The M16 assault rifle was meant to revolutionize the soldier, giving him a powerful, lightweight, and flexible all-in-one weapon. With the stopping power and accuracy of a rifle, the compactness of a submachine and, in short bursts, the firepower of a squad automatic weapon, the M16 should have instantly made everything before it redundant. But it didn’t.
The M16’s poor reception
When the M16 was introduced as the standard infantry rifle in the mid-1960s, US troops had been using the large and heavy M14, which fired the powerful 7.62 round. Although the M14 was familiar and possessed great stopping power, it was uncontrollable in automatic fire, meaning troops could not match the level of output from the AK-47. The M16 used a 5.56 round that still carried plenty of stopping power but was much more controllable.
In addition, the smaller rounds and lighter weight of the M16 meant troops could carry more ammunition.
However, as soon as the rifle landed in the hands of American soldiers, problems began. The rifle that was supposed to help them was actually making their lives harder, and sometimes even taking it from them.
When the M16 arrived, troops, who had trained with the M14, were not provided with cleaning kits or manuals for their new weapon. They suffered from an alarmingly high rate of failures in combat, from rounds failing to extract to the rifle simply jamming up.
The weapon used a small and lightweight direct impingement system, but this heated the receiver up and exposed it to large quantities of combustion gasses. The heat tended to burn off the much-needed lubricating oils in the receiver, while the combustion gasses built-up carbon deposits. This resulted in frequent stoppages.
These problems were then exacerbated by troops, who had fallen for Colt’s marketing that managed to suggest a ‘self-cleaning gas system’ meant a ‘self-cleaning rifle.’
After a government investigation into the M16’s issues, the weapon received a number of desperately needed changes. This updated version, designated the M16A1, arrived in 1967, and immediately malfunction rates dropped dramatically. Equally important was the addition of a cleaning kit, lubricant, and a field manual.
The M16’s manual
Despite the chaos all around the soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War, the M16’s freshly released manual was rather entertaining. It was called “M-16A1 Rifle: Operation and Preventative Maintenance,” and was illustrated by Army comic artist Will Eisner. Eisner helped in the production of manuals for vehicles during WWII.
The manual’s first chapter is provocatively titled “How to Strip Your Baby.” It features a female character that every 1960s GI had daydreamed about, guiding the soldier through the instructions with the troops’ own slang.
The manual says “You want to know her inside out, every contour and curve, every need and whim, what makes her tick.”
Another chapter focuses on caring for the rifle’s magazine, which is represented by another female character named “Maggie.” Chapter “Sweet 16” provides more general tips for looking after the rifle, like making sure to never close the upper and lower receivers while the selector switch is in the auto position.
“All the Way with Négligé” runs over the plastic coverall bag used to protect the M16 from the elements. It reminds troops that the cover does not replace maintenance, and is not guaranteed to be waterproof.
The manual did an exceptional job teaching troops the important and rather particular methods to ensure the M16A1 functioned every time when needed. Its familiar, attractive art and engaging language was both entertaining and useful for GIs, who were able quickly to absorb the information.
The manual clearly and simply cleared up any confusion and myths related to the rifle, like being self-cleaning, while its Vietnam-related content helped troops deal with Vietnam-specific issues.
The M16A1, with the help of the field manual, significantly reduced malfunctions and matured the M16 into a solid rifle.
In 1942, the use of tanks in World War II was a threat to infantry soldiers mostly because of the tanks’ impenetrable armor and lethal armaments. This required a weapon powerful enough to take out an armored tank, and subsequently led to the development of the shaped charge anti-tank hand grenade, effective against vehicle armor 2.4″ thick.
However, it weighed 3.5 pounds, which is quite heavy to throw by hand. So another idea arose: a device that could deliver such a grenade from a distance, at an adequate velocity to exceed the range of a hand-thrown grenade, also with high accuracy.
Lieutenant Edward Uhl of the U.S. Army was tasked with creating a delivery system for an M10 shaped charge grenade capable of stopping German tanks. To do this, the Lieutenant created a small rocket, but still needed to find a way to protect an operator from rocket exhaust while aiming the weapon. According to Lieutenant Uhl, he stumbled on a tube that happened to be the same size as the grenade, and that’s when he had the idea for a rocket grenade launcher.
During the testing of the rocket launcher, it performed well in aiming and firing effectively, so that all senior officers present were impressed. Major General Barnes, Chief of Research and Engineering in the U.S. Ordnance Department humorously commented, “It sure looks like Bob Burns’ Bazooka.”
