March 30, 1954 – A Dien Bien Phu Frame Of Mind
March 30, 1954. Word from French Indochina (Vietnam) that a desperate battle was taking place at Dien Bien Phu, a strategic French military base which had come under full-scale assault by Vietminh forces. For the first time in the seven years since the Viet-Minh rose up after the defeat of Japan, the rebels are standing up and fighting, rather than playing a hit-and-run game. Dien Bien Phu sat in a bowl, surrounded by a rim with an elevation of some 2600 feet. From that rim, the Viet-Minh staged their attacks. Since November, 1953 when six battalions of French paratroopers were dropped inside Dien Bien Phu, a village in the northwest corner of the country, with orders to build and hold a fortress. In the meantime, the Viet-Minh were busy preparing for their assault in the hills which offered protection from French air attack by the jungle growth. On March 13, the initial attack happened. Wave after wave of Viet-Minh broke through French lines, taking two outposts. The Viet-Minh lost and estimated 10,000 killed or wounded. But as a result of taking those two outposts, they were able to fire on the two airstrips, making plane landings with supplies and reinforcements impossible. American pilots were joining in the efforts of supplying the base, but as of this broadcast, fighting was continuing and intense.
There was other news. News regarding the development of the Hydrogen Bomb. News that Russia wanted to join NATO. It came as such a shock that no one had a chance to react. But some felt it was a ploy, that something more was going to be revealed. And on Capitol Hill, discussion over President Eisenhower‘s changed in the Taft-Hartley Labor law.
All that, and a lot more from veteran newsman/commentator Frank Hemingway from March 30, 1954 as broadcast by the Mutual Radio network.