"Darwin was the first to use data from nature to convince people that evolution is true, and his idea of natural selection was truly novel. It testifies to his genius that the concept of natural theology, accepted by most educated Westerners before 1859, was vanquished within only a few years by a single five-hundred-page book. On the Origin of Species turned the mysteries of life's diversity from mythology into genuine science." -- Jerry Coyne
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
A copy & paste job from the New York Times.This is what happens when idiot politicians make decisions about wars. 58,220 American soldiers were killed. For what? For nothing. The North Vienamese army only had to wait until America got fed up and got out of there. Not much later Saigon was overrun. North and South Vietnam became one country. The war was fought partly because we did not like their economic system, communism. Today they are capitalists, not communists. All those wasted lives for nothing.
I farm in Garfield Township in Jackson County in Wisconsin. I am 72. I am safe, happy, prosperous and grateful for all the blessings life has given me.
Fifty years ago, I was a member of Third Platoon, A Company, First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment. A Company and its platoons were heavily engaged against North Vietnamese forces just northeast of a place called Con Thien. We had been sent there to reinforce another company in another regiment – B Company, Ninth Marine, usually known by the shorthand Bravo 1/9.
Bravo 1/9 was known among Marine grunts as “busted Bravo.” That spring it had been providing perimeter security for the firebase at Con Thien, about two miles from the North Vietnamese border. The size of one of my smaller hayfields, Con Thien had been under constant bombardment, assaults and ambushes from well-positioned artillery and skilled, rested and well-equipped infantry.
By the time we arrived, B Company had been reduced to just 27 men, from an original force of more than 175. In front of our position, many of their dead rotted in the relentless midsummer sun, with the rest of us unable to move forward to retrieve them.
Finally, after days, the fighting subsided and my comrades and I in A Company swept forward to recover the dead Americans of Bravo 1/9. I remember vividly the bodies of those once proud Marines, and they gave testament to our American citizenry at its best.
Latinos from New York, New Mexico and the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. Native Americans from Wisconsin, Wyoming and the plains of Oklahoma. African-Americans from Alabama, South Los Angeles and the flats of Cleveland. Japanese-Americans from Hawaii, Seattle and the endless fertility of the Central Valley. European-Americans from Iowa, Kentucky and the industrial North. The flower of American youth, blown away, dead and wasted.
Over the years, as I milked the cows, tilled the fields, raised my family and enjoyed the fruits of a long life, I often think of those dead men I saw at Con Thien. In the words of another Midwestern farm boy turned lawyer, in deed and spirit, they gave “their last full measure of devotion.”
Such devotion was constantly tested, then met, under the overpowering firepower, experience and dedication of their opponents. Hopelessly outnumbered, confined to static defense, the Marines charged with holding the firebases like Con Thien and the whole of the area that was part of and below the Demilitarized Zone, were there because of perverse decisions made far away. Decisions informed by racial arrogance, tactical ignorance and, tragically, as always, domestic political arrogance.
The exhausted, overextended Marines were there at the insistence of Gen. William Westmoreland of the Army and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who wanted a static line along the length of the DMZ. More experienced Marine generals like Victor Krulak and Lewis Walt argued fruitlessly for concentrating on the populous coastal areas, leaving the jungle hinterlands to whoever wanted to be there. From private to general, Marines knew full well what they and their comrades were up against.
But there would never be enough Marines to prevent the North Vietnamese from having the initiative from the South China Sea to Laos. Their combat skills were honed at Dien Bien Phu, and well before. Con Thien was the whole senseless tragedy of Vietnam reduced to a small plot of cursed land, a place where nothing grew and only death held sway. – Michael B. Taft, an ironworker and dairy farmer, was an infantryman in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967.