnam after 1964 would be severely limited in nature, and this encouraged them to launch their largest attack so far, at Binh Gia, a village 40 miles east of Saigon.  The village was populated mostly by Catholic refugees who had fled from North Vietnam in 1954.  This was the first large, set-piece battle involving the Viet Cong, and they raised a new unit, the 9th Division, for this encounter.  More than a thousand men were moved here from Tay Ninh, a province just northwest of Saigon; they traveled in small groups to avoid detection.  On the coast they picked up a supply of weapons, smuggled to them in North Vietnamese boats.  Although the nine ARVN battalions in the neighborhood had an advantage in helicopters, tanks and armored personnel carriers, they were not as fast and flexible as the Viet Cong, and that made the difference here.  After taking positions along the roads leading to Binh Gia, the Viet Cong launched their attack on December 28, 1964.  The 9th Division captured Binh Gia and held the village for the next four days, badly mauling the ARVN units that tried to drive them out.  Then the Viet Cong escaped on January 1, by withdrawing into the jungle.  Like the battle of Ap Bac, in 1963, the retaking of Binh Gia was hailed as a South Vietnamese victory, but again the body count told a different story.  196 South Vietnamese and five Americans were killed; all but one of the Americans were in a helicopter that had been shot down; there were also 192 South Vietnamese wounded, and 68 missing.  For the Viet Cong, there were only 32 confirmed deaths; if there were any more, the bodies were removed from the battle site.  One American officer in Saigon had this to say about the battle.  Quote: “The Viet Cong fought magnificently, as well as any infantry anywhere.  But the big question for me is how its troops, a thousand or more of them, could wander around the countryside so close to Saigon without being discovered.  That tells something about this war.  You can only beat the other guy if you isolate him from the population.”  Unquote.  And later on Le Duan, the leader of the Communist Party in Hanoi, explained what made Ap Bac and Binh Gia important battles.  Quote:  “After the Ap Bac battle the enemy realized that it would be difficult to defeat us. After Binh Gia the enemy realized that they would lose to us.”  Unquote.

The US ambassador to Saigon, Maxwell Taylor, and the American commander on the spot, General William C. Westmoreland, urged President Johnson to launch some kind of retaliation, but Johnson held off, feeling it wasn’t time for that yet.  Then in late January, two more aides of Johnson, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, sent him a memo stating that America’s limited military involvement in Vietnam is not succeeding, and that the US has reached a ‘fork in the road’ in Vietnam; now it must either escalate or withdraw.

On February 4, 1965, McGeorge Bundy visited South Vietnam.  He had never been there before, and was coming to see the situation first hand.  Coincidentally, the Soviet Prime Minister, Aleksei Kosygin, arrived in Hanoi on the same day.  Kosygin wanted to scale down the war, by persuading the North Vietnamese to negotiate with the Americans, but as it turned out, the next Viet Cong raid would drastically alter the missions of both Bundy and Kosygin.  On the night of February 6, the Viet Cong attacked Camp Holloway, the US military compound at Pleiku, a provincial capital in the Central Highlands.  Eight Americans were killed, 126 were wounded and ten aircraft were destroyed, by demolition charges the Viet Cong had planted.  One Viet Cong body was found, carrying a map of the campsite, showing that the communists had successfully spied on the area before the raid.

When President Johnson heard the news, he said, quote, “I’ve had enough of this," unquote, and then he approved Operation Flaming Dart.  For seventeen days, US Navy jets from the carrier Ranger bombed a North Vietnamese army camp near Dong Hoi, the southernmost city in North Vietnam.  Then Johnson agreed to a long-standing recommendation from his advisors for a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam.  Meanwhile in Hanoi, the North Vietnamese pleaded with Kosygin to give them unlimited military aid to counter the American "aggression."  Kosygin felt he has no choice, and gave them what they wanted; within a few weeks, the newest Soviet SAMs, surface-to-air missiles, were delivered to Hanoi.

Over in Saigon, Nguyen Khanh tried on February 16 to install another puppet as prime minister, an economist named Nguyen Xuan Oanh, to replace Tran Van Huong, but the other officers overruled him and installed their choice, a former defense minister named Dr. Phan Huy Quat.  Then on February 19, two officers, Colonel Pham Ngoc Thao and Major General Lam Van Phat, launched a coup for the purpose of getting rid of Khanh, whom they saw as a dictator.  Tanks and infantry seized control of the military headquarters at Tân Son Nhut, Saigon’s airport; they also seized the post office and the radio station of Saigon, and they surrounded the homes of Khanh and Phan Khac Suu.  Khanh escaped by taking a plane from Tan Son Nhut, and he visited several provinces, trying to rally support from the local troops, before his plane ran out of fuel at Da Lat.  Back in Saigon, the ruling council voted unanimously to replace Khanh with the air vice marshal, Nguyen Cao Ky, as its leader.  After a brief round of negotiations at Da Lat, Khánh agreed to resign and leave the country if he was given a dignified send-off, so the other generals arranged a ceremony at Tan Son Nhut.  There, as his enemies, other officers and the US ambassador watched, military bands serenaded him, and he bent down, picked up some loose dirt and put it in his pocket, saying that he was taking his beloved homeland with him.  Khanh was also given the honorable title of ambassador-at-large, but the truth was that he had just been exiled.

