The Gulf Of Tonkin Incident
Author: Shiloh


the information I got this from was written and published for public consumption just last September. It was common knowledge for decades, for some, but they did not come right out and admit it until the NSA unclassified ad released some documentation.
Angry? Yes, I am angry.
August 4, 1964, the lie that jumpstarted a war that would claim 58,220 American and more than 3 million Vietnamese lives.
The USS Maddox was NOT attacked by torpedo boats on 4 August,
but when Johnson went to Congress, claiming that had happened, our
good Congress, en masse, authorized Johnson to have a free hand.

Two days later, on August 7, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the president authority to increase U.S. involvement in the war between North and South Vietnam. President Johnson signed this into law three days later, privately remarking that the resolution “was like Grandma’s nightshirt. It covers everything.”
The floodgates had opened. America had entered into the Vietnam War. Actually, America had started the Vietnam War.
I had seen a report – 20/20 or one of those shows, that cast serious doubts upon the entire Gulf of Tonkin “Incident,” and had thought that it was all smoke and mirrors so that Johnson could have “his” war and be remembered for his position as the President during it, but I never, ever, believed that our government would admit to the deception that it had foisted upon our people, upon the US Congress, and thereby committed 58 thousand-plus American service members to death, as well as more than 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong military, more than 2 million Vietnamese civilians, and more than a quarter of a million South Vietnamese military also becoming “dead men walking” in the war that those few in positions of political power in Washington, D.C. wanted so badly that they gave away so very much to give the “powerful” their grand world stage.

No, I never thought that I would ever see, in writing, that my government knew all along that this whole Vietnam War thing was nothing more than orchestrated bullshit, and that those years of our involvement, that caused so much mental and physical pain, ripped whole families apart, ripped the country apart, — I cannot believe that those who made decisions about this knew it was all bullshit and still went along with it.
How in hell, in good conscience, could they have done this!?
WHY would they do this? WHY DID THEY DO THIS?!!

If this upsets me today in this way, how must it be affecting the millions of others who fought in Vietnam, who bled or were maimed in Vietnam, the mothers and the fathers and the siblings and other relatives… the whole gamut of those who made proclamations, who held forth from political podiums and pulpits, and the few dedicated who marched in our streets, and in streets around the world….


I am tired. I am older now, and I am greatly mentally and emotionally whipped. I was lied to, and I believed. I fucking BELIEVED!

I carried my weapons and I fired them, and I got hit, and I survived, but it has not been all unicorns and glitter and smiles since then. I am 100% disabled. I can barely move under my own power. I fell from a chopper at a bit below tree top level and landed on my canteen on my right side, and today that still is a big part of why I can’t move too well at all.
Am I supposed to just say, “Hey, that’s all right, fellows. We sure gave them hell, didn’t we?”
No, because there is no one left alive today to say that to, no one who put this whole fucking charade together to face and to yell at.

I came home and I was definitely not the sweet kid I went away as.
I came home and I brought my own Vietnam with me, and the things that I did there, the horrible and unspeakable things… and I have fought those memories and those ghosts since the late 1960s… and FOR WHAT!???

Because Johnson and McNamarra wanted to go to war in a place that most of us had never heard of, had never seen, a place we had to look up on a world map, with strange sounding place names, where we would go and die…. for reasons we truly did not understand… we were not there to block “the domino effect…” we only knew that our country called, we went, and that means that people die, but hey, isn’t that what war is all about? ISN’T IT?!!!

We were so damn naïve, so damn trusting, even halfway buying the idea that Agent Orange would not hurt us or anyone or anything. The VA was there FOR us, and would take care of our problems, but we only had to jump through all the damn hoops in the world, meet all of their damn requirements, and “jump down, turn around, pick a bale of bullshit…” and fight like hell for anything resembling our disability percentages. That took years. Years of getting VA crumbs tossed to us, years of our loss of dignity as we were so very grateful for anything the VA did for us, but none of any of that should have ever been necessary.

But the folks in D.C. were running things, and they knew best. Right?

I am disillusioned. I mean, I had always thought, and maintained that the whole Gulf Of Tonkin thing was bullshit, but I didn’t have any proof, and no one had ever come right out and admitted to it.
But then, the NSA (whom I worked for indirectly) finally unclassified and released documentation saying that we, all of us, every single member of the military that served then, every single mother and father and brother and sister and family member of every single name on The Wall… we were fooled. We were suckers. We believed, and we trusted…
and it hurts. It just fucking hurts.
I cannot believe, I cannot understand it all….
I think that it would have been much better had it been kept under wraps, at least until we were all gone.

This hurts.


Comments on this poem/writing:

Becky ( -- Friday, September 20 2019, 10:04 pm

Horrible History Lesson

It's terrible that our government made such a horrible choice in this matter. After reading your informative writing I decided to do a little more reading. I went to Wikipedia and read more about the incident.


I read things like this and wonder what else the government has lied about over time.. Perhaps some of the things I have read about the Kennedy assassination ad LBJ are true too. So Sorry Shiloh... The sins of the few that effected the multitudes of the many. Horrible history lesson.
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