Bazooka soon became the generic name for the grenade launcher. The variants were the M1 and M1A1 Bazookas which were 4.5 feet in length and could penetrate up to 3″ armor, the M9 and M9A1 which were 5 feet long and could penetrate up to 4″ armor, and the M20 and M65 which could penetrate up to 11″ armor.
The premier versions of the M1 launcher and the M6 rocket were first used in November 1942 in North Africa, but did not play a vital role in combat. This was partly because military personnel were not provided with information on how to use the weapon, and mostly because the M6 rocket was highly unreliable.
By May 1943, no report of the weapon actually stopping a tank had been received, so further use was suspended. The M1A1 launcher with the M6A1 rocket was then introduced and used in combat by U.S. forces.
The M1A1 stopped four medium German tanks and a Tiger I heavy tank–however, it had a huge backblast which exposed the shooter’s position.
In late 1943, the M9 Bazooka was introduced with an improved M6A3 rocket, but its effect didn’t last long as the Germans improved the armor of their tanks, making penetration a Herculean task.
The end of World War II saw the Bazooka design changing to be like the German-designed Bazooka, and led to the development of the M20 Super-Bazooka. This Bazooka had a higher range and penetration capability.
It was also operated by two people, and could fire as many as six shots per minute. Budget cuts made the mass production of the M20 impossible, so soldiers in the Korean War were armed only with the M9 and M9A1 Bazookas, which proved to be very effective against Soviet tanks.
The Vietnam War marked the gradual replacement of the M20 with the more effective M67 Recoilless rifle and M72 LAW rocket.
Puff The Magic Dragon could lay down some serious fire power.
Puff The Magic Dragon wasn’t just a popular song by Peter Paul & Mary in the 1960s but was also the nickname for the Douglas AC-47 Spooky, the predecessor to the Lockheed AC-130. The AC-47 Spooky was a repurposed cargo plane with modifications that became the first fixed-wing gunship used in Southeast Asia. The AC-47 Spooky got its nickname, Puff, The Magic Dragon, from its glowing red emissions that lit up the sky while the plane was in use.
The predecessor for the AC-47 Spooky was the two-engined cargo plane, the C-47 “Gooney Bird,” which was used extensively by the Allies during the Second World War. The C-47 was first brought to Vietnam in November 1961 but was primarily used as a transport and cargo ship for the Americans.
Many C-47s were eventually outfitted as “flare ships” and were thereby designated as FC-47s (F standing for flare in this case). FC-47s would drop parachute flares over enemy positions during night attacks, and by November 1963, FC-47s had thrown more than seven thousand flares over enemy positions.
By 1963, the Viet Cong (VC) were ramping up their guerrilla night activity, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that a better night air effort was necessary for the Americans. After much deliberation, the American Air Force accepted what is now the modern concept of fixed-wing gunship.
Modern fixed-wing gunships refer to a fixed-wing aircraft that has laterally mounted heavy armaments, essentially meaning a side-firing plane. Side-firing gunships was not a new idea. In fact the concept had been proposed in the years leading up to the Second World War. However, it wasn’t until 1963 that the idea of a side-firing plane became a reality.
The C-47 was initially chosen as the test plane for the first fixed-wing gunship because it met all the criteria necessary to develop such a weapon. The effectiveness of this type of gun-ship depended on the planes’ ability to direct concentrated fire on specific enemy positions, and enough power and space to carry the necessary armaments that were required.
The C-47 was chosen for experimentation because it was a cargo ship, meaning it could hold the huge amount of munition that was required, and because it was propeller-driven, which would allow for the precise maneuvers that would be necessary.
By mid-December 1964, the conversions to the C-47 had been completed. Initially, this new type of aircraft was designated the FC-47, meaning fighter/ cargo. However, fighter pilots were upset with the “fighter” categorization of the plane because they refused to believe that a slow cargo plane could also be a fighter plane. To appease these pilots, the new aircraft was officially designated the AC-47, meaning attack/ cargo.
Testing of the AC-47 first began in Vietnam in late 1964. On December 14, 1964, the AC-47 Spooky flew in its first daytime combat mission, firing on enemy boats, trails, and staging areas. The first night mission Puff the Magic Dragon flew in occurred on December 23, 1964. During this attack, the AC-47 spooky fired more than 4500 rounds of ammunition and dropped a total of 17 flares. Its efforts successfully halted the Viet Cong assault.
The AC-47 Spooky continued to be successfully tested (for the Americans) in early 1965. In fact, these gunship trials were so successful that an AC-47 was sent to the United States in early 1965 to provide crew training for the aircraft. In July 1965, The United States Air Force ordered the Training, Advising and Counselling (TAC) to establish an AC-47 squadron.
