A Vietnam Veteran’s Lament: ‘What Might Have Been?’

Dick Dettrey Once Had Health, Happiness, a Wife and a Métier: A Thriving Business and High Expectations

Until He was Conscripted, Sent to Vietnam, Experienced Three PTSD Events, Made An Invalid by Army Doctors Still-in-Training and, Finally, Forced into Permanent Residence at a Detroit VA Hospital

Honoring Vietnam Veterans Generally And Draftees Specifically And a Salute to One in Particular: Dick Dettrey

“LBJ Mourning Loss of Vietnam Soldiers [NOT]”
(See Below for the Real Story of How the MSM and Twitter [et. al.] Duplicitously Used it to Reframe History)

The men who were drafted into service and answered the call – usually very reluctantly and against their better judgment – felt it was their patriotic duty, and “the right thing to do.” It took the bravest of men to enter wartime service in those circumstances, including a very ambiguous battlefield populated with many Viet Cong soldiers (inhabiting parts of South Vietnam but aligned with North Vietnam), while working alongside South Vietnamese soldiers. The draftees were put to work under ill-defined objectives and “rules of war” and poorly designed or inadequate tools, including among others, the early version of the M-16 rifle that required constant cleaningoften found (unassembled) underneath a dead soldier a problem that wasn’t resolved until 1967 (See HERE).

Their initial resolve, amid the mayhem foisted upon them, equaled that of the men who fought in WWII and the Korean War, yet they were never given quite the same welcoming reception back home as their earlier counterparts, through no fault of their own. In retrospect, it now becomes obvious that they were the easy targets for a disgusted public, and their later attempts at “mutiny” were the inevitable by-products of that toxic mix. The eventual underreported “Soldiers Revolt” and everything else that came with the “cultural shift” of the 1960s came about because the veterans had merely become proxies for the real source: Commander-in-Chief Lyndon B. Johnson’s lies, deception and treachery in obsessively macro- and micro-managing the conduct of his unwinnable war, often overriding the advice of military commanders trained in the “art of war.”

In early 1965 Lyndon Johnson—in a moment of exasperation with persistent reporters who wanted him to explain why the United States was at war with Vietnam—opened his pants, withdrew his penis, and shouted, “This is why!” [1]

Evidently, Johnson, swollen with pride and certitude, thought that exposing himself at that point would be sufficient to appease his audience.  He was correct, because they were so stunned that they walked away and forgot the original question.  Luckily for him, those reporters did not report that news widely, as it was too much of an embarrassment to the Office of the President. They continued protecting him from the public by hiding most of his numerous other gross obscenities and behavioral aberrations — with the notable exception of reports about his reckless drunken driving of luxury automobiles at high speeds across the pastures and through the cow pies of his ranch. Many people simply wrote that off as the eccentricities of a cowboy president; yet others, more prescient, regarded it as possibly the “tip of a huge iceberg” that portended other, worse aberrations of behavior.

The result of the contemporaneous reporters treating Johnson with “baby gloves” is that 200+ million adult citizens were protected from knowing that their President was, essentially, insane. According to Dr. Bertram S. Brown, the psychiatrist who had seen a number of presidents and presidential aides, said, “Johnson was a megalomaniac . . . He was a man of such narcissism that he thought he could do anything.”[2]

Choosing the “One in a Million” – Of Lost, Damaged or Destroyed Lives

The three-million-plus American men who served in Vietnam in the 1960s-70s each had uniquely different memories of what they saw or did, including somethings that were forced upon them by circumstances to do, or merely witness; they were always mindful of the need to act within the “rules” in making split-second decisions to “kill or be killed.”

All of them went there under the presumption that their lives were being put on the line for some very important, but elusive, reason related to the “national security” of the United States of America.

Their experiences varied by race and class, such that ones’ parentage had more to do with how they arrived there – and their prospects for eventual release, a recaptured life and future success – than whatever abilities or skills they might have contributed to the war effort.

