When things occur in bunches it usually means an invisible hand is at work.
Suddenly we’re seeing a spate of “Viet and Gulf War vets” claiming that Trump is among other things, a draft dodger.
Real Vietnam-era vets, whether Viet War #1, 1962-1968 (JFK-LBJ’s War) or Viet War #2, 1969-1973 (Nixon’s War.) know the difference.
Consider: Most young people under 50 were never taught there was a Vietnam War under the Democrats. Only Nixon. Just send Jesse Waters out on the street and start asking GenX’ers who started the Vietnam War and most will say “Nixon”. And if they went to college they were taught the War more in Sociology and Race Theory classes than History.
And if Jesse were to ask millennials this question, they would say “Whuut?”
Men who both “served” or “avoided” service came in different packages, and “avoiding” carried a totally different meaning than “dodged”.
I knew a lot of people went to college just to avoid being drafted, but never one personally. Quite a few flunked out, and likely bit the nail and enlisted anyway. I knew I was going to college when I was in 8th grade. Most of my high school chums didn’t think much of college, though, since in 1964 a coal miner earned about 30% more than a school teacher. So most took their chances. One buddy, just three houses away, was drafted, went to Vietnam, but served his 12 months in Saigon and never heard a shot fired in anger (which incidentally, as did about 70% of those who went to Vietnam). He died of a drug overdose that he’d picked up there. Another schoolmate was at My Lai and later shot himself, his brother told me at a class reunion. But for a guy who did his dead level best to “avoid”, without “dodging” my own brother, 3 years younger, graduating in ’67, hated the idea of college, so to avoid the draft married a preacher’s daughter, then, once being married wasn’t enough for the local draft board, decided to enroll at our state university, then make a baby, all to satisfy the draft board. But after a semester, he couldn’t stand it and dropped out of school, taking a full time job at a factory, only to find out having a kid no longer gave him a pass either. So, when the draft lottery came up and his number came up #5, he threw his hands in the air, only instead of accepting the 2-year Army, sure trip to Vietnam, he enlisted for a 4-year hitch with the Navy. That was 1969.
He retired in 1999, one of the Navy’s most senior Command Master Chiefs. He retired a second time as a Navy civilian about 5 years ago.
You tell me, was he at any time a “draft dodger”?
And then there’s the guy who gets three purple hearts in Vietnam without ever losing a single drop of blood then comes back to America to openly express his opposition to “the war” by ceremonially tossing his “ribbons” when he would have been more accurate to have thrown away his citizenship.
An elite from a wannabe aristocratic family, as I mentioned about John Kerry in 2016, he only had the markers for a low-ranking member of any aristocracy, but could never rise above the station of a ruling nobility. A fawning dandy, a coiffed Beau Brummell in a court that will never be allowed to exist in America, only, in the words of English social observer, John Cleese, Kerry hasn’t the skill to know he isn’t good enough at any of the things that require one to be a good American.
My own story is that I would have been the first male to go to college in my family, including my father. Big deal. But I registered for the draft with my county board. I went into ROTC before the Gulf of Tonkin, but didn’t commit to the Army until my junior year, when the contract was signed, also involving an 8-week summer training course at Indiantown Gap, PA. That was in ’67.
Except at camp, the war itself was not close to my mind as I had no TV and only knew headlines from the newspaper at the bookstore where I worked. I didn’t even have a car. And I saw no sign on campus or in the city that “the war” mattered very much, except for the occasional maggot-infested bohemian-dressed hippies walking around by the third year, signifying there was an anti-war movement in bloom. They really stunk up some of may favorite beer joints, Canned Heat music, but other than that…
It was not a very patriotic war, no parades or flag-waving. And there was no “song”, Lee Greenwood not recording his “God Bless the USA” until mid-Reagan days (I looked it up). Most of our college kids came from homes where WWII was still a living memory, so patriotism was understated. But understood. It was always there.
Vietnam just never struck all those same chords.
Paul Harvey was our closet thing to a grass-roots spokesman for the war since he was on the radio daily. It was Mr Harvey who confirmed the righteousness of this war early on, but also he who then turned if off after LBJ “surrendered” when, in the first month of the Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese, Walter Cronkite, the sainted CBS news anchor, not a general, not even a LTC Vindman, or even a David French, announced the war could not be won. My March, LBJ announced he would not run for re-election, and by February, 1969 it was “Nixon’s War.”
