Vietnam LessonsDavid Branco and readers of his March 16...


April 07, 1993

Vietnam Lessons

David Branco and readers of his March 16 article on the My Lai massacre should understand two things: The Army didn't forget Vietnam's lessons, and the teaching of America's wars must be done accurately and objectively.

Currently, leadership, morality in war and ethical decision-making are required subjects at all levels of an Army officer's education.

Cadets receive intensive instruction on how to avoid incidents like My Lai; basic officer courses for lieutenants, advanced courses for captains and the Combined Arms Services and Staff School all have requirements to understand morality and ethics in a combat environment.

These subjects did not appear overnight, but resulted in the Army's realization that something was missing in the development of its combat leaders during Vietnam.

My Lai was a disgrace (though hardly a "regular" stream of action as the article claims), but the Army learned.

I encourage David Branco to work for teaching America's children about the Vietnam war, but it must be done objectively.

Unfounded and misleading claims that most military actions since the Vietnam war were conducted "largely in order to cure" America of its failure in Southeast Asia leads me to believe he's writing history his own way. Let's also ensure that students know soldiers kill soldiers in war. Persian Gulf veterans who shot fleeing Iraqis did the right thing. Fleeing soldiers come back to fight. If you don't want to fight, you surrender, as many did.

Quoting John Knowles, David Branco infers we must teach our children that war is "something ignorant in the human heart."

I quote Union Gen. William T. Sherman, who said, "War is hell," but I doubt he would deny that some things are worth fighting for.

Michael R. Anderson


Loser Lorenzo

As a former Eastern pilot who lost a career when Frank Lorenzo drove the airline into the ground, I am dismayed that he is going to start yet another airline. I am truly appalled, however, that my own state was openly courting him and offered him financial and other inducements.

Only a cursory look at Mr. Lorenzo's record should deter this support. His 20-year history of airline ownership, and the subsequent bankruptcies of those airlines, can be likened to a battlefield littered with thousands of casualties. Among these casualties are employees, many who have not yet found new jobs, unsecured creditors and note-holders, who have gargantuan unpaid bills, and pension funds.

While investors and employees lost huge sums of money, Frank Lorenzo and a small group of his associates managed to walk away with enormous profits from each disaster that he engineered. Incredibly, with help from his army of lawyers and political contacts, he has up to now avoided prosecution. Some of his managers were not so lucky -- they were indicted for serious crimes affecting airline safety.

I am aware of the effects of reduced revenue at BWI because of airline cutbacks and downsizing. I believe, however, that it is unconscionable that the state government would even consider putting Maryland taxpayers' money at risk by backing a two-time loser.

Maryland taxpayers elect government officials to make decisions based on sound and reasonable economic and financial practices. I suggest that our officials need to review Mr. Lorenzo's abysmal record of airline management. Even if his flagrant maltreatment of employees is not a sufficient deterrent, surely the huge losses incurred by those foolish enough to provide funds to him in the past would cause any prudent official to prohibit the use of state funds for investment.

Robert L. Beck


Personal Decision

This letter is in response to Mike Littwin's column, "Cigarette smoking is puffed up with the allure of danger," March 24.

I am a high school student in my senior year, and I must say that I, as well as many of my friends, agree with Mr. Littwin's opinion on this subject.

Cigarette smoking is harmful, in fact deadly. However, I think that both the media and the government have gone too far toward interfering in what I feel should be a personal decision on the part of the individual.

If Mr. Littwin wants to avoid smoking and thereby protect his respiratory system, that's his business. If, on the other hand, it's his desire to drink alcohol in any form, and perhaps ruin his entire system, that is his business, too.

Those of us who smoke are well aware of the dangers involved, but still feel that our personal habits are our own business. I, for one, resent picking up my morning paper and reading a column full of criticisms regarding the tobacco industry and those of us who use their products.

This subject has been beaten to death by everyone, and I feel it's unfortunate that a columnist of Mr. Littwin's obvious ability has such a limited scope of subject matter.

Daniel M. Deyette


Welfare Today

The letter headlined "Responsibility" (March 18) was very honest and gutsy. It addressed several key concerns that many in today's society can easily relate to.

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