Supervisor Janet Nguyen to honor the USMC at Westminster Vietnam War Memorial

I have misplaced the January 7th email/press release of the Candlelight Vigil being held on January 21st as received from Supervisor Janet Nguyen. I therefore am typing this post from my hard copy.

Supervisor Nguyen’s Memorial service is to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Battle of Khe Sanh. The keynote address will be presented by the honorable Judge David O. Carter, U.S. District Court, who was severely wounded in the battle and received a Silver Star for his service to our country.

Date: Monday, January 21st.
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Westminster Vietnam War Memorial -Sid Goldstein Memorial Park
(corner of 13th street & All American Way)
For additional information on the vigil contact Jon Schlotthauer at 714.834.3114

For those readers who may not be familiar with the Khe Sanh battles let me share some of the report as found on Wikipedia.

The Battle of Khe Sanh was conducted in northwestern Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), between 21 January and 8 April 1968 during the Vietnam War. The combatants were elements of the United States (U.S.) III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) and two to three division-size elements of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN). The American command in South Vietnam gave the defense of the base the nickname Operation Scotland. The American command in Saigon initially believed that combat operations around Khe Sanh during the summer of 1967 were just part of a series of minor North Vietnamese offensives in the border regions. That appraisal was altered when it was discovered that PAVN was moving major forces into the area during the fall and winter. A build-up of Marine forces took place and actions around Khe Sanh commenced when the Marine base was isolated. During a series of desperate actions that lasted 77 days, Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) and the hilltop outposts around it were under constant North Vietnamese ground and artillery attacks. During the battle a massive aerial bombardment campaign (Operation Niagara) was launched by the U.S. Air Force to support the Marine base. This campaign utilized the latest technological advances in order to locate PAVN forces for targeting. The logistical effort to support KSCB, once it was isolated overland, demanded the implementation of other tactical innovations in order to keep the Marines supplied. In March 1968, an overland relief expedition (Operation Pegasus) was launched by a combined Marine/Army/South Vietnamese task force that eventually broke through to the Marines at Khe Sanh. The battle itself was a tactical victory for the Marines, but the strategic implications of the battle still remain unclear.

By the end of the battle of Khe Sanh, U.S. Air Force assets had flown 9,691 tactical sorties and dropped 14,223 tons of bombs on targets within the Khe Sanh area. Marine Corps aviators had flown 7,098 missions and released 17,015 tons. Naval aircrews, many of whom were redirected from Operation Rolling Thunder strikes against North Vietnam, flew 5,337 sorties and dropped 7,941 tons of ordnance in the area.

Not even this amount of unleashed firepower was enough to calm the anxiety of American leaders in Washington. On 1 February General Earle G. Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised the issue with Westmoreland of “whether tactical nuclear weapons should be used if the situation at Khe Sanh should become that desperate.” Westmoreland replied that their use would probably not be required. He added, however, that if the situation did change dramatically, “I visualize that either tactical nuclear weapons or chemical agents would be active candidates for employment.” Westmoreland then established a small study group to examine the consequences of what was nicknamed Fracture Jaw. Westmoreland later wrote that “Washington so feared that some word of it might reach the press that I was told to desist.

Having visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington I am glad that the city of Westminster constructed a memorial here in Orange County to express it’s residents gratitude for those brave men and women who lost their lives in that conflict.

Note: The Westminster Vietnam Memorial, initiated by Frank Fry in 1997, was dedicated on April 27th 2003.


About Larry Gilbert