Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Old Myths Pop up AGAIN

I was on one of my old military unit pages and someone put a link to a youtube video of the little girl badly burned in a napalm attack back in '72.  I made the mistake of reading some of the comments.  The world has no shortage of Idiots and Communist.

The little girl, Kim Phuc survived and moved to Canada where she has married and has children.  She also is a cottage industry herself with speaking and appearances all over the place.  She even has a high powered manager.  Anyway,  it was at the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. Kim was a guest speaker.  I never have figured out exactly why but I guess it makes for a nice story.  In Kim's speech, she makes the comment that "I forgive the pilot who dropped the bomb" and this guy says "I am that man"  What a story.

Now for a little background on this incident.  The South Vietnamese Army was conducting a search and destroy in the area and the South Vietnamese Air Force sent in some A1E or AD Skyraiders to bomb a target in the village Kim Phuc was in.. Apparently there was some miscommunication as to the exact target for the napalm and at least one load of canisters were dropped on the building the children and adults were hunkered down in.
 Some national press was there and there is plenty of footage of the incident, including the Nick Ut photo above of Kim running down the road naked and badly burned.  I think the still photo made the Cover of Life magazine and has ever since been used as a graphic example of the horror of war.

Every time someone posts stuff like the above it invariably brings out the America bashers and this does tend to piss me off.  The myths which cloud this particular photo are not unlike many others you find time to time on the internet.

I remember all this very well because I personally know some of the players.  I made sure to watch the "forgiveness" speech by Kim because I was really curious how, whoever dreamed this one up was going to pull it off.  Well, if there is any such animal as justice it did work itself out but IMHO it is an insult to the 58,000 names on that wall to use that solemn event to promote some crazy assed myth.

A minister by the name of John Plummer appeared on stage with Kim, saying "I am the one" in reference to Kim's statement that she would forgive the man who dropped the bombs on her.  I about fell in the floor when I saw that because I had know John since 1970 when we both served as helicopter pilots in the 182nd aviation Company at Ft. Bragg NC.  John came into our unit straight out of flight school.  He had done a tour in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader, returned and went to flight school.  His assignment was into the 182nd and we became friends.  I was back from my second tour as many other pilots in the unit and because John was a "good guy" we all took him under our wing so to speak teaching him some things you can't learn in flight school.  As I said John was a good guy and decent pilot.  In those days many of us did our fairs share of drinking.  Looking back it's safe to say we did too much of it but nonetheless the Officers club know as the Airfield Annex got plenty of business and we spent lots of time there.

  I was a Cobra pilot but was also one of the units Instrument instructor pilots which kept me current in both the Cobra and the Huey.  Don't remember if John was Cobra qualified but I did fly with him many times and gave instrument instruction to many of the pilots in our unit as well as some work with flight evaluation a separate unit. John and I became close friends and he has been in my home and I in his as well as his mother's place in NC.  So I know the guy.

John did return to Vietnam and I elected to get out of the Army.  A couple of years went by and I found John and gave him a call.  He was working for some nursing home company or something like that.  We talked about his second tour and it seemed it was as uneventful as a tour in Vietnam could be.  I think he was drinking quite a bit and my understanding is he eventually sought help for this problem and somehow ended up  in the ministry.  Funny how lots of alcoholics and jailbirds find religion.

I had not heard from or about John in years and I was shocked to hear what he had to say.  I didn't believe it for a second and started looking around.  I did not like what I saw but in the end I just dropped it, leaving well enough alone.  By now he was making appearances all over the place preaching the gospel and forgiveness.  I noticed he was even listed as the Chaplin of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assn. (this was undone later as the truth came out)  His story went like this;  though he did not actually drop the bombs he called in the air strike from TRAC Headquarters in Bien Hoa.  Ergo, he sought forgiveness.  Great feel good story but total Bull Shit.  Ron Timberlake (God rest his soul) has done the best write up to date on the mess, his excellent article is here.

 Army Aviation really is a small world and to pull off something like this IMHO is foolish.  Someone WILL call you ass out.  Funny part is, someone got a statement from  Lieutenant General (Ret) James F. Hollingsworth, the Commanding General of TRAC during that time (he was essentially John's boss) that there was no American involvement whatsoever.  

Now the thing that gets me is, why would Kim go along with this?  Maybe she did not know better but the "forgiveness" tour was well under way and I suggest it may have been fame and speaking fees. Both had many request for appearances.  I give Kim a little wiggle room but none for Plummer.  He needs to somehow make amends for this mess.  I still have fond memories of John and I know he has a good heart, but I just can't figure for the life of my why he would try to pull this on off.  Perhaps just letting it die is enough, but every time I see this picture or video nowadays on the "net" some asswipe start in on the Amreican military who had nothing to do with this incident.  

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