South Vietnamese Pres Thieu, US Pres Johnson, South Vietnamese Prime Minister Ky
At the Guam International Airport, March 20, 1967
It didn't do much good, and has become a forgotten footnote in many history books, but Guam was the scene of a high-powered meeting between the United States President and the leadership of South Vietnam.
It was the height of the war in Vietnam and summits between both the American and South Vietnamese leadership had occurred before. This was to be third such summit and Guam was chosen as the venue, partly because it was a safe and convenient location not far from Vietnam, and because Guam was a showcase of American overseas military power, close to the scene in Asia.
Some scholars believe that the meeting did not result in any major benefits in either securing victory for the anti-communist South or ending the war. The war dragged on and was eventually lost in 1975 by the South Vietnamese government and its increasingly-withdrawing American backers. These scholars say that the "Guam Conference" was hastily put together and was short on specific plans.
For the Chamorros and other residents of Guam, the Guam Conference was a rare opportunity to see and even touch a U.S. President. People lined the sides of Marine (Corps) Drive to see the presidential motorcade and went up to the airport, as well. Some of those at the airport got to shake hands with LBJ.
The Vietnam War was not just some war "far away" for many Guam families. They had sons and daughters in the U.S. military. Many Guam soldiers died in Vietnam.
Reflecting the kind of US patriotism seen among Chamorros in those days, perhaps because so many of our sons were fighting in Vietnam, a Chamorro man held up a sign at the airport when LBJ arrived advocating the bombing of Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, and other important cities. Since his family is still around and I am not sure how they would feel about it, I have covered the man's name.