Colonel Robert M. Bayless, USA (ret.)
served in Vietnam in the early 1960s. He is the author of Vietnam: Victory Was Never an Option.
According to the book description of
Vietnam: Victory Was Never an Option, “This is an account by a soldier who for many months
fought in the jungles, villages and rice paddies in Vietnam during 1963, a most critical year in the 15 year war the United
States fought in that country. He also had the opportunity to witness the most powerful decision - makers being misled about
the situation in that war-torn country.
In this book the observation of this
field grade officer who was living and fighting with the Vietnamese are highlighted. This is an incredible tale which spells
out why the most powerful nation in the world went to war against one of the world's smallest and weakest countries which
is located almost exactly half a world away from Washington, D.C. where the decisions were made to commit the blood, money
and reputation of the United States in a conflict against this tiny nation which was actively seeking our friendship.
The author discusses the almost unbelievable
lack of interest displayed by the vast majority of the American people during the first nine years of this conflict, and how
little an impact the war had on Americans, except for the few who were for the most part from the least privileged elements
of our society. To a large extent these were the ones who were called upon to do the fighting and dying.
Highlighted in the book are the numerous
exaggerated, misleading, and false reports made by some of our leaders about hamlet progress, enemy activities and victories
on the battlefield. It took almost ten years before the smoke cleared enough for Americans to realize what was happening in
this seemingly endless conflict and when they did over two-thirds of them cried for a quick end of our involvement.
The author spells out the costs of
the war which included over 58 000 Americans killed in action, and quite likely over one million Vietnamese were killed. Surprisingly,
when the end of the war finally came, those who we fought for so long quickly expressed the same desire for our friendship
that they had expressed before the first shot was fired.
The author also points out that to
this day many Americans refuse to acknowledge the painful lessons we learned during this conflict and childishly continue
to blame some of their fellow Americans for our inability claim a victory in what from the start was most likely a vain endeavor.”
Lieutenant Colonel Fowler C. Humphrey,
USA (ret.) said of Vietnam: Victory Was Never an Option, “As a veteran of the Vietnam War
(65-66 with the First Infantry Division) I share the author's thesis that the conflict was never "winnable"
in the traditional sense. Although this book is not cited very well (the author followed his own Style Manual rather than
CMS or MLA), it is well organized and has very little duplication from chapter to chapter. It is an "easy read"
(about one week; perusing a couple of chapters each night before bed), and it is well indexed. The author's recollection
of events, dates and places in 1963 - over 40 years ago - is commendable.
On a personal note, I had lost contact
with Colonel Robert Bayless after he served as the Professor of Military Science at North Dakota State University in the 1980's.
I especially appreciate his acknowledgement of Dr Archer Jones in the book's preface. Archer Jones was a well-published
historian on the US Civil War (he always called it "The War Between the States"). His death about a year ago was
noted in the Richmond, Virginia newspaper with an extensive obituary.
A final comment about the book and
its author: I would have enjoyed seeing a short biography about Colonel Robert Bayless at the end of the book. Where does
he live? What were his military assignments? Has he published any other books on military subjects?”