Battle of Ia Drang Valley 48th anniversary

This week marks the Battle of Ia Drang Valley 48th anniversary in The Vietnam War.  Today, November 18th marks the end of the battle that cemented the concept of “body count” by the American military leadership. 79 Americans and over 1,000 NVA troops were killed in this battle.
Battle of Ia Drang Valley 48th anniversary

One of the most enduring photographs of this battle captures the US 3rd Brigade 1st Air Cavalry and helicopter pilot Bruce Crandall. Crandall flew for 14 consecutive hours between landing zone Xray and U.S. Army firebase Falcon delivering ammunition and evacuating wounded Americans. Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts of intrepidity.

50th anniversary: Diem assassination

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the US-backed assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam. He was America’s handpicked leader to the stillborn democracy in Saigon.

Ngo Dinh Diem assassination

This anniversary marks the beginning of a long reflection over America’s involvement in the Vietnam war. The coup d’état and murder of Diem and his brother Nhu deepened America’s already long standing commitment to a war against the communist north.

Spearheading the upcoming anniversary will certainly be the Pentagon Papers from the US National Archives. Declassified and released for the first time in history these papers now allow permit further insight surrounding the US involvement in Southeast Asia following World War II.

Coupled with the slow release of books, classified documents and interviews with combatants from all sides we now understand our mistakes in Vietnam. Documents reveal a splinter within the Kennedy White House.

The direction for the coup was driven by Henry Cabot Lodge and McGeorge Bundy, not by President Kennedy. Lodge and Bundy made critical decisions without Kennedy’s knowledge or involvement.  A military aid acting only on the orders of Lodge was in contact with the military leaders who drove Diem from Saigon.  It is now known Lodge’s aid also gave $40,000 to the military as payment for the coup. Kennedy was assassinated just three weeks later.