Return to Transcripts main page
War in Vietnam
Aired June 20, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a mixture of pretty seemly, an ugly event. Vietnam reports today of the bloodiest fighting in almost a year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not surrender and we will not retreat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you can win?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh I know we can win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These kids are being killed. They're being killed, why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United states.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, it was just a year ago that you ought to step up aid to Vietnam since to be a good deal of discourage on about the progress. Can you give us your assessment?
JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. We are putting a major effort in Vietnam. As you know, we have about 10 or 11 times as many advisers there as we had a year ago. So we don't see the end of the tunnel but I must say I don't think it's darker than it was a year ago in some ways lighter.
MARVIN KALB, AUTHOR, THE ROAD TO WAR: Early on, Kennedy made a command decision. We will not allow South Vietnam to fall to the communists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Southeast Asia, communist inspired subversion was unrelenting. South Vietnam looks to others for assistance in stemming North Vietnamese aggression.
ROBERT DALLEK, AUTHOR, AN UNFINISHED LIFE, JOHN F, KENNEDY: Going back to the Ayson Howard administration in the late 50s, the country split into South and North Vietnam. You have the communist in the North and so United States is very eager to preserve the South from a communist take over.
ANDREW BACEVICH, PROFESSOR, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: The communist North Vietnamese believed in nationalism, uniting their country under their own control.
NEIL SHEEHAN, AUTHOR, A BRIGHT SHINING LIE: The Cold War conspiracy was that if the Vietnamese communist win the war in Vietnam, all of Southeast Asia would fall, the dominoes would fall one after another.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doubt that the fall of South Vietnam would have serious repercussions on the other countries of Southeast Asia. This is fundamentally the reason why we're in South Vietnam.
DALLEK: After all, Eastern Europe has fallen to communism. China has fallen to communism. We can't lose Southeast Asia. So we have to stabilize South Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On January 7, 1963, South Vietnamese troops surprise a Viet Cong battalion at a village called Ap Bac.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five American helicopters are shut down. Three American advisers are killed, 63 South Vietnamese died, half of them shooting at each other.
BACEVICH: We've got US military advisers flying combat missions. We've got advisers that are accompanying South Vietnamese forces into the field. So by this point, their role had gone beyond simply adviser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have learned this bitter lesson. The army at South Vietnam cannot cope with the Viet Cong, the committed guerrilla enemy. It is trained for conventional war, American style.
GEORGE HERRING, AUTHOR, AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR: There is growing uncertainty about whether the advisory effort is really working. Then in the midst of this, there is what's called the Buddhist Crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war in Vietnam has literally become a fight on two parts. On one hand, the government faces the Viet Cong communists and on the other hand it faces a revolt of the Buddhist majority, a fight which has been joined by thousands of students.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country's Buddhist majority sees President Diem as a tyrant.
RICHARD REEVES, AUTHOR, PRESIDENT KENNEDY: PROFILE OF POWER: We had established a government in South Vietnam led by a western educated catholic (ph) named Diem. Diem was our boy.
DALLEK: But national power corrupts and Diem becomes the dictator.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, HISTORIAN: So you have a catholic presence imposing itself on a Buddhist majority and now, they're going after the Buddhist.
FRANK MCGEE, NBC NEWS: Soldiers and police broke up to demonstrations and killed 9 persons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A debate broke out in the American government over whether we should continue to support Diem or not.
DALLEK: By the summer of 1963, there had been discussions in the CIA, in the Pentagon about toppling Diem regime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President has our government in anyway been tardy and recognizing the nature of the Diem government?
KENNEDY: We are faced with a problem of wanting to protect the area against the communist. On the other hand, we have to deal with the government there that produces a kind of ambivalence in our efforts which expose us to some criticism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, in the last 48 hours, there have been a great, many conflicting reports from there about what the CIA was up to. Could you give us any enlightenment on that?
KENNEDY: No. I don't think so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an NBC Special news report.
FRANK MCGEE, NBC NEWS: The government of South Vietnam has been overthrown by a military group.
