In the 1960s and 1970s the war in Vietnam occupied the hearts and minds of most Americans, and they responded to the turbulence in a variety of ways.
Many South Carolinians sponsored chapters of the Rally Support for Vietnam Personnel (RSVP) program in an effort to support U.S. troops fighting in Southeast Asia. Over one hundred civic clubs, church groups and other organizations in the Columbia area “adopted” units of the 1st Cavalry Airmobile Division as part of the morale-boosting program. At right and below, some fruits of the RSVP program - a soldier of the 1st Cavalry marks a piece of equipment as he and fellow troops join with the South Vietnamese to build a school house in An Khe.
Governor McNair urged South Carolinians to support the war effort. Speaking at the 43rd Annual "Singing on the Mountain" at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, McNair said, "We would urge Americans to stand together and let our men in Vietnam know that we are behind them 100 percent." He also believed that the American people "are still dedicated to the great principles on which this country was founded."
U.S. Army Chief of Staff, and native South Carolinian, General William C. Westmoreland was fêted in Columbia with a dinner in his honor on November 11, 1968. The evening was a generally light-hearted affair, but according to The Columbia Record one "punctuated sharply at times with poignant reminders of the Vietnam War." The guest list included Senators Hollings and Thurmond and comedian Bob Hope, whose wife Dolores sits chatting with McNair and the General in the picture at right.
In 1970 President Richard Nixon assembled a thirteen-member fact-finding task force on the Indo-China War comprised of U.S. governors, senators and congressmen. Governor McNair (left) and other members of the group embarked on an inspection tour of U.S. operations in South Vietnam and Cambodia in June of that year. As part of the tour, they visited a center for Communist defectors in the Mekong Delta and questioned village officials in Huu Thanh about the success of the pacification program, before crossing the border to visit the Cambodian district capital of Kompong Trach.
In something of a reciprocal visit, a group of officers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam arrived at Fort Jackson to begin a four-day stay in Columbia in September of 1970. The purpose of their visit was to learn about the training programs and overall mission of the Fort. Their itinerary also included tours of the Governor's Mansion, the Capitol, the farmers' market, and the Tricentennial Exposition Center.