2016 National Book Award Finalist, Viet Thanh Nguyen:
“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory . . . . Memory is haunted, not just by ghostly others but by the horrors we have done, seen, and condoned, or by the unspeakable things from which we have profited.”
The Full Disclosure campaign is a Veterans For Peace effort to speak truth to power and keep alive the antiwar perspective on the American war in Viet Nam -- which is now approaching a series of 50th anniversary events. It represents a clear alternative to the Pentagon's current efforts to sanitize and mythologize the Vietnam war and to thereby legitimize further unnecessary and destructive wars.
Take The Pledge
Please join us and TAKE THE PLEDGE: "I’m with Full Disclosure. I oppose the Pentagon campaign to re-write the history of the Vietnam War."
March Gallup poll reports that 49% of respondents feel that involvement in the war was an error.
Army announces court martial of Pfc. Mike Nelson, after he visited Washington “and complained to his Congressman on the treatment of troops on-base”.
Pvt. George Davis sentenced to 4 years at Hard Labor for refusal to go to Vietnam.
Fort Jackson – Robert Tater and Steven Kline threatened with court martial for antiwar agitation.
March 1 – Clark Clifford, an old friend of the President, replaces McNamara as U.S. Secretary of Defense. For the next few days, Clifford conducts an intensive study of the entire situation in Vietnam, discovers there is no concept or overall plan anywhere in Washington for achieving victory in Vietnam, and then reports to President Johnson that the United States should not escalate the war. “The time has come to decide where we go from here,” he tells Johnson.
March 2 48 U.S. Army soldiers are killed during an ambush at Tan Son Nhut (Tân Sơn Nhứt) airbase near Saigon.
March 8 Capt. Dale Noyd is sentenced to one year at hard labor and dismissed from the service for refusing to train pilots for service in Vietnam.
March 10 The New York Times breaks the news of Westmoreland’s 206,000-troop request. The Times story is denied by the White House. Secretary of State Dean Rusk is then called before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and grilled for two days on live TV about the troop request and the overall effectiveness of Johnson’s war strategy.
March 11-April 7 Operation Quyet Thang (Quyết Thắng—Operation Sure Thing) begins a 28-day offensive by 33 U.S. and South Vietnamese battalions in the Saigon region.
March 12 By a slim margin of 300 votes, President Johnson defeats anti-war Democrat Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire Democratic primary election, a sign that political support for Johnson is seriously eroding.
Public opinion polls taken after the Tet (Tết) Offensive reveal Johnson’s overall approval rating has slipped to 36 percent, while approval of his Vietnam War policy slipped to 26 percent.
March 14 Senator Robert F. Kennedy offers President Johnson a confidential political proposition. Kennedy will agree to stay out of the presidential race if Johnson will renounce his earlier Vietnam strategy and appoint a committee, including Kennedy, to chart a new course in Vietnam. Johnson spurns the offer.
March 16 Hundreds of villagers in the hamlet of My Lai (Mỹ Lai or Sơn Mỹ) are massacred by members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry U.S. Army, while participating in an airborne assault against suspected NLF encampments in Quang Ngai (Quảng Ngãi) Province. Upon entering My Lai and finding no NLF, the Americans begin killing every civilian in sight, interrupted only by helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson.
