To Vietnam in Vain

Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor, 1969–1970


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About the Book

American military advisors in South Vietnam came to know their allies personally—as few American soldiers could. In addition to fighting the Viet Cong, advisors engaged in community building projects and local government initiatives. They dealt firsthand with corrupt American and South Vietnamese bureaucracies. Not many advisors would have been surprised to learn that 105mm artillery shells were being sold on the black market to the Viet Cong. Not many were surprised by the North Vietnamese victory in 1975.
This memoir of a U.S. Army intelligence officer focuses on the province advisors who worked with local militias that were often disparaged by American units. The author describes his year (1969–1970) as a U.S. advisor to the South Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces in the Mekong Delta.

About the Author(s)

Edward A. Hagan, the son of Irish immigrants, served as a U.S. Army intelligence officer in Vietnam. He is Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor of Writing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and is the author of numerous books and articles on war literature and on Irish literature. He lives in Brewster New York.

Bibliographic Details

Edward A. Hagan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, glossary, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9967-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2368-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Preamble 3
Introduction 7
Progress 13
Oplan Missouri: Harry’s Funeral 23
Pacification 24
Winning 26
History Lesson 33
Tet ’68: We Won 36
The Man Who Wore a Tux to War 38
The Books and the Movies 41
Models for Irish Youth 45
Tammany’s Heirs 48
Saint John Fitzgerald Kennedy 50
Telling What Happened 53
Nostalgia 57
Who’s Fightin’ Here? 61
A Servant of the Crown 64
The IRA and Clan Hagan 68
A Deal We Can Refuse 73
Sun Worship 75
World War II and Being Irish 80
I’d Rather Fight in Dungannon 85
The POW Charade 86
Cowardice 89
The Boy Scouts and ­High-Mindedness 90
RFK in Absentia 94
My Sainted Mother 97
Jim Carroll, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and the Other Guys 101
The VC Shoot Too 103
Eating Jelly Donuts 107
The Smell of Pink Plexiglass 110
Courage? No Choice 114
The Calendar and Sex 116
Careerism 121
Goalless War 124
And Two Years Later… 125
Central Intelligence 127
Buttoned Up and the Catholic Cabal 129
Local Truces and the Killing of John Goggin 134
Faking Ourselves 140
The M-16: Success in the Laboratory 144
No Lights in the Fog 146
Food Poisoning on Firefly and Senator Javits 148
Futility 155
Blushing and 105mm Rounds for Sale 157
How I Learned the Thousand Yard Stare 160
The American Black and Tans 166
The Phong Dinh Daily Mayhem 168
This Can’t be Happening 174
Buy Bonds or Else… 180
The Kaiser: An Irish Hero 182
The Phoenix Program 185
The Wannabes 187
Shoot First; Reform Later 189
Ga-Ga about Gadgets 192
The Epic of Lieutenant Kennedy 195
A Prayer for the Kids of Cooper Street 197
Appendix: Correspondence with Congressmen William F. Ryan, 1970 199
Glossary 207
Notes 209
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

“represents a significant contribution to both the memory of the Vietnam War and the collective understanding of the conflict at the province level..indispensable”—H-Net Reviews; “a powerful and thoughtful memoir of a soldier in combat”—On Point; “Edward Hagan is an influential voice in the study of Irish and Irish-American. Hagan explores the collateral damage to not only the narrative arc of his life, but also the impact on the Irish-American consciousness. His memoir augments the Vietnam War literature canon and advances our understanding of conflict and unpacks the Irish-American struggle to balance a resonate obligation to fight for America while also maintaining an allegiance to Irish anti-imperialist, revolutionary roots. Hagan succeeds not only in generating disorientation through narrative fragmentation and structure, but he also generates realism through discontinuity and irony-filled experiences with the unexpected. He creates a memoir with the cutting edge of a work of satire. As a result, we see the cultural and moral eddies that continue to ensnare all of us”—War, Literature & The Arts.