Colonel Macintosh

The character of U.S. Marine Colonel Macintosh in Last of the Annamese is based on many men I knew in Vietnam. I used his words to sum up the disastrous situation we Americans found ourselves in as the fall of Saigon loomed. The following is a conversation Macintosh has with the book’s protagonist, Chuck Griffin, in late 1974:

“You got to understand, Griffin. The U.S. is sick of this war. We want out. We don’t even care about losing face anymore. I tried to tell them way back when I was a lieutenant colonel that we were fighting the war all wrong—worrying about major battles and body counts when we should have been in the villages and hamlets helping the people. I’ve been telling them ever since. Why do you think they don’t let me talk to the press? Why do you think I never earned a star?”

“But, sir, if the U.S. would send forces back in—”

Macintosh laughed. “That’ll happen when Jane Fonda gets drafted. You don’t get it. It’s over. From here on it’s fucking damage control. We quit last year when we signed the cease-fire, stopped air support, and cut funds to the South Vietnamese government. That way when it all goes to hell, and it will, we can act surprised and blame the North Vietnamese for violating the terms of the agreement. Wasn’t our fault. In short, we lie. If we’re going to lie effectively, we have to live the lie, keep acting like we’ll do something.”

Chuck worked to control his breathing. “Colonel Macintosh, too many have died—”

“Don’t tell me how many have died.” Color rose in Macintosh’s scalp. “The Corps is my family. Fifteen thousand of my Marines died here.”

End of quote.

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