Podcast footnote: After leaving Vietnam, Nguyen Khanh first went to France, but like many Vietnamese in exile, after the war he moved to the United States, along with his wife and four children.  At one point he ran an unimpressive little Asian restaurant in West Palm Beach, Florida, and eventually settled down in Orange County, California.  After the war Vietnamese refugees set up several so-called “governments in exile.”  The largest of these groups, the Government of Free Vietnam, GFVN for short, was founded in California in 1995.  This group claimed it trained more than 100,000 supporters at KC-702, a hidden camp somewhere near the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, but to this day we do not know the camp’s location, or even if it existed at all.  The GFVN also claimed to have staged raids inside Vietnam, but aside from the Vietnamese government calling GFVN members “terrorists,” we don’t have evidence that the raids took place.  It’s possible that the organization was just a group of old men, playing at being Rambo.  Then in 2005 Nguyen Khanh became the leader of the movement.  He died in 2013, at the age of 85, and because the Government of Free Vietnam was going nowhere, the organization was dissolved at that time.  Even before then, sometime between 2009 and 2011, the organization’s website went dark, and the website domain, gfvn.org, is for sale today.  As The OC Weekly, a California newspaper, put it, quote, “The Government of Free Vietnam Is No Republic for Old Men.”  Unquote.  This reminds me of the VNQDD, a Vietnamese nationalist group I described in Episode 35.  If you listened to that episode, you will remember that the VNQDD was the most important independence movement before Ho Chi Minh came along, and after the French defeated and executed its leaders, the VNQDD lingered in exile for about eighty years, finally ending up in the part of Florida where I used to live.  End footnote.


As soon as the political crisis had passed, a new military crisis arose.  On February 22, General Westmoreland requested two battalions of US Marines to protect the American air base at Da Nang, because 6,000 Viet Cong had gathered in the vicinity.  Later on, Westmoreland claimed that he did not see this request as the beginning of a campaign that would eventually cause more than half a million American soldiers to go to Vietnam.  Ambassador Taylor did, though; he said he had "grave reservations" about this, warning that America may be repeating the same mistakes made by the French, by sending more and more soldiers into the jungles of a "hostile foreign country," where friend and foe could not be told apart.  President Johnson listened more to Westmoreland, and approved the request.

When Westmoreland’s request arrived, the follow-up to Operation Flaming Dart was already being prepared.  This was Operation Rolling Thunder, and it began on March 2, with more than 100 American fighter-bombers attacking an ammunition dump in North Vietnam.  Johnson supervised the operation, choosing the targets and once boasting that, quote, “they can’t even bomb an outhouse without my approval.”  Unquote.  When the raid had no noticeable effect on the ground war, the American response, as you might expect, was to send more planes, and bigger ones, up to the largest bombers available, the B-52s.  And the kinds of ammunition used in the air raids increased; now the planes dropped napalm and cluster bombs, too.  Originally scheduled to last eight weeks, Rolling Thunder turned into a general bombing campaign, that would go on for three years.  The chief targets were fuel depots and factories, and the North Vietnamese reacted to the air strikes by decentralizing their factories and supply bases, thus minimizing their vulnerability to bomb damage.  However, the planes did not target the dikes along the Red River; that would have flooded the Red River delta, killed untold thousands of people, and left more homeless.  Nor did they carpet bomb the cities, the way American and British bombers did to German and Japanese cities during World War II.  The idea here was to avoid causing too many civilian casualties, because that would give the Soviets and the Chinese an excuse to intervene, and then the Indochina War would turn into World War III.  It was the same kind of thinking that kept the Americans from using nuclear weapons to save the French, during the battle of Dienbienphu in the First Indochina War.

