One of my many memories of Vietnam was watching a dozen or so helicopters flying into the Qui Nhon area and watching half of them land. The rest circled the skies and kept watch. All were "Gun Ships", and the distinguished visitor was GEN William Westmoreland, Westy, as we knew him.
He was tall and lanky and just had an aire of power about him, probably due to the fact that his fatigues were always pressed and his boots were highly polished, as well as the staff that went everywhere with him.
His visit was short, no more than 30 minutes, but in that short time, we were witness to the man who really brought air mobility as we now know it, to the battlefield. He had the vision to fight the enemy in Vietnam, and often he was chided for the way he conducted operations. He was a strong voice and advocate for Veterans. He was there in 1982 for the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC.
. . . In a striking coincidence, it was also in 1982 [the year he filed a libel suit against CBS over a documentary they produced and aired] that the Vietnam Memorial was dedicated on the Mall in Washington. It was one of the first events at which thousands of Vietnam veterans felt they could openly claim a salute from the American people, and though the crowds were smaller than organizers had hoped, General Westmoreland, characteristically, was there. . .Westy passed away last night in a retirement home in Charleston SC at the age of 91.
. . . The overthrow and killing of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam in a coup by officers in November 1963, the general wrote, "opened a Pandora's box of political turmoil seriously deterring effective prosecution of the war and leading directly to the necessity of introducing American troops" to fight "if South Vietnam was not to fall." . . .
William C. Westmoreland at an outpost in Vietnam in May 1964.
Rest in Peace General. Condolences to your family, friends and comrades.
Story New York Times.
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