Getting the Facts Straight

“News from the Hut”
for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
by Gary Lanham

As the Post Historian, I try to capture information in my weekly offerings that reflect our member’s lives and service as well as bits of history. Sometime ago, I mentioned the Berlin Airlift and details of what happened after WWII. I was pleasantly surprised when my friend Dick Pope gave me a book to read right after that called “Daring Young Men the Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift June 1948-May 1949” by Richard Reeves a few weeks ago. What a great read! I am learning things I did not know.

Another thing I learned in my research was details on our early involvement in Vietnam. While I though it began with President Kennedy I learned there were earlier beginnings. On this day in 1950 a U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) of 35 men arrived in Saigon to screen French requests for American military aid, assist in the training of South Vietnamese troops, and advise on strategy.

President Harry Truman had approved National Security Council (NSC) Memorandum 64 in March 1950, proclaiming that French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) was a key area that could not be allowed to fall to the communists and that the United States would provide support against communist aggression in the area. However, NSC 64 did not identify who would receive the aid, the French or the South Vietnamese.

The French did not want the aid to go directly to the South Vietnamese and opposed the presence of any American advisory group. Nevertheless, the U.S. government argued that such a team would be necessary to coordinate requisitioning, procurement, and dissemination of supplies and equipment. Accordingly, an advisory group was dispatched to Saigon. In the long run, however, the French high command ignored the MAAG in formulating strategy, denied them any role in training the Vietnamese, and refused to keep them informed of current operations and future plans. By 1952, the United States would bear roughly one-third of the cost of the war the French were fighting, but find itself with very little influence over French military policy in Southeast Asia or the way the war was waged.

Ultimately, the French would be defeated at the battle of Dien Bien Phu and withdraw from Vietnam, passing the torch to the United States. In 1964, MAAG Vietnam would be disbanded and its advisory mission and functions integrated into the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), which had been established in February 1962.

Babo Carter (Service Officer for the Hut) continues with his chores he has been working on for the good of the Legion and the community. Come Labor Day weekend look for the flags to be displayed up and down Main Street. There is nothing to compare with a sharp blue sky and Old Glory’s colors flapping in the wind. Salute to Babo.

Don’t forget the Damascus Knife raffle (donated by Dan Rathbun). Tickets are on sell. The drawing will be November 11th, Veteran’s Day. Tickets are $1 each and 6 tickets for $5. You can get your ticket around town where you see advertising or any American Legion member (the usual gang). I remain determined to win!

Don’t forget our regular meetings continue the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:00 PM (September 3rd and 17th).   Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings in August are still scheduled for biscuits and gravy and maybe a waffle or two and always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians). If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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