This is going to get me into trouble

Pentagon figures show that combat loses by the U S Air Force during the Vietnam conflict were 1,695 aircraft. That doesn’t include another 442 planes that were lost due to systems malfunction, weather and other non-combat situations. By far, the greatest losses were fighters, with 1,239 being shot down or otherwise destroyed by direct enemy action. Army, Navy, Marine and South Vietnam Air Force losses are not included.

The scenery around Tuy Hoa Air Base on the central coast of South Vietnam where I spent a year was right out of National Geographic Magazine. The beautiful South China Sea lapped the beach only 300 feet from where I slept. It was never cold, it didn’t get hot and the daily rains soaked straight into sandy loam. Plentiful grasses grew tall and fresh water flowed in great abundance. Many of the trees stretched to the sky. That place was a paradise. The last thing one would normally think about was blowing it up or burning it down.

We jumped into that conflict and didn’t know how to get out. An old axiom says that those who don’t study the past are doomed to repeat it. Well, we’ve studied our past conflicts over and over and we’re still doing the same old thing.

We fought the war in Korea and lost, and those folks didn’t attack us. We suffered 128,650 human causalities.

We fought the war in Vietnam and lost, and those folks didn’t attack us. We suffered 211,454 human causalities.

The final outcome of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is yet to be written, but neither of those countries are capable of attacking us with a military force. So far we’ve suffered 49,017 total human causalities and counting. If we win those wars I’m not sure what we’ll have to show for it. When are going to stop policing the world?

We certainly need to keep supporting our troops in all ways possible. And perhaps it’s time for us as citizens and voters to insert more influence on those in our government who are making the big decisions. Our cry should be “Let’s just leave other folks alone unless they attack us.” And if they do, let’s not fight back with rifles and hand grenades. It’s stupid for so many young men and women to be killed by land mines, roadside bombs and snipers when we have such awesome technologies available.  

If you are interested, here are the Air Force losses in Vietnam by aircraft type.

Chris Claflin