Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN

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9780814794104: Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN

Book by Wiest Andrew

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"Exceptional, both in content and readability. Vietnam's Forgotten Army addresses one of the lacunas in the historiography of the war - the story of the South Vietnamese soldier, a story that more often than not is totally ignored or only given the briefest of consideration. The author's vivid description of combat and its toll put a human face on what for many historians is merely a clinical discussion of unit moves, victories, and defeats." JAMES H. WILLBANKS, Director, Department of Military History, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College "Vietnam's Forgotten Army offers a compelling account of two heroic ARVN officers who, in the final years of the war, choose diametrically opposed courses of action. One surrenders, and enjoys a relatively easy subsequent life, but is plagued by guilt. His comrade-in-arms remains true to the Republic, suffers many years of separation, imprisonment and deprivation, but ultimately finds fulfillment. In the process of telling this remarkable story, Wiest offers a better understanding of the trials and travails of those who served in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam." JAMES R. RECKNER, Director, The Vietnam Center, Texas Tech University"

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Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN chronicles the lives of Pham Van Dinh and Tran Ngoc Hue, two of the brightest young stars in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Both men fought with valour in a war that seemed to have no end, exemplifying ARVN bravery and determination that is largely forgotten or ignored in the West. However, while Hue fought until he was captured by the North Vietnamese Army and then endured thirteen years of captivity, Dinh surrendered and defected to the enemy, for whom he served as a teacher in the re-education of his former ARVN comrades. An understanding of how two lives that were so similar diverged so dramatically provides a lens through which to understand the ARVN and South Vietnam's complex relationship with America's government and military. The lives of Dinh and Hue reflect the ARVNs battlefield successes, from the recapture of the Citadel in Hue City in the Tet Offensive of 1968, to Dinh's unheralded role in the seizure of Hamburger Hill a year later. However, their careers expose an ARVN that was over-politicized, tactically flawed, and dependent on American logistical and firepower support. Marginalized within an American war, ARVN faced a grim fate as U.S. forces began to exit the conflict. As the structure of the ARVN/U.S. alliance unravelled, Dinh and Hue were left alone to make the most difficult decisions of their lives. Andrew Wiest weaves historical analysis with a compelling narrative, culled from extensive interviews with Dinh, Hue, and other key figures. Once both military superstars, Dinh is viewed by a traitor by many within the South Vietnamese community, while Hue, an expatriate living in northern Virginia, is seen as a hero who never let go of his ideals. Their experiences and legacies mirror that of the ARVNs rise and fall as well as the tragic history of South Vietnam.

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