Bored by a war he’d seen before
Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who commanded the United States forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968, overseeing the vast troop buildup and the height of the fighting, died last night in a retirement home in Charleston, S.C. He was 91.
Westy, as he became known while a West Point cadet, was driving and combative – in World War II, leading a fast-moving artillery battalion; in Vietnam, directing “search and destroy” missions meant to decimate the enemy, and in retirement, suing CBS for a television documentary that he said had defamed him.
The libel suit, which he brought to trial in 1984 but dropped early in 1985, revived long-standing controversy about him. Over the years, he was widely criticized, inside and outside the armed forces, for his prime role in the conduct of the Vietnam War. One of his deputies in Vietnam, Gen. Bruce Palmer Jr., who rose to be vice chief of staff of the Army, later called the war “the first clear failure” in American military history.
For those keeping score at home, his war record was 1-1-1.