By the off-kilter logic of Saigon and Washington, unleashing enough technology and firepower to produce a ten-to-one kill ratio was a metric of success, but the televised carnage of 1968, in which 16,592 Americans died, was too much for audiences back home.After Tet and Khe Sanh, the war was no longer America’s to win, only to avoid losing.It’s smaller than Delaware, covering a little more than 1,800 square miles.
His first doubts crept in when he went on to Fort Holabird, Maryland, for training as an intelligence analyst.
When his superiors asked what language he’d like to learn, Searcy chose Vietnamese. When he asked why, they said it was because he was going to be posted to Vietnam.
When the war ended, Searcy said, “Quang Tri was a moonscape.” Farmers returning to work their rice paddies and their fields of corn, cassava and peanuts were walking into a death trap.
Ten percent of the munitions that rained down on the province failed to detonate, so there was the constant risk of stepping on a piece of unexploded ordnance, and many thousands did.
His speech still has the soft cadences of his hometown of Athens, Georgia.