The Conflict in Vietnam Widens

Published: 1965
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
An Army medic aids UPI Photographer Nguyen Thanh Tai after he was wounded by the explosion of a Viet Cong booby trap, 15 miles south of Saigon. Tai was one of six men injured by the blast, which was triggered by a trip-wire. The incident occurred during Operation Enterprise on April 4, 1967. (UPI Photo/Files)

Unknown Speaker: "This is really war."

Pie Chamberlain: In Vietnam it is really war. For the first time since Korea, Americans are fighting and dying in large numbers overseas. 240 died in a single week of 1965, a greater toll than any week in Korea.

America now has about 200,000 men in Vietnam supplemented by small contingents of Australian and South Korean troops, and as the pressure from the Communist North continues more will be sent. In the coming year there maybe as many as half a million American GIs fighting in the dirty jungle war.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey underlined the importance of America’s continuing the struggle.

Hubert Humphrey: "Make no mistake about it, if we vary of our responsibilities, if we don’t have the patience and persevering patience to follow through the communist has, and we are facing this technique of nibble-nibble, bite-bite, touch-touch all over the world that we are going to face it and that’s why we have to take action on occasion that is misunderstood, sometimes purposely."

Pie Chamberlain: Against President Johnson’s Vietnam policy are lined up not only the Viet Cong guerrillas and north Vietnamese regulars but a small growing minority of Americans. These include not only the bearded, the stringy-haired peace marchers but aged men, matrons and even ranking political figures of the President's own Democratic Party, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon for example.

Wayne Morse: "You know our record is assorted and a sorry and a sad one. In regard to our unilateral action we are complete outlaw in Southeast Asia, we have been an outlaw from the beginning and so of the communist."

Pie Chamberlain: And two Americans made the ultimate protest in 1965. A horrified bystander outside the Pentagon in Washington gave this eye witness report.

Unknown Speaker: "There was a man, and he was shouting something to the crowd, it was unintelligible to me. He was holding a baby in his arms and the next thing I noticed was that one side of him burst into flames.

Pie Chamberlain: Another man burned himself to death in front of the United Nations. President Johnson was stung by the opposition to his policy, he complained...

Lyndon Baines Johnson: "Oh why, oh why don’t people concern themselves something with a country, let's try to maintain our independence from aggression."

Pie Chamberlain: America tried over-and-over again for a negotiated settlement, but the Communist North Vietnamese and the Red Chinese refused to meet without conditions with the US representatives.

The massive build up in Vietnam began to bleed America's standing army at home and the President was forced to say...

Lyndon Baines Johnson: "This will make it necessary to increase our active fighting forces by raising the monthly draft call from 17000 over a period of time to 35000."