The current tempest over the false claim by Blumenthal of Connecticut that he had served in Vietnam during that war brought to mind a vivid moment I have been thinking about for more than two months. A man I respect greatly, Kevin M., asked me about the validity of the Vietnam War. The question was posed unexpectedly to me in a social setting and I must admit that I stumbled badly through a response. I am taking this opportunity to set the record straight and the idiotic pandering of Blumenthal based on lying to get ahead gives me the perfect opportunity to say what I wanted to say to Kevin the moment he asked me the question. First, a little background on Kevin; he served admirably in Vietnam as a medic on a helicopter. His job was to save the lives of other men injured in battle. I can’t imagine the courage and character it would take to perform his duties. Through his regular tour of duty he would routinely place his life on the line to help others. One would be hard pressed to come up with a better example of bravery than Kevin’s. What I wanted to say to him, what I should have said, at the time he posed the question to me was exactly what I have written above. Kevin, you are a true hero.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, a little background on me; I did not serve in Vietnam, but my Air Force Reserve unit was called to active duty two days before the Cuban missile crisis in October, 1963 and spent three days within fifty feet of a plane targeted for Cuba if the moment arrived. At the time I was a first year student at the University of Michigan medical school and the four months I was on active duty required me to start over the next year. In 1959 I went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for one year and resigned because of an ongoing back problem, hence my Reserve obligation.
Finally, the separate question asked by Kevin; Nearly forty years after the war, my thinking is colored by the statements of then Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, who ruminated about having sent so many American soldiers to their death based upon the false premise of a fudged rationale. At this time I don’t think it was the right thing to do, but at the time I did not think it was appropriate to give the enemy the comfort of thinking that the American public was not behind its troops. I will go to my death bed despising North Vietnam poster child, Jane Fonda, for her treasonous acts which without a doubt caused young Americans to die.