FYI: Special Forces in Vietnam

Course member Philip F sent some links you might enjoy looking at, relating to our study of the Vietnam War this week:

The Navy Seals in their original format were part of the UDT teams (nicknamed “Frogmen” which the Seal members still call each other, often) that came ashore on Normandy Beach early on and then were used to some extent in Korea. However, their modern day predecessors were established by President Kennedy during Vietnam. Most people are not aware of their participation then, but are more focused on the role of the Green Berets. Some interesting links and books are listed below:

In Vietnam, One Navy Seal received the Medal of Honor for saving another Navy Seal who also happened to receive the Medal of Honor, which was very unusual:

Three books of interest:
First Seals by Patrick K. O’Donnell (2014);
The U.S. Navy Seals, From Vietnam to Finding Bin Laden by David Jordan (2011)
Trident K-9 Warriors by Mike Ritland (2013) about Special forces dogs

Hopefully some of the above you will find both interesting and useful.

Follow-Ups from April 9 re: Vietnam War up to 1967

We had a good discussion in our Zoom class today, including a review of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, and a presentation on the early years and strategy of the Vietnam War.

Part of the conversation talked about American internment camps during World War II, and someone recommended Farewell to Manzanar as a first-person memoir of life in the camps. I second that, and also recommend JARDA, the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive, a rich online collection about the Japanese-American internment experience (1941-1945).

We also discussed the extent to which fears of Communist subversion and espionage in U.S. government and research (not to mention in television, Hollywood, business, education, and other spheres of life) were justified or exaggerated. We can all agree McCarthy wasn’t making good-faith attempts to keep Americans safe. The Rosenbergs, we know in hindsight, weren’t innocent. I mentioned a cache of documents declassified from Soviet archives, known collectively as the VENONA Project, which showed — unbeknownst to many except in the intelligence community at the time — how hard the Soviet Union was indeed working to gather American secrets and destabilize American society through misinformation and propaganda campaigns. Two historians named John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr wrote a book based on the declassified VENONA cables, back in 1999 — here’s a NYT review of the book.

For more on the Vietnam War, here’s a roundup of good books and movies mentioned in today’s discussion.
Books: Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
Films: The Green Berets (1968), Apocalypse Now (1979), Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Forrest Gump (1994), We Were Soldiers (2002).
Documentaries: many good ones, including Ken Burns’ Vietnam (2017)

Post-Spring Break Course Revisions

First and foremost, I know this is a strange new situation for everyone, and no one signed up for a class in this particular, altered format. We all have to be patient and generous with each other as we make the necessary adjustments to complete this semester successfully without being able to meet in person. My primary concern is your individual health and well-being. Please, keep me posted if your circumstances suddenly change (I’m thinking particularly of your physical or mental health, housing, family responsibilities) so we can discuss what’s best for you.

I’ve made some alterations to the syllabus. Please download the new one, and toss the old one.

Paper and assignment due dates have *not* changed, but know that I plan to be very flexible about deadlines and the final exam. I know we are all under a lot of stress, so do the best you can.

Please note the new pattern: Tuesdays will be an online lecture — I am planning a combination of short lecture segments, online clips, and other multimedia resources. Set aside enough time to listen / watch for 60-75 minutes. Thursdays I will hold a Zoom class from 11:30 – 12:30. Attendance is not mandatory but I think it will help with both continuity and community to hold a weekly virtual meeting. You are responsible for the reading and definitions assigned on each day, regardless whether it’s an online lecture or a Zoom meeting. If you haven’t used Zoom before you may need to download the app in order to join the meeting. I’ll post the meeting’s link to Blackboard each week.

If you have a chapter briefing scheduled between March 30 – April 30, check the Google Doc as I have updated the dates for the rest of the term so they all fall on Thursdays. You have TWO OPTIONS for your presentation: do it on your assigned Thursday during the Zoom meeting (you can share slides from your home screen, or go without slides) – OR – email me a Powerpoint or Google Slides recording or phone video (or link to a video stored on Google Drive) of yourself doing your presentation BEFORE the 11:30 Thursday Zoom meeting. Either way, email or share your slides by 11:30 am on your assigned day, if you choose to use slides. If you need me to walk you through any of those technical steps, please reach out ahead of time for help.

Got questions? Email me anytime. Be well and safe.

World War II in North Africa and Europe, 1942-1945

Links for today:

Department of Defense Film, “Tunisian Victory” (American / British, US National Archives)

Trailer, Mighty Eighth: The Air War in Europe

Importance of Ultra (UnknownHistory)

Saving Private Ryan (1998) opening – Omaha Beach, 6 Jun 1944

CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow accompanying troops liberating Nazi concentration camps, May 1945

On a Note of Triumph – CBS Norman Corwin broadcast after V-E Day, 13 May 1945

Textbook Link

The Army Center for Military History website seems to be down this week, which makes it hard to access our textbooks online (especially with the midterm tomorrow!). Here’s a link to a Google Drive folder with both books as giant PDF files. I recommend downloading them for offline use, if you haven’t already.

I’ve also added this folder link to our course website sidebar –> to make it easier to find.

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick (Feb 18)

Links for today:

US / World History in Context (need WSU login to use)

U.S. Navy from Civil War to the “Great White Fleet”

Quick overview of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” trip 1906-1907

The Schlieffen Plan (i.e. why Germany invaded France through Belgium in 1914, and how that worked out for them)

PBS American Experience, The Great War, Part 1 (may need PBS Passport to view)