Communism

You are currently browsing articles tagged Communism.

Colonel Gerald Turley right with the author.

Hero of the Easter Offensive

by Norman Fulkerson

The history of the 20th Century saw the spread of Communism the world over the virtual river of blood left in its wake was unprecedented. Communist expansion was greatly facilitated in the West through subtle psychological maneuvers and a policy of appeasement which weakened the anti communist’s will to resist.

From ping pong matches with China to baseball games in Cuba, Western leaders carried out a foolishly optimistic approach to the advancing red wolf. While Communist leaders conquered vast territories at gun point –putting hundreds of millions to death in the process– those same optimists dreamed of disarming the enemy with conciliatory smiles and concessions (a policy which continues until today).

That dream was proven to be a nightmare forty years ago when a handful of brave South Vietnamese soldiers and American servicemen faced and ultimately repelled the largest Communist onslaught of the entire Vietnam War. It was all made possible through fortuitous circumstances which placed Colonel Gerald Turley, then a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, in a crucial position of authority for four adventurous days. His fearless decision making and intestinal fortitude turned certain defeat into a stunning victory and prevented a humiliating outcome for American forces.

First Salvos of the Easter Offensive

At the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, there were over 500,000 American servicemen in the country. Over the next years that number would be drastically reduced when President Richard Nixon took office in January of 1969. His Vietnamization program was aimed at getting American troops out of the country and turning the war over to the Vietnamese.

In the following years massive amounts of Soviet and Chinese weaponry made its way to North Vietnam. This included Soviet MiG aircraft, T-54, T-55 and PT-76 Russian tanks, Surface to Air (SAM) and heat-seeking missiles and an abundance of 130 MM to 152MM artillery.[1] In March of 1972 there were only 50,000 American servicemen in the country. The imminent withdrawal of American support and the buildup of armaments in the North proved to be demoralizing to the South Vietnamese anti communist resistance. They had good reason to be discouraged.

However, what the Vietnamese did not realize at that time, was the quality of the American advisors who returned to help. One of those men was Colonel Gerald Turley. He had already served in the Korean War and had now voluntarily returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty in a war that was becoming more unpopular by the day.

On Wednesday March 29, only days after arriving in the country, Colonel Turley was in the middle of a four-day trip visiting the firebases, along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He spent the night at the 3rd ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Division Headquarters in the AI TU combat base, located five miles south of the Dong Ha village.

The following morning was spent in briefings followed by lunch. When he stepped out of the dining tent the area was suddenly struck by intense artillery fire. It was the first salvos of the historic battle that would come to be known as The Easter Offensive.

“So many artillery shots were going off,” said Colonel Turley, “you could not distinguish one from the other.”[2] Before the sun set that day, over 11,000 rounds[3] rained down on the South Vietnamese firebases and surrounding villages in the northern part of Quang Tri province; and more was to come.

Colonel John Ripley (second from left) with Colonel Gerald Turley (second from right) days before the beginning of the Easter Offensive.

The Hunted Become the Hunters

For eighteen hours the South endured a hellish barrage. On the morning of March 31, the Army Colonel in charge of the 3rd ARVN Division began to suffer from combat fatigue. He eventually approached Colonel Turley with a surprising request.

“Would you mind taking over here for a couple of hours,” he asked.

“I am Marine and am only here as an advisor,” Colonel Turley replied. “I can’t do that.” When the Army Colonel insisted, Colonel Turley asked for his name and Social Security number which he quickly scribbled down on a piece of paper. This seemingly insignificant incident made Colonel Turley the Senior Advisor in charge of the entire 3rd ARVN Division and changed the course of the battle. For the next four days he made numerous critical decisions which ultimately broke the back of the adversary.

His task would not be an easy one however. His newly acquired area of responsibility spanned the five northernmost provinces of South Vietnam. Between his location in the Command and Control bunker (COC) and the DMZ was twelve firebases manned by South Vietnamese Marines and their American advisors. Over the next days ten of those firebases, including Camp Carroll with its 1,500 troops and twenty-six artillery pieces, fell into enemy hands that were advancing in a three pronged attack.

By Easter Sunday over thirty thousand civilians were making their way down Highway 1 in a desperate attempt to flee the wrath of the adversary. Communist NVA artillery fire was strategically placed right on top of them. Those surviving the deadly rounds melted back into the masses and kept moving. South Vietnamese soldiers, seeing the futility of resistance, removed their military insignias and blended in with the frenzied mob.