In August 1965, the 4th Commando Squadron was established as the first operational unit flying AC-47s. In August 1965, the 4th Air Commando Squadron operated a total of five aircraft, but by the end of the year, a total of 26 planes had been converted to AC-47s.
The weaponization of the AC-47 Spooky
Generally speaking, the external arrangement of the C-47 remained intact as this cargo plane was transitioned into an attack plane. Three 7.62mm miniguns were mounted internally to fire through two rear window openings and the side cargo door. All these openings were on the left side of the aircraft (which was the pilot’s side).
Positioning these mini guns on the aircraft’s left side was essential as it provided close air support to ground troops. These 7.62 mm mini guns held a rate-of-fire of 6000 rounds per minute, or, in other words, could cover every square foot of a football field with one round in one minute. A MK 20 Mod 4 gunsight was also mounted in the left cockpit window.
The guns could be controlled either by the pilot or by the gunners among the crew. However, the pilot primarily controlled the weapons, as the controls for the gun were on the pilot’s yoke. Gunners were kept on board the AC-47 primarily to monitor the gun’s performance and make any necessary repairs. The guns on board the aircraft could either be fired individually or simultaneously, depending on the situation.
From Spooky to Puff
As AC-47s saw action in more missions, its nickname gradually changed. The airforce had designated the nickname “Spooky” to be associated with the AC-47s, but the nickname Puff, The Magic Dragon was the nickname given to the aircraft by ground troops. Not only did the pane spew glowing red emissions, but its roar made by the guns firing simultaneously sounded surprisingly like a roaring dragon. In fact, the nickname Puff, The Magic Dragon became so mainstream among the American army that its official sign was changed from “Spooky” to “Puff” in some areas.
As the number of aircraft and crews increased, the 4th Air Commando Squadron deployed planes to Nha Trang, Da Nang, Pleiku, Bien Hoa, and Binh Thuy. In 1956 alone, the gunships flew 277 combat missions, fired 137,136 rounds and 2548 flares. During this initial start-up period, the 4th Air Commando Squadron only lost two planes, making the United States Air Force very confident in their new weapon.
Puff, The Magic Dragon distinguished itself in over four thousand missions in South Vietnam and Laos over the next four years. The gunships accounted for over 5300 enemy kills and destroyed enemy supplies and hundreds of enemy trucks.
By 1969, the Ac-47s were beginning to show extreme wear and tear. It was no longer practical to keep rebuilding and maintaining these gunships, especially as more sophisticated AC-130 and AC-119 gunships were beginning to arrive in Vietnam. Slowly, Puff The Magic Dragon was transitioned out of mainstream use with the army. The last American AC-47 combat mission happened on December 1, 1969, by the 4th Special Operations Squadron, formally the 4th Air Commando Squadron. Out of the 53 AC-47 Spooky’s delivered to Vietnam, about 41 of them saw combat service throughout the Vietnam War. Twelve gunships were lost to combat reasons, and 19 airframes were lost in total.
Puff, The Magic Dragon was eventually replaced first with the AC-130A Spectre, then the AC-119G Shadow, AC-119K Stinger, and finally with the AC-130E Pave Spectre. Although these new gunships were more modern, they would not have been as effective as a weapon if it had not been for the success of Puff the Magic Dragon.
Other Air Forces
Although the Americans retired Puff the Magic Dragon from active duty within their own Air Force, other Air Forces worldwide have used, or currently still do use the AC-47 Spooky. In December 1984, and January 1985, the United States Air Force supplied two AC-47 gunships to the El Salvador Air Force and trained crews to operate the systems. Currently, the Columbian Air Force continues to use a variant of the AC-47 known as the Basler BT-67, or as “ghost plane” to Columbian citizens. The Columbian Air Force has about six AC-47T gunships in its inventory.
The official start date of the Vietnam War varies depending on how you define the “start.” You may consider 1887 as the start of the Vietnam War when France colonized Vietnam and renamed it French Indochina, or 1946 when Ho Chi Minh began guerrilla warfare against the French. 1950 could also be the start to some when the US announced its assistance to the French. However, the US has long considered 1961 as the official date to count the war’s casualties.
For this reason, USAF Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr., who was killed in Vietnam in 1956, was not counted as a casualty of the Vietnam War for decades. After his family lobbied for his death to be included in Vietnam’s death toll, the US agreed, moving the start date to November 1, 1955. This instantly made Fitzgibbon the first American to be killed in the Vietnam War.
Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr.
