‘Beyond Shameful’: Don’t Fall For This Deceitful Vietnam Flick

Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady exposes startling omissions, distorted facts in war film
Editor’s note: Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady is a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He is former president of the Medal of Honor Society.

Ken Burns Fill The Vietnam War
Ken Burns Fill The Vietnam War
Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady
Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Needless to say, Ken Burns’ “documentary,” “The Vietnam War,” has caught the attention of Vietnam veterans. Except for the John Kerryites, the feedback is decidedly negative.

Burns’ obsequious devotion to the Vietnam-era media narrative is breathtaking. Many call Burns’ “Vietnam” a hatchet job. That attitude certainly has merit, but I barely got past Tet when it was clear to me that what Burns was doing was more subtle than a hatchet job. A better description is: Burns damned us – not only the veterans, but America as well – with faint praise.

He uses a deceitful journalistic tool of gathering token credibility bites from those on the other side of his preordained narrative in an effort to appear objective. Burns’ “Vietnam” is plagued with media malfeasance including obfuscation, omission and some really messed up moral equivalences.

North Vietnam would have fallen in weeks if the American media had been there and treated it as they did our efforts in the South. The GIs knew this and would often declare that we should not fear the enemy – they will only take your life. Instead, they’d say, fear the media because they will steal your honor.

In Burns’ effort to highlight the GI disdain for Vietnam’s people, I was amazed to learn that we ridiculed their homes by calling them hooches. Really? We called our own living quarters hooches. And mama-san was a term of endearment for our hooch maids, not in any way an insult.

The Grantonian remark that U.S. Army Gen. Creighton Abrams “drank a lot” disturbed me. What was the point? That he was a drunk? I knew Abrams, and he was unquestionably one of the greatest soldiers we ever produced. I never heard a word about him drinking a lot.

I was especially disturbed by the notion that we wouldn’t carry the Vietnamese dead. In one tour in Vietnam, my unit and other helicopter ambulance units (“Dustoff”), carried hundreds of Vietnamese dead, as well as Communist dead and wounded.

Burns repeats Walter Cronkite’s apocalyptic version of Tet despite the fact that it was surely one of the greatest military victories in the history of warfare. We killed 41,000 and captured 2,500 of 84,000 enemy combatants. Gen. Vo Nguyan Giap, the Communists’ supreme commander, was ready to quit. (Years later, I would represent Army Gen. William Westmoreland in a visit with Giap, who was willing to go on the record with Westy and admit what a catastrophe Tet was for his side.) Yet it was portrayed as a defeat, thanks to the likes of Uncle Walter, who had his nose up Ho Chi Minh’s posterior. It was like America turned around after Normandy and retreated across the English Channel or George Washington quitting after Yorktown.

Burns repeatedly reminds us that we didn’t understand the Vietnamese. How then do we understand that they would vote for a Communist over a nationalist? As for Ngo Dinh Diem’s popularity, it is worth emphasizing that after the Vietnam division of 1954, hundreds of thousands fled Ho Chi Minh’s North in favor of Diem in the South. How many went North? We have no idea of Ho’s popularity since Communists don’t do polls.

I have seen the terrors of Communism up close – in Berlin, watching them build a wall around their own people; in the DMZ in Korea, where I saw human beings turned into robots; in Russia, where the people were still paranoid of Communists well after the fall of the wall; and in Vietnam, where I personally picked up the remnants of Communists’ atrocities beyond evil. Diem and the refugees recognized those evils, as did many in the South. We saw the fruits of that evil after the fall in the tragedies of the concentration camps and boat people.

Contrasting Burns’ fawning depiction of Ho versus that of Diem is instructive. Ho embodied many of the characteristics of Burns’ Hollywood. He was an atheist. He was a Communist. He was a propagandist who controlled the media, and he certainly was not celibate. Diem was far from the Hollywood denizens. He was a devout Catholic, so devout that he lived a celibate life in emulation of Christ and many saints. He was an anti-communist, pro-nationalist, and he lived an extremely austere life. He was not a man who coveted opulence. His extraordinary faith and austere lifestyle belies any motive of personal aggrandizement.

The Buddhist burning was covered, but not the Buddhist Communist connection – nor was the fact that many members of Diem’s family were murdered by the Buddhists, some buried alive. Still almost half of Diem’s staff were Buddhists. Diem was a dedicated nationalist with the best interests of his country at heart.

