Vietnam Commander Westmoreland Dies

07/19/2005 at 08:40 AM EDT

Vietnam Commander Westmoreland Dies
AP Photo
Retired Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who commanded American troops in Vietnam from 1964-68, died of natural causes Monday night at a South Carolina retirement home where he lived with his wife, said their son, James Ripley Westmoreland. The brigadier was 91.

Westmoreland, who rose through the ranks quickly in Europe during World War II and later became superintendent of the military academy West Point (where he had graduated in 1936), always contended that the United States did not lose the war in Southeast Asia.

"It's more accurate to say our country did not fulfill its commitment to South Vietnam," he said. "By virtue of Vietnam, the U.S. held the line for 10 years and stopped the dominoes from falling."

He also admitted that he did not know how history would treat him.

"Few people have a field command as long as I did," he said. "They put me over there and they forgot about me. But I was there seven days a week, working 14 to 16 hours a day.

"I have no apologies, no regrets. I gave my very best efforts," he went on to say. "I've been hung in effigy. I've been spat upon. You just have to let those things bounce off."

After his tour in Vietnam, Gen. Westmoreland was promoted to Army chief of staff. He retired from active duty in 1972.

He and the former Katherine "Kitzy" Van Deusen had three children.

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