Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1


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The President approves his request, despite the "grave reservations" of Ambassador Taylor in Vietnam who warns that America may be about to repeat the same mistakes made by the French in sending ever-increasing numbers of soldiers into the Asian forests and jungles of a "hostile foreign country" where friend and foe are indistinguishable. March 2, - Operation Rolling Thunder begins as over American fighter-bombers attack targets in North Vietnam.

Scheduled to last eight weeks, Rolling Thunder will instead go on for three years. The first U. Throughout the war, the trail is heavily bombed by American jets with little actual success in halting the tremendous flow of soldiers and supplies from the North. After each attack, bomb damage along the trail is repaired by female construction crews. During the entire war, the U. The majority of bombs are dropped in South Vietnam against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army positions, resulting in 3 million civilian refugees due to the destruction of numerous villages.

In North Vietnam, military targets include fuel depots and factories. The North Vietnamese react to the air strikes by decentralizing their factories and supply bases, thus minimizing their vulnerability to bomb damage. March 8, - The first U. They join 23, American military advisors already in Vietnam. March 9, - President Johnson authorizes the use of Napalm, a petroleum based anti-personnel bomb that showers hundreds of explosive pellets upon impact. March 11, - Operation Market Time, a joint effort between the U.

Navy and South Vietnamese Navy, commences to disrupt North Vietnamese sea routes used to funnel supplies into the South. The operation is highly successful in cutting off coastal supply lines and results in the North Vietnamese shifting to the more difficult land route along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

March 29, - Viet Cong terrorists bomb the U. April 1, - At the White House, President Johnson authorizes sending two more Marine battalions and up to 20, logistical personnel to Vietnam. The President also authorizes American combat troops to conduct patrols to root out Viet Cong in the countryside. His decision to allow offensive operations is kept secret from the American press and public for two months. April 7, - President Johnson delivers his "Peace Without Conquest" Speech at Johns Hopkins University offering Hanoi "unconditional discussions" to stop the war in return for massive economic assistance in modernizing Vietnam.

But Johnson's peace overture is quickly rejected. April 15, - A thousand tons of bombs are dropped on Viet Cong positions by U. April 17, - In Washington, 15, students gather to protest the U. Student demonstrators will often refer to President Johnson, his advisors, the Pentagon, Washington bureaucrats, and weapons manufacturers, simply as "the Establishment.

Westmoreland, Gen. Wheeler, William Bundy, and Ambassador Taylor, meet and agree to recommend to the President sending another 40, combat soldiers to Vietnam.

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April 24, - President Johnson announces Americans in Vietnam are eligible for combat pay. May 3, - The first U. Army combat troops, men of the rd Airborne Brigade, arrive in Vietnam. May 13, - The first bombing pause is announced by the U. There will be six more pauses during the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign, all with same intention. However, each time, the North Vietnamese ignore the peace overtures and instead use the pause to repair air defenses and send more troops and supplies into the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail. May 13, - Viet Cong attack the U. During the fighting, 2nd Lt.

Charles Williams, earns the Medal of Honor by knocking out a Viet Cong machine-gun then guiding rescue helicopters, while wounded four times. They lead the 10th government in 20 months. July 1, - Viet Cong stage a mortar attack against Da Nang air base and destroy three aircraft. July 8, - Henry Cabot Lodge is reappointed as U. July - President Johnson meets with top aides to decide the future course of action in Vietnam. July 28, - During a noontime press conference, President Johnson announces he will send 44 combat battalions to Vietnam increasing the U.

Monthly draft calls are doubled to 35, He has told me. And we will meet his needs.

We cannot be defeated by force of arms. We will stand in Vietnam. I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle. I have spoken to you today of the divisions and the forces and the battalions and the units, but I know them all, every one. I have seen them in a thousand streets, of a hundred towns, in every state in this union-working and laughing and building, and filled with hope and life. I think I know, too, how their mothers weep and how their families sorrow. August - Combined Action Platoons are formed by U.

Marines utilizing South Vietnamese militia units to protect villages and conduct patrols to root out Viet Cong guerrillas. Earlier, seven Marines had been killed nearby while searching for Viet Cong following a mortar attack against the air base at Da Nang. August 5, - Viet Cong destroy two million gallons of fuel in storage tanks near Da Nang. August 8, - The U. August , - Operation Starlite begins the first major U. Marines wage a preemptive strike against Viet Cong planning to assault the American airfield at Chu Lai.