ROBERT SCHENKK, PLAYWRIGHT ALL THE WAY: Now, this happens with our understanding and knowledge. And then the president of South Vietnam is shot and killed by (inaudible) of South Vietnamese generals.
KALB: Once the US had the led coup to get rid of Diem, Kennedy realized that the United States had finally bitten into a bad apple.
KENNEDY: Monday, November 4th, 1963, over the weekend, they got a coup in Saigon took place. I feel that we must bear a good deal of responsibility for it. I should not have given my consent to it without a round-table conference. I was shocked by the death of Diem, the way he was killed made it particularly abhorrent.
KARL MARLANTES, AUTHOR, MATTERHORN: When an assassination took place, we owned it. It actually started that early in the 60's, in the Kennedy administration.
FREDRIK LOGEVALL, AUTHOR, CHOOSING WAR: When Kennedy came into office, January of 1961, you had on the order of about 600 US military advisers in South Vietnam. By the time he left on that faithful trip to Dallas in November 1963, there were more than 16,000.
LYNDON JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kennedy's death commands what his life conveyed but America must move forward.
SCNEKK: I think Johnson genuinely felt that continuity in the government after this terrible event was essential to retaining the confidence of the American people.
JOHNSON: And now, the ideas and the ideals which he so nobly represented must and will be translated into effective action.
WALTER CRONKITE, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Congress and the nation had reminders today that while the world seemed suspended by our tragedy at really kept on its whirling way. In Vietnam, reports today of the bloodiest fighting in almost a year.
JOHNSON: What have we done?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh great I think Mr. President.
JOHNSON: I want you your dictate to me on the situation in Vietnam, I've got here some kind of a summarized, logical, factual analysis of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I do thing Mr. President that it'd be wise for you to may as little as possible. The frank answer is we don't know what's going on out there. The signs I see coming trough the tables are disturbing signs.
JOHNSON: Yup, yeah.
DALLEK: Robert Mcnamara, Secretary of Defense, He had been the head of the Ford motored company, brilliant executive.
SCHENKKAN: Famous especially for his cold analytic methods.
MARLANTES: He was a World War II vet. He wanted to stop wasting the Pentagon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have increased the number of combat ready army divisions by 45 %.
SCHENKKAN: The expectation is that he would figure out Vietnam.
MCNAMARA: Position of my government is clear. We are prepared to furnished whatever economic aid, whatever military training and whatever qualities are required and for as long as that is required. Vietnam (inaudible).
FREDRIK LOGEVALL, AUTHOR: The public secretary of defense McNamara is all about kind of bullish bravado that we are going to prevail but privately McNamara is increasingly glooming about the (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until a strong government begins to function here in Saigon. The war against the communist will continue to (inaudible).
JOHNSON: I don't care, the earlier the more understood work last night think about this thing. This worries the hell out of me. I don't think it's worth fighting for and I don't think we can get out. Now, of course, if you start running form the Communist they may just chase you right into your own kitchen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, that's the trouble.
GEN. WILLIAM WESTMORELAND: Gentleman this is a modern war but it's a different war. We are here to advice and support of courageous Vietnamese ally.
HERRING: It was miss fallings miss fortune to inherit the most complex war that we had fought to this time and I think his plan for the war was an entirely conventional plan and a very unconventional war.
WESTMORELAND: We're over here to win and we have what it takes to assist them in this victory. Is that enough for you? I'm going to put this into far so I'll be a little more candid in the second round.
BACEVICH: Lyndon Johnson doesn't want to be a president who found his administration torpedoed by an unpopular war, parenthetically however. We have a very interesting episode that happens in August to 1964 in the Tonkin Gulf.
DAN RATHER, JOURNALIST: Three PT boats identified by our state department as North Vietnamese attacked the USS (inaudible), they destroy there which operating in the Tonkin Gulf, some 35 miles off and off Vietnamese post.
LOGEVALL: This was not an unprovoked attacked. There had been these covert actions against North Vietnamese directed by the United States. And the North Vietnamese were responding to that on August 2nd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a special report from CBS news in Washington.
RATHER: Today, just pass the mid date point, unofficial resources started to report additional naval combat action in the same Tonkin Gulf.
