Monday, December 04, 2006

Keep supporting those troops

I drove to Wal-Mart today and was listening to Rush on the radio. He was whining about people who don't support the troops because they are willing to admit we're beat in Iraq. Admitting defeat is apparently an abandonment of the troops in his world.

In early 1968 I was on a destroyer en-route to Vietnam from PI. The Tet offensive had begun, but we didn't know about it. We found out about that about the time we hit Vietnamese waters and got sent to Hue for the battle to re-take Hue.

But the Pueblo happened and we knew about it. I'm sure that somewhere on that ship we had some sailors who thought going to war against Vietnam was a good idea. I just didn't know any of them. Most of the sailors I knew were draft dodgers. We joined the Navy because getting drafted seemed like a real bad idea.

Our ship got a fairly standard radio message telling us about the attack on the Pueblo and the boarding because we were in nearby waters. It was a classified message, for the eyes of the Captain only. But it went through the radio room and it only took a few minutes for every member of the crew to hear of it.

It galvanized the crew. If not most of us, certainly many of us thought of Vietnam in the same terms that Ali expressed before he was sent to prison for refusal to serve -- "Ain't no Vietnamese ever done anything to me".

But North Korea and the Pueblo was different. I could have been on that ship. Any sailor on our ship could conceivably been on the Pueblo (well, maybe not the fire control technicians or torpedoemen).

Shortly after our tincan got the message about the boarding of the Peublo our CO made an announcment to the crew about it and told us that he anticipated a change in orders but had not yet recieved them. But in anticipation of those orders he had changed course to steam north, towards Korea, rather than west, towards Vietnam.

I and everybody else I knew on that ship supported such action. I didn't want to go to war with Vietnam. But I was perfectly willing to go to war with North Korea. Supporting the troops didn't mean putting ribbons on our car. We were prepared to support the troops by being willing to put our own lives on the line when they needed the Calvery to come over that hill.

About 20 minutes later 7th fleet command told us to forget about the Pueblo and steam to Vietnam. You know, so we could support the troops by pointlessly putting our lives at risk so things looked good in the newspaper.

People who run their mouths about supporting the troops by putting their lives at risk needlessly should be rounded up and housed at Gitmo.


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