“It was absolutely the worst scene I have ever witnessed,” said Colonel Turley,[4] his words trailing off as if the image was too painful to revisit.

The NVA, seeing the South’s weakness, exploited it to the maximum degree and began an unhindered advance towards the Dong Ha Bridge with 30,000 troops and 200 tanks. They were in for a big surprise upon their arrival. The brave men of the 3rd Division under Colonel Turley’s leadership were about to turn the tables. From being hunted, they were about to become the hunters.

This Diorama, located in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, dramatically illustrates Colonel Ripley's Heroism during the destruction of the Dong Ha bridge. .

Caught In the Cross Hairs of Naval and Air Gunfire

Colonel Turley, who was personally given a carte blanche for B-52 strikes in I CORPS by an Air Force Lieutenant General, ordered over fifty such missions.[5] He then ordered the 3rd ARVN Division to commit its reserve Battalion, the famed “Soi Bien” or Sea Wolves, commanded by Major Le Ba Binh, and legendary Marine Corps Captain (later Colonel) John Ripley. It was the equivalent of playing ones last card.

Leaders in the Army Regional Headquarters at Da Nang, eighty miles south from AI TU, did not realize the gravity of events along the DMZ. They ordered Colonel Turley not to blow the bridge since it would be useful for a counter offensive. Colonel Turley knew there would be no counter measure if the bridge was left standing and courageously ordered Colonel Ripley to destroy it.[6]

With the Dong Ha bridge in flames NVA tanks made a futile rush for the Cam Lo bridge west of the city. Their elongated column provided a perfect target for Naval Gunfire from the USS Buchanan sitting in the Gulf of Tonkin and the B-52 strikes which Colonel Turley had requested hours earlier. The column of Russian tanks was now caught in the cross hairs of naval and air gunfire.

“When the thundering noise and the violent shock waves of the 250 or more bombs… finally subsided, [Colonel] Ripley reported “hearing the cries of the survivors, but no more engine noises.”[7]

“…Continue Naval Gunfire”

Later in the afternoon of that same day another problem developed when an EB-66 Electronic intelligence aircraft was shot down. The only survivor, Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton, was a ballistic missile expert with top secret clearance.[8]  

The Air Force called for a cease fire in a seventeen-mile-radius of the downed pilot which practically encompassed the entire area of operations of the 3rd. Division.[9] When an American Jolly Green HH-53 helicopter tried to rescue the pilot it was struck by a SAM Missile and burst into flames. Ten more aircraft were lost during the eleven-day rescue mission.

Once again Colonel Turley would have to go directly against orders from higher command. To stop firing would have spelled certain defeat and he was not about to lose this battle.

“Fully realizing the fragile defensive posture of the 3rd Division and the seriousness of again violating a direct order,” Colonel Turley said, “I authorized the advisors to commence their pending fire mission.”[10]

It was decided that a three mile radius around Lieutenant Colonel Hambleton was a sufficiently safe distance. In an act of selflessness Colonel Turley accepted full responsibility for the pilot’s safety and directed Lieutenant Joel Eisenstein in the COC to continue coordinating naval gunfire with the USS Buchanan.

No More Ping Pong Games

The Easter Offensive continued through the rest of April. However, the Communists were simply unable to overcome the devastating blow given to them by a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. They were finally halted just outside Quang Tri City on May 1st.. Thus the fall of South Vietnam to Communism was delayed for a full three years and more importantly, America, the anti-communist bulwark in the world, was saved from a humiliating defeat.

It would be an exaggeration to say Colonel Turley’s actions alone are what halted the Easter Offensive. There were many brave men who fought and some who gave the full measure during those fateful days. However, there is a striking difference between Colonel Turley’s actions and theirs. If they survived they could only expect awards and praise –which they richly deserved–, whereas Colonel Turley knew that he would likely receive reprimand, scorn and possibly jail time for his perceived insubordination.

It is for this reason that Colonel Turley is truly the hero of the Easter Offensive. He chose to make war against communism at a time when so many others simply preferred to play games and smile.