Fitzgibbon was born on June 21 1920 in Massachusetts. He was a veteran of the Second World War, where he served with the US Navy. He left the Navy and joined the US Air Force, eventually becoming a Technical Sergeant.
Fitzgibbon was part of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam, which was tasked with training South Vietnamese airmen.
On June 8 1956 Fitzgibbon was the crew chief onboard an aircraft when it came under fire. During this tense moment, Fitzgibbon ensured the aircraft’s shaky radio operator was doing his job properly, resulting in him giving the radio operator a reprimanding.
The radio operator was Staff Sergeant Edward C. Clarke. Later that evening Clarke, still disgruntled from the earlier incident, headed into Saigon for some drinks. Instead of relaxing him, the alcohol exacerbated his anger.
A heavily drunken Clarke saw Fitzgibbon in Saigon, giving out sweets to local children. Still enraged, he approached Fitzgibbon, pulled out his sidearm, and shot him. After he murdered Fitzgibbon, Clarke was involved in a shootout with Vietnamese police before attempting to escape. It was during this escape that Clarke, intentionally or not, fell to his death from a second-story balcony.
Despite being killed in Vietnam during hostilities, Fitzgibbon’s death was not counted as part of the conflict.
Classing Fitzgibbon as a Vietnam War casualty.
Fitzgibbon’s family was hit hard by his death, so much so that his son, Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, joined the US Marine Corps and joined the fight in Vietnam. Tragically, he too was killed in 1965 after stepping onto a landmine. The deaths of Fitzgibbon Jr. and Fitzgibbon III were one of only three occasions where both a father and son were killed in the Vietnam War.
In 1988, Richard DelRossi, a relative of the Fitzgibbons, visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. He found the younger Fitzgibbon III on the wall containing the names of those killed in the war but was unable to find Fitzgibbon Jr.
This was because the wall only contained the names of those killed after 1961, the date considered the start of the war by the Department of Defense (DoD). After returning home and informing his family, including his mother, Fitzgibbon’s sister, they immediately began petitioning to have his name placed on the wall.
They tried for almost a decade without any success. But in 1997, the family happened to meet U.S. Representative Ed Markey while visiting the traveling scale replica of the wall. Markey, now a Senator, heard their story and believed they had been treated unfairly.
After investigating and also hitting bureaucratic obstacles, Markey finally achieved what the family had fought so desperately to achieve. The DoD changed its official start date of the Vietnam War to November 1, 1955.
On Memorial Day in 1999, Fitzgibbon’s engraved name was unveiled in front of his family.
Since then, the names of Air Force Sgt. Richard Fitzgibbon Jr. and his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Fitzgibbon III has been immortalized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
There is no doubt that Captain Bill ‘Hawk’ Albracht deserves the Medal of Honor.
Captain Bill ‘Hawk’ Albracht saved more than 150 allied soldiers in daring escape
In October 1969, Army Captain Bill “Hawk” Albracht found himself posted at a base in Vietnamese jungle widely considered to be a backwater to the war. Surrounded by thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers, strapped for ammo and water, and with no hope of rescue, Albracht and his team of more than 150 American and South Vietnamese soldiers stared down communist forces armed to the teeth—with a slim chance of survival.
“My heart sunk,” Albracht said recalling a message from command saying there would be no reinforcements. “I knew right then: We’ve got to get out of here, and we have to do it ourselves.”
After multiple days of brutal firefights with North Vietnamese soldiers, Albracht led an exhausted gang of American artillery troops and pro-American Vietnamese tribesmen to safety in the dead of night. In the process, the U.S. Army crew lost only one man in battle and only one more missing in action. Twenty-four Americans under Albracht’s command would live to fight another day.
The heroic actions of that week led to multiple commendations for Albracht, a Silver Star and Purple Heart not least among them. Now his peers and friends want their captain to receive the highest honor.
First Lieutenant John Kerr, who also served at Firebase Kate, told the Washington Free Beacon that Albracht’s heroism merits every honor in the book.
“Bill deserves all the credit and the upgrade of his medals that are possible. He was responsible for saving 24 American lives, that’s all there is to it,” Kerr said. “He took charge and put himself in harm’s way time and time again.”
Special forces soldier Bill Albracht with a South Vietnamese soldier (Credit: pritzkermilitary.org)
It was by no means clear that Albracht and his fellow Americans would come out of Firebase Kate unscathed. Many of the captain’s peers had only been stationed at the base—which was poorly defended and in a location vulnerable to attack—for about a month. Though Albracht was trained as a special forces officer, his comrades belonged to an artillery grouping, meaning they had little experience in the direct line of fire. Albracht himself was only 21 years old at the time, and on his first command assignment. To make matters worse, by the time the North Vietnamese attacked, the base’s artillery equipment was all but out of commission.