MCNAMARA: Now, I'd like to review briefly in chronological order, the unprovoked attacks which took place today August 4rth.
HERRING: We know now for sure that the second Tonkin Gulf incident didn't happen but the Johnson administration pretty much dismissed evidence indicting that an attack actually it haven't taken place.
SCHENKKAN: There was this acute political pressure from the right wing to be strong stand up to communist aggression.
LOGEVALL: Certainly I think a more prudent administration that wasn't looking for a pretext deflects some American muscle would have step back and said, "Let's determine what actually happen here before we launch in a retaliate reaction."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My fellow Americans, hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas that today required me to order the military forces in the United States to take action and reply.
KALB: That was the beginning of the American Aerosol on North Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Johnson has asked for and will soon get a congressional resolution authorizing the president to act as he is.
KALB: The Tonkin Gulf resolution said that Johnson had all out power to use American military strength to defend American interest as a dimmed necessarily.
SCHENKKAN: And that is the beginning of the slippery slope. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lyndon Baines Johnson has been elected president of the United States and the land slide has carried him in for his first term in office on his own right by his own election.
JOHN CHANHELLOR, NBC NEWS: Communist Viet Cong guerillas killed seven American and wounded 109 yesterday in a sneak night time attack on the American helicopter base at Pleiku.
MCNAMARA: I don't wish to speculate on action we may taken the future but I don't believe we'll ever be possible to protect our forces against sneak attacks of that kind.
SCHENKKAN: Vietnam keeps creeping into the Oval office but Johnson stuck. He refuses to be the American president who loses South East Asia. So he has to keep going in deeper.
JOHNSON: Then we're going to send the marine and I guess we got no choice but it scares to death out of me and it's a hard one but Westmoreland and Taylor come in everyday saying please send them on. And McNamara and Rusk say send them on. What do you thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's better, it looks to me like they just got into this thing and there is no way out. You couldn't have a worse mess.
JOHNSON: Well if they say I inherited it, I'd be luck, but they'll all say I created it. (inaudible) the trouble is -- the great trouble I'm under. A man can fight if he can see daylight down the road, somewhere actually. But there is no day no daylight in Vietnam, there's not a bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BACEVICH: Early in 1965, the President decided to launch operation Rolling Thunder. They sustained bombing campaign directed against North Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The emphasis is on the destruction of strategic enemy target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise and designed to cutoff supplies from the North to the Viet Cong rebels in the town.
CAPUTO: Our first mission was more or less static defense of the principle airfield through like bombing missions over North Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General, will this entail any offensive operations?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, I don't believe it though.
THOMAS RICKS, AUTHOR THE GENERALS: The reason we put ground troops there, was to protect the airfields. And then we have to protect the group troops surrounding airfield. And it sort of, we back table this war, not really understanding what we're doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The soldiers move cautiously off into the jungle and concurring only an occasional sniper.
BACEVICH: The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese didn't play by out rules.
TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, THE THINGS THEY CARED: They couldn't find the enemy, they were invisible, it was their country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The enemy again broke contact, slipped away and disappeared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Combat arouses emotions so powerful that teaches you about human nature at its best and at its worst.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give the baby to (inaudible). Yeah, (inaudible), come on. Put the baby to (inaudible), come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: VC, VC. Yeah, you VC, you're Viet Cong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rule of thumb was just not to trust anybody, regardless of sex or age.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enemy fire opens up in surrounding bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Viet Cong has opened fire on the convoy. We are not firing back and have asked for air support.
NEIL SHEEHAN, FORMER CORRESPONDENT: If the Americans got a sniper surrounding the village, they didn't send a squad in to find the sniper and kill him, they just called for artillery or air strikes and blow the whole, the hell of it away.
The United States was killing 25,000 civilians a year. He could blowing up and burning down, this country where they're suppose to be safe.
SCHENKKAN: Success continues to be illusive in any meaningful way and Johnson (ph) keeps being told, I need more troops.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have today ordered to Vietnam certain forces which will raise our fighting strength from 75,000 to 125,000 man, almost immediately.
This will make it necessary to the raise of the month to a draft call, from 17,000 to 35,000 per month. And this is the most agonizing and the most painful duty of your President.
