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Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks at the Airport Upon Departing From Guam.
Lyndon B. Johnson
134 - Remarks at the Airport Upon Departing From Guam.
March 21, 1967
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1967: Book I
Lyndon B. Johnson
1967: Book I

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General Crumm, distinguished United States officials, men of the Andersen Air Force Base:

Before I returned to Washington, I wanted to come here to see some of the men and their families who are carrying the burdens of this war, as I did last fall when I went to Cam Ranh Bay.

In some respects, our engagement in Vietnam is familiar to America.

In World War II and in Korea, as in Vietnam, there was a conflict of ideology between ourselves and our adversaries. But the struggle was not limited to one of ideology.

Force had to be met with force. Americans had to shoulder rifles, man tanks and warships, and take bombers into the air, all at great risk to their lives and at a great distance from their homelands.

The ideological debates continued over the wisdom of involvement or noninvolvement:

The "America Firsters" had their say, but the aggressors could not be stopped by argument.

People who desired to live in freedom could not be protected by debating points.

The defense of freedom required then, as it requires now, the willingness of brave men to face danger, to risk death, and to live with their fears for months and years on end.

Today we are here to decorate 12 men, all of whom risked their lives many times in the air over Vietnam.

As their Commander in Chief and the representative of the people whom they have so gallantly served, I salute them with all my heart.

There are some respects, as professional soldiers know, in which this war is different from the others that we have waged. There are no sharply defined battlelines. The random terror of the subversive--not the methodical power of a conventional army in the field--is the enemy's main weapon.

Political and social forces are at work that complicate the struggle and make it necessary to do far more than wage a traditional military campaign.

We met these past 2 days here with leaders--Vietnamese and Americans--to discuss some of the elements of this different kind of war in Vietnam.

We brought here the new team of American representatives to Vietnam:

Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, who has served his country with great distinction in the Dominican crisis, in India, in Italy, and many other posts of the highest responsibility; Ambassador Eugene Locke, who now represents us in Pakistan; and Robert Komer, who until now has been in the White House as my counselor on the civil side of the Vietnamese war.

We wanted these distinguished Americans to meet the leaders of Vietnam with whom they will be working in the months ahead.

We came here to discuss seven of our major concerns in Vietnam today:

First, the military progress of the war, both in the South and in the North;

Second, the political progress that is being made in South Vietnam;

Prime Minister Ky gave me a copy of the new Constitution which the freely elected Constituent Assembly had just adopted in South Vietnam and which the Directorate had just approved. This is the third and the most significant step that South Vietnam has taken toward granting its people the fundamental rights of democracy.

Third, we discussed in some detail the morale, the health, the training, the food, the clothing, and the equipment of our superb young fighting men.

I questioned General Westmoreland closely on all of these matters and his response was deeply gratifying to me.

Fourth, the national reconciliation program in Vietnam;

Fifth, the land reform program which is moving steadily forward;

Sixth, the extent of civilian casualties and what is being done to help those who are injured or who are wounded by the war;

Seventh, the possibilities of bringing an end to this conflict at as early a date as possible by an honorable settlement.

We did not adopt any spectacular new programs at this meeting. We said in advance that that was not our plan. The nature of this war is not amenable to spectacular programs or to easy solutions. It requires courage, perseverance, and dedication--exactly the qualities that men such as you are providing today.

So to all of the men of this Command, and their families who so loyally stand by them in this hour of trial, let me say as we leave Guam that all America honors you and is grateful to you.

We feel refreshed by the conviction that on every front--military, political, and social--we and our allies are making substantial progress. When the inevitability of that progress finally gets through and becomes clear to Hanoi, we shall then arrive at what Churchill would have called "the beginning of the end."

So I leave you today with pride--great pride--in what you are doing, and great confidence for the country that you serve.

I do not want to let this occasion go by without presenting to you some of the great public servants who lead this Nation in this critical period.

I want to introduce your Secretary of State--Dean Rusk.

Next I want to introduce your Secretary of Defense--Robert McNamara.

Ambassador Bunker and Ambassador Locke.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Wheeler; Admiral Sharp; General Maxwell Taylor; General Westmoreland; and your distinguished Governor of Guam.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

Note: The President spoke at 5:16 p.m. at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. In his opening words he referred to Maj. Gen. William J. Crumm, base commander. Later he referred to Ellsworth Bunker, successor to Henry Cabot Lodge as Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam, and Eugene Locke, Deputy Ambassador. At the close of his remarks he referred to Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. U.S. Grant Sharp, Jr., Commander in Chief, Pacific, Gert. Maxwell D. Taylor, Special Consultant to the President, Gert. William C. Westmoreland, Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, and Governor Manuel F. L. Guerrero of Guam.
Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks at the Airport Upon Departing From Guam.," March 21, 1967. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=28155.
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