Today in Texas History – February 9

From the Annals of the U.S. Wars of Choice –  In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent a Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion to Da Nang, South Vietnam.  The troops were deployed to provide protection for the key U.S. airbase there.  This was the first deployment of U.S. combat troops to South Vietnam.  The move provoked strong reactions to an apparent new level of involvement in the Vietnamese conflict.  Communist China and the Soviet Union threatened to intervene if the U.S. continued military support of the South Vietnamese regime.  The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was attacked by demonstrators (including Vietnamese and Chinese students) in a move orchestrated by the Kremlin.  Britain and Australia supported the U.S. action, but France called for negotiations.

LBJ had little appreciation of the horrors of war as he had avoided any real combat action in WWII and he was known throughout his life as being an intense physical coward.  He showed no hesitation in sending others off to die in his foolish war. The escalation of U.S. involvement in what had been essentially a civil war was now official and the mistaken judgment of LBJ in blundering into the Vietnam War would not end until more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen and women had lost their lives in the futile struggle.

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