(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley.com)
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A listing and access link to all:
song lyrics and mp3 audio files http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/ (all of which are a part of this Web site) can be accessed simply by selecting the "htm" file for the song you want;
quotations http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/quotations.htm; and
essays written by Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/articles_larry_blakeley.htm,
all of which are used to tell the story in this Web site, can be accessed by going to each respective link set out above.
My son, Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/larryblakeley_photos_jpeg.htm manages this Web site.
Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)
When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play
No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye
- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins
MP3 audio file/lyrics http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/still_cant_say_goodbye.htm
For a larger image click on the photograph.
"Following the original incident of August 2, the Johnson administration wanted to underline its belief that U.S. Navy warships had the freedom to pass any where in international waters, naturally including most of the Gulf of Tonkin. Consequently President Johnson approved a move under which the destroyer Maddox was reinforced by the C. Turner Joy, and both ships entered the Gulf together. With the American warships in a state of hyperalert, on the night of August 3/4 the warships recorded a series of sound (sonar) and electronic (radar) readings interpreted to be attacking torpedo boats. Amid the confusion of that night, radio signals pertaining to the August 2 incident were read as Hanoi ordering a fresh attack, and expectant sailors on watch saw things they decided were enemy boats. Washington was initially told the warships were under attack. Although the commander on the scene, Captain John D. Herrick, quickly amplified the initial, excited reports with one stating he doubted the reality of the attacks, Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp nevertheless proceeded as if the attacks were genuine.
Because of the time difference between Washington and the Tonkin Gulf, and the time needed to transmit and receive messages from the remote naval forces involved, this sequence of President Johnson telephone calls on August begins at a moment when Washington was as yet unaware of the claimed second attack. McNamara's statement in the 9:43 AM. conversation that "this ship is allegedly to be attacked tonight" is highly significant-it means that Washington was already operating on the basis of the radio intercepts mistakenly attributed to August 4th. Equally important, LBJ and McNamara discuss retaliatory action against North Vietnam in spite of the fact that no attack has yet occurred. Also of interest is President Johnson's statement that the United States "should pull one of these things that you've. . . been doing. . . on one of their bridges or something." This is a clear reference to the OPLAN-34A raids, confusion about which had been a factor in the initial Tonkin Gulf engagement on August 2. Here LBJ suggests a measure that would actually increase Hanoi's incentives to fight.
A little over an hour later, at 10:53 AM., McNamara has a second conversation with the president in which Johnson's concern centers on the details of the supposed combat in the Gulf. McNamara tells LBJ that the U.S. aircraft carrier Ticonderoga sent out aircraft to help defend the two destroyers, and he mistakenly reports that the planes have seen two unidentified vessels and three planes near the American warships (Admiral John Stockdale, pilot of one of the Ticonderoga aircraft that night, affirms that the U.S. planes saw nothing at all). McNamara goes on to tell the president that he has developed a list of targets in North Vietnam that can be struck in retaliation. He promises to bring the list over to the White House.
Less than ten minutes later, McNamara comes back on the phone to tell President Johnson that Pacific theater commander Admiral Sharp has told him the destroyers are under torpedo attack. Here the secretary of defense reports information now known to be false, although McNamara did not know this at the time. LBJ responds by ordering the secretary of defense and other top officials to meet and coordinate a retaliatory bombing. There is no tape of that meeting, but a memorandum recording the meeting of the National Security Council that day notes McNamara entering the meeting and discussing the alleged attack. Secretary Dean Rusk comments that recommendations are being prepared but are not yet ready. Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon warns, "There is a limit on the number of times we can be attacked by the North Vietnamese without hilling their naval bases." For almost two hours following the NSC meeting, LBJ lunched with McNamara, Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, the CIA's John McCone, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus R. Vance. It was at lunch, according to a Pentagon chronology of these events, that LBJ agreed to a swift retaliatory air strike and a specific set of targets. During this lunch (at 1:27 P.M.), Washington received the message from Captain Herrick on the Maddox that cast doubt on the veracity of the attack. This report had no effect on the actions of Washington officials.
By late afternoon the comings and goings at the White House and the Pentagon had put the press on notice that something was going on, and leaks became inevitable. Shortly after 5:00 P.M., President Johnson talked to McNamara again. This time they shared the news that the Associated Press and United Press wire services had both put out the story that another attack had taken place in the Tonkin Gulf. LBJ now approved an official Pentagon statement on the supposed attack (although as recently as twenty minutes earlier McNamara had been meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to "overcome [the] lack of a clear and convincing showing that an attack on the destroyers had in fact occurred" he Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a message ordering execution of the retaliatory bombing and it was sent out at 5:19. A follow-up NSC meeting took place an hour later. That meeting gave pro forma consideration to the alleged North Vietnamese attack and the retaliation, again not taking into account the doubts of the on-scene destroyer commander, Captain Herrick. The White House meeting also tabled a prospective resolution approving the use of force by Congress. LBJ raised the matter of a resolution at a briefing of senior legislators which began at 6:45. The administration supplied a text as discussed by the NSC and then between LBJ and the legislators, and that draft became the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was subsequently used to justify the entire U.S. war in Vietnam.
There was a final conversation between LBJ and McNamara at 9:15 P.M., at which time the president was caught up in the drama of Mississippi. Then the questions were largely ones of coordinating the actual launch of the attack with LBJ's public statement. President Johnson finally made the statement at 11:36 P.M., approximately half an hour prior to the expected time of arrival of the U.S. strike aircraft over their targets in North Vietnam.
Thus the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam went forward based on the mistaken belief in a second attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. In a certain sense, because the resolution that passed Congress was used to justify the U.S. military commitment, the entire Vietnam War can be said to have been based on a misunderstanding. Just over a month afterward, when another pair of American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin also thought they had come under attack, LBJ began to express doubts about the reality of the August incident. In 1997, in Hanoi, Robert McNamara, in a conversation with Vietnamese Commander General Vo Nguyen Giap, also concluded that the August 4, 1964, incident had never occurred. That is now the general consensus among historians of the Vietnam War."
- "August 1964: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident Continues - President Johnson Discusses Bombing North Vietnam with Robert S. McNamara (In Four Conversations), LBJ Tapes on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB132/tapes.htm , Source: John Prados, The White House Tapes
(New York: The New Press, 2003), The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, 40 Years Later, Flawed Intelligence and the Decision for War in Vietnam, Signals Intercepts, Cited at Time, Prove Only August 2nd Battle, Not August 4; Purported Second Attack Prompted Congressional Blank Check for War, Johnson-McNamara Tapes Show Readiness to Escalate, Even on Suspect Intel; Top Aides Knew of Mistaken Signals, but Welcomed Justification for Vote, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 132, Edited by John Prados, Posted August 4, 2004.
White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the President
John Prados, The White House Tapes
(New York: The New Press, 2003)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
• the racial integration of the Armed Forces
Dwight D. Eisenhower
• the situation in the Far East
• the Marshall Plan
• the March on Washington
• the Diem coup in Vietnam in 1963
Lyndon B. Johnson
• the murders of civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964
• the Gulf of Tonkin Incident
• “Smoking Gun” tapes
• The Vietnam War and the invasion of Laos in 1971
• Discussion of Jews in the media, with Billy Graham
Gerald R. Ford
• the first US/Russian joint space mission
• Middle East Peace Agreement in 1975
• the Iran-Contra Affair in 1986