After our complicity in the murder of Diem, Ho said, “I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid.” Ho had a very high opinion of Diem and tried to recruit him. I was in flight school with some Vietnamese pilots at the time we murdered Diem, and I remember their distress, not only because of his death but over the fact that some Americans celebrated it. They would remind us how it felt three weeks later as we mourned President John F. Kennedy’s death.

To draw a moral equivalence between Ho and Diem, Communism and nationalism, is bad enough. But to draw a moral equivalence between the war cowards at home and those who risked their lives for them in Vietnam, as Burns does, is beyond shameful.

Let me give you Vietnam in a nutshell. It matches in unselfishness anything we ever did. There was really nothing in it for us in a materiel sense. We were simply trying to help a helpless people be free from the horrible evil of Communism. And the Vietnam veteran fought with a valor and humanitarianism never before seen in any war in our history.

Look at the facts ignored by Burns. The American soldier was never defeated on any significant battlefield in Vietnam. The average infantryman in the Pacific in World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. His counterpart in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year. The percentage of those who died is similar to other wars, but the prevalence of traumatic amputation and crippling wounds was 300 percent higher in Vietnam than in World War II and 70 percent higher than in Korea. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4 percent compared to 5.7 percent in World War II. Approximately 75,000 Vietnam vets were severely disabled.

Above our magnificent grunts, the aviation accomplishments in Vietnam are unprecedented. In World War II, aircraft losses were 16 percent, and, in Vietnam, 43 percent. I read that in World War II, some pilots completed tours after 25 missions at an average of four hours per mission, or total 100 hours! In Vietnam, 100 hours was an average month for many, and 25 missions an average week.

As an aside, Mike Novosel, a fellow “Dustoff” pilot, and I were playing golf with a famous fighter pilot much celebrated for having flown 100 combat missions. Between us, Mike and I had more than 5,000 combat missions! Needless to say, we reminded the fighter pilot of this as he bent over an important putt.

Burns’ narrative is woefully dismissive of the extraordinary valor and humanitarianism of the Vietnam GI. I saw mention of only one of 260 Medals of Honor awarded.

What is remarkable is that 30 percent of the Medals of Honor earned in Vietnam, far more than any other war, were for soldiers covering explosives with their bodies to save their fellow soldiers. That is not only a remarkable statistic, it is a remarkable tribute to the quality of our troops.

Burns ignores perhaps the most amazing story of the war, Charles Kelly and “Dustoff,” the most famous call sign of the war. Kelly gave his life to save aeromedical evacuation. His dying words uttered when he refused to leave patients while under fire – “when I have your wounded” – set the standard for life-saving on the battlefield to this day.
“Dustoff” has been singled out by every supreme commander in Vietnam for special recognition. They led the humanitarian effort and set battlefield survival records unparalleled in combat. Over 500,000 combat missions and more than 900,000 rescued – men, women, children, enemy as well as friendly.

Although one in 10 GIs was wounded, less than 1 percent died, thanks to “Dustoff.” Your chances of survival were greater if you were wounded on a battlefield in Vietnam than if you were on an accident on a highway in America. How in the hell could any documentary of Vietnam omit “Dustoff”?

Burns also ignores the fact that it was the outstanding veterans from that war who were responsible for the unprecedented victory in Desert Storm.

By the way, Congress continues to ignore the “Dustoff” crews. Although they have been recommended for a Congressional Gold Medal, Congress ignored them but found time for the Filipinos in World War II (surely deserving). Not one unit from Vietnam has received this honor.

In addition to the humanitarian efforts of “Dustoff,” Burns fails to highlight the contributions of the GI to the welfare, health and education of those wonderful people. Vietnam may be the only war we ever fought – or perhaps that was ever fought – in which the American soldier added to their heroism a humanitarianism unmatched in the annuals of warfare. And the U.S. soldier did so during the heat of the battle. He cared for and about those people, especially the young. The Vietnam veteran fixed as he fought. He cured and educated and built hospitals and orphanages in the middle of the battle. He vaccinated thousands, adopted the children, educated them. He cared for and about those people. No barrier, no political system, will erase what our Vietnam veterans gave to those people.

And the fruits of our humanitarian effort are still there in psyche of the people of Vietnam, in their hearts and souls – as they are in the hearts of so many people all over the world who have been touched by the American GI. I have been back three times and was amazed at the treatment I received. Of all the countries in the world that the young want to visit, America ranks No. 1. (Their favorite city is Las Vegas.)

