|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Just a note to say that the July/August issue is terrific.
The cover, featuring the Morgan County Vietnam Memorial being set in place, is very heart-warming—especially these days when some want to tear down our military (figuratively and literally).
I also got caught up in the “50 Years Ago” snippets. Takes me back to reading the newspaper as a teenager when so much was going on in America and Vietnam.
Thanks for this issue.
The photo accompanying “50 Years Ago” in the last issue depicts troops of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry. It should also have been noted that the 4th of the 31st was part of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, the last combat unit to leave country.
While recently visiting the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri, I was dismayed to see that chemical defoliants had been sprayed on the graves in some sections.
Apparently they are going to put down new sod, but it struck me as ironic that some of those veterans were sprayed with Agent Orange in Vietnam.
I understand why they did it, but it choked me up to see it because many of my friends are still suffering from exposure to AO.
James Lee Stroup
The frustration of Navy vets struggling for Agent Orange disability compensation reminded me of my own in seeking eligibility. I was stationed in Okinawa from 1966-69 and flew C-130s. Our primary mission was flying out of Danang throughout Southeast Asia, but on a TDY basis. During those three years I flew 957 combat sorties and more than 1,500 hours of combat time. However, my DD-214 showed only “SE Asia.”
When I applied to the VA for Agent Orange coverage, I was turned down because my record only showed Southeast Asia, not boots on the ground. I looked for my TDY records, but after seven household moves, they were gone. Then I remembered that I had the same problem when I returned home and applied for a Vietnam bonus of $1,000 from my home state of Pennsylvania—no boots on the ground.
At that time I still had some of my TDY records and submitted them to the state and got my bonus. After more than 40 years, I contacted the state records department and within minutes had my TDY records faxed to me. I submitted them as proof and was admitted under the AO program.
None of the USAF C-130s flying in Vietnam were stationed there permanently. All were based in Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines. There were as many as 96 C-130s in the country at one time. That’s a lot of crew members over the period of the war. Is there any solution for those crew members who no longer have TDY orders? Is that an ongoing problem or is there another solution for them?
I’m just wondering if anyone found a solution to this problem.
I knew a man named Jim Boots, a member of VVA’s Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter 862. Short of stature and stocky, he was unpretentious, mild-mannered, almost meek. Humble and unassuming, he was dedicated to serving others and was an active participant in veterans organizations.
I was surprised to find out when he passed last year that he was a war hero, having been awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. Even more surprising was the fact that he had been honored in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh. He was also an award-winning athlete who set the record for Riverside High School’s long jump.
Jim Boots’ family was his whole life. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He never mentioned a word about his awards the whole time I knew him. He was just quietly courageous.
I found Marc Leepson’s article in the May/June issue, “Accounting for the Dead,” interesting. I had a