Some at the officer level, due to their family connections and influence, were protected from anything that might expose them to personal danger, or from witnessing the worst horrors of that most-horrid war. [3] It was common practice for the conscripted men to initially count the days from their arrival onward for the first few months, then begin counting backwards from the last day of their tour.  It facilitated a shift from a negative perspective to a more positive one, but usually stated with the caveat, “and a wake-up:” implicitly adding the caveat of “assuming I’m still alive.”   

Of the roughly 3 million Americans who served in Vietnam, 1 million of them were draftees, young men 18-22 years old whose service was involuntary. This story will zero-in on one such man, but undoubtedly, as typical as any other “one-in-a-million” might be. Many of them undoubtedly had similar – or worse – experiences, and to one degree or another, had their lives either destroyed completely or permanently damaged, all due to their forced conscription. (Truth be told, I personally came to know a few dozen men who fit in the above category [including one who served in the Special Forces], many living out their remaining lives as broken men, unable to hide the empty look in their eyes as they struggled to survive on their own.  But at least they did return home, unlike three men I also knew who did not).

LBJ’s War – Election Promises Broken

Within three days of becoming President (just as JFK’s funeral was being held) Lyndon Johnson secretly issued official orders to reverse John Kennedy’s plans to withdraw all troops from Vietnam by the end of 1965. By Christmas day, within four weeks of becoming President, Lyndon B. Johnson had begun manipulating his White House and Pentagon staffs to set up the false flag (“phantom”) attack on North Vietnamese gunboats that would become the pretext for the claim that they had actually attacked his destroyers, a major “false flag” operation that would fool practically the entire Congress to go along with his diabolical plot, always planned for deployment the first week of August, 1964, exactly three months before the presidential election in November.

He then choreographed Act III, using that false canard, prepared weeks before by McGeorge Bundy, to trick Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution as evidence of congressional support for whatever future course he might want to invoke, while maintaining that the government was unified behind his war decisions. His response to the few early journalists who were skeptical about his Vietnam policy was to question their patriotism and their disregard of “our soldiers who are dying” in Vietnam.

When Johnson won the election with a “landslide” vote margin in November, 1964, he began executing his plan for a gradual escalation by continuing the provocations which ensured that Vietnam would react in kind.  Viet Cong (guerilla fighters who were loyal to North Vietnamese communists) attacked the US air base at Pleiku, South Vietnam in February 1965. That was followed by Johnson’s order for retaliatory bombing raids against military installations in North Vietnam. His orders to begin drafting boys and young men (and only men) to be trained for a few weeks to become guerilla fighters and shipped to Vietnam would soon follow.

Johnson also ordered, for the first time, US combat troops to be sent to South Vietnam. Within a month, by mid-March, “Operation Rolling Thunder” was in full swing. By the end of 1965, 184,000 American troops had been committed to LBJ’s war.

Johnson exploited the patriotism of the young soldiers and played on the fear of their families and others who would not believe they had been misled, to fight a war which he arrogantly assumed that the United States would inevitably win. Neither he nor his top advisors who favored intervention understood the history or culture of Vietnam, other than perhaps what the higher-level officers picked up in the honky-tonk clubs of Saigon. It was a fatal irony of miscalculation that President Johnson and his advisors underestimated the strength and resolve of the Viet Cong, the very point General Douglas MacArthur had, successfully, warned President Kennedy about.

Throughout 1964 and early 1965, childless married men were put into a special category that usually prevented them from being drafted.  But there was an exception to that rule in case there were insufficient men in the “pool” of registered men within a particular county (the exemption was eliminated altogether in August, 1965 when it became apparent that too many young men were getting married).

One of the Million: Dick Dettrey, Vietnam Draftee and “Survivor”

Mr. Dettrey, a reader of my blog at “LBJ: The Master of Deceit”, contacted me a few months ago, asking me to write a feature story of how his life had been virtually destroyed by Lyndon Johnson’s lies, deceits and general treacheries.  His letters, excerpted below, convey the wounds he encountered along the way, some of which were manifestations of his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and its corollary MI (moral injury) which, though real and now being studied further, it is still not officially acknowledged as “diagnosable.” (See page 2 for more on that).

