Category Archives: Johnson

Hell No We Won’t Go!

December 16, 1965 – General Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam, sends Defense Secretary McNamara a request for additional troops.   At this point there were nearly 200,000 soldiers in Vietnam and Westmoreland states that he will need and additional 243,000 by 1966 and 600,000 by the end of 1967.  His vision was never fully realized, but U.S. involvement would max at 540,000 by 1969.  Most of them drafted.

Any wonder why they protested in the streets?  Ever wonder what would have happened if they drafted for Iraq and Afgahnastan?

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On to Montgomery

March 21, 1965 – In what had started as an effort aimed at repealing racist programs that prevented blacks from registering to vote, the March from Selma to Montgomery would eventually symbolize the epitome of the civil rights movement.  Dr. King would lead the third, and sucessful attempt with the protection of federal troops on a 3 day march that the world watched.

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LBJ Pledges Federal Troops to Protect Civil Rights Marchers in Alabama

March 20, 1965 – After two failed attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery, Dr. King had announced a third attempt would be made.  Alabama Governor George Wallace, a staunch segregationist, had called LBJ on March 18 for advice of what to do.  They agreed that the Alabama National Guard be used to maintain order but then the Governor went on television and demand that the President send federal troops to protect the marchers.  Johnson in private refered to Wallace as a “no good son of a bitch” for the obvious political ploy.  Not deterred to support the civil rights movement, on March 20 LBJ sends a telegram informing Wallace that the eyes of the world would be upon Alabama and the march should be allowed to proceed.  His pledge to use federal troops virtually assured the protestors would be protected.

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The Pony Car Arrives

On March 9, 1964 the first 1965 Mustang rolled off the assembly line.

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Next Stop is Vietnam….

March 8, 1965 – The first official US troops arrive in Vietnam.  By this point in the war there were 23,000 American “Advisors” stationed in Vietnam.  On this date the first regular troops landed at China Beach to defend the American air base at Da Nang and free up South Vietnamese regulars for combat.  Though it was supposed to be an inconspicuous event, the marines, dressed in full combat gear and carrying rifles, are met by curious onlookers, pretty girls carrying leis, and four soldiers with a sign “Welcome Gallant Marines.”  It’s said that General Westmoreland in Saigon is “appalled”.  By the end of the year there would be almost 185,000 troops in Vietnam.

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Rolling Like Thunder

March 2, 1965 – The United States launched Operation Rolling Thunder, a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment of North Vietnam that would continue until November 1, 1968.  U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia was never to destroy North Vietnam.  Rather, it was to support the Republic of Vietnam against communist insurgency.  By 1965, President Lyndon John had decided that the best way to defeat the communist insurgency was to dissuade the government of North Vietnam from aiding and abetting the insurgents in the South.  By launching a protracted areal assault on the North, the President hoped to cripple the North Vietnamese infrastructure and interrupt the movement of men and supplies from the North to the South.  It was finally halted just before the American election of 1968 as an enticement to bring the North Vietnamese to the Paris Peace talks.  Estimates vary widely on the exact extent of the operation, but it remains one of, if not the, largest attacks of any nation on another.  More than 300,000 attacks were launched and hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs were dropped.  More than 1,000 US aviators were killed, captured or reported missing.  In the end, the North Vietnamese survived and would eventually reunite North and South Vietnam.

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The Quagmire of Vietnam – When We Thought We Would Win

January 12, 1966 – One year after describing his Great Society (see January 4), Lyndon Johnson delivers another State of the Union Address where he outlines American involvement in this tiny Asian nation:

“For tonight, as so many nights before, young Americans struggle and young Americans die in a distant land.

Tonight, as so many nights before, the American Nation is asked to sacrifice the blood of its children and the fruits of its labor for the love of its freedom……

Not too many years ago Vietnam was a peaceful, if troubled, land. In the North was an independent Communist government. In the South a people struggled to build a nation, with the friendly help of the United States……

As the assault mounted, our choice gradually became clear. We could leave, abandoning South Vietnam to its attackers and to certain conquest, or we could stay and fight beside the people of South Vietnam. We stayed.

And we will stay until aggression has stopped.

We will stay because a just nation cannot leave to the cruelties of its enemies a people who have staked their lives and independence on America’s solemn pledge–a pledge which has grown through the commitments of three American Presidents.

We will stay because in Asia and around the world are countries whose independence rests, in large measure, on confidence in America’s word and in America’s protection. To yield to force in Vietnam would weaken that confidence, would undermine the independence of many lands, and would whet the appetite of aggression. We would have to fight in one land, and then we would have to fight in another–or abandon much of Asia to the domination of Communists.

And we do not intend to abandon Asia to conquest.

Last year the nature of the war in Vietnam changed again. Swiftly increasing numbers of armed men from the North crossed the borders to join forces that were already in the South. Attack and terror increased, spurred and encouraged by the belief that the United States lacked the will to continue and that their victory was near.

Despite our desire to limit conflict, it was necessary to act: to hold back the mounting aggression, to give courage to the people of the South, and to make our firmness clear to the North. Thus. we began limited air action against military targets in North Vietnam. We increased our fighting force to its present strength tonight of 190,000 men…..”

By the end of the year over 389,000 U.S. troops served in Vietnam.

The Great Society would never materialize.  It too was a victim of Vietnam.

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