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"The Tech Rep" By James Michener; Continued:

"The high command, both marines in Korea and army in Japan, were subject to severe criticism at first, for Holt, at the lieutenant's level, he had easily foreseen what was going to happen, what had to happen, and he thought it strange that the high-powered intelligence types had been blind to the inevitabilities. He blamed them principally.

General MacArthur came in for no blame whatever: HE WAS BACK IN TOKYO AND HAD TO RELY ON WHAT INTELLIGENCE TOLD HIM. I asked whether MacArthur could have known that the marines were marching north into the jaws of three hundred thousand enemy in single-file formation, with thirty yards between men. A GENERAL CAN'T KNOW EVERYTHING. I DON'T FAULT MACARTHUR. IT WAS LIKE WHEN HUMPHREY BOGART GUIDED HIS BOAT INTO THOSE WEEDS WITH THE LEECHES. HE COULDN'T BE EXPECTED TO KNOW EVERYTHING.

Then as time passed, Holt looked back upon the Hungnam catastrophe as a minor incident that overtakes armies and nations: WE PULLED OUT OF IT. In fact, when the Vietnam war escalated, he made great effort to get an active assignment, but he was informed that he was too old for his rank. He told me once that he thought of the whole Vietnam war as an overgrown Hungnam miscalculation. SOMETHING WENT WRONG SOMEWHE, BUT A FEW GOOD MEN COULD HAVE STRAIGHTEN IT OUT. If he had not had his experience with the incompetence of Hungnam, he would surely have blamed Vietnam solely on the politicians, as did most of the other tech reps. Holt, having seen for himself what could happen with even the best intentions, was not so sure."

To be continued:

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