LOGEVALL: It's difficult to understand, why would you take the course that is going to lead to a large scale war, even with what we now know is this deep skepticism on the heart of Lyndon Johnson.
But it seems he felt that no matter which way he went on Vietnam, he would be crucified.
MORLEY SAFER, CBS NEWS: We're on the outskirts of the village of (inaudible) with elements of the first battalion, 9th marines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This first appeared that the marines had been snipe at and that a few houses will mate it pay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after an officer told me, he had orders to go in and level the string up hamlets that surrounds (inaudible) village.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was looking for that story but what I saw was absolutely shocking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's operation burned down 150 houses, wounded three women, killed one baby and netted these four prisoners who could not answer questions put to them in English.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To a Vietnamese peasant, it will take more than presidential promises to convince him that we are on his side.
SAFER: The one he gives had put the first (inaudible) footage in the air. I had no idea we have that kind of repercussions it had.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you ever have any regrets about some of these people that you leaving homeless?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't expect to d your job and feel pity for these people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think it's sad in a way but I don't think there's any other way you can get around it in this kind of war.
LAWRENCE WRIGHT, AUTHOR, IN THE NEW WORLD: What Vietnam did to America via television was to introduce us to a new kind of America, one that was not pure, one that committed the same kinds of atrocities that will -- are always committed in war but we had never allowed ourselves to see them.
SAFER: The president, I understand, called the senior executive at CBS and then President said, Frank, this is your President, your boys to shut underplaying of the United States.
WALTER CRONKITE, CBS NEWS: Three months ago the first air cavalry division shifts up from Charleston, South Carolina. Last weeks some of them came home. Most of these casualties were suffered in a battle of yard Ia Drang Valley. The most significant, yet fought by American troops in Vietnam.
SAFER: It looked at first like a routine Viet Cong attack but this is was a full scale sustained assault by not only the Viet Cong of South Vietnam but with North Vietnam and its strong and dedicated army.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first light the full shock came. Americans and North Vietnamese they side by side in the grass. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of walk right into ambush. It was pretty bad to listen to your friends carrying out for help and not being able to do anything. We just -- we are pinned down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to congratulate you on your distinguish victory. You were fighting regular North Vietnamese troops.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The consensus of the military after (inaudible) is we can inflect enough casualties on them to win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our arm forces I prepare to take the necessary casualties in order to seek out and destroy the enemy. The question reminds, are the American people prepare to lost more and more young men in Vietnam?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first air cavalry band will go anywhere for a break, even within rifle range of the Viet Cong.
DREDERICK ACKERSON, US LIEUTENANT COLONEL: The Viet Cong has terrorized you and have burn your home. We are here to help you. And to show how much we are able to protect you, the Air Force are going to get some Viet Congs on the other side of the valley.
HEILEMANN: The televising of the Vietnam War was like the spite screen reality in American culture. On side you had what the official story was, which was we're winning in Vietnam. And yet, every time that American is looked up, what they saw was a body bags.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marine Colonel Michael Yunck was hit by fire from a village while he was directing close air sport from a helicopter. He saw women and children there and decided not to order an air attack. The Colonel talked about it while surgeons amputated his leg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll do all I can to save that leg.
MICHAEL YUNCK: I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God damn it I hate you put bombs in (inaudible) on the women and children. I just didn't do it, I just said they can't be there. I'm sure now that that's were they were.
SHEEHAN: And Mr. (inaudible) mouth and that was turning the public (inaudible) in this country against the war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you expect to be protected in this country unless you have people fighting for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not fighting from me. They're not. They're not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a (inaudible). These people are being killed and they being killed alive.
HAYDEN: To sense -- spend across the campuses all over the country and give a sense of empowerment to students who were about to be drafted. But still couldn't vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new types protestants, so will this be (inaudible) occurs in New York City. David Miller publicly burned his draft card.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven Young and Ernest protesters burn draft card on his debts of a Boston court house. A group of highest boys set upon them first.