Thompson and his Hiller OH-23 Raven crew, Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn, stopped a number of killings by threatening and blocking officers and enlisted soldiers of Company C. Additionally, Thompson and his crew saved a number of Vietnamese civilians by personally escorting them away from advancing United States Army ground units and evacuating them by air. Thompson reported the atrocities by radio several times while at Sơn Mỹ. Despite these reports, nothing was done to stop the massacre. After evacuating a child to a Quảng Ngãi hospital, Thompson angrily reported to his superiors, in person at Task Force Barker headquarters, that a massacre was occurring at Sơn Mỹ. Immediately following Thompson’s report, Lieutenant Colonel Frank A. Barker ordered all ground units in Sơn Mỹ to cease search and destroy operations in the village. In 1970, Thompson testified against those responsible for the My Lai Massacre. Twenty-six officers and enlisted soldiers, including William Calley and Ernest Medina, were charged with criminal offenses, but all were either acquitted or pardoned. Thompson was condemned and ostracized by many individuals in the United States military and government, as well as the public, for his role in the investigations and trials concerning the Mỹ Lai Massacre. As a direct result of what he experienced, Thompson suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, divorce, and severe nightmare disorder. He remained in the United States Army until November 1st, 1983. In 1998, 30 years after the massacre, Thompson and the two other members of his crew, Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn, were awarded the Soldier’s Medal (Andreotta posthumously), the United States Army’s highest award for bravery not involving direct contact with the enemy. Thompson and Colburn also returned to Sơn Mỹ in 1998, to meet with survivors of the massacre. In 1999, Thompson and Colburn received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award. Thompson’s role is recounted in Trent Angers’ The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story.
Another massacre took place in the nearby hamlet of My Khe (4) where 97 people were reported killed by Bravo Company. Eventually the story of My Lai was brought to light), but like most other massacres My Khe received little notice outside Vietnam. (See entries for March 28, 1968, September 5, 1969, March 31 and November 12, 1970, and March 29, 1971.)
Anti-war Senator Robert Kennedy enters the presidential race. Polls indicate Kennedy is now more popular than the President. During his campaign, Kennedy addresses the issue of his participation in forming President John F. Kennedy’s Vietnam policy by stating, “past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation.”
March 17 A major rally outside the U.S. Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square results in 86 people injured and over 200 arrested. Over 10,000 had rallied peacefully in Trafalgar Square but met a police barricade outside the embassy.
March 22 Announcement is made that General Westmoreland is being relieved of his command.
March 25-26 As pessimism over U.S. prospects in Vietnam deepens, President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with 14 informal advisers, known, collectively, as “The Wise Men.” They met with LBJ after being briefed by officials at the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA. They had been informed of a request from Gen. William Westmoreland for additional troops in the wake of perceived U.S. setbacks in the Tet Offensive. They are given a blunt assessment of the situation in Vietnam, including the widespread corruption of the Saigon government and the unlikely prospect for military victory “under the present circumstances.” Present at the White House meeting are Dean Acheson, George Ball, McGeorge Bundy, Clark Clifford, Arthur Dean, Douglas Dillon, Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., Robert Murphy, Cyrus Vance and Gens. Omar Bradley, Matthew Ridgway and Maxwell Taylor. In the words of Acheson, who summed up the recommendations from 11 of the men, “we can no longer do the job we set out to do in the time we have left, and we must begin to take steps to disengage.” Murphy, Taylor and Fortas dissent. That was a change from Johnson’s first series of such meetings, on Nov. 1-2, 1967. Then, the Wise Men had unanimously opposed leaving Vietnam. “Public discontent with the war is now wide and deep,” Bundy had said, but he told Johnson to “stay the course.”
March 28 The initial report by participants at My Lai (Mỹ Lai) states that 69 NLF soldiers were killed and makes no mention of civilian causalities. The My Lai massacre is successfully concealed for a year, until a series of letters from Vietnam veteran Ronald Ridenhour spark an official Army investigation that results in Charlie Company Commander, Capt. Ernest L. Medina, First Platoon Leader, Lt. William Calley, and 14 others being brought to trial by the Army. News photos of the carnage, showing a mass of dead children, women and old men, remain one of the most enduring images of America’s involvement in Vietnam. See entries for Mar 16, 1968, September 5, 1969, March 31 and November 12, 1970, and March 29, 1971.)
March 30 Leavenworth – Capt. Levy is placed in “disciplinary segregation” for violating mailing privileges. See entries for December 28, 1966, May 10-June 2, and June 2, 1967.
March 31 President Johnson surprisingly decides not to seek re-election. He also announces a partial bombing halt and urges Hanoi to begin peace talks. “We are prepared to move immediately toward peace through negotiations.” As a result, peace talks soon begin. The bombing halt only affects targets north of the 20th parallel, including Hanoi.