“A man can fight if he can see daylight down the road somewhere,” President Lyndon Johnson told a senator in March 1965. “But there ain’t no daylight in Vietnam-there’s not a bit.” Even as he said that, he was committing the first US ground combat units and initiating a massive bombing campaign in North Vietnam. Unaware of President Johnson’s private misgivings about the conflict, Gordon Lippman dutifully entered Vietnam as the 3rd Brigade/1st Infantry Division executive officer in September of that year.
It didn’t take long for his fellow soldiers to figure out that Gordon Lippman was the man they wanted to follow into battle. Overcoming great challenges in the Army, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross and two battlefield commissions and became a hero among heroes. He focused on the mission at hand, rallied his troopers, led from the front, and dodged enemy bullets. A couple of times they hit home, but he came back to fight again! He was one of those studs to come out of small-town America and become a leading member of “The Greatest Generation.”
This is a sweeping story on the broad landscape of twentieth-century compromise, accommodation, and conflict, from the allied war in Europe to the forgotten victory in Korea to the televised dinnertime war in Vietnam.