The Marines arrive by helicopter and by sea following heavy artillery and air bombardment of Viet Cong positions. Viet Cong suffer dead and 9 taken prisoner. This decisive first victory gives a big boost to U. August 31, - President Johnson signs a law criminalizing draft card burning. October 16, - Anti-war rallies occur in 40 American cities and in international cities including London and Rome. October 19, - North Vietnamese Army troops attack the U. October 30, - 25, march in Washington in support of U. The marchers are led by five Medal of Honor recipients.

American Army troops of the 1st Cavalry Division Airmobile respond to the NVA threat by using helicopters to fly directly into the battle zone. Upon landing, the troops quickly disembark then engage in fierce fire fights, supported by heavy artillery and B air strikes, marking the first use of Bs to assist combat troops. The two-day battle ends with NVA retreating into the jungle. NVA losses are estimated at November 17, - The American success at Ia Drang is marred by a deadly ambush against soldiers of the U.

November 27, - In Washington, 35, anti-war protesters circle the White House then march on to the Washington Monument for a rally. November 30, - After visiting Vietnam, Defense Secretary McNamara privately warns that American casualty rates of up to dead per month could be expected. December 7, - Defense Secretary McNamara tells President Johnson that the North Vietnamese apparently "believe that the war will be a long one, that time is their ally, and that their staying power is superior to ours. December - President Johnson and top aides meet to decide the future course of action. December 25, - The second pause in the bombing of North Vietnam occurs.

This will last for 37 days while the U. However, the North Vietnamese denounce the bombing halt as a "trick" and continue Viet Cong terrorist activities in the South. By year's end U. An estimated 90, South Vietnamese soldiers deserted in , while an estimated 35, soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail. Up to 50 percent of the countryside in South Vietnam is now under some degree of Viet Cong control. January 12, - During his State of the Union address before Congress, President Johnson comments that the war in Vietnam is unlike America's previous wars, "Yet, finally, war is always the same.

It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate January March 6 - Operation Masher marks the beginning of large-scale U. However, President Johnson orders the name changed to the less aggressive sounding 'White Wing' over concern for U.

NVA losses are put at The term 'search-and-destroy' is used by the media to describe everything from large scale Airmobile troop movements to small patrols rooting out Viet Cong in tiny hamlets. The term eventually becomes associated with negative images of Americans burning villages. January 31, - Citing Hanoi's failure to respond to his peace overtures during the 37 day bombing pause, President Johnson announces bombing of North Vietnam will resume.

January 31, - Senator Robert F. Kennedy criticizes President Johnson's decision to resume the bombing, stating that the U. William Fulbright, holds televised hearings examining America's policy in Vietnam. They are limited to the destruction of the insurrection and aggression directed by North Vietnamese against the political institutions of South Vietnam. February 3, - Influential newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann lambastes President Johnson's strategy in Vietnam, stating, "Gestures, propaganda, public relations and bombing and more bombing will not work. Senate by a vote of 92 to 5.

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The attempt was led by Sen. Wayne Morse. March 9, - The U. The admission generates harsh criticism from the American academic community. March 10, - South Vietnamese Buddhists begin a violent campaign to oust Prime Minister Ky following his dismissal of a top Buddhist general. This marks the beginning of a period of extreme unrest in several cities in South Vietnam including Saigon, Da Nang and Hue as political squabbling spills out into the streets and interferes with U.

April 12, - B bombers are used for the first time against North Vietnam. Each B carries up to bombs, dropped from an altitude of about six miles. Target selections are closely supervised by the White House. There are six main target categories; power facilities, war support facilities, transportation lines, military complexes, fuel storage, and air defense installations.

Ky's troops then move on to Hue to oust renegades there. Ky's actions result in a new series of immolations by Buddhist monks and nuns as an act of protest against his Saigon regime and its American backers. Buddhist leader Tri Quang blames President Johnson personally for the situation. Johnson responds by labeling the immolations as "tragic and unnecessary. June 4, - A three-page anti-war advertisement appears in the New York Times signed by teachers and professors. Ky now appeals for calm. The U. This concern also prevents any U. July 6, - Hanoi Radio reports that captured American pilots have been paraded though the streets of Hanoi through jeering crowds.