The policy of Vietnamization also complicated the safety of those at Firebase Kate. Adopted by President Richard Nixon in the waning days of the Vietnam War, Vietnamization meant the anti-communist South Vietnamese would take the primary role in fighting and American troops would return to a support role. The policy halted American commanders from sending supporting troops to the firebase. So did antiaircraft weapons from North Vietnamese forces.
“The bottom line was that we were stuck there on this little hilltop along the Cambodian border, and there was no way out,” Kerr said. “We were just sitting ducks.”
It was in this desperate hour that Albracht took charge. Even after suffering a wound and receiving heavy fire from the North Vietnamese, the captain rallied his troops for an exit strategy. After coordinating via radio with air support and commanding officers, Albracht decided his band of survivors would make their escape under cover of nightfall. In a single-file line, he and the Vietnamese tribesmen trekked miles to rendezvous with the “MIKE Force,” American special operators tasked with retrieving the men posted at Firebase Kate. As Albracht and his crew inched closer to freedom, they at one point only stood 12 feet away from a patrol of North Vietnamese troops.
“I called the MIKE Force on the radio to say, ‘I hear you coming; I’m on your immediate left,'” Albracht said. “They told me they weren’t out; it was the enemy. If the [enemy] made any degree of movement to the left, they would have come right up on us, and we would have been in a pitched battle we would have very much lost. But they moved right on by.”
In the aftermath of the escape, Firebase Kate was destroyed. After retrieval by U.S. forces, Albracht did not return home. Instead he re-upped and joined the same corps that found him and his soldiers—the MIKE Force. Albracht was wounded again months later, which eventually marked the end of his frontline service in Vietnam.
Firebase Kate in the aftermath of the escape (Credit: gifilmfestivalsd.org)
Besides Kerr, several other veterans and advocates champion Albracht’s bid for a Medal of Honor. The written testimony of two other officers—Col. John Beckenhauer and Lt. Gen. Michael Tucker—praises Albracht for his extraordinary heroism in orchestrating the escape from Firebase Kate. The Vietnam Veterans of America also drafted a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recommending Albracht for the nation’s highest award for servicemen.
“Never have I witnessed a more heroic feat than what he pulled off getting those men off that firebase that night alive,” Beckenhauer, a member of the Army aviation team supporting Albracht’s mission, wrote in his testimony.
“The fact that any of them got off that base, walked through enemy lines in the pitch black dark, and got out to safety with all but one, was nothing short of miraculous. What a testament to the American soldier and to Hawk’s leadership. A braver man doing anything that crazy and living to tell about it would be hard to find…. One day I hope to meet him under better circumstances.”
Albracht receiving a plaque for his heroics at Firebase Kate (Credit: army.mil)
Albracht served his country in a different way after Vietnam. Over the course of five presidencies, the Vietnam veteran served as a Secret Service agent, protecting U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries. He said his experience as a special operator in Vietnam prepared him for the challenge of such a high-stakes position.
The Vietnam veteran later coauthored a book about his experience at Firebase Kate, which was also adapted into a documentary—efforts Albracht said are meant to honor the sacrifice of his comrades in arms. For Albracht, the ultimate lesson of his experience was the team effort and sacrifice it took to return himself and 24 other Americans home safely.
“I needed to be at Kate, and therefore by divine providence, or whatever you want to call it, I performed correctly and I did my job to the best of my ability,” Albracht said. “And we got out. It wasn’t just me; everybody did their job.”
The Army declined to comment on Albracht’s appeal for a Medal of Honor.
The battery was invented by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1800. Before his invention, people had studied static electricity, but no one had found a source of electricity that could last more than a second. Volta showed that electricity could be generated continuously by a chemical reaction. The first batteries lasted less than an hour, but many improvements followed that made them more practical. Until around 1900, when power stations and wires for distributing electricity became common, batteries were the only supplies of electricity.
The device Alessandro Volta invented, the “voltaic cell”, contained a weak acidic liquid that conducted charge, and had different metals at each end of a short tube. He realized that the voltage increased if he stacked a number of them.
The word “battery” usually meant a group of objects working together. The use of the word for an electrical device is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. In 1749, he used this term for a stack of capacitors he was experimenting with. The parallel plates or voltaic cells in the first electrical “batteries” were arranged in a similar way.
The first rechargeable battery was invented in 1859. It operated using a lead-acid mixture. This type is still used today as the starter battery in cars.