DENIS O'NEILL, SCREENWRITER, DARTMOUTH '70: The draft was in place from World WAR II, when you turn 18 you had to register.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In January 1965, 5,400 young men were called for the draft. In December 1968, 45,224 young men called. This is one fact pouring in on the American conscience and causing increasing concern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a compulsory draft force you to make a choice. Vietnam against your will, jail against your will, Canada against your will. No good options.
HERRING: All kinds of ways are found to try a beat the physical. People are known to mutilate themselves.
WRIGHT: Starve themselves, declare that they were homosexual when they were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were also escape patches in terms of deferment, like deferment for college students, which paints that working class, young people, are likely to get drafted before upper middle class.
WRIGHT: There war was waste (ph) in a lot of living rooms in America. There's a real generational (inaudible) because my father is generation would often save Europe. I fully expected to have a military experience. But it was the wrong damn war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington November 27, the rally it was to be held with the Washington monument. The protestors begin to arrive by 20,000 (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole word are washed up right now. They admit to support the constitution of the United States, I will not fight in Vietnam.
MARK KURLANSKY, AUTHOR 1986: We forget this. But there was always a substantial number of American who support of the Vietnam War.
WRIGHT: It's hard to recapture how intense that period it was. How morally conflictual it was in your relationship with your country, which is something we never questioned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pressure on Mr. Johnson to choose sides has been growing, clinking to a middle line. He try to give one year to the war hawks in America one year to the doves both years to either. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope that bombing in North in the hope that the government (inaudible) would single its willingness to talk instead of fight. But I regret to tell you that no signal came during those 37 days.
SCHENKKAN: Johnson feels alternately outraged that he's being attacked in this way, when his doing the best he can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until the day they decide to end this aggression and to make an honorable peach. I can assure you that we speaking for the United States of America in tend to carry on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A large committee of responsible lawyers has examined the United States legal position in Vietnam. Its conclusions briefly and bluntly are that the United States is violating the Unite Nations Charter, the Geneva Agreement and finally violating the United States constitution which says, "Only Congress can declare war."
RICKS: When the Congress try to ask questions about the Vietnam War, they've find it very difficult answers to get answers and sometimes they lied too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're engage in a historic debate in this country. We have honest differences of opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Provide hearings of another first time around people who weren't far on the left or extreme on the right, started raising some very serious questions about the war.
SENATOR WAYNE MORSE, OREGON: And all I'm asking is if the people decide that this war should be stop, are you going to take the position as witness on the home front in the democracy?
GENERAL MAXWELL TAYLOR, FORMER U.S AMBASSADOR TO YOUTH VIETNAM: I would steal at our people, we're badly misguided and did not understand the consequence of such a decisive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we agree on one thing that they can be badly misguided and you and the President, in my judgment, been misguiding them for a long time in this war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the beginning of 1965, there were 23,000 American service men in Vietnam. Currently, there are about 267,000 U.S fighting men in Vietnam and 18,000 more will be there by the end of this month.
SAFER: The commitment keep bigger and bigger and bigger. You could feel the spirit of the troops who was crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 22.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volunteer? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the worst thing about it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting shot, getting hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well you see your buddies get hit? Living in the swamp, dirt.
MARLANTES: Three days out in a bush, you'll be covered with ring worm and jungle (inaudible). It was just the nature, the terrain and the weather.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hot in Vietnam, often hotter than the Mojave Desert.
The temperature rises to 120 degrees.
CAPUTO: If we got two hours sleep at night, I'd be surprised.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're almost in a hypnotic state.
MARLANTES: I'm amazed that these kids didn't just completely fall apart. Humans are really, really tough.
JOHNSON: Things are going reasonably well in the South, aren't they?
MCNAMARA: Yes, I think so.
JOHNSON: What are these men doing? They're trying to locate the enemy. I see, and they've run them into cave.
MCNAMARA Yup, we think we're taking a heavy toll out of them but it just scares me to see what we're doing here. We're talking soldiers, with God knows how many airplanes, helicopters and firepower and going after a bunch of half-starved beggars. And it's not a certainty, but it's a danger we need to look at it that they can keep that up almost indefinitely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today I can tell you that military progress in the pass 12 months has exceeded our expectations.
