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Vietnam: A Television History; Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981

Part of The Vietnam Collection.


Thomas H. Moorer was an Admiral in the United States Navy. During the Vietnam War, he was the Chief of Naval Operations from 1967 – 1970, and served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970–1974. Admiral Moorer begins by talking about the events surrounding the Tonkin Gulf Incidents, and his belief that there was in fact two separate incidents. He then discusses the incursions into Cambodia to search for the COSVN headquarters, and the debate within the Defense Department over whether or not the US should push into Cambodia. He also briefly describes the failed attempt to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, the 1972 Spring Offensive, and the decision to mine Hai Phong harbor, despite worries of drawing the Soviets into the war. Admiral Moorer then details the 1972 “Christmas Bombing” of Hanoi, why it was necessary, and why it was effective. He finally comments on the limitations of the Vietnamization plan.

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Vietnam: A Television History

Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981

Series Description

This 13 part series covers the history of Vietnam from France's colonial control, through the 1945 revolution, to the 1975 U.S. evacuation from Saigon and the years beyond. The series' objective approach permits viewers to form their own conclusions about the war. 101--Roots of a War--Despite cordial relations between American intelligence officers and Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in the turbulent closing months of World War II, French and British hostility to the Vietnamese revolution laid the groundwork for a new war. 102--The First Vietnam War (1946-1954)--The French generals expected to defeat Ho's rag-tag Vietminh guerrillas easily, but after eight years of fighting and $2.5 billion in U.S. aid, the French lost a crucial battle at Dienbienphu--and with it, their Asian empire. 103--America's Mandarin (1954-1963)--To stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, America replaced France in South Vietnam--supporting autocratic President Ngo Dinyh Diem until his own generals turned against him in a coup that brought political chaos to Saigon. 104--LBJ Goes to War (1964-1965)--With Ho Chi Minh determined to reunite Vietnam, Lyndon Baines Johnson determined to prevent it, and South Vietnam on the verge of collapse, the stage was set for massive escalation of the undeclared Vietnam War. 105--America Takes Charge (1965-1967)--In two years, the Johnson Administration's troop build-up dispatched 1.5 million Americans to Vietnam to fight a war they found baffling, tedious, exciting, deadly and unforgettable. 106--America's Enemy (1954-1967)--The Vietnam War as seen from different perspectives: by Vietcong guerrillas and sympathizers; by North Vietnamese leaders; by rank and file; and by American held prisoner in Hanoi. 107--Tet (1968)--The massive enemy offensive at the Lunar New Year decimated the Vietcong and failed to topple the Saigon government, but led to the beginning of America's military withdrawal. 108--Vietnamizing the War (1968-1973)--President Nixon's program of troop pull-outs, stepped-up bombing and huge arms shipments to Saigon changed the war, and left GI's wondering which of them would be the last to die in Vietnam. 109--Cambodia and Laos--Despite technical neutrality, both of Vietnam's smaller neighbors were drawn into the war, suffered massive bombing, and in the case of Cambodia, endured a post-war holocaust of nightmare proportions. 110--Peace is at Hand (1968-1973)--While American and Vietnamese continued to clash in battle, diplomats in Paris argued about making peace, after more than four years reaching an accord that proved to be a preface to further bloodshed. 111--Homefront USA--Americans at home divide over a distant war, clashing in the streets as demonstrations lead to bloodshed, bitterness and increasing doubts about the outcome. 112--The End of the Tunnel (1973-1975)--Through troubled years of controversy and violence, U.S. casualties mounted, victory remained elusive and American opinion moved from general approval to general dissatisfaction with the Vietnam war. 113--Legacies--Vietnam is in the Soviet orbit, poorer than ever, at war on two fronts; America's legacy includes more than one half million Asian refugees, one half million Vietnam veterans and some questions that won't go away. Series release date: 9/1983



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Atrocities
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Prisoners and prisons, American
Bombing, Aerial Vietnam
Vietnam War, 1961-197--Campaigns--Laos
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Public opinion
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Personal narratives, American
Military assistance, American
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Mass media and the war
Vietnam (Democratic Republic)
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Aerial operations, American
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Campaigns--Cambodia
Military ethics
United States--History, Military--20th century
War and Conflict
Ellison, Richard (Series Producer)
Moorer, Thomas H., 1912- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Rights Summary

No materials may be re-used without references to appearance releases and WGBH/UMass Boston contract. 2) It is the liability of a production to investigate and re-clear all rights before re-use in any project. Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

Chicago: “Vietnam: A Television History; Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981,” 04/25/1981, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed September 27, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_38E69B14E185443FAC1FF765C2225870.
MLA: “Vietnam: A Television History; Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981.” 04/25/1981. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. September 27, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_38E69B14E185443FAC1FF765C2225870>.
APA: Vietnam: A Television History; Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_38E69B14E185443FAC1FF765C2225870
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