Van E. Harl


We hope there is a special place in hell for people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler and Tojo. I am wondering if there is a seat waiting for Robert S. McNamara, the former US Secretary of Defense.

I can guarantee you that the dead Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen who guard the gates of heaven will only, on a direct order from God, let McNamara in. Even in heaven we follow orders. McNamara is the one who led President Johnson around by the nose and got over 50,000 Americans killed in Vietnam and perhaps millions of Vietnamese. He was the head of Ford Motor Company before he came to the Department of Defense (DoD). He was a brilliant business man and he brought his “bean counting” ways with him to run our military. He “bean counted” thousands of American troops into their graves.

I am sure everyone has seen the movie Forrest Gump, the fictional story of a mentally challenged man who was drafted into the Army even though it was obvious to the viewing audience he was not qualified to serve. The problem was there were 354,000 Forrest Gumps brought into the military during McNamara’s rule of the DoD. You have to score a 31 out of a 100 on the military testing system (ASVAB) to be allowed to enlist. McNamara developed a program that brought in 100,000 men a year who scored a 10. Many of these men were mentally retarded but we were ordered to take them anyway. This destructive plan met two needs of McNamara and Johnson: to bring in more men for the military during an unpopular war and to help Johnson’s poor people and the mentally deficient. We laughed at Forrest Gump--but he survived.

Remember his black friend Bubba. He was one of McNamara’s Project One Hundred Thousand and he did not come home. They were called New Standards Men (NSM) but they were regrettably nicknamed the Moron Corps and they got killed 2½ times more often than the mentally normal troops did in Vietnam and black NSMs died the most.

Then there was the USS Liberty attack in June of 1967 by Israel. Fighters were launched from a Navy carrier that could have stopped the savage multiple air and naval attacks and saved many of the Sailors and Marines who died that day. But McNamara personally directed the senior Navy leadership to call back the aircraft that were already on their way to defend the Liberty. There are 34 more dead American troops, who I hope are guarding the gates of heaven.

McNamara ran the military like a business that had to make a profit, only the loss side of his business ledger was the dead, the permanently disabled military members and the broken families left behind. Years later McNamara wrote a book about his time in the DoD and he even stated he was wrong in many of his actions and decisions made in Vietnam. The liberals loved him for that. He went on the book signing tour and spoke for money to any left wing outfit that would pay to hear him. Naturally he did not address the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their annual convention. I know for a fact he was never invited to a reunion of USS Liberty survivors. McNamara got a lot of people killed and then he went on to make money on the backs of the dead. The man could not get it right and his failure cost too many lives.

I am sure there is no love loss in Vietnam this week following the death McNamara. I am not sure where he will be buried. I wonder if those people at the Westboro Baptist church who protest at military funerals would show up at McNamara’s. I doubt the Patriot Guard motorcycle riders who attend those GI funerals, to protect the services will be there to honor McNamara.

I worked with some of his Project 100,000 men while I was in the Air Force. The military suffered from this program, but so did the NSMs. When they screwed up, they were just moved out as fast as possible. An NSM was transferred 11 times more often than a regular troop. We the military did not want them, but we did not help them either. They did however serve their country, sadly many died and the rest are American veterans. Their blood and their pain, like the other military members is on McNamara’s head.