United States President Lyndon Johnson paid a brief pre-Christmas visit to U.S. troops stationed in?
United States President Lyndon Johnson paid a brief pre-Christmas visit to U.S. troops stationed in Thailand and South Viet Nam Friday (22 December) while flying home from the funeral of Australian Prime Minister Harold ???.
The President flew from Darwin Australia to the Royal Thai Air Force base at Korat where he delivered a midnight Pep talk to U.S. Air Force fighter and bomber pilots and crewmen. As he spoke, some of their colleagues were taking off from a nearby airstrip to attack North Vietnam.
Mr. Johnson commented, "I cannot promise, and you above all others know that no man rightly could promise, that the way ahead will be easier or that our tasks we may soon lay down." Mr. Johnson also indirectly rebuked anti-war demonstrators in the United States saying, "Let no man in any land misread the spirit of our land, The spirit of America is not to be read on placards and posters. It is a spirit manifest in the steadfastness and resolve of a nation holding firmly and faithfully to its course. From our course we shall not turn."
In a personal vein, the President said, "I realise that an old man is a poor excuse for your wife and your family and your loved ones, but I wanted so much at Christmas to look each one of you in the eye and tell you that right will prevail. Your cause is a just one."
Mr. Johnson then flew on to the large American installation at Cam Ranh Bay in northern South Viet Nam. It was the same installation he had visited 14 months ago on his first visit to Viet Nam.
As he did on the last visit, Mr. Johnson visited the wounded, conferred with the commanders, including General William Westmoreland, pinned some medals on wounded servicemen in the base hospital, gave a pep talk and posed for pictures with the soldiers.
Speaking to the 2,450 men assembled to hear him, the President said the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were not yet beaten but he knew they had met their master in the field." The President said the enemy was "holding desperately--buying time --hoping our nations's will does not match his."
The President wore a smile, contrasted with his somber mood in Australia, and walked among the men dressed in a tan gabardine shirt and brown trousers. Mon from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard were assembled to hear him.
The President then left by plane for Rome for conversations with Pope Paul.