by Michael Gallagher
This morning it looks like super-hawk Hillary—kisser-up-supreme of four starrers—is well on her way to becoming President of the United States. If she succeeds, I am sure they will break out the best wine at the Pentagon. (Though to the discomfiture of those unhappy few generals and admirals with a sound liberal education.)
In the spring of 1954 when the Viet Minh were on the verge of overrunning the French forces at Dien Bien Phu, I was a PFC in the 187th Airborne stationed in Southern Japan, the only airborne unit in Southeast Asia.
If Hillary (or W) had been president instead of Ike, who had reason not to take war lightly, the 187th would have jumped into Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam War would have begun a decade earlier… and I probably would not have had to cope with the rigors of old age.
One of the elements that would have ensured disaster—beside all that borrowed Chinese artillery that the Vietminh had somehow managed to haul up the hills surrounding the French fortifications—was the irony of our commander being none other than Brigadier General William Westmoreland. An even more exquisite irony would have been my falling gallantly at the side of a grizzled veteran of the Waffen SS who had escaped a firing squad by joining the Foreign Legion—thus enabling us to die together for the Glory of France. No matter that Harry and Nellie Gallagher back in Cleveland, Ohio, would not have thought the Glory of France was worth the price of an only son.
John Foster Dulles, incidentally was all for pulling the French chestnuts out of the fire. He assured Ike that Cardinal Spellman would rally the Catholics of America to the support of any crusade against Communism. But Ike, the story goes, was intent on lining up a putt, and he said to hell with it. So Spellman had to wait another dozen years to be photographed in Vietnam with his pudgy little hand on the stock of a machine gun as he quoted, not Jesus, but Stephen Decatur: “My country, right or wrong.”