A 47-year-old letter.
As a State Representative in Missouri during the Vietnam War, I felt I needed some on-the-scene advice and because one of my nephews was serving there, I wrote for some suggestions. This is a print of his letter to me dated 18 Jun 66.
Thanks much for your letter of late 65; I received it sometime ago but I've been quite busy and hadn't much time to write until now.
Since early December my unit has been supporting a Cav. search and destroy operation along the Cambodian between Doc To in the south up to around Kon Tum in the north.
Intelligence sources indicate that the VC got wind of our intentions and broke up into small groups and headed for Cambodia, thus the brigade we're supporting had but nominal contact with the enemy. We've operated out of Camp Halloway in Plieku until the first of the year and then moved to the vicinity of an old plantation around half-way between Plieku and Plie Me. Tomorrow we drop our tents and return to the Division Base area in AnKhe where we hope to relax and rest for a few days.
I wish there was a simple way to answer your question regarding the situation over here, but from my point of view the situation and our involvement in it is the result of many complex factors, the sum of which makes the whole issue quite confusing. The above statement is just a little of my political equivocation saying in layman language that I don't know if I can answer your question, but I'll try to give you what I believe are some of the main features and let you come to your own conclusions.
The bulk of Vietnam, is an uninhabited wilderness. The bulk of the population is centered in a few small regions thus the V.C. can quite easily maintain large areas and sit up and maintain bases of operation without difficulty or discovery.
The Vietnamese are basically illiterate, simple people, accustomed to war and its ramification. For self-protection, they usually support the winning side. Men are drafted into the V.C. ranks by threats upon their families. Intelligence and counter-intelligence is obtained in the same manner.
There is a greater race, religious, and class bias here than in the States. In fact in comparison, our racial trouble in the states is negligible. This of course weakens the political structure.
The Vietnamese lack leadership in every level where leadership is required. The Army has trouble even in getting and training responsible men to serve as effective squad sergeants. They follow, but will not lead.
It is a positive fact that the V.C. are being supplied from China and north Vietnam. I believe that the bulk of the V.C. are from North Vietnam.
South Vietnam is almost entirely agraian and lacks heavy and light industry. North Vietnam is basically industrial. The two need one another in order to develop a stable economy. The North has mineral resources but cannot feed its populus wherea the south is the rice bowl of the far east, but has few mineral resources.
An interesting sidelight is the fact that the region where I am now is almost identical with Texas, Kansas, Utah, or Colorado although the land is lying idle, it would appear to make fantastic herding land or be good for growing corn or wheat. However nothing is grown in bulk over here but rice. I doubt if wheat or corn has ever been attempted to be grown.
The U.S. has bitten off a big chunk in becoming involved over here but I believe our commitment is proving to be successful for the following reasons.
The V.C. are now the hunted and not the hunter. Thus the winning side is no longer the V.C. and the common Vietnamese is aligning with the South Vietnamese government. This has almost a snowballing effect for it affects military intelligence to our advantage and thus more successful military operations and thus more Vietnamese government by choice and not with the V.C. by force.
The dollars Uncle Sugar is pouring into this country will slowly but surely have an Americanizing effect. The economy will pickup and slowly the country will become more industrialized. This again will have a snowballing effect. With this will come education and professionalization. I seriously doubt if any staggering advances will take place in this area for at least another generation but it should come.
The main reason our government has committed itself over here is probably because of two interlocking reasons both military and necessary for the continued security and prosperity of our nation. Red China has clearly outlined its ultimate objective. We cannot, for our own sake, allow China to take South Vietnam. It would then control the South China Sea and its adjoining straits. It would have a perfect stepping stone into the Phillipines, Indonesia, and into the South Seas. I also believe that we are trying to bring about a sneaky showdown with China, before she develops into a more positive threat.
I would suggest reading an article in the October issue of the Readers Digest for a little more background on what I tried to say in the above paragraph.
It's very difficult for me to give you a real good analysis for I have been severed from all news media. My views are based on the impressions I have made of this country and also from bits and pieces I have gathered through BS sessions and rumors.
Hope they make a little sense to you and may help you somewhat.
Best of everything in your career.
First Lt. Charles Becker
1st Forward support Hg.
1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
I appreciated the information from the front at the time. Charley came home and soon developed a fine business in Fenton, which started with Beck Woods Stoves, then went into heavy pressure units to make parts.
I certainly think he provided me information you might not have considered and it has been a help in the last 47 years. Remember him in your prayers. He died Nov. 19, 2006, and I release this because of its historic content and thought.
For many years, his father, Charles was a member of the Eureka High School Board and Charlie Jr. and his brothers and sisters attended EHS. His younger brother, Bill, attended the Air Academy, retired as a Air Force Colonel and now flies for Southwest.