Presidents and wars: Another look


To the Editor:

Gene Tunnel, in an opinion article that appeared Aug. 25, said “President Dwight Eisenhower initially got us involved in Vietnam.” Gene continued to cite the “war presidents” as being Republicans. 

To add to the debate, I thought the actual history would be of benefit. The president that initially involved the U.S. in Vietnam was not Eisenhower, but Truman. Truman, deviating from Roosevelt’s stated desire to avoid involvement in Vietnam, supported French involvement in Vietnam, supplied the French with transport planes, jeeps, and sent 35 military advisors with a multimillion-dollar support package. By the end of Truman’s presidency, the U.S. funded one third of the French costs in Vietnam. Truman also committed U.S. troops to Korea.

Eisenhower did increase the support to $2 billion in aid to the Diem Government from 1955-1960, and increased the military advisors to 1,000.

The real jump in U.S. support was by President Kennedy. Kennedy provided South Vietnam with jet fighters, helicopters, Armored Personnel Carriers, and river patrol boats, increasing the military advisors to 16,000. Kennedy also authorized the use of Napalm and Agent Orange. Last, but certainly not least, Kennedy authorized support of a coup in 1963 that resulted in Diem’s death.

President Johnson sent in the first combat troops in early 1965 and initiated a massive bombing campaign, increasing the troops to 500,000 by 1967.

Tunnel added George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush as initiating wars. Of course, citing the two Bushes as initiating wars is accurate. But some facts were omitted that invalidates a conclusion that “war presidents” were Republicans.

Truman, a Democrat, initiated Korea. Truman, not Eisenhower, involved the U.S. in Vietnam. Eisenhower did increase our involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy and Johnson, Democrats, greatly expanded the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Clinton, another Democrat, involved U.S. combat troops in Mogadishu, Somalia (October 1993) as well as committed the U.S. in Bosnia in late 1995. President Obama, another Democrat, ordered U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. And of special interest is Democrats were in office when the U.S. became involved in World War I and II, Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt respectively.

Therefore, a conclusion that Republicans are “war presidents” is hardly accurate. If anything, a stronger argument can be made that Democrats are far more responsible than Republicans for U.S. wars, whether in numbers of wars or in recorded U.S. deaths since the 1900s.

Regardless of politics, where there is likely universal agreement is, “we must avoid unnecessary, unjust wars.” But when we ask our politicians what “their stance is regarding wars,” in addition to Tunnel’s proposed “Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan” we must add Korea, Somalia, Bosnia, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Pakistan. To do otherwise would be inconsistent and unfair.

Michael Padgett, Colonel (Ret.) U.S. Army, Sylva



Physicians: Get vaccinated


To the Editor:

As physicians caring for our Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital communities, we are asking everyone who is eligible to please get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. It is important to do everything you can, now, to protect yourself, your family members and friends.

North Carolina healthcare workers have administered more than 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Vaccinations are trending upward amid the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.

Yet, community spread of the virus continues to rage on, placing nearly 4,000 people last week in North Carolina hospitals, including Harris Regional Hospital where unvaccinated individuals make up 90 percent of COVID-19 admissions. Our physicians and staff are working tirelessly to care for patients suffering from COVID-19 and those who have other non-COVID related illnesses. Getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. While there are some cases in which vaccinated people become infected with the virus, the illnesses are usually mild and seldom require hospitalization. Everyone 12 and older should be vaccinated. Vaccinations are free. If you have questions regarding the vaccine, our providers are happy to help answer them.

There are many convenient locations to get vaccinated. Visit If you need a COVID-19 test, see your healthcare provider. For more resources visit:

Our hospitals appreciate the outpouring of support demonstrated by our communities since the onset of the pandemic. The best way to help healthcare workers and our hospitals is to get vaccinated now so we can continue to provide care to the communities we are privileged to serve.

Nicholas Jernigan, MD, Harris/Swain Chief of Staff, Harris/Swain Board Member;

David S. Thomas, MD, Harris/Swain Board Chair; 

Mark Engel, MD, Medical Director of Swain Community Hospital Emergency Department, Harris/Swain Board Member;

Brad McAbee, MD, Medical Director of Harris Regional Hospital Emergency Department, Harris/Swain Board Member