new documentary first shown late last month on Spain's Historia cable channel reveals the secret involvement of Spanish army medical corps staff on the side of the United States during the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s.
In 1965, after increasing the number of US troops in its fight to prop up the regime in South Vietnam against the communist forces led by Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked General Franco to contribute a military contingent to the war effort.
After lengthy debate between his ministers, Franco took the advice of General Agustín Muñoz Grandes, a senior member of his government, and the man who had commanded the Blue Division, the 45,000-strong force sent by Franco to support Hitler's invasion of Russia.
Muñoz Grandes had close contacts with the US military, and had negotiated agreements with Washington. He saw Spanish participation in the war as an opportunity to further strengthen ties with the United States. But Franco was even more cautious in committing himself to the US cause than he was about Hitler's, and finally decided to send a medical team of around 30 people, and under strict secrecy.