The usual tube or block battery that is most used today is called a “dry cell”, because it does not require a fluid to conduct charges inside it. The first dry cell battery was invented by a French engineer named Georges Leclanché in 1866.
Many improvements to batteries have been introduced over the years. The last major development was lithium-ion batteries, invented in 1985. These are rechargeable and long-lasting, which has made them very useful for things like digital cameras and cell phones.
R.I.P. George “Speedy” Gaspard to say you had an extraordinary life would be an understatement.
Born in the summer of 1926 George Gaspard was to become a pioneering career soldier, breaking new ground in battlefield tactics and earning many decorations for service to his country. He first signed up with the Marine Corps in 1944 and soon found himself in the WWII Pacific Theatre fighting the enemy in Okinawa, as part of the 6th Marine Division.
He later joined the Army in 1951 and volunteered for the 10th Special Forces Group, a new unit born of the need for innovative ways of conducting warfare. Gaspard was part of the first group to graduate from the fledgling Special Forces training program.
From then on Gaspard built upon a reputation for fearlessness, running cross-border secret operations throughout the Korean war, which was really just the proving ground for techniques he deployed to great effect during his tours of duty in Vietnam. In Korea Gaspard ran a team of four enlisted American soldiers and up to eighty anti-communist South Korean agents, supported by Chinese intelligence operatives, gathering information on North Korean troop movements and other enemy activities.
Gaspard was awarded the Silver and Bronze stars for combat actions in 1953 and late in 1954 he arrived at the 77th Special Forces group as a guerrilla warfare instructor for the Psychological Warfare School’s Special Forces Department before he was discharged three years later.
After a stint at the Pentagon in the Special Warfare Department Gaspard he was recalled to active duty. In 1962 he was sent to Fort Bragg attached to the 5th Special Forces group. From here he was dispatched to Vietnam, to a Special Forces camp at Dak Pek in Kontum Province, the first of his seven tours in the country.
In 1985 he was instrumental in successful negotiations to allow the mountain dwelling Montagnard people safe passage to join the South Vietnamese Army. The Montagnard name came from the time of French colonial rule in the region.
In 1966 Gaspard was promoted to the rank of Major and in 1967 returned to Vietnam to direct the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group (MACVSOG) in the Strata program until 1968.
Strata was developed to streamline and clean up intelligence gathering activities that had previously been dogged by poor quality information and the activities of double agents. Gaspard’s new focus was on short-term gathering of intelligence from close cross-border sources. He had an all-Vietnamese team, a Road-Watch and Target-Acquisition group, who would be deployed and recovered for re-use time and again.
Gaspard went in to extract two wounded agents in an emergency when they had been surrounded by the enemy, saving lives and earning an Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism and a Purple Heart.
But it did not all go Gaspard’s way. A colleague he knew as Francois was unmasked as a spy some twenty-five years after the war ended, receiving top military honours from Hanoi’s government. ‘There’s no question that he hurt SOG operations,’ Gaspard said later in an interview, but it did not diminish his pride in the overall success rate of the Strata teams.
Having served in three major US wars George ‘Speedy’ Gaspard retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1973. His list of decorations is impressive and numbers more than fifty including medals from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
In his retirement Gaspard continued to serve his country as part of the South Carolina State Guard where he attained the rank of Brigadier General and was appointed Chief of Staff. He was a member of multiple military groups including the American Legion and Sons of Confederacy.
At Fort Benning, Georgia, Gaspard was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 1991, in recognition of his service in three wars and his continual development of the understanding of innovative and disruptive forms of war in inhospitable and difficult terrain. In 2010 he was further honoured as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment.
Gaspard died on January 30th, 2018 and laid to rest in Jacksonville, Florida.
It is way too early in 2020 election cycle to make a call like this.
“Feels very, very cautious about their chances”
GOP strategist Karl Rove predicts that the Trump 2020 campaign will have a difficult time winning Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, reports Fox News.
“We’ve seen some evidence in the public polling, but my sense is that Trump campaign feels very, very cautious about their chances in those three states,” Rove told “America’s Newsroom” hosts on Tuesday.
President Trump won the Rust Belt states by narrow margins mostly because of low voter turnout for Hillary Clinton. Rove said that President Trump would have to compensate for those three states if he were to lose them this time around.
“If he loses these three states, he is no longer president unless he makes it up elsewhere,” Rove said.
Should Biden win the nomination, Rove said that Trump will have his work cut out for him in the Rust Belt states given that Biden was born in Pennsylvania and now has his headquarters there.
“[Biden] has his headquarters in Philadelphia and recognizes how central it can be to the general election,” Rove said. “Biden is missing no tricks. [Pennsylvania] will be a tough state for the president to hold and it’s critical that he hold it.”
