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.