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Thread: Air War in Viet Nam

  1. #1
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    Air War in Viet Nam

    One of the books I am currently reading is "Fast Movers" and a question or two.

    I'm at the part where CAG Roger "Blinky" Sheets, USN, took a group of Marine A-6's in to neutralize SAM sites before the B-52's arrived over a fuel tank farm in North Viet Nam to take it out. There is mention of how the B-52's almost didn't arrive because MACV Commander Abrams objected to the 52's not bombing enemy troop positions in South Viet Nam. But when the rivalry argument came, the bombers were already in the air, one way or the other the bombers weren't going to return with their loads, and Nixon/Kissinger said do it.

    Okay, in the book, those are just plain words on the page without relish, but it still feels like "we risk our lives and then you want to call off the mission for what we risked them for because you believe those bombs should be elsewhere?" which may be understandable.................................... ...EXCEPT...........

    ..................................in concept, every Marine pilot is suppose to know what it is like to be the man on the ground, so should that feeling of one's gall to put firepower elsewhere be there? Or is the concept of every Marine a man on the ground first a myth?

    GRANTED, I may be reading into the words on the page, influenced, no doubt, over the years by talk of those on the beach who grind teeth about their NGFS destroyer being suddenly called away to chase some submarine.

    Secondly, in the same chapter, where the author was talking about Sheets' WSO Charlie Carr, USMC, where he does one tour in overseas, comes back, gets bored of the garrison life, tells his wife he wants to go back overseas, and her response is potential divorce papers. He carried through with his intention....and she carried through with her warning. Now, the author didn't expand on their marriage at the time so further detail is unknown and I can understand the relative clarity of being in a combat arena as oppose to the potential "insanity" of stateside duty. And it is that kind of book where we pick it up to read about men of action (well, maybe that wasn't the reason I picked it up).

    On one hand, such dedication to fighting is probably necessary in a war.......but on the other hand, is an officer and leader who discards a marriage "so easily" (again, those details are not in the book) one who will look out for his men? Remember that this was the 60's and not the present........................and................ .............

    I am just asking...........and I might reading more into the book than is there.

  2. #2
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    I can't speak to Vietnam, but I know a lot of people (myself included) who volunteered for OEF deployments because of home station stupidity. Ideally, when you're deployed you have your mission. You show up to your briefings, you do what you do (fly your mission, conduct your patrol, whatever), hopefully you come back safe and sound and you waste time in the rec center, the gym, or your room. Go to bed, wake up, repeat. Meanwhile, the guys are home are buried under reams of paperwork, doing 200 meters of lunges at 6 am, planning mandatory parties that almost nobody enjoys, dealing with inspections, and spending probably 8 hours per week clicking through computer-based-training modules on how to apply a tourniquet or that writing your email password on a sticky note and putting it on your monitor is bad. Send me to the desert!

    A lot of military marriages are just terrible anyway. Often neither party has any idea what they're getting into. Infidelity is common, domestic violence...I wouldn't call it common from what I saw, but it happens. One of my troops was hospitalized after what was probably an altercation with his ex-wife (they were still sort-of-together-ish).

    As far as an officer's leadership, I would not make a judgement based solely on him throwing away his marriage as you describe (I've never read the book, so I have no further information). He might be a dickweek commander, or he might just have been at that point, or THEY might just have been at that point. Military life puts a lot of strain on the best of marriages.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    I can't speak to Vietnam, but I know a lot of people (myself included) who volunteered for OEF deployments because of home station stupidity. Ideally, when you're deployed you have your mission. You show up to your briefings, you do what you do (fly your mission, conduct your patrol, whatever), hopefully you come back safe and sound and you waste time in the rec center, the gym, or your room. Go to bed, wake up, repeat. Meanwhile, the guys are home are buried under reams of paperwork, doing 200 meters of lunges at 6 am, planning mandatory parties that almost nobody enjoys, dealing with inspections, and spending probably 8 hours per week clicking through computer-based-training modules on how to apply a tourniquet or that writing your email password on a sticky note and putting it on your monitor is bad. Send me to the desert!
    And this is a bad thing?