Our defeat was at the hands of our elite in the courtrooms, the classrooms, the cloak rooms and the newsrooms: cowardly, media-phobic politicians; an irresponsible, dishonest media; and other cowards and spoiled brats and professors from Berkeley to Harvard.

Living with the scars of war is difficult. For some, it’s unbearable. But all veterans suffer. The Vietnam veteran suffered physically as much, perhaps more, than any veteran of the past century. But no other veteran has suffered the mental agony of the Vietnam veteran.

The thing that makes Vietnam so intolerable is what the elite tried to do to dishonor the source of those scars, to intensify the pain of Vietnam veterans and destroy their unselfish and honorable legacy. They opened a gash in the psyche of veterans and then rubbed salt in it. And equally as bad were the atrocities committed by the Communists targeting the friends we abandoned.

The Vietnam veterans not only distinguished themselves in combat, they came home and became model citizens. They were the best educated forces our nation ever sent into combat – 79 percent had a high-school education or better. Contrary to media reports, Vietnam vets didn’t abuse drugs more than their civilian cohorts. They were less likely to go to prison than non-vets. Their income exceeded non-vets by 18 percent, and their unemployment rates were lower.

We see horrifying suicide rates among today’s warriors, yet Vietnam veterans, who saw as much or more combat than any warriors ever, after living through the media calumny of their service and sacrifice, had a lower suicide rate than their civilian counterparts. And, as a tribute to their patriotism, despite their shoddy treatment, more than 90 percent of the veterans are glad they served. And so are 87 percent of the American people who saw through the media distortion of their service. Burns is obviously not among the 87 percent.

The Burns/Cronkite babble that Vietnam was a war we couldn’t win is sad. There is no such thing as “a war we cannot win” if we decide to win. The immeasurable and irredeemable tragedy Burns labels Vietnam is true only the manner in which we abandoned our allies and mistreated our veterans.

It was our vets in Vietnam who slowed the onslaught of Communism to this day. And Communism is dead in Vietnam; they just don’t know what to do with the corpse.

Humanitarianism was our great victory in Vietnam, a victory as great as in any war. There is an inscription on the wall of a veteran’s cemetery that says they sacrificed their youth that liberty might grow old. There is no one anywhere to whom that better applies than the veterans of Vietnam. Humanitarianism and a roadblock to communism were our great victories in Vietnam.

Next to the Vietnam Wall, we need a John Kerry/Fonda Wall of Shame listing those who prominently blasphemed the Vietnam GI. And let’s add the names of every member of Congress who voted in December 1974 to betray our allies and leave them to be slaughtered by an evil, vicious enemy.

  • 51 thoughts on “‘Beyond Shameful’: Don’t Fall For This Deceitful Vietnam Flick

    1. Another stab in the American back by the media and politicians. Someday perhaps the veterans and their families will rise up and put an end to such evil.

    2. The irony is that fifty years ago we were reviled and spit upon for our service. Now many pretenders want to BE us.

    3. The biggest problem with Burn’s film and all Lost Left films coming out of Hollywood is that they are absorbed by the uneducated masses and taken as history. Sadly, the voices of men here are lost and these stories here are untold and will be forgotten. Burn’s film will live on and be lauded by the drive-by media, promoted by Amazon, NPR and others until it is accepted as fact.

    4. Josef Goebbels would be proud of Burns and Novick for the way they have perverted the truth about the Vietnam War. I served, and even conducted the final study on Ranch Hand (Agent Orange) in Nam, which the government covered up and denied its existence for 35 years. I will never forget the pain and humiliation that people like Burns/Novick heaped upon us when we returned and NOW, they want to do it again, almost 50 years later. I will not forget what you did to my comrades and will never forgive you for that. And yes, at 78, I still hate Hanoi Jane and her kind… and if they don’t like it, they can KMA.

    5. i think the general said this RIGHT, i did two tours as a grunt MARINE and PROUD to have served our nation there.
      and BURNS IS A LEFTIST SOB as far as i am concerned.
      Semper Fi Marines.

      1. @JH…Your comment is the most comforting I have had for a while. There are many more who have the same to look forward to the same. john kerry for one , with his self inflicted purple hearts. Just ask the fast boat guys about him. He is the reason I will not purchase any heinz products. He married the heiress to the to the Heinz fortune.