The Marines Westmoreland had requested, 3,500 of them, landed at China Beach near Da Nang on March 8, 1965.  These were the first American combat troops to go to Vietnam.  Vietnamese girls gave them flower garlands on the beach, as if they were tourists visiting Hawaii.  The South Vietnamese government was not consulted before the Marines were sent, which shows how weak the Saigon regime really was.  Officially Saigon welcomed the Marines, but deep down they were unhappy at this new development.  Long-time listeners may remember that 118 years earlier, when the French came to Vietnam, Da Nang was the place they attacked first, in Episode 25.  In the United States there was little talk of the Marines going over, because when Johnson talked about their mission, he made it sound like this was a short-term action, not the beginning of a massive troop buildup.

Okay, we have seen the United States act in the air with Operation Rolling Thunder, and on land with the Marines.  For the sea they introduced Operation Market Time on March 11.  This was a joint effort between the US and South Vietnamese Navies, which disrupted North Vietnamese efforts to smuggle supplies to the Viet Cong by boat.  The operation was highly successful in cutting off coastal supply lines, and it forced the North Vietnamese to put more effort into sending supplies on the slower, more difficult land route through Laos that was called the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The Viet Cong responded to the arrival of the troops by setting off a car bomb outside the US Embassy in Saigon, on March 30.  Two Americans, nineteen Vietnamese, and a Filipino serving in the US Navy were killed, while 183 were injured.  The US Congress appropriated $1 million to rebuild the embassy in a new location afterwards, and the attack may have influenced Johnson’s decision on April 1 to authorize sending two more Marine battalions and up to 20,000 logistical personnel to Vietnam.  The President expected the new Marines to guard American bases and installations, like the ones in Da Nang, but Westmoreland was a fighting general.  Westmoreland believed that the best defense was a good offense, and he wanted the troops to patrol the countryside, in order to get the enemy before they could strike.  Johnson approved this, but kept the offensive operations secret from the American press and public for two months.  He had a reason for doing this; on April 17, one of the first protests against the Vietnam War took place, as 15,000 students gathered in Washington to demonstrate against the bombing campaign.  Johnson also made a speech at Johns Hopkins University, where he offered Hanoi "unconditional discussions" to stop the war, in return for massive economic assistance in modernizing Vietnam.  This included a proposal for a program to build hydroelectric dams on the Mekong River, something like the Tennessee Valley Authority in the United States.  Thinking that Ho Chi Minh was like an American politician, Johnson privately told his aides, quote, "Old Ho can’t turn that down."  Unquote.   But this only showed that Johnson did not understand the North Vietnamese, because his peace overture was quickly rejected.

By May 1965, four North Vietnamese regiments, about 5,000 men, were fighting alongside the Viet Cong; together they were destroying the equivalent of a South Vietnamese battalion every week.  The first US Army combat troops, 3,500 men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrived in Vietnam on May 3.  And not a moment too soon.  On May 11, the Viet Cong overran the capital of Phuoc Long, a province about fifty miles north of Saigon.  They went on to attack a nearby US special forces camp, and here 2nd Lt. Charles Williams became one of the first American heroes in the war; he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for knocking out a Viet Cong machine-gun and then guiding rescue helicopters, though he was wounded four times.  Meanwhile, in the coastal city of Quang Ngai, another Viet Cong attack destroyed two South Vietnamese battalions.

In Saigon on June 18, Nguyen Cao Ky dispensed with having civilian front men; he fired Phan Khac Suu and Phan Huy Quat, appointed himself prime minister, and picked another general, Nguyen Van Thieu, to be the figurehead president.  This was the last coup in South Vietnam – I promise you! – and it established South Vietnam’s 10th government in 20 months.  Ky and Thieu would remain in charge until 1975, so remember their names.  Ky was just 34 years old – he and his wife were flamboyant figures, always dressed fashionably, and Ky was known for speaking out boldly against his enemies, but not carrying out those threats.  As for Thieu, he was 41 years old, and at the end of World War II he had first joined the Viet Minh, but then quit a year later and joined the Vietnamese army created by the French.  He was indecisive and distrustful, and being a Catholic, he reminded Buddhists of Ngo Dinh Diem, the former Catholic president who had oppressed them.  Later on Thieu would be known for outdoing other Vietnamese leaders in corruption.  William Bundy, a CIA analyst, expressed the feelings of the Johnson administration when he described the government of Ky and Thieu as, quote, "the bottom of the barrel, absolutely the bottom of the barrel."  Unquote.

You would think the return of stability in Saigon would be good news, but the Americans did not notice it much, because ARVN, the army of South Vietnam, was falling apart at the same time – some of its best units were gone already.  For Westmoreland, this meant the troops he had would not be enough – many more would be needed to hold back the communists until ARVN could recover.  Accordingly, he asked Johnson for thirty-four American battalions, and ten battalions of South Korean troops, a total of 180,000 men.  He probably requested the South Koreans because he felt they owed the United States a favor, for saving them in the Korean War.  I mentioned in a previous episode that five pro-Western nations sent troops to fight alongside the Americans and South Vietnamese.  Those nations were South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, and among those, the largest number of soldiers came from South Korea.  But even if Westmoreland got the requested reinforcements, that wouldn’t be enough; he felt another 100,000 troops would be needed in 1966, to turn the tide of the war and push the communists out of the lands they had taken.

