General Pete Piotrowski Says U.S. Alerted North Vietnamese before Bombing Strikes-Authorship Confirmed!

General Pete Piotrowski Says U.S. Alerted North Vietnamese before Bombing Strikes-Authorship Confirmed!

Summary of eRumor:  

Retired U.S. General Pete Piotrowski wrote in his book that the U.S. government alerted the North Vietnamese government about its bombing targets ahead of time.

The Truth:


It’s true that retired General John “Pete” Piotrowski relayed this accusation in his book, “Basic Airman to General: The Secret War & Other Conflicts: Lessons in Life and Leadership.”

The claim that the U.S. notified the North Vietnamese government of airstrikes ahead of time went viral in early 2015 when an excerpt from General Piotrowski’s book appeared in chain emails:

“Nearly twenty years later, I saw former Secretary of State Dean Rusk being interviewed by Peter Arnett on a CBS documentary called ‘The Ten Thousand Day War.’  Mr Arnett asked, ‘It has been rumored that the United States provided the North Vietnamese government the names of the targets that would be bombed the following day. Is there any truth to that allegation?’

“To my astonishment and absolute disgust, the former Secretary responded, ‘Yes. We didn’t want to harm the North Vietnamese people, so we passed the targets to the Swiss embassy in Washington with instructions to pass them to the NVN government through their embassy in Hanoi.” 

It should be noted that documentary “The Ten Thousand Day War” was made by the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC), not CBS, as the email states.

In the book, General Piotrowski also said former Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “All we wanted to do is demonstrate to the North Vietnamese leadership that we could strike targets at will, but we didn’t want to kill innocent people. By giving the North Vietnamese advanced warning of the targets to be attacked, we thought they would tell the workers to go home.”

Dean Rusk served as secretary of state under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson. It’s true that Rusk issued “warnings” to the North Vietnamese to deter North Vietnamese aggression toward South Vietnam leading up to U.S. ground troops being deployed, but it’s not clear that warnings were sent after combat operations began. On May 22, 1964, Rusk warned North Vietnam in a speech before the American Law Institute in Washington, D.C.:

“Secretary of State Dean Rusk explicitly accuses North Vietnam of initiating and directing the aggression in South Vietnam. U.S. withdrawal, said Rusk, ‘would mean not only grievous losses to the free world in Southeast and Southern Asia but a drastic loss of confidence in the will and capacity of the free world.’ He concluded: ‘There is a simple prescription for peace — leave your neighbors alone.” In the fall, there was incontrovertible evidence that North Vietnamese regular troops were moving down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to join the Viet Cong in their war against the Saigon government and its forces.’ 

Military advisors were present in Vietnam as Dean Rusk tried to broker peace in 1964, but U.S. combat units weren’t deployed to Vietnam until 1965, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

As for General John “Pete” Piotrowski, he went on to serve as commander-in-chief at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Space Command. As an Air Force command pilot he logged more than 5,000 flying hours, which included 100 combat missions, according to his official Air Force bio.