But by June, 1968 (note the timeline), and that last battle at Khe Sanh, US forces had thoroughly whipped the Vietnamese, in one of America’s greatest military victories of history. Only no corks were popped, since LBJ had already announced we’d lost it, even as his troops were still in the field fighting. The 1968 election between Humphrey and Nixon was all about “how” America would disengage. Nixon decided to save American face by bombing the hell out of Cambodia and North Vietnam in order to force them to the peace tables. I was on active duty by then, and in the Far East, an Army captain, and the final evacuation of Saigon in ’75, where one of my very best friends, now passed, Jefe, memorialized in March, (but as a mountain trekker more than a soldier) was the Army Attache.
Paul Harvey did a speech to a Lexington business group in 1968 where he told America to let the war go. He could see no purpose in Americans sending their sons to die just so some politicians could save face. Indeed, my best friend in the Army, an Academy man, did his second tour there in ’69, only that time as an infantry company commander, and it was SOP for all field commanders, above all other things, to keep their men alive. Period.
Later that year, August 1968, I received my B.A. and was sworn in as an Infantry 2d Lieutenant and then moved straight into law school, after Mr Harvey’s speech, and in consult with my new wife and my dad.
I was very clearly a “war dodger”.
Even Bill Clinton wasn’t technically a draft dodger, although I suspect he would have been, had his feet been put to the fire. (Yes, I’ve read the file.) He lied, a lot, but just to avoid a lot of inconveniences in that life. He even passed the physical exam. Donald Trump also was given an Armed Forces physical in 1968 and simply failed it (DISQ). “Bone spurs” never showed up until his campaign revealed it. No matter, it was considered a thing that would go away and in 1969, he was submitted to the draft lottery, where he came up 356 out of 365 so never called. (Remember, my brother was #5). Unlike Clinton, there’s no record that anyone in high places called anyone at the draft board to get his records buried for awhile. That was only in Arkansas.
But through 7 years, I never had an Army physical until I was ready to report to active duty at JAG School in 1971. After 4 years of military training, ROTC officer’s training camp, then commissioned in the Army Infantry, I still had never had a physical. Then I drove to Tennessee to have my exam where the physician promptly flunked me! for bad knees which I had gained by playing high school football.
The doc said, “Look, if you don’t want to go, I’ll sign right here, and you’ll be free. But if you still want to go, I’ll sign over here, and you’ll be able to serve, only not in any combat position. You’ll just be exempt from mandatory physical training.” I chose Door #2, and for the next 4 years I was exempt from PT even as I climbed mountains with Jefe and other strenuous escapades; just no jumping jacks or being yelled at by a black drill instructor…
…which along with having to make his own bed or get out of bed at Zero-dark-Thirty, is why Bill Clinton didn’t want to go into the military in the first place. Soft inconvenience. But there was no chance in hell, as college grads, that either he or Donald Trump would ever have been drafted as infantry grunts, at worst, as company clerks. Trump could have handled the military end (military school) but Clinton could not, in my humble opinion.
Bottom line, these “Vietnam vets” on Twitter aren’t vets. They likely aren’t even over 35. As John Cleese’s rule, above, reminds us, they don’t even know enough to know to try to find out what they need to know what it was like to be 21 in 1968.
Last week a group of veterans I follow on Twitter, male and female, covering 50 years, Vietnam to Iraq, complained of some men (they claimed to be men…they could’ve been boys) who also claimed to be Vietnam vets The older vets, my age, from the Vietnam era, took great umbrage at these “guys” accusing Trump of being a draft-dodger (above) as if to signal that having served in the military, acting as if Vietnam alone made them automatic patriotic Americans. As an Army defense lawyer in those days, I knew better.
And one fellow began his Tweet with “I was at Khe Sanh” to which I simply asked “On which side?”…because he was definitely anti-America.
Bam!…for it does seem that these fellows’ biggest beef with Trump is that he is pro-America. And they don’t even know how to try to appear pro-American.
In my view this is a sign that perhaps they’re not Democrat Left activists, who could never feign being pro-military during the Vietnam War, but the Lincoln-Project, “NeverTrump” disaffected elite loser-Republicans, made up mostly of males still in their forties.
Either way, they are still not very good at what they do, even when faking it.
(Cross posted at VeteransTales.com)