    What I'm saying is that much of what is described here for being done state side for pilots or ground troops (I'm assuming that is meant).......is a lot of what I did on a deployed ship in the Med in the 80's. The inspections were less, mind you.......but perhaps more serious...........OPPE. (or were they less? I seem to remember some major Admiral wanting to visit my little ship......and you know what that means when a visitor of greater rank than your captain is coming aboard.....even if only for 5 minutes).

    But paperwork, PFT (by the way, once heard of a MACV BG who had his troops do daily morning PT at Cam Rahn Bay), parties for the troops, and training? Saw that overseas, too........though I am rather dismayed that it has all become computer based; can people really learn like that?

    And, oh yes, did lots of hoofing as shore patrol.

    A lot of military marriages are just terrible anyway. Often neither party has any idea what they're getting into. Infidelity is common, domestic violence...I wouldn't call it common from what I saw, but it happens. One of my troops was hospitalized after what was probably an altercation with his ex-wife (they were still sort-of-together-ish).

    As far as an officer's leadership, I would not make a judgement based solely on him throwing away his marriage as you describe (I've never read the book, so I have no further information). He might be a dickweek commander, or he might just have been at that point, or THEY might just have been at that point. Military life puts a lot of strain on the best of marriages.
    All accepted........but still.

    I once heard an Army Colonel comment, "I will not have a man who cheats on his wife work for me. If he is lying to his wife, how do I know that he is not lying to me?"

    To me, there is a certain degree of logic in that statement.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara View Post
    And this is a bad thing?

    What I'm saying is that much of what is described here for being done state side for pilots or ground troops (I'm assuming that is meant).......is a lot of what I did on a deployed ship in the Med in the 80's. The inspections were less, mind you.......but perhaps more serious...........OPPE. (or were they less? I seem to remember some major Admiral wanting to visit my little ship......and you know what that means when a visitor of greater rank than your captain is coming aboard.....even if only for 5 minutes).

    But paperwork, PFT (by the way, once heard of a MACV BG who had his troops do daily morning PT at Cam Rahn Bay), parties for the troops, and training? Saw that overseas, too........though I am rather dismayed that it has all become computer based; can people really learn like that?

    And, oh yes, did lots of hoofing as shore patrol.



    All accepted........but still.

    I once heard an Army Colonel comment, "I will not have a man who cheats on his wife work for me. If he is lying to his wife, how do I know that he is not lying to me?"

    To me, there is a certain degree of logic in that statement.
    I just kind of breezed through that, but for about a year our daily PT was meaningless, because the guy running it had no idea what he was doing. The party thing...the intent is there, but there's always a threat of paperwork if you enjoy yourself too much, and if it's on base you can bet money that the cops are in the parking lot. If it's not on base, you can bet you're paying out the ass for a ticket to something you know you won't enjoy but you can't skip because it will be noticed. Most of our inspections were preparatory in nature...they were technically "Operational Readiness Exercises" rather than the real "Operational Readiness Inspection" that would be done by the MAJCOM. We'd have an ORE every couple of months...the point was to ensure we could get our s*** together for a deployment line, and pretend to fly a deployed mission. I totally understand the need to drill drill drill. But when the drill takes precedence over ACTUAL deployment requirements, that's when I have a problem. We had real training cancelled because of ORE events. All the time. We had concurrent ORI phases (that NEVER happens), which overtaxed our maintainers (who were, at the same time, supporting a deployment) which led to a failed ORI...something that had never happened before. The wing commander's career ended that day, and we had to be inspected again within a certain number of months or all deployed AWACS would be brought home. We passed, but the damage was done. And it was 100% due to overworking people for the wrong reasons. When I complain, I tend to focus on the little things, the stupid things, the eye-roll-inducing things. I don't generally bring up the illegal things, the things that got people hurt, etc. Yeah, lunges for half an hour sucked, but that's not why I wanted out of the Air Force.

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