Apache Snow & Vietnam War 50th Anniversary

The following commentary was submitted by Condor Rick Schwab as told by Oliver North on 18 May 2012, announcing the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Memorial Day ceremony at the site of the Vietnam War Memorial to be held 28 May 2012.

Welcome Home, Finally (Oliver North on Vietnam)

May 18, 2012 - Oliver North

WASHINGTON — Forty-three years ago this week, the fabled 101st Airborne Division launched Operation Apache Snow — a major ground offensive against North Vietnamese army invaders in the treacherous A Shau Valley. Though fighting raged over hundreds of square miles of triple-canopied jungle, the focus soon became a single terrain feature, a mountain, with peaks as high as 3,000 feet, the Vietnamese named Dong Ap Bia, or "Mountain of the Crouching Beast." The Americans who fought there called it Hamburger Hill.
By the time the 11-day battle ended, 70 American soldiers were dead, and nearly 400 had been wounded. More than 600 North Vietnamese soldiers perished. The only survivors of this epic battle to receive the thanks of their countrymen for their courage and commitment were the North Vietnamese.

The Americans who walked off that bloody mountain — and every other soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman and Marine who served in Vietnam — returned home to a bitterly divided country. The so-called mainstream media, Hollywood and academe depicted those who served in Vietnam as pothead marauders, deranged killers and the "victims" of "Johnson's war" or "Nixon's war."

There were no parades celebrating the bravery and perseverance of the 2.7 million young men and women who donned a uniform and served in some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions on earth. Until the Vietnam Veterans Memorial — known as the "Vietnam Wall" — was dedicated in 1982, public accolades were sparse, and ceremonies outside the confines of a military base, an American Legion hall or a Veterans of Foreign Wars post were practically nonexistent.

Now, five decades after their war began — and 37 years after its disastrous, cataclysmic conclusion — those who fought in Vietnam are finally being welcomed home. At 1 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 28 — Memorial Day — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will host a ceremony "to thank and honor America's Vietnam veterans on behalf of a grateful nation." Though tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans, Gold Star families and the leaders of our nation will be there, few of the potentates of the press have taken note of this extraordinary event.
Next week's ceremony shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. In the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Department of Defense to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and "coordinate, support, and facilitate" programs nationwide to recognize those who sacrificed and served in Vietnam.

Appropriately, the Memorial Day ceremony will take place in front of "the wall" that has the names of the 58,282 Americans who were killed or remain missing in action in Southeast Asia — including that of Spc. Leslie Sabo, who posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor this week for his heroism May 10, 1970. Also this week, 10 new names were added to the black granite walls, and the status of 12 others was changed from "missing" to "killed." Most of the new names and designation changes are the consequence of work done by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. As the ceremony takes place in Washington, two JPAC teams will be in Laos searching for more Americans unaccounted for in the Vietnam theater of war.

On Nov. 18, 1967, then-U.S. Army Pfc. Sammy Davis was serving on a small fire support base near Cai Lay, Vietnam. In the middle of the night, his artillery battery began taking incoming mortar fire and was attacked by a Viet Cong battalion. He was able to provide suppressing fire with a machine gun and then return artillery fire onto the enemy. Despite being wounded, he navigated an air mattress across the river to save three fellow soldiers. For those actions, Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor.

I asked my dear friend Sammy Davis why it is important for Vietnam veterans to gather for this commemoration. He said, "Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their best, men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped raw, right down to their humanity." Of the men he served with, he added: "I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another." ** (Website Editor's Note - This is not an original quote by Oliver (Ollie) North or Sammy Davis. The true source is "These Good Men: Friendships Forged in War” by Michael Norman, page 293, original hardcover edition (1990). **

To all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines who served during Vietnam, welcome home. I hope to see you this Memorial Day.

Comments

This issue about the improper credit given to the quote in this article has been addressed repeatedly by news organizations including Fox News. See article from The Washington Post - June 6, 2012. excerpts below. The web editors have included the story as published because the "quote" has great merit and spirit as the true author, Michael Norman intended. We also have found that Fox News discovered other irregularities in the story that prompted them to first delete the quote and then withdraw the story altogether; as did several other news sources.

THE WASHINGTON POST - June 6, 2012
After a reporter brought the 1990 passage to Fox’s attention last week, the company took the un­or­tho­dox step of scrubbing the quotation and reposting North’s column, which is syndicated by Creators Syndicate. It appended an editor’s note that mentioned, without explanation, that the paragraphs had been removed and that North had included them “through no fault of his own.” The note also credited Norman.

Early this week, the company removed the column from the Web site altogether, also without explanation. It also no longer appears in Fox’s online archive of North’s work.

However, the uncorrected column, with the quote attributed to Davis, remains widely available on the Internet, including at GOPUSA.com and townhall.com, which North links to on his Web site, OliverNorth.com.

Norman calls Fox’s actions “a non-correction correction and a non-apology apology,” he said. “From a journalism professor’s perspective, it’s one of the more bizarre handling of a plagiarism accusation that I’ve ever seen.”

Dianne Brandi, executive vice president of business affairs and legal at Fox, declined to comment, saying she would not elaborate on the network’s internal editorial decisions. But people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it freely, said Davis sent the quote to North via e-mail without attributing it to Norman. North assumed the words were Davis’s and quoted Davis as such, they said.

In a statement, North said that Davis sent him the comments he used in the column. “When I subsequently learned that the words were from a book by Michael Norman, I took steps to have the column taken down,” he said.

Davis could not be reached for comment. He received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for valor, while serving in Vietnam in 1966. Wounded during a firefight with a Viet Cong battalion, he was able to return fire and guided an air mattress across a river to rescue three comrades.

Norman laments that his objections about the column have “put one Vietnam vet in contention with another Vietnam vet. I don’t want to be in contention with Sammy Davis, whose courage and bravery are without question. At the same time, I’m a professional writer. This is my work. You have to fight for your work.”