 

 



[1] Colonel Gerald Turley, The Easter Offensive: The Last American Advisors, Vietnam 1972 (Annapolis, Md.: US Naval Institute Press, 1995) p. 27)

[2] Comments made during a lecture Colonel Turley gave at the headquarters of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.  Hereafter referred to as TFP lecture.

[3] Colonel Gerald Turley, p. 66)

[4]  TFP Lecture

[5] From an official report about the Easter Offensive, prepared by Colonel Turley, for the purpose of getting Colonel John Ripley’s Navy Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

[6] The details of this daring feat, for which Colonel John Ripley earned the Navy Cross, are narrated in his biography, An American Knight: The life of Colonel John Ripley USMC.

[7] Colonel Gerald Turley, p. 205

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceal_Hambleton

[9] Dale Andrade, America‘s Last Vietnam Battle: Halting Hanoi’s 1972 Easter Offensive (University Press Of Kansas) Pg. 76

[10] Colonel Gerald Turley, Pg 203)

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

For the fifth year TFP Student Action volunteers went to Fort Benning, Georgia. The purpose of the trip was twofold: To rally support for our troops and oppose the leftist SOA Watch protest called “Occupy Fort Benning.”
To Read more Click Here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Excerpts from An American Knight by Norman Fulkerson about Col. Croizat:

Colonel Victor Croizat died of congestive heart failure on May 8, 2010 at his home in Santa Monica, California.

…”In 1954, Croizat was picking up the pieces of a broken Vietnam following the French defeat in the battle of Dien Bien Phu. After the partitioning of Vietnam and the implementation of Communism in the North, over 800,000 Vietnamese refugees, who did not want to live under the despotic regime, made their way south and were assisted by Croizat. His “untiring effort at first to rescue, and then to resettle the war-ravaged refugees had made him nearly a national hero in South Vietnam.”[1]

“Lieutenant Colonel Croizat would also go on to establish a South Vietnamese Marine Corps (SVMC) which would, under the direction of American advisors, develop into a serious fighting force. The relationship between the newly established SVMC and the Americans was cemented by a bond of trust. There was no hardship that the Vietnamese Marines suffered which was not also endured by their American counterparts.

“Basic to the creed was the sharing of food, danger, hardship and discomfort in the field. Wherever the Vietnamese commander hung his hammock, his American advisor hung his nearby.”[2]

“Lieutenant Colonel Croizat would go on to earn the respected title of Co-Van, Vietnamese for “trusted friend.” Out of the 6,000 American advisors in the 20 years following the formation of the Vietnamese Marines, only 600 would earn this title. ”


[1] Colonel Gerald Turley, The Easter Offensive: The Last American Advisors, Vietnam 1972 (Annapolis, Md.: US Naval Institute Press, 1995) p. 7.

[2] Donald Price, First Marine Captured in Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007) p. 10

Tags: , , , , , ,

TFP volunteers were honored to meet 2nd Lt. Peter Sprenger at the National Infantry Museum

by: Michael Gorre

Thirteen TFP volunteers traveled fourteen hours from Pennsylvania to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, to show their support and gratitude to our brave troops on November 19 through 22, 2009. They also made the trip to counter-protest leftist pacifists at the gates of the military base. The thirteen young men were treated to some glaring contrasts that made the long trip a memorable one.

Rally for the Troops

Gathered at the intersection of 13th Street and Broadway, the volunteers unfurled two large banners reading: “The American soldier guarantees the peace, not socialist protesters,” and “We are proud of our military heroes. May God bless and protect them!” The banners were accompanied by hand-held signs calling for passersby to “Honk for our brave troops!” The result was a cheerful chorus of honks from the majority of vehicles, from large trucks, police cars and even ambulances crossing the busy intersection.

“Knowing pacifist protestors were in town, the locals were extremely happy to voice their gratitude to the troops by honks, waves and thumbs up,” said the group’s organizer John Ritchie. TFP volunteers also passed out copies of their statement published in the local newspaper, the Ledger-Enquirer, titled “A Call to Gratitude: Who Will Thank Our Heroes?

TFP Members Thomas Schneider and St. Louis de Montfort Academy Student Thomas Pinelli encouraged passing motorist to support "Our Brave Troops."