There were many more just like Dettrey, pulled from their villages, and families, who were less fortunate than him because they never returned.  But among the so-called “survivors” who made it home, yet never recovered from the injuries they sustained – physical and spiritual alike – Mr. Dettrey eventually lost more than his health and spirit: he lost his wife, home and livelihood as well. He now lives destitute as a permanent resident of a facility in Detroit called the John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. For the past two years, he has been “quarantined” along with all other residents, never having left the designated floors of that building.

Until the day he received notice from the Selective Service, Dettrey had been relieved by LBJ’s promises not to send American boys to fight in Vietnam.  That day, December 1, 1963, he opened their envelop, which, with considerable irony, contained the order, dated November 22, 1963. On December 26, 1963, Dettrey married his girlfriend, so confident was he still of Lyndon Johnson’s promises; he did not realize that President Johnson was famous for breaking promises, or oaths in general. On February 5, 1964 Dick Dettrey said his good-bye to his young wife and submitted himself to Uncle Sam’s army.

Two months later, in April 1964 he found himself–as if living out a Kafkaesque nightmare–being loaded onto an overcrowded troop ship carrying over 2,000 young men on a journey to the other side of the world.  According to him, the ship was very overcrowded, and during the three weeks at sea, the temperature on board the ship was usually in the 120-140 degree range. The entire voyage was miserably hot, a grueling primer for the remaining sentence into a life in purgatory.  When he finally got off the “Ship Bound for Hell,” he and the other inductees were at least more mentally prepared for the hellish nightmare awaiting them, compared to those who arrived by airplane, after a mere 18 hours or so in flight, most having exited the U.S. via San Francisco.  The cultural contrast, for those few who might have been given a bon-voyage party at Fishermen’s Wharf two nights before their arrival at Danang, the experience must have been rather surreal. 

The betrayal by the President of the United States was only the first of many abuses to his psyche that Dick Dettrey would endure during his two years of “service” to his country. One can only imagine themselves being thrust into this storyline through having a very bad nightmare.

Following are Quotations from Mr. Dettrey’s letters to me, including a paper he wrote, titled “INCOMPETENCE,” something that he witnessed over and again:

  • “This country invaded Vietnam after one of the worst and most incompetent presidents of the last century, LBJ, promised “NOT to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do the work that Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” (21 Oct 1964).
  • “I was married on 26 Dec 64, based solely on that ‘Promise’.
  • ”The criminal president, LBJ, put the U.S. in that sale petite guerre (dirty little war) and I was drafted and shipped to Vietnam based upon lies and broken promises.
  • “I found myself on a troopship, destination Vietnam, the bane or curse of my life! 21 days in the spring of 1965 and its daily 120-degree heat.  So, I spent part of my honeymoon on a troopship! What was a supposedly loving and caring God doing?
  • “I had 3 bouts of the mental disorder, PTSD, but unfortunately didn’t report the final one since I was so close to leaving Vietnam.
  • “I returned 29 January 1966, to an ungrateful country and an ex-wife. I’ll ALWAYS remember my ‘homecoming’ given to me by the people I was, foolishly, willing to die for—ALWAYS!
  • “To be treated like a leper or pariah, who was willing to DIE because of a blatant LIE by one of the worst and one of the most INCOMPETENT presidents of the last century, LBJ, didn’t sit well with this ‘trained killer.”
  • “On 6 Feb 72 I sustained a burst AVM (burst Arteriovenous Malformation [congenital—present at birth]) located in my left frontal lobe – the center of SOUND decision-making [something that should have made him ineligible for service].  I firmly believe that it was the DAILY stress of Vietnam PLUS the daily stress of my roofing business that were the cause of it.
  • “I also [subsequently] developed grand mal epileptic seizures which were NOT supposed to be a problem, according to the incompetent neurosurgeons! 
  • “The brain surgery recrudesced the already present PTSD, as is described in the psychiatrist’s bible, the DSM III-R (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (Head Trauma)
  • “I also sustained a CVA (stroke) which I was not told ANYTHING about for 18 years!. Could the grand mals be caused by the stroke I wasn’t told about for 18 years? I’ll NEVER know!
  • “Suffice it to say I was and still am ‘angry’ at the neophyte medical people for not informing me of the ‘information’.
  • “It has been said that ‘A seizure’s equivalent is the lightening of a thunderstorm! A rhetorical question: How would you feel IF you had that ‘THUNDERSTORM” haunting you every minute of the day?  And, if experience is your BEST teacher, what am I supposed to glean from all of these tragedies?

