Weather conditions were clear, and seas were calm. At 1440, the destroyer detected three North Vietnamese patrol boats approaching her position from the west. Aware of North Vietnamese intent from the earlier SIGINT [signals intelligence] message, Captain Herrick ordered gun crews to open fire if the fast-approaching trio closed to within 10,000 yards of the destroyer, and at about 1505 three 5-inch shots were fired across the bow of the closest boat. In return, the lead vessel launched a torpedo and veered away. A second boat then launched two “fish” but was hit by gunfire from the destroyer. Re-engaging, the first PT boat launched a second torpedo and opened fire with her 14.5-mm guns, but Maddox shell fire heavily damaged the vessel.
Apparently the Viet Cong were unaware of the vast number of Royalists who supported the British during the revolutionary War, and the even greater number of Europeans who though that the rebels were upstarts that should be beaten down.
Demand the Nixon administration immediately end its war of aggression in Vietnam without posing any condition whatsoever. Demand immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and troops of other foreign countries in the U.S. camp. Let the South Vietnamese people settle their own affairs.
For the Vietnamese, the war front was their home front. Tran Thi Gung, a southerner who joined the NLF in 1963 at the age of seventeen, after her father had been killed by the Diem government, told the historian Christian Appy in an interview some forty-five years later:
Another popular theme of the leaflets was that Vietnam was a civil war and the people should be allowed to settle their differences as had been done in the American Civil War. One such leaflet depicted an anti-war demonstration with people holding signs such as Stop the killing. The text on the front is:
After AIT, I got orders for Vietnam. A plane-load of soldiers left San Francisco and our first stop was Hawaii. The plane was re-fueled and we took off over the ocean. After a couple of hours, we looked out the window and one of the engines was smoking! We told the stewardess and she took one look and raced to the cockpit. The co-pilot came back and took a picture, then the Captain announced we were going back to Hawaii—everyone cheered! When we got close to Hawaii, they dumped all the fuel and things got pretty quiet after that. We landed with fire trucks racing down the runway beside us. After six or seven hours to repair the problem, we were off again.
James P. Sterba, “The Controversial Operation Phoenix: How It Roots Out Vietcong Suspects,” New York Times, February 18, 1970; and Mark Moyar, Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Vietnam (Lincoln: University of Nebraska press, 1997), p. 236. In spite of the Phoenix Program’s notoriety, it has several defenders, including Mark Moyar and Dale Andrade. Both of these historians argue that critics have misrepresented the program and that Phoenix seriously impacted the VCI in the countryside.
McCoy, “Imperial Hubris”; interview with anonymous Phoenix veteran by Jeremy Kuzmarov; and Michael Uhl, Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007).
Colby recounts his testimony in Andrew J. Rotter, Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Vietnam War Anthology (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), p. 153. See also Kathy Kadane, “U.S. Had Role In Massacre Of 250,000, Ex-Diplomats Say,” The Seattle Times, May 20, 1990.
R. Michael Pearce, “Evolution of a Vietnamese Village – Part II: Duc Lap Since November 1964 and Some Comments on Village Pacification,” RAND, February 1967, p. 3, cited in Young, The Vietnam Wars, p. 147-48.
“Interesting Statistics of the Vietnam War,” 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment website, ; Olga Gruhzit-Hoyt, A Time Remembered: American Women in the Vietnam War (Novato, CA: Presido Press, 1999), p. xi; and David Cortright, Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War (Chicago: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1975), p. 264.
George C. Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), pp.153-54; also, Philip Caputo, Rumor of War (New York, 1977), p. xviii.
David Donovan, Once a Warrior-King: Memories of an Officer in Vietnam (New York: McGraw Hill, 1985)l interview with anonymous Phoenix veteran by Jeremy Kuzmarov; and interview with Michael Uhl, Phoenix veteran, by Jeremy Kuzmarov, December 22, 2016.
Logevall, Choosing War, pp. 165-166; and the Pentagon Papers, Vol. III, pp. 418-19. Although Ambassador Taylor warned against U.S. troop deployments, he sought an increase in the bombing of North Vietnam in order “to convince Hanoi authorities they faced prospect of progressively severe punishment.” George McTurnan Kahin, “Bureaucracy’s Call for U.S. Ground Troops,” in Jeffrey P. Kimball, To Reason Why: The Debate about the Causes of U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1990), p. 235.