A few of the pacifist protesters passed by and briefly argued with the volunteers, but were visibly disconcerted by the overwhelming support from Columbus residents who would not stop honking. Then a lady in a mechanized wheelchair came along with a gentleman wearing an Uncle Sam costume. They held their own “Support the Troops!” signs and happily joined the campaign. “It was impressive to see a lady in a wheelchair join us able-bodied men at the street corner. I’m sure people also honked to congratulate her,” said TFP volunteer Thomas Schneider. “She showed us that if you love an ideal enough, you can redefine the word ‘disabled.’”

Meeting with a Hero

While in town, the TFP volunteers toured the newly opened National Infantry Museum, described by Major General Jerry White as a “multi-million dollar love letter to the American soldier.” The museum is simply awe-inspiring. Dedicated to the courageous infantry soldiers that have defended our country, the museum brings to life many historic wars and battles with sophisticated sound and visual effects, cast figures of real infantry soldiers and numerous historic items from actual battles, such as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that was damaged by terrorists in Iraq. The museum also sports a shooting range with M-4 and M-16 rifles modified for electronic target practice but still kick like the lethal versions. The glass encased Hall of Valor honors the nearly 1,500 infantry recipients of the Medal of Honor.

War Hero Peter Sprenger (right) took time to speak with TFP members at the newly opened National Infantry Museum.

To make their tour of military history even more vivid, the TFP volunteers chanced to meet a newly commissioned 2nd lieutenant with an eye-patch over his right eye. His name is 2nd Lt. Peter Sprenger, the young soldier who sustained serious injuries including the loss of one eye to a suicide car bomb attack while serving in Iraq in 2003. This brave wounded soldier defied all odds and skeptics by passing U.S. Army Ranger training and going back to combat. Then, because of his exceptional dedication, the Army decided to grant him entrance into Officer Candidate School which he recently completed, receiving his 2nd lieutenant’s insignia from General David Petraeus himself. The TFP volunteers chatted with the unassuming soldier who, when told why the TFP volunteers were in town, thanked them for their support and gratitude. When he stated he was from California, the volunteers told him about the TFP campaign there in defense of traditional marriage. Lighting up, 2nd Lt. Sprenger said, “I voted for Prop. 8!” referring to the bill that protected marriage as between a man and a woman. As each volunteer bade him farewell, they could not but think they shook the hand of a true hero, one willing to lay down his life for his country.

 

Liberal Nuns who saw no problem being associated with those who openly promote Communism.

Pacifist Protesters Promote Communism

In light of the above, imagine the contrast when the TFP volunteers campaigned close to the area where socialist pacifists picketed the entrance of Fort Benning. The demonstration against Fort Benning and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) — formerly called the School of the Americas — was a conglomeration of confused leftist Catholic nuns — only a few wore a habit but most wore marked sweaters identifying them as nuns — communist agitators, rainbow-flag waving

Fidel Castro Calendar

pro-homosexual activists and many students from Jesuit high schools and universities. Right next to tables manned by leftist Catholic nuns was a well-frequented tent of a radical communist bookstore called Revolution Books that sold Che Guevara and Fidel Castro wall calendars and atheist communist literature calling for open Marxist revolution.

Wait. Didn’t the Berlin Wall fall twenty years ago? Apparently, liberation theology and the subversive communist ideas that built the wall are still alive.

Distributing the “A Call to Gratitude: Who Will Thank Our Heroes?” fliers among the pacifists.

After campaigning a block away from the pacifist demonstration, the TFP volunteers distributed copies of their statement: “A Call to Gratitude: Who Will Thank Our Heroes?” among the pacifists themselves. The look of consternation did not take long to form on most of the pacifists’ faces as they read the flier lauding our soldiers’ service and the training they offer South American nations to combat Marxist guerrillas. Ironically, many of the pacifists took a belligerent attitude towards the TFP volunteers, including one long-haired male organizer who shouted, “keep your propaganda away” and told other organizers to make sure the TFP volunteers stayed away from them. In the background, the loud speakers repeatedly blared a song with the lyrics, “the power of love…the power of love…” So much for peace, love and tolerance…

It is experiences like these that help one to better appreciate the heroism and sacrifice of soldiers like 2nd Lt. Peter Sprenger. Oftentimes, we need stark contrasts to awaken in us the admiration due to men of honor and to help us loath the harmful ideologies of pacifism and Marxism that seek to disarm and dishonor hallowed institutions like our military. May God bless and protect our heroes as they defend us from our enemies!


Tags: , , , , , , , ,