In summary, Mr. Dettrey made this observation:  “I didn’t enter the Seattle VA hospital to become an epileptic, lose my roofing business due to the seizures that were NOT supposed to be a problem (according to my medical “murder” or discharge papers), have our tri-color collie dog (Baron) stolen in my absence, ultimately lose our 3 bedroom, custom-built home, my family, etc. etc.  Oh well. It’s ‘only’ a once-productive life that is being referred to, and I blame shoddy workmanship by INCOMPETENT neurosurgeons, who were totally RESPONSIBLE for this unparalleled ‘mess’ and, I might add, the INCOMPETENT war criminal presidents, Nixon and LBJ, and their cohorts in crime, who perpetrated, under the guise of peace, the only war the U.S. has ever lost [at that point in time], and the ‘supposedly successful’ brain surgery occurred at a VA hospital to boot!  I DO know that there are competent neurosurgeons!  Why did I happen to “find” incompetent ones at a VA hospital? Why?”

How Lyndon Johnson’s Corruption and Deceit Contributed to Many More Deaths of Americans than the 58,000 “Officially” Tabulated – A number that excludes many thousands of other casualties and lives destroyed.

Many veterans subsequently died from injuries sustained during the war, including those who came into contact with the toxic herbicide known as “Agent Orange”.  Their names are not carved into the granite at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.  Neither are their family members who took their own lives as a result of the death of their sons.  I knew of one such mother from my hometown in Indiana, who drove her car at high speed into a bridge abutment. That was shortly after burying her son Johnny, who had died a few weeks after returning home from such an injury; I doubt that she was the only one who ever did something like that, but no one was keeping track of those statistics so we’ll never know for sure.

Mr. Dettrey has spent five decades trying to recoup from the physical and mental injuries he sustained during his military service.  The most difficult and persistent injury had to do with the three specific “PTSD” events and the more elusive and insidious “MI” events (see p. 2), all of which he has spent decades trying to forget.  It serves no purpose now to make him relive the details of those traumas, which were typical of what many others witnessed and suffered during their tour. 

Many books have since been written on this subject, one of the most prominent of which was Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, by Nick Turse, 

Yet Turse only hinted at the linkage between the orders emanating from Commander-in- Chief Lyndon Johnson’s to “kill more Cong” to the highest military officers, filtered down through the hierarchy, that culminated in attitudes throughout the army and marines that put things into that kind of perspective as early as the summer of 1965.  That was when a film crew from CBS, including correspondent Morley Safer interviewed marines who said: “They told us if you receive one round from the village, you level it,” (For more on Mr. Safer’s experiences and eventual feud with Bill Moyers, see HERE).

The mission was to “take out” the entire village, and Turse described how every home there was set afire, some with the inhabitants still inside.

Vietnamese sources estimated that by August 1966, the marines in Quang Nam [province] had killed more than 4,600 civilians and wounded more than 5,200, the overwhelming majority of them women and children . . . The next year only brought more death and destruction to Quang Nam.

Turse’s book has been given rave reviews by many for describing what really happened there, however it fails to trace the true genesis of the orders that treated great numbers of corpses as an indication of military success and progress towards achieving a military victory.

The Turse book comes closest to pinpointing the high origin of such orders with its reference to a retired army general, Telford Taylor, who had served as chief counsel for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials, and who was, in 1971, speaking out on the Dick Cavett Show and in the pages of the New York Times about the “potential guilt of General Westmoreland.”

Unfortunately, the final step up the ladder was left to the reader to make.

