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11 December 2014


Mitty Mo

The Soviets not only conducted the interrogations, but they also manned many of the missile batteries and flew many of the defensive aircraft over the skies of North Vietnam. The backward North Vietnamese didn't have the requisite training and sophistication to operate all the highly technical and complicated equipment the Soviets supplied to them.

Merle Pribbenow

Re Mitty Mo's comment: The "backward" North Vietnamese quickly learned to operate the missiles, fighter aircraft, radars, and electronic warfare equipment that the Soviets gave them. Soviet personnel manned the SAM missile batteries only during the first few months of the war, and no Soviet pilots flew combat missions over North Vietnam (although a few North Korean pilots did). Mitty Mo seriously underestimates the capabilities of the Vietnamese, and every military man should know that underestimating your enemy is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

Mitty Mo

Only persons who were there (like Hanoi Jane) could speak categorically. I was relying on Mark Moyar's book, "Triumph Forsaken," but he only covered things up through 1965.

Speaking of which, perhaps it's time to connect the dots with respect to the Soviets' fifth column activities in America during that era. They picked nearly every scab in America. Think of all the militant groups like the Black Panthers, SDS, Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, etc., cities burning to the ground, etc.

If it was bad for America and happened between the years 1965-75, we should be suspect.

Mitty Mo

Here's info, I quickly found on the Internet. As with all their back-channel activities, the Soviets were masters at hiding them (See "The Venona Secrets," by Romerstein & Breindel). What if a Soviet adviser did everything but push the fire button on a missile? Would that have given them plausible deniability?

In 1965 Beijing sent several thousand engineering troops across the border, to assist in building and repairing roads, railways, airstrips and critical defense infrastructure. Between 1965 and 1971 more than 320,000 Chinese troops were deployed in North Vietnam. The peak year for this was 1967, when there were around 170,000 Chinese in the DRV. Their work on military installations naturally meant that Chinese troops were susceptible to heavy American bombing; an estimated 1,000 Chinese were killed in the North in the late 1960s. Beijing also supplied Hanoi with large amounts of military equipment, including trucks, tanks and artillery.

Aleksei Kosygin, was eager to consolidate his power and placate hardliners in the Soviet military. In November 1964 Kosygin sent a public message of support to the National Liberation Front (the NLF, or Viet Cong) and announced a visit to North Vietnam in the New Year. The Soviet leader arrived in February 1965, when he met with members of the Lao Dong Politburo and NVA commanders. They signed a defense treaty that would provide North Vietnam with both financial aid and military equipment and advisors. A public statement from the Kosygin delegation read:

“The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), the outpost of the socialist camp in south-east Asia, is playing an important role in the struggle against American imperialism and is making its contribution to the defense of peace in Asia and throughout the world. The governments of the USSR and DRV have examined the situation… Both governments resolutely condemn the aggressive actions of the USA on August 5th 1965, and especially the barbaric attacks by American aircraft on DRV territory on February 7th and 8th 1965… The USSR will not remain indifferent to ensuring the security of a fraternal socialist country and will give the DRV necessary aid and support.”

Moscow now became North Vietnam’s main benefactor, increasing its aid to Hanoi in response to the US military escalation of 1965. The true extent of this support has never been fully disclosed, though it was certainly substantial. There were widespread reports in 1966 that North Vietnamese fighter pilots, air crews and anti-aircraft gunners had received training in the USSR. It has also been subsequently revealed that around 3,000 Soviet personnel served in North Vietnam in 1964-65 and were responsible for shooting down US planes. By the spring of 1967, TIME Magazine was reporting that a “river of aid” was flowing from Russia into North Vietnam. According to some analysts, by the late 1960s more than three-quarters of the military and technical equipment received by North Vietnam was coming from the USSR. And unlike the equipment and weapons supplied by Beijing – which demanded deferred payment – most Soviet assistance was supplied as aid rather than loans.

Mitty Mo

Thomas mangan

As a former EB-66 navigator, this report strikes close to home, and brings back memories of an EB-66 mission I flew in May 1069 near Vinh, North Vietnam, when our EB-66E was attacked by a North Vietnamese (or Chinese) MIG. I have no idea how I survived that mission.

Merle Pribbenow

Mr. Mangan,
I have extensive information on North Vietnamese Air Force operations during the Vietnam War, including a number of attacks against EB-66s. There is a typo in the date given in your posting (May 1069), which makes it difficult to pinpoint this incident. While I found no published record of an incident like this in May 1969, my information does reveal that there was an incident on 23 May 1968 (not 1969) in which two North Vietnamese MiG-21s, one of them flown by Nguyen Van Coc, North Vietnam's top ace, took off to intercept an unidentified target in the Vinh area. While searching for the target one of the MiG-21s was shot down by an American Talos missile fired by a US Navy warship off the coast. The North Vietnamese pilot ejected safely and the other pilot (Nguyen Van Coc) aborted the rest of the mission. Perhaps this is the incident in which you were involved.

Thomas mangan

Mr. Pribbenow,
You may not have found any references to the MIG attack on my EB-66 in May 1969, but it happened. I know; I was there and I still have flashbacks and nightmares about it. I have no way of knowing if the pilot of the MIG that attacked my aircraft was North Vietnamese, Chinese, or North Korean. I just know that that day changed my life forever. I still wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, and sit bolt upright in bed, drenched in sweat, after reliving that incident in a nightmare.

I was not in Vietnam in May 1968. I arrived at Takhli in June 1968 and rotated back home in June 1969.

David McDonell

I was very pleased that I found this article because it confirms my suspicions about the horrific treatment of American POWs by the Russians,Cubans,Chinese and north Vietnamese. All the research that I have undertaken has been greatly disappointing about the action of American politicians in abandoning those military men who were captured and failing to require a full accountability before signing agreements with the same countries who behaved just as the Nazis did during WW2.
Living in Australia it is very difficult to follow up on these issues and I have no one to discuss these issues with.

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