History is showing its next incredible series, VIETNAM in HD this week. http://www.history.com/shows/vietnam-in-hd It started on the 8th. Its six hours of documentary with interviews and footage, most never before seen, that lays out the war, and all its difficulties, harsh realities, heorism, courage, and haunting surrealism. Its really a story of the people involved, and as History really knows how to do, delivers a very human side to the very difficlut task of understanding America's most confusing war. I watched 4 hours of it last night, and only wept 3 times. Not bad considering. It is real and raw and haunting listening to the stories of the Vets who did their duty with honor, and courage and pride, in a war with no real objective besides body count, and no real front to battle over. Thank you for all that served in this war that so changed America, and the sacrifice that only your Afghan/Iraq counterparts would understand.
Some facts I learned last night:
At its high point in May of 1969, (and this is after Tet) the US had over 500,000 troops serving in country in Vietnam.
In WWII the US soldier saw an average of 10 days of actual combat per year. In Vietnam, the US soldier saw 240 of 365 days of combat. (the average work days in a year with 2 weeks vacation is 250). This is a haunting stat. The constant combat stress, and sheer volume of combat is incredible. No wonder these guys had a hard time coming back to civilian life. How do we think we are going to do with the Afghan/Iraq vets?
After suffering several hundred casualities to take Hamburger Hill, the US abandoned it 16 days later. 4 days later the Viet Cong and NVA took the hill back by simply walking to the top of it, without a shot fired.
During the siege of Khe San, US C130 pilots were LANDING on the airstrip that was zeroed in with artillery and mortar fire so they could deliver supplies and evac casualties. When this came impossible they did slow speed passes dropping supplies from 600 feet. It was one of the most hazardous duties in the entire war. They saved the lives of untold men because of these supply drops.
The Tet Offensive was incredibly well coordinated on the first night of the attack. Over 130 Towns/Cities/Bases were attacked simulataneously. Tet enemy strength for the attack was estimated to be at 84,000 troops.
After Tet, due to overall casualties and command and control casualties, the VC ceased to function as an effective fighting force, although they did continue hit and run tactics throughout the remainder of the war.
The US High Command decided, mostly because of GEn. Moore's sucess in Ia Drang in 1965, that a body count would be used to determine our sucess in the war. Our kills to there's.
I know this is a gaming blog, so here's some of my thoughts/struggles with gaming Vietnam:
-It seems very personal and real to me. Maybe not something I should be playing a game over and having fun.
-There is a lot of room for amazing and beautiful terrain, figs, vehicles, etc.
-There are some great rule sets out there.
-I wonder what a Vet would think about me playing a game about the experience he went through. I would hope he wouldn't find it disrespectful.
-I don't think I could run a Vietnam game at a Con, for the above reason.
I have wanted to do the period for a very long time. In fact, I already did it once half-assed in 20mm. I have about 15 plastic models, and a bunch of VC and US from TAG waiting for paint. I already have a pretty good vilage that I built for Vietnam, but use mostly with Samurai. I have oredered Ambush Alley's Vietnam Sourcebook for Ambush Alley. I may be adding this to the list to do this Winter.