As you might expect, Johnson debated the request with his aides and rivals; this would require mobilizing the reserves and the National Guard.  And in everybody’s mind were the nagging questions, “Will the additional manpower be enough, if North Vietnam sends more troops south?  What if China or the Soviet Union intervene, the way the Chinese intervened in Korea, fifteen years earlier?”  In the end Johnson decided to give Westmoreland the forty-four battalions he wanted, but to keep it from looking like he was wholeheartedly committing the United States to war, he muffled his response.  The troops were sent over gradually, instead of all at once, and though McNamara recommended calling up the reserves, he did not do so.  And when he announced the troop buildup, on July 28, 1965, he did it in the middle of the day, when few people besides stay-at-home housewives were likely to be watching TV.  For the speech he said, quote, “I have asked the commanding general, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression.  He has told me.  And we will meet his needs.  We cannot be defeated by force of arms.  We will stand in Vietnam.”  Unquote.


On that note, our time is up for today!  Join me next time as we listen to the consequences of the US troop buildup.  If you think you have seen all that the Americans can do, remember what the band Bachman Turner Overdrive said:

<You ain’t seen nothing yet>

That’s right, you ain’t seen nothing yet!  And while I did mention a protest march, so far an overwhelming majority of the American people have given their support to the troops and the president.  Can this last?

Each episode of this podcast ends with housekeeping announcements, and here they are.  First, I said not too long ago that I would like to do a question and answer episode in 2020.  Go to Episode 51 or 77 to hear what a question and answer episode sounds like; those are the ones I did previously.  Start thinking of the questions you would like to ask – anything involving Southeast Asia will do – and contact me with them either on the Podcast Facebook page, or send an email to Berosus@gmail.com.  That’s B-E-R-O-S-U-S, at gmail.com.  I’m sitting here by my inbox, waiting for your questions now!

This podcast depends on the financial support of you, the listeners, to remain available online, and to cover the time and cost that goes into producing each episode.  So if you learned something from this episode, the best way to support the continued progress of the podcast is by making a secure donation through Paypal.  It doesn’t have to be much; I know a lot of folks have extra bills to pay after the holidays are done.  In fact, a lot of small donations from many people is just as good, maybe even better, than a few big ones.  Whatever you want to send, go to the Blubrry.com page for any episode of this podcast, and click on the gold button at the bottom of the page, the one that says “Donate.”  I have also added the Paypal button to the new Podcast Hall of Fame page, and to my personal blog, Xenohistorian.wordpress.com.  Or if you’d rather send me a check, let me know on the Podcast’s Facebook page, or send an email to Berosus@gmail.com , and I’ll give you a snail mail address to send the check to.  Fair enough?  Finally, I am thinking of setting up a Patreon page for those who want to give a dollar or two each month.

I mentioned the Podcast Hall of Fame page a minute ago, and it’s up now.  There’s a link to it on the podcast Facebook page, and I also put a link to it in the show notes, on the Blubrry.com page for this episode.  Donors will get their first name or initial there, to be remembered for as long as this podcast is available online.  Those who donate in more than one year will get an icon showing a water buffalo’s head next to their names.  I’m thinking of calling him Walter the Water Buffalo, or Walter the Carabao.  So far one donor has qualified for the water buffalo.  Since it is the beginning of a new year as this episode goes online, if you donated in the past, make another donation now, even a little one, and you can qualify for the water buffalo, too.

<Carabao sound file>

Now here are the other things you can do to help, whether you can afford to donate at this time or not.  I have mentioned the History of Southeast Asia Podcast page on Facebook more than once.  If you are on Facebook and haven’t “liked” the page yet, what are you waiting for?  There I share pictures, announcements, and some videos and news stories relevant to the show.  A few months ago, for example, I posted the news that Indonesia is planning to move its capital from Java to a site on Borneo.  And you can write a review!  Sorry, Blubrry.com does not have a place for reviews of the show, but any other website offering the podcast does, so write a few words and give the show some stars!  Finally, there are a lot of folks out there who enjoy podcasts; unless you’re a hermit or a recluse, you meet them every day without knowing it.  Tell them about the show, and make their day!  Okay, I’ve said enough, so now I’ll let you go and enjoy the new year.  Thank you for listening, and come back when the monsoon winds are blowing right!