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,
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.
[go to Cucullu index]
On Memorial Day…
[Gordon Cucullu] 5/31/04
the Vietnam War a unit was formed of special operations forces
from all US services including South Vietnamese
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.
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
For those who fight for it,
Life has a flavor
The protected will never know.
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.
delight in attacking the administration and in tearing down
the United States at every opportunity.
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.
are turning their hatred upon the young men and women who are
fighting for us today, and they are using
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.
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.
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.
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
Gordon Cucullu 2004