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Voice: Castillo-Rubio and Santillan know real VietNam history

December 27, 2001

The victors and survivors write history.

Recent poignant and well-written letters by "Gato" Ed Castillo-Rubio and Daniel "Raza" Santillan about their Vietnam combat experiences prompted this addendum.

Vietnam — known once under its slave name as "French Indo-China" — had been invaded and partially suppressed by French colonists.

Red China sent war material to the North Vietnamese communist forces under Ho Chi Minh. The French were expelled in 1954 — during the Eisenhower administration — and the communists were ceded Vietnam north of the 17th parallel. South Vietnam lay to the south of the parallel.

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Ho Chi Minh immediately commenced a conquest of South Vietnam with guerrilla forces, the Vietcong, and a civil war between North Vietnam's communists and South Vietnam's puppet government of CIA influentials ensued.

What is not commonly known is that the Wall Street Journal ran a recent column that told of Ike warning Kennedy during the change of administration in early 1961 that the only way for victory in the jungles of Southeast Asia was an absolute occupation of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which snaked along the ridgetops of mountains in Laos, Cambodia and the divided states engaged in civil war.

Kennedy did not listen to Gen. Eisehower and sent U.S. combat forces, "advisers" into Vietnam. President Johnson, as truthfully said by Santillan in his letter, trumped up the bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident as a pretext for the eventual invasion of the Asian landmass by 500,000 G.I.s.

The extreme sadness and pain felt by American families and alert citizens over the loss of U.S. blood and treasure by President Johnson's decision to escalate the Vietnam War is exacerbated by voice tapes made by LBJ while he occupied the White House. These tapes that have been released by Lady Bird Johnson and reported by PBS' "News Hour with Jim Lehrer." LBJ openly acknowledges in these tapes that "we cannot win in Vietnam."

"Gato" told me of being on combat patrol and while holding his M-16's sights up to his eye, he reflected that, "Hey, today is my 21st birthday."

And so it is that America sends her volunteer and citizen soldiers — the best of her sons and daughters — on global missions to do the will of the United States commander-in-chief, the president, whose armed forces are equipped and financed by congressional tax levies.

Vets-as-historians Santillan and Castillo are victors and survivors.

DAVID BONIFACE

El Centro

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