July 11, - The U. Last but not least, U. For North Vietnam, the end justified the means. Although immense numbers of Viet Cong and NVA troops would be killed or captured, they would be soon replaced and even grown faster.

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The U. Eventually, the U. The effectiveness of the Search and Destroy missions were also dubious. However, those figures were usually obtained and gathered through indirect means such as sightings of secondary explosions, sensor readings, extrapolation, inference or reports of POWs. Hence, they usually flattered to deceive.

Why did Search & Destroy fail in Vietnam?

In fact, these figures created a general over-optimism among U. Department of Defense officials believed that these body count figures need to be deflated by 30 percent as roughly one-third of the reported enemy killed might have been civilians. Why were U. She was the first to reach the master bedroom, and when she stepped inside, Daniels heard her cry out. He and Otis followed close behind her. In the bedroom, blood was everywhere — spattered across the bed, the ceiling, all four walls.

Daniels immediately took hold of Vera and instructed her and Otis to go to the living room. He did not step any farther into the bedroom, but as he stood in the doorway, he could tell that Mickey was dead. Her pink nightgown was drawn up to the top of her thighs, and she was naked from the waist down.

Daniels rushed to the phone in the kitchen and called the police. Word of the killing traveled quickly around Clifton that morning. How could anyone hurt Mickey? Three principals whose help Massey enlisted found Joe near the check-in desk. He appeared unmoored, his face gone slack with shock. He sat by himself, holding his head in his hands. They took him upstairs to his hotel room, where he lay down in bed, shivering.

Still dressed in his suit and tie, he pulled the covers over himself. Two longtime colleagues of his from Clifton — Richard Liardon, the school superintendent, and Glen Nix, the assistant elementary school principal — arrived around noon to take him home, and when Joe saw them, he broke down. The Bryan home was cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape when the three men pulled up outside shortly before 3 p. Of primary interest to them was whether the Bryans had any firearms in the house, and Joe explained that he had a. When she embraced him, he held on to her as if he might fall without her support.

Investigators would remain at the house until after midnight, poring over the crime scene. They had little to go on; the neighbors had not seen or heard anything unusual, and there were no leads to chase down — no bloody fingerprints that might have narrowed the search for the killer, no shoe-print impressions to try to match. No semen was detected on vaginal swabs that were later collected for the rape kit. Yet slowly, a picture of the crime began to emerge. Mickey had been shot four times: once in the abdomen and three times in the head. A blast to the left side of her face had been fired at extremely close range.

A search of the house revealed that the. Tiny lead pellets, which lay scattered around the bedroom, were also embedded in her wounds, leading investigators to surmise that she was killed with the. The house displayed no obvious signs of forced entry, but a Texas Ranger who found the back door locked was unable to conclude whether it had been secured before, or after, officers arrived. A cigarette butt was discovered on the kitchen floor, though neither of the Bryans smoked.

Taken together, the evidence seemed to point in one direction: Mickey had been the victim of a burglary-turned-homicide. Thorman peered through his magnifying glass, moving it in slow, sweeping motions. He tacked strings to five small bloodstains on the wall above the headboard, extending each strand down to the mattress below. As the investigators went about their work, Joe spent the night with his mother, Thelma, in Elm Mott, the small town north of Waco where she lived.

Joe lay awake, his mind racing, until exhaustion overtook him. At the funeral home in Clifton the following day, he learned that Joe Wilie, the Texas Ranger who was helming the investigation, wanted to speak with him, and he headed over to the police station.

He carried himself with the assurance of someone who could get to the bottom of the mystery that lay before him. Joe did not take a lawyer with him, nor did the direction of the investigation suggest he should. As Wilie led him through a series of routine questions about Mickey, their marriage and the days leading up to the murder, Joe explained that nothing seemed out of the ordinary the last time he spoke with his wife.

He told Wilie that he called her from his hotel room around 9 p. He had been watching the Country Music Awards, and she had been averaging grades. She was in good spirits, he added, and they talked about the rain. But there was no money in it, and the box was covered in dust, suggesting that no one had recently disturbed it.

Wilie advised him to look around the house to see if he might have placed the money elsewhere. Joe had no theories to offer about the crime, and the interview did not produce any new leads. Wilie and the other investigators working on the case needed more, and fast. This was the second unsolved murder that year in a town where people routinely left their doors unlocked and no one could easily recall the last homicide.