        1. thanks oldvet.
          i was telling some folks today why i STILL HATE HIPPIES because they BREED AND the IDIOTS WE SEE TODAY IS LIVING PROOF.
          and what’s SO BAD, today i read a poll where like 46% of college age IDIOTS said they would PREFER LIVING IN EITHER A SOCIALIST OR COMMUNIST COUNTRY.

    6. glad i read your assessment of the movie. i almost bought it today. you saved me major bucks and disappointment!

    7. PS: As bad as Hanoi Jane was, I consider Lurch Kelly worse because he had been one of us and stabbed us in the back with his false claims.

        1. Larry – try ‘winter soldier’ for one and him throwing ‘his’ medals over the White House fence for starters.

    8. IV Corps, Mekong Delta Region, Can Tho Province, Binh Thuy Air Base, Air Base Ground Defense, Republic of Vietnam 1969-70
      Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady is on point. We did so much to improve the lives of the Vietnamese in the region. Many of them received their first medical treatment from GIs. We built homes and schools, and supported orphanages with donations of school supplies, funding, and food.

      My paygrade wasn’t high enough to understand the politics of the country, or the war, but I interacted with my QC counterparts, the VNAF and ARVN, and local workers, as well as villagers. My QC interpreter became a friend. I recall we shared an interest in art and photography. He would arrange armed security to escort me to areas to take photos. When the QC unit had their Christmas banquet, only three members of my unit were invited to attend, out CO was not invited. I never was given any sense that the people, military or civilian, were anti-government or anti-American. All seemed anti-communist. Binh Thuy was the last base to fall. Prior to being capture, the VNAF commanding officer and other pilots continued air ops until against the NVA until forced to fly to Thailand.

      The one thing about this movie which helped me was it provided a sense of the timeline of what was going on in Vietnam and back home during my tour, as well as before and afterward. My father, a WW2 vet, was career military, and the timeline helped me understand better his absences. He was an instructor with the newly created Air Commandos, and my influence to make the military a career.

    9. I didn’t watch it. I knew Burns is a far leftist and a big supporter of left-wingers. He was also a Vietnam draft-dodger (although he was young and probably wouldn’t have been drafted.) The article is excellent but there is one thing I must take exception to. General Brady was a helicopter pilot flying 15 minute sorties in South Vietnam where there the largest antiaircraft gun was .51-caliber. The 100-mission pilot was flying over North Vietnam into a hornets nest of large caliber antiaircraft guns, most radar-aimed, and Sams. Not to take away from the courage of helicopter pilots, especially Dustoff, there’s a HUGE difference!

    10. The reason the war was escalated by LBJ was that he had a stake in Bell helicopter and became insanely wealthy off that deal. THat’s why thousands of our young men died needlessly.

      1. No, it was for resources. I saw such a map at NAS Seattle back then. Oil, oil, oil. And S. Vietnam was a breadbasket for the region. The troops were great but did not, in my opinion, belong there. And the politicians hurt them even more than the enemy did.

        1. Won’t argue the point but I read the research. Read the book by Roger Stone “The Man Who Killed Kennedy The Case Against LBJ”

      2. @Charles D, LBJ and Ladybird also had shares in the company that made the Gammagoat, a six wheel drive, three cylinder, bend in the middle, swimmable motor vehicle that the army did not want. LBJ ordered the army to buy thousands of Gammagoats. The army forced the army reserve units to take them and maintain them until the Gammagoats exited the inventory.

    11. I never forget that the Vietnam War started by Johnson under a false flag was a continuation of the Democrat Party coup for the presidency by Johnson and cohorts. His efforts to continue the war indefinitely to cover up his treason and to moved leftist policies through Congress, will never be forgiven by me. Suffice it to say, it is my policy to believe the Democratic party is the party of treason and always will be! The co-opting of the press and various government agencies is done under blackmail or payoffs and loyalties to worldwide communism…. Endlessly.

      1. Johnson was on the verge of being indicted by Bobby Kennedy for corruption but Johnson conspired with Giancana, Marcello, and Trafficante to get rid of Bobby and John. Looks like he made good on that.

    12. I watched it only to see rare footage of my brave comrades, of the US military. I served one tour as a helicopter pilot, married a Christian refugee girl born in north Vietnam. She has no restraint in damning the communists, as well as the traitors in US politics and media who sold out her country, despite the valor of our military. This treachery is only continued by this fake history.

