The Gloomy Message From Saigon – July 20, 1965
Fifty years ago today, we were looking at a Summer awash with gloomy reports, agitated people and uncertain times.
After a whirlwind 5-day fact-finding tour of South Vietnam, Defense Secretary McNamara boarded a plane back to Washington to deliver the pessimistic news to President Johnson. At an airport briefing, McNamara told reporters the situation in Vietnam was more serious than it was a year earlier; the Vietcong were gaining ground and the South Vietnamese Army was woefully under-equipped to handle the situation. And even though the scheduled talks with President Johnson were wrapped in secrecy, the acknowledged word among everyone in the know was, this didn’t bode well for any quick solution to the Vietnam problem. With a Vietcong attack on a U.S. Army Special Forces camp, causing heavy casualties among U.S. and South Vietnamese troops, and stepped-up U.S. Air Force attacks on targets in North Vietnam – as well as the announcement by North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh that they were prepared to carry on the war for twenty years or more, we were slipping fast into a protracted and difficult war.
And since July 20th marked the 11th anniversary in 1965 of the “Day Of Shame”, when the Geneva Conference agreements split Vietnam in two in 1954, it was especially telling just how the future was going to shape up.
But there was a lot of other news, this July 20th in 1965. An assassination attempt was thwarted in Saigon, as a fragment bomb planted outside a stadium was diffused some 15 minutes before it was scheduled to go off. The targets were believed to be U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam General Maxwell Taylor and a number of high South Vietnamese officials.
Back home – In New York, news regarding the Democratic race for City Hall as heating up as candidates addressed members of an Eastside Democratic club. Lots of promises and lots of position taking. Republicans too, were busy canvassing Manhattan, slapping backs and kissing babies.
Scientists from the JPL Labs in Pasadena say the Marriner 4 satellite was expected to send back a full compliment of 21 closeup photos of Mars. The spacecraft has been sending photos back consistently since it started a week before.
And that’s a small portion of what went on this rather hectic July 20th in 1965, as reported by WCBS-AM in New York and The CBS World News Roundup.