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Just four months earlier, on June 19, Wilie was called to Clifton to investigate the killing of a year-old named Judy Whitley. Her nude body was discovered in a dense cedar thicket on the western side of town. The medical examiner would later determine that she was sexually assaulted and died of suffocation. Wilie assisted with the Whitley case, which was still no closer to being solved. When Mickey was killed, less than a mile away, it sent another jolt of panic through the community. Though Wilie and the other investigators working on the Bryan case were under enormous pressure to make an arrest, they struggled to develop any new information.

In the days after Mickey was killed, the Texas Department of Public Safety flew a helicopter over a pasture near the Bryan home, looking for clothing that might have been discarded by a transient who was reported to have been in the area. Rangers questioned members of a concrete crew who were working on a house on Avenue O and examined the shoes and pants of a yard man who was believed to have been in the vicinity of the Bryan home on the morning Mickey was found.

They interviewed the family of a teenage girl who saw a peeping Tom at her bedroom window a few nights earlier. Then, on Saturday, Oct. Blue, who lived in Plant City, Fla. The siblings were not especially close. Joe was not particularly close with his brother-in-law either, but the two men had a cordial relationship; Joe had helped out from time to time around the farm in Clifton that Blue owned, and together they built fences, vaccinated cattle and mended water lines. As Blue would recount in a sworn affidavit he wrote the following week, it was that Friday, with no apparent progress in the case, that he decided to call Bud Saunders, an ex-F.

I-agent-turned-private-investigator who was on retainer with his agrochemical company. Blue did not tell Joe that he was bringing a private investigator to town or share with his brother-in-law what was troubling him.

Saunders wasted no time; he made the mile trip from the West Texas city of Midland, where he lived, arriving at the Dairy Queen in Clifton the next afternoon. At some point during the drive, according to Blue, he pulled over so that he and Saunders could relieve themselves, and Saunders ended up getting mud on his boots. Looking for something to clean them with, Blue opened the trunk; immediately, he spotted a cardboard box with a flashlight inside it whose lens was facing up.

He handed the flashlight to Saunders, who agreed that the tiny, dark flecks looked like blood. Blue and Saunders drove back into town with the flashlight stowed in the trunk and headed toward the Bryan home. Finding the house unattended and the front door unlocked, Blue and Saunders decided to let themselves in. Discovering no one there, they left, drove to a pay phone and called the Texas Rangers.

Vietnam at 50 - 1967

Any number of details in their story, which Saunders told over the phone and later recounted at the Ranger station in Waco, should have spurred Wilie to dig deeper. Why did the men not drive straight to the Clifton Police Department with their discovery? Why did they enter the Bryan home by themselves, and what did they do inside?

But if Wilie pushed them to explain more, there is no record of it. Instead, he executed a search warrant on the Mercury shortly after midnight. Saunders later said he cleaned the mud off with his pocketknife. The flashlight — its lens stippled with reddish-brown specks, each roughly the size of the tip of a pencil point — was taken to the state crime lab for further examination.

Wilie did not impound the Mercury; instead, he released it to Blue once the search was complete, and Blue and Saunders returned to Clifton, leaving the Mercury in the driveway of the Bryan home around 4 a. Three hours later, Blue was gone. He headed to Austin, where he boarded a flight later that morning bound for Tampa.

Nobody told Joe any of this. The following morning, he called Chief Rob Brennand of the Clifton Police Department to report a surprising discovery. On his way back to Elm Mott, Joe told Brennand, he stopped to get gas. He then remembered putting it there two weeks earlier, when he and Mickey had driven to Waco to go shopping. In the mental fog he had been in since the murder, he had forgotten that he had taken the cash out of the metal box in the bedroom.

Blood typing was the most precise tool that law enforcement had for such evidence before the advent of DNA testing, though it was hardly definitive; nearly half the population has type O blood. Whose blood it was could not be settled with any certainty, but from that point on, the investigation hurtled forward under the assumption that it could have come only from Mickey.

A crime-lab chemist also found a few tiny plastic particles on the flashlight lens that, she said, appeared to have the same characteristics as fragments of the birdshot shells that were found at the crime scene. Wilie felt confident enough in the evidence to believe that he had his man.

Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1 Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1
Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1 Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1
Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1 Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1
Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1 Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1
Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1 Cedar Falls-Junction City: A Turning Point - Part 1

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