    13. NEVER contribute to NPR. They have always been a leftist organization. Federal funding should be cut immediately, using this series as proof of anti-American propaganda.

    14. NPR, another worthless program that should have been cut from the budget long ago and thus give taxpayers a break.

    15. Cronkite was a card carrying communist who fooled the American public for years. His successful techniques were mimicked by Rather, and have spawned the current “We hate ourselves because we are evil” bull crap that we are up to our neck in, now.

        1. @Larry, Cronkite admitted being a communist shortly before he died. His testimony would be a form of proof in any courtroom in this country. Seeing as how he was confessing about his own beliefs, I think that the trier of fact would find his own testimony convincing.

    16. I also watched this POS series about Nam, although I knew where it was headed when I watched a preview before the series aired. This “thing” was put together by a group of “runny-nose, snowflake, 20-somethings” and a female producer who was defending this “thing” trying to hide the “leftist” slant to it. Burns, with his cute little hair-do, is a despicable
      asshole who dishonored our troops and our country. He should be a proud supporter of the NFL and BLM. TAKE A KNEE KEN!!

      1. SD, I have to disagree with your statement. The 2000 movie, starring Mel Gibson in “We Were Soldiers” portrayed the selfless heroics that defined the American soldier in that hellish theater of war known as LZ-X-RAY.

        Peter Wilson, CD.
        Canadian Veteran

    17. I volunteerd to fight commmunism in 1966, Basic at Fort Knox. Lost my eye to cancer before going over there. Honorable discharge 1967. President Johnson and cohorts were evil pigs, as well as the parasites in congress and the complaining chicken shits who went to Canada. I used think Stalin was evil for killing all the elites and intellectuals.I am beginning to understand what a corrosive influence on society they really were and are, apparently on both sides of the fence.

    18. John, you drove the nail in that coffin of “ We lost Vietnam” your right the weak back stabbing political parties did to us again!

    19. Although I had read negative reviews of the Burns series I still chose to wathch it. There were parts such as the Marines landing at DaNang that showed scenes familar to me that I enjoyed, but after watching the series I was angry. I was angry not only at our poiiticians, but by the way we were portrayed. I, as most, respected the Vietnamese people and befriended a family. Thank you for putting into words the disgust I feel towards Burns and his slanderous work.

    20. I read part of what this POS Burns tried to say about our effort in Vietnam.
      He is a joke- a total a-hole and has no clue
      about the events in Vietnam .
      I did 7 1/2 years in country and know the difference

    21. I learned years ago to believe NOTHING on NPR. I quit watching or listening to it, there are better works of fiction on the market.

    22. I viewed the first 2 episodes and stopped there. Something was off and I could not put my finger on it, but this article pulls it all together. We, the troops who served, did not lose Vietnam, the politicians surrendered a resounding victory over Communism. Many are still in Congress who were complicit and are actively complicit in the ongoing Communist takeover in America. I served in Vietnam in the fight against Communism and will not tolerate it being championed these days under the guise of BLM & ANTIFA. Both are in opposition with each other, but paid from the same communist puppet masters. Wake up people and smell the fetid stink of Sedition, Insurrection, and High Treason which these days are touted as admirable characteristics by the elitists who violate our women and traffic our children.

      1. I agree completely with this commentator, same feeling of something wrong with Burns’ recitation that caused me to stop watching it. I appreciate this soldier’s factual and honest article, letting me know objectively why we can’t EVER trust NPR and other elitist propaganda arms of the progressive/socialist movement in America.

      2. Thank you General for “telling it like it is”! I also had my doubts about Burns simply because of his affiliation with PBS (Public Bullshit Show). I spent a year there and don’t regret a minute of it in an engineering company. PBS, and the rest of the lame stream media should be ashamed for their part in causing even more pain to the Viet Nam vet. I hope this country is waking up to what is happening in the so called news reporting going on to day. If you want to know the truth, Fox news comes the closest to the actual news. God bless America and God bless all Vets!

      3. Me too. I had been recording them and halfway through the second episode it hit me like a brick. Deleted the rest. This author nails it.

          1. FLK. You don`t have to walk into dog poop to know that it`s there. The putrid smell should be ample evidence. IMHO.

            Peter Wilson, CD.
            Canadian veteran

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