Rove said that Trump will most likely refocus his efforts on states like Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, and New Mexico if he loses support in the Rust Belt.
Despite Rove’s predictions, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) believes that Trump will not only be victorious in Pennsylvania but victorious by an even wider margin, noting that Joe Biden has no connection to the state whatsoever.
“He left Pennsylvania 67 years ago… Remember, Hillary Clinton came from Scranton too and we all know what happened there,” Barletta told “America’s Newsroom.”
Barletta “begged” Trump to not believe the polls in Pennsylvania, noting that he trailed Hillary Clinton by six points in 2016, according to Fox News. He said this stems from the fact that Democrats and Independents in the state still fear disclosing their full opinions to pollsters.
On Monday night, more than 10,000 people showed up to the Trump rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, where the president reminded the crowd that his future opponent, Joe Biden, left Pennsylvania behind long ago
“And don’t forget: Biden deserted you,” Trump said at the rally. “He’s not from Pennsylvania. I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks. He left you for another state. Remember that, please. I meant to say that. This guy talks about, ‘Oh, I know Scranton.’ Well, I know the places better. He left you for another state, and he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs. He let other countries come in and rip off America. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
Rep. Barletta said that Trump’s rally was basically a sequel to everything he saw in 2016, with thousands waiting in lines outside.
“This is a replay of what I saw in the last election. … I think he’s gonna win Pennsylvania by more than he won the last time,” said Barletta. “I’m sure the experts will say differently, but let’s watch and see. I don’t know if they’ve learned anything in four years.”
R.I.P. Private First Class Dan Bullock December 21, 1953 – June 7, 1969.
Believing he was 19 years old, they gave him the green light. Bullock successfully enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps.
The youngest American soldier KIA in the Vietnam War was just 15 years old. As sad as it is, history is heavy with stories of minors venturing into battlefields. From the American Revolutionary War to post-World War II conflicts, stories like this are not that hard to find.
Spanning for some 19 years, the Vietnam War was a long, contentious aspect of America’s history, characterized by several episodes of tragedy abroad and intense media and political outrage at home.
In the midst of all that, our attention is drawn to the story of Private First Class Dan Bullock, a young teenager who ventured onto the hostile soil of Vietnam as a US Marine, ultimately sacrificing his life as he served his country, having lived 15 years, 5 months, and 17 days.
Bullock was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina on December 21st, 1953. Following his mother’s demise, 12-year-old Dan and his sister left for Brooklyn, New York in order to stay with his father and stepmother.
His dream was to be an Air Force pilot, a police officer, or a U.S. Marine.
By September 18th, 1968, America was already neck-deep in the Vietnam War, and enlistment of citizens into the military was in full swing. Fourteen years old at the time, with a height of 5 foot 9 inches and a weight of 160 pounds, Bullock decided to join the military.
The minimum age for enlistment was 17 years old, and even at that age, one would need parental consent to be enlisted. But Bullock was completely undeterred by this restriction.
He managed to doctor his birth certificate, showing his birth date as December 21st, 1949.
The recruitment staff at Albee Square Marine recruiting station was none the wiser. Believing he was 19 years old, they gave him the green light. Bullock successfully enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps and was assigned with Platoon 3039 in Parris Island.
After struggling through months of training at the boot camp, Bullock managed to graduate with the help of Franklin McArthur, a fellow recruit who befriended him.
“He had already kind of washed out when he got to my platoon,” McArthur stated in an interview with New York Daily News. “He had trouble keeping up.”
According to McArthur, he had decided to help the 14-year-old through the rigorous boot camp training because he understood what put a rifle in the boy’s hands: the desire to help his family. Bullock’s father earned a living as a lumber worker and a sharecropper, and Bullock wanted to help, but he had no skills to land a job in New York.
However, McArthur’s decision to assist the boy would become a choice that would later haunt him.
Bullock arrived in South Vietnam, over 8,500 miles away from home, on May 18th, 1969. One can only imagine what was running through his mind as he stepped into the atmosphere of South Vietnam where the sound of war seemed to have become constant.
Now aged 15 and a private first class, he was assigned to 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, where he served as a rifleman.
Bullock was stationed at An Hoa Combat Base, a few kilometers west of Hội An, in Quảng Nam Province. At 1:00 AM on June 7th, 1969, the base came under attack by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).
Hostilities grew through the night and casualties rose on both sides. Bullock played his own role in the fight, trying as much as he could to help keep the base from falling into the hands of the NVA.