Our policy remains what it was and has been, we would supply our commanders whatever they required to accomplish our objective in South Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He started to distrust your own leaders because you start to say, "Well they're lying to us." I mean -- or if they're not lying to us they don't know what's going on over here. They don't know what's going on. What the hell I going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad they're on our side. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the company has reached until 943.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After swiping the area around at 943, till 943 is taken.
There is nothing to take.
And now that they enemy is gone, there is no reason for the Americans to stay.
MARLANTES: When you're abandoning a hill, it was crashing to moral because your friends died, what was that all that about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a hill in Vietnam which was assaulted twice, taken twice and abandoned twice by Americans. And today, 943 is again controlled by the North Vietnamese.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Progress was not being made. There was no end in (inaudible). How would you measure progress? So it was kind of absurd situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel about it now that's it's all over?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty bad in a way, you live with him, you work with him, you get really attach to them. I had (inaudible) in my arms, I heard more anything else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to carry (inaudible) and that's one thought as you're in here, (inaudible).
MARLANTES: I'd lose friends and I would just like, you know, I got a job to do here and you throw him on a chopper and that's the last you see him.
And so you're constantly shoving it down because if you didn't you couldn't function.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These women came by the thousand to the Pentagon this week. They demand to see Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to ask him to stop sending their sons to Vietnam. And then show their anger and frustration.
GEN. WILLIAM WESTMORELAND, SENIOR US COMMANDER, VIETNAM: Given the nature of the enemy, it seems to me that the strategy way of (inaudible) at this time is the proper one. And that is reducing results. We will prevail in Vietnam over the communist aggressor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fundamentally, we didn't have strategy in the Vietnam War to except that of (inaudible).
MARLANTES: They talked about, "Well, we can kill 300 North Vietnamese for everyone of us." Do the American people care about the 300? No. They care about the one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 500,000 American troops, 14,000 American dead, the war in Vietnam is no longer simply their war to win or lose. It's ours as well. And it has become the most divisive in 100 years of American history.
MARANISS: So it was the first time that all these different factions and philosophies and personalities came together in one place.
TOM HAYDEN, CO-FOUNDER, SOS: The seeds was planted when there was a massive march on the Pentagon. People realized that we could go beyond light protest into more massive civil disobedience and shakeup the war makers.
SHEEHAN: McNamara have been managing the war since 1961 and I was just overwhelmed with guilt.
MCNAMARA: In less than 60 days, I will observe seven years as Secretary of Defense. No one of my predecessors has served so long. I, myself, did not plan to.
LOGEVALL: Robert McNamara leaves office. I think it's fair to say that he is, by that point, tortured on a personal level by the war.
MIKE WALLACE: Tonight, the communists hit the very heart of Saigon, the brand new U.S. embassy building and at least 10 cities in that war torn country.
KURLANSKY: The Tet offensive was the big show of the Viet Cong.
HERRING: It's huge. They got the Americans and South Vietnamese completely by surprise.
KURLANSKY: It exposed how tenuous the U.S. hold was.
WALTER CRONKITE: Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I'm not sure. But terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there. Seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.
KALB: When Walter Cronkite, who was the most trusted man in America said that, Lyndon Johnson said, "If I've lost Walter, I've lost little America." Lyndon Johnson realized he was no longer in charge of the war. The war was in charge of him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What'd you lost?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had 36 when I start. We got 21 killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you thinking about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking of my wife and my baby that I haven't seen, I guess, because I got a baby coming in June and I was on the line at the time. I just knew we were going to be overrun. SAFER: You look at the history of Vietnam, it was a tragic comedy of the eras, from beginning to end and the tragedy of Johnson is that he achieved remarkable things, particularly in terms of Civil Rights but will be remembered for Vietnam.
SCHENKK: It's the full Shakespearean will of fortune. The man who has nothing, who rises to everything, and then loses it all.
JOHNSON: In a moment of tragedy and trauma, the duties of this office fell upon me with American sons in the field far away and the America's future under challenged right here at home, I have conclude that I should not permit the presidents to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year. Accordingly, I shall not sit and I will not accept the nomination on my party for another term as your president.