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Gordon Cucullu- Contributor

Former Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist, author and a popular speaker. Born into a military family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work, Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is based in large part on his extensive experience in Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman. [website] [go to Cucullu index]


Separated at Birth : How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
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We, the Protected
On Memorial Day…
[Gordon Cucullu] 5/31/04

During the Vietnam War a unit was formed of special operations forces from all US services including South Vietnamese from the Strategic Technical Directorate. This unit was called Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, MACV-SOG, or simply SOG for short. It was so highly classified at the time - Top Secret - that members signed papers that made them liable for time in a military prison and a steep fine for merely discussing the unit’s existence to those without a need to know. Two years ago the unit was belatedly awarded the Presidential Unit Citation now that it was no longer a secret.

John Plaster, in his excellent book Secret Commandos, recounts the story of the formulation of the unofficial SOG motto, composed by three veteran recon team leaders after running several missions deep in enemy territory:

You’ve never lived till you’ve almost died.
For those who fight for it,
Life has a flavor
The protected will never know.

It captures effectively, he says, the philosophy soldiers freely accept: ‘the deadly risks to accomplish their mission under circumstances some people might find suicidal.’ And what has changed over the years, since the wild and wooly days of covert action patrols deep into Laos, Cambodia and denied areas of Vietnam? On the part of the soldiers not much. Except that they are probably more physically fit, better motivated and trained than we were, and have more technologically advanced equipment.

On the civilian side, we would like to think that much has improved, but unfortunately attitudes in certain quarters have not changed. The big lie from the left about Vietnam is ‘we opposed the war but we didn’t oppose the troops.’ Nonsense. By opposing the war in a vocal, public and often violent manner they lent direct aid and comfort to the enemy and inspired his leaders and soldiers to fight harder. That meant more of our troops killed or wounded. The same lesson applies now.

Members of the most virulent anti-war, anti-military left, maliciously and opportunistically crafted the myth of the Vietnam veteran. They caused great harm to soldiers and to our country. If you wonder why the majority of knowledgeable veterans find John Kerry, Jane Fonda, Ted Kennedy and others like them repugnant you do not have to look far: just read what they said at the time, are saying now, and their vehement defense of the lies they tell.

War opponents delight in attacking the administration and in tearing down the United States at every opportunity. Enemy atrocities are glossed over, ignored or excused. Any American error or crime - as infrequent or unusual as it might be - is broadcast repeatedly from every possible outlet until American moral courage is adversely effected. Every time they are called to account we are accused of ‘questioning their patriotism.’ Given their reprehensible behavior their patriotism ought to be questioned, especially that of John Kerry, a veteran who ought to know better.

Now they are turning their hatred upon the young men and women who are fighting for us today, and they are using exactly the same tactics they used during the Vietnam era. Why not? That’s where they learned how to undermine the country. The technique worked for them then so they’re using it now. They accuse the military of incompetence and random killing. They gloat over our honored dead. They recklessly accuse our leaders of war crimes, betrayal and worse. Don’t expect improvement between now and November 2, Election Day.

Some feign grief over loss of American troop lives. This is deceitful and designed to undermine morale. In point of fact the losses, though tragic on an individual level, have been minuscule on a national level. Our soldiers know why they are fighting and willingly accept the risks. For us as a superpower dealing with international issues it is necessary to keep these things in historical perspective.

For instance during Operation Tiger, a rehearsal for the Normandy Invasion, 749 men were killed and more than 300 wounded in one night. Just the invasion of Normandy alone produced 10,000 casualties on the first day. Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing by comparison and for that we thank God. But enough false pity from liberals. If the left is that concerned about loss of life they would focus on highway safety and heart attacks that kill in the tens of thousands. For them this war is politics with an even more hateful spin than usual.

All this baseless criticism distracts from the genuine debt we owe these soldiers and the legion of veterans who have preceded them. The World War II Memorial is finally up and dedicated this Memorial Day. Fittingly so, an overdue tribute to what some call the Greatest Generation. Surely they are great but no more or less than the young people who defend us from tyranny, aggression and terrorism now and have throughout our history. We owe them more than we can ever repay.

More than anything we owe our veterans the truth. We can express gratitude and pride best by being conscious of the reality of the world rather than swallowing a politically motivated interpretation. Not everyone in WWII was dedicated, heroic or even in agreement with the war. Back home Charles Lindberg praised Hitler and many men dodged the draft. At the height of the Battle of the Bulge, the largest, most critical battle on Europe’s Western Front, it was almost impossible to get a table in a cocktail lounge or restaurant in Manhattan or Miami.

Lots of soldiers did not want to go fight in Korea. The public was apathetic. Returning home, troops were ignored as losers who fought in a Forgotten War. We hear the calumnies expressed against Vietnam War veterans. We are still fighting to gain the proper respect for those who sacrificed for their country in both of these wars. Since that time with an all-volunteer military we have seen engagements in Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Kosovo and the Balkans, the Philippines, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ignore the rhetoric from those who would use our precious military to advance their political cause and recognize America’s achievements in Afghanistan and Iraq as the remarkable accomplishments they are: recall that for the Greatest Generation it took 7 years to democratize Germany and 10 for Japan. We’re asking these soldiers to do it in 15 months in Iraq!

Perhaps we will end up calling them the Miracle Generation, but regardless, we need to stand with them now when they need us the most. As much as we owe gratitude to those soldiers of earlier times and conflicts so too do we owe our current safety and lives to the men and women - at all levels - who serve their country now in a moment of grave danger that far too few recognize. To think less is to underestimate the massive, deadly threat that faces us.

Say a prayer this Memorial Day for those who serve, those who came before them, and those who will fight for our country in the future. Thank them for their sacrifice and recognize that what they do is fully necessary and vital for our continued existence as a country and a civilization. CRO

copyright Gordon Cucullu 2004




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