However, as the attack pressed on, it would soon be clear that the Marines were outgunned. Bullock promptly began making runs to deliver extra ammunition to his beleaguered comrades who were desperately trying to hold off the assault.
Sadly, while Bullock was on his second supply run, he was hit by several rounds from small firearms and perished instantly.
It wasn’t until reporters paid a visit to Bullock’s family that America came to know that Bullock was only 15 years old. Such a young man’s decision to go to war is, indeed, not something everyone would be able to understand.
According to his sister Gloria, “[Dan] wanted to get an education, to make something of himself, and saw the Marines as a way to get there.” He had plans to continue his education upon returning from Vietnam.
If Bullock’s decision was influenced by something else, something much deeper than we thought, that is something we now will never know.
In honor of his bravery, in June 2003 the New York City Council renamed a section of Lee Avenue in Brooklyn, where Bullock had lived since he was 11 years old, in his honor.
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., his name is found among those of the 58,266 servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice. Bullock is not the only one who was underage—at least five were 16 years old, and at least 12 were 17 years old.
After his interment, Bullock’s gravesite remained without a headstone for 31 years. A headstone was donated in 2000 by talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael.
In reminiscing about his days at boot camp with Bullock, McArthur stated in an interview that a Marine who knew how he had helped Bullock get through boot camp had asked him a gut-wrenching question: “Did you ever think that if you didn’t help him, he might have lived?”
The drive-by media wants to destroy President Trump like they did President Nixon.
By lying about President Trump and his popularity they hope to drive down his popularity numbers and force him out of office.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the sewagestream media had a record of over 80% negative reporting on candidate Donald Trump. No matter what Trump did or said, the media instantly twisted and distorted as much of what he did and said, as possible. I’m sure that if Trump had helped a little old lady load her groceries in her car, the media would somehow have twisted it into Trump trying to sexually assault her or some other kind of deviant act, instead of just being kind and helpful.
The media treatment of Trump since he was sworn into office has been even worse. Over the past two years, many of us have lost count of the number of fake news stories that have been spewed out all over the news.
Do you remember August 12, 2017? A group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis were holding their Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. They had a permit and the rally was going along very peaceful, until a group of leftist activists intentionally attacked the peaceful rally. Violence broke out and resulted in the death of a girl from one of the white supremacists. The media went wild, blaming 100% of the violence on the white supremacists, even though the violence was started by the leftist activists.
The next day, President Trump denounced all of the violence and mentioned that part of the blame lay on the leftist activists as they were the ones who actually started the violent confrontation. When Trump spoke the obvious truth, the media went ballistic. They accused Trump of being a white supremacist, a racist, a bigot, a hater and worse. The media was not about to report that President Trump spoke the truth.
Nothing has changed since then.
If you listen to the media today, you would think that Trump has been steadily losing the support of the American people. After all, even some of the Senate Republicans are against Trump, especially senate Majority Leeader Mitch McConnell and the new Senator from Utah – Mitt Romney.
In fact, there are some indicators that strongly suggest that Trump’s support among the American people has been steadily increasing. One of indications was reported:
“President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign reports that it raised more than $30 million in the first quarter of 2019, edging out his top two Democratic rivals combined. This haul, according to The Associated Press, gives Trump $40.8 million cash in hand – an unprecedented war chest for an incumbent president this early in a campaign. According to the campaign reports, nearly 99 percent of the donations were of $200 dollars or less, with an average donation of $34.26.”
“Dr. Charles W. Dunn says these numbers play out in several ways. First, says the professor emeritus of government at Clemson University, it sends a signal to Republicans like former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, who announced this week that he plans to seek the GOP presidential nomination.”
“‘It would be foolish for them to undertake a primary challenge to Donald Trump,’ Dunn tells OneNewsNow, ‘so this news pretty well secures the safety of Donald Trump’s re-nomination’.”
“The political scientist also says the numbers of small donations is a sign that grassroots America likes the president.”
“‘The amount of money that Trump has raised says that he has much more popularity than the press gives him credit for,’ he explains. ‘We’re beginning to see some initial reporting of surveys that suggest Trump is doing better than what we’ve expected. Well, this kind of fundraising [is] going to encourage more rank-and-file conservatives to give’.”
If Trump has a war chest of $40.8 million and the average donation works out to $34.26, that means that he has receive donations from about 1,190,893 people and the election is still a year and half away.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve learned to take most of what the sewagestream media reports about Trump and believe the opposite. No, the sewagestream media will never report just how popular Trump still is and how far ahead he is in raising campaign donations, especially compared to the top Democratic rivals. They claim his popularity is dropping, which means that his popularity is growing.