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Monday, October 21, 2013
The front page article in The Roanoke Times on the death of Gen. Giap had one serious error (“Vietnam military commander was French, U.S. adversary,” Oct. 5). Giap might have defeated the French in Vietnam, but he was never victorious, as the article states, over America.
Coverage of Giap’s death conveniently overlooked the debacle he suffered during the 1972 Easter Offensive. More than 30,000 troops and 200 enemy tanks were brought to bear in this all-or-nothing attempt to end the war. They might have been successful if not for my dear brother, the late Col. John W. Ripley — a proud Virginian. He destroyed the Dong Ha bridge and halted them dead in their tracks.
The first biography on John, “An American Knight” by Norman Fulkerson, explains how Gen. Giap’s failure to cross the bridge led to a bloody stalemate and his subsequent removal from power. His 20-year position as Commander General of the NVA went up in smoke, just like the Dong Ha bridge.
Leatherneck magazine once described John as someone who “would not back down from a charging Rhinoceros.” Gen. Giap found this out the hard way when his great plan was spoiled by a determined Marine who just would not quit.
MARY SUSAN GOODYKOONTZ
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