One of the standards established at Nuremberg which Taylor referenced was called the Yamashita precedent: The Japanese general Yamashita was found guilty of failing to prevent atrocities by his troops, and was executed for it in 1946, even though, at the time, he had lost communication with the soldiers and had no direct control over them when those acts took place.

General Taylor argued that under the Yamashita rules, war crimes such as these “could leave American commanders like Westmoreland in the dock.” That’s where the line stops, for this book, yet that is not where the germ of the ensuing orders started: That was in the Oval Office, where the president repeatedly told his military chiefs that they needed to “kill more Cong”, and in 1965-66, Bill Moyers was functioning as the chief facilitator for the orders coming from the deeply troubled, usually drunk and occasionally psychotic commander-in-chief. Moyers has admitted that he knew about Johnson’s paranoia and his manic-depressive psyche. That point is undoubtedly the real reason that Mr. Moyers – despite having stated that he would write a memoir – has still not done it yet, and, now at age 87, there is no sign that he plans to publish it as the clock continues ticking away.  

Seymour Hersh elegantly stated the paradox: “My Lai 4 was out of the ordinary, but it was not isolated . . . Even the best generals in the Army and its highest civilian officials have a point at which they, like the Vietnamese at My Lai 4 and My Khe 4, become victims.” In this case, they were all victims of the “highest civilian official,” the one man responsible for all of it, Commander-in-Chief Lyndon B. Johnson.

The failure of the 1960s-70s MSM to alert the public to the most heinous uses of air power to kill large numbers of innocent Vietnamese people has now largely been exposed by small internet websites devoted to presenting those old secrets. One such document, titled “Destroying the Village in Vietnam” by W. J. Astore, can be found HERE.

“The Unwilling, led by the Unqualified, doing the Unnecessary, for the Ungrateful

(How the Troops Felt About the War — Summed up by the “Four U’s” (or, “4U” as written on Helmets)

The “Soldier’s Revolt”–thanks to the MSM’s cooperation with the Pentagon–was the most ignored and unreported phenomenon contributing to the decision to finally end LBJ’s war. It was what the Pentagon feared most and, through seeds sown in 1965, it came along in strength at just the wrong time: In 1968, concurrently with the Tet Offensive. In fact, Dick Dettrey, GI, predicted it all throughout 1965, stating that it was futile, an unwinnable war, from what he observed with his own eyes, based upon then-current conditions: Utter “Incompetence,” the bane of his existence, too-often repeated for his own taste.

Yet, LBJ and his top-level generals, down through the officer’s pecking order, refused to see what Dettrey saw written on every wall. Yet even he, as prescient as he was about the war in general, did not anticipate the level of non-compliance or violence that would be exacted by the soldiers on their commanding officers three years later,

The groundswell-revolt that led to the decision to bring the troops home in 1974 was thoroughly described in a book review by Joel Greier, who explained why it nearly became a well-kept secret among the American public, in an essay (HERE or HERE); The opening paragraph of his essay follows:

THE MOST neglected aspect of the Vietnam War is the soldiers’ revolt — the mass upheaval from below that unraveled the American army. It is a great reality check in an era when the U.S. touts itself as an invincible nation. For this reason, the soldiers’ revolt has been written out of official history. Yet it was a crucial part of the massive antiwar movement whose activity helped the Vietnamese people in their struggle to free Vietnam — described once by President Johnson as a “raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country” — from U.S. domination. The legacy of the soldiers’ revolt and the U.S. defeat in Vietnam . . . casts a pall on the Pentagon. They still fear the political backlash that might come if U.S. ground forces sustain heavy casualties in a future war. (Emphasis added by editor).

As we pop into this “rabbit-hole” –to construct a short summary of author Greier’s detailed summary–we can state with a degree of certainty that the situation illustrates the inevitable and predictable end result: LBJ was “hoisted by his own petard,” in similar fashion as described in Act 3 of Hamlet.

Though we can agree that the Pentagon was deeply involved in foisting entry of combat troops into Vietnam (as predicted by President Eisenhower) and, earlier, facilitating LBJ’s sudden rise to the Presidency (a process that was decried by President Truman), we must surely concede a major point: Regardless of which entity/person was the “egg” vs. who was the “chicken,” there was ultimately, and undeniably, one very powerful and all-influential person at the top of the chain-of-command. And the single-most powerful person in the world on the morning of November 22, 1963 was Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (as further examined HERE)..

Logical Conclusions

For the above reasons, it becomes clear that the term “LBJ’s War” is completely accurate, thusly the primary driver of how the war would be run, and the single major planner on both the “macro- and micro-manager” levels, as detailed within these pages.

We have also established (within that link) his constant refrain to Secretary McNamara, and every four-star general and admiral, to “Kill More Cong.” That admonition was passed down the line to every private from the first day of their arrival.

For some reason the disconnect, somewhere between the transmitter to the ultimate receivers, wasn’t discovered until it was too late, that the daily “body-counts” (comprised in large part by corpses of women, children and old men reported on the evening news) were supposed to be indicators of imminent victory.

It must be clear to all by now that this was merely an early marker for the MSM’s role as “protection” for their masters, the CIA — whose Operation Mockingbird had already morphed into being a well-established undercover covert source — by then extended down to the greenest cub-reporters).

Thusly does it become clear that it was Lyndon Johnson’s maniacally-obsessive attempt to direct every military operation, often tracking on the teletype machine in the middle of the night – despite his having zero military experience in that skill, which ultimately caused the inevitable defeat. The man who “thought he could do anything” and get away with it, met his match in Vietnam.

A Salute to Vietnam Veterans: HEROES All Who Served Honorably

( Including Dick Dettrey, One of a Million)

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2021, all men and women who answered the call to duty to protect their country will be remembered and those still alive honored, including Dick Dettrey. He, like every other soldier, sailor, airman or marine, never chose the one he or she was called to fight, Vietnam was merely that politically-driven war which had been playing out – randomly and arbitrarily – during the time when “boys become men,” from ages 18 to 22, just when Dettrey was passing through that doorway. 

For those men drafted to go to the war in Vietnam – one-third of all the men who ever fought there, from all services – their casualties (killed or wounded) comprised 50% of that category, or roughly a half-million men.[4]  Just as true as that, though impossible to quantify, is the number of men who voluntarily entered the services, for the purpose of gaining some control of how their involvement would play out – including becoming officers, or merely attempting to protect themselves by joining the famously “tougher” Marines, as my friend Steve Crane did, to put him in stead with “real warriors” which thereby expands those numbers – yet these randomly selected men of wide-ranging aptitudes, none previously planning a life in the military, were involuntarily forced into combat positions in a faraway land for no legitimate purpose. And, for good measure, they got more than their non-existent “share” of the blame for the fiasco when they returned home to a very unappreciative public. It was the best of times for the rich and well invested, but it was worst of times for everyone else, especially young men newly trained as guerilla fighters.

The key difference among veterans generally and the veterans of Vietnam was that the latter uniquely had to face the scorn and hatred of much of the American public. Upon their return it was a “given” that the only way to pass through an airport, train depot or bus station without dealing with the public wrath, was to take off the uniform and put on street clothes. An officer friend of Dettrey’s, when asked by his superiors if he would sign on for another stint – despite the prospect of such treatment awaiting his return – replied that he would rather “sell pencils on the street” than reenlist.

For that kind of persistent abuse, lessening over time but drawn out over five decades, the Vietnam Veterans deserve extra props. For those who never shared their experiences, it is impossible to visualize the dystopian imagery which they – not for lack of trying – cannot forget.

Lyndon Johnson, in exiting the White House before the war was over, once again escaped the “justice” for his role in creating that monstrosity. The frustration he did feel was not about the suffering of anyone other than himself, and his coming to terms with the fact that his was the first war lost by America. There is no known record of him ever equivocating, expressing any regret or apologizing about having done what he did. Any and all assertions that he ever sincerely regretted the loss of so many men is, as they say in Johnson City, Texas, “Hogwash.”

A Closer Look at the “LBJ Mourning Loss of GIs Photo”

It appears that someone (actually many of them, but presumably only one was the original poser) had to be the person who selected that photo out of the many taken by White House photographer Jack E. Kightlinger in the Cabinet Room of the White House on July 31, 1968.

Johnson is actually listening to an audio tape that was created by Captain Charles “Chuck” Robb, his son-in-law, giving him reports undoubtedly skewed to “good news” – which he had demanded to hear (He didn’t like to hear “bad news”). The numerous articles, videos, MSM television reports, Twitter and Facebook posts which have appeared without reference to the true reason he had his head bowed were clearly attempts to have viewers falsely believe that LBJ was distressed to hear reports of soldier fatalities. As is true of all sociopaths and narcissists, Johnson had no empathy for others and no conscience to harbor feelings of guilt.

The Vietnam-era veterans, above any other Twentieth-Century or earlier wars, deserve a kind of “make-up” honor, not only for their original service, but for the negative and desultory treatment they were met with after their return home. In Mr. Dettrey’s case (as in untold others as well), still another measure of gratitude and honor is due for the medical malpractice he subsequently endured that left him disabled and consequently destroyed what was remaining of his life.

The time is long overdue for some official acknowledgment and reconciliation of these injustices.

Contrast Relief: Poetic Reflections of the Vietnam Travesty, LBJ’s “Greatest” Achievement

This story’s denouement is provided through the poetry of David Martin (blogging at his website HERE) that eloquently brings us deep, penetrating insights upon which to reflect about the implications of how governmental policy can be abused by officeholders in high places, leading to the complete destruction of a person’s liberty, or life, for the most spurious reasons, merely due to their accumulation of untethered power. Cudos to David Martin!

(Note to Robert Caro: In all your studies of LBJ’s quest for more and more power over all others — literally — I have endeavored to assist you in every way possible. Please reciprocate with a cursory acknowledgment in your fifth volume on our mutual subject.

Thanks and regards PFN).


NOTE: Extensive material from my book LBJ: From Mastermind to The Colossus has been used within this essay. Any assertions not otherwise cited within can be found within the pages of that book.

[1] Kessler, Ronald, Inside the White House, p. 32

[2] Dallek, Flawed Giant, p. 486.

[3] One example of a young man born into a privileged and protected life, who managed to avoid the draft completely and win a prized spot on the Texas National Guard roster, was from one of the families directly benefiting from the financial proceeds of the war, George W. Bush.  Also slotted into the “protected” category was a famed senator’s son (Al Gore Jr.), serving under the watchful eyes of his superiors to ensure he wasn’t put into jeopardy, a short 4 ½ months toward the end of his two-year enlistment. Through connivance or convenience, others in this rarified class – e.g., John Kerry – were repeatedly, though rather superficially, “injured,” given soft jobs and short duration of “in-country” service, and returned home with multiple purple hearts for alleged “combat injuries.” Those without the family connections were not so lucky, and served – if they were not injured or killed before their scheduled release – usually a one year minimum of in-country service. (In the interest of “full disclosure,” though my parents had nothing to do with it, I personally received draft deferments during college and again as a Peace Corps volunteer, after which I was lucky enough to have been assigned a very high lottery number in 1970 which allowed me to proceed into a life and career of my own choosing).

[4]  See “Vietnam War Casualties by Volunteer or Drafted, Enlisted” (http://www.americanwarlibrary.com/vietnam/vwc8.htm )

See page 2 for more information on the phenomenon “Moral Injury”

3 thoughts on “A Vietnam Veteran’s Lament: ‘What Might Have Been?’

  1. I sure would like this to be seen and or read tomorrow on all the MSM channels…

    On Wed, Nov 10, 2021 at 11:00 AM LBJ: Master of Deceit wrote:

    > lbjthemasterofdeceit posted: ” Dick Dettrey Once Had Health, Happiness, a > Wife and a Métier: A Thriving Business and High Expectations Until He was > Conscripted, Sent to Vietnam, Experienced Three PTSD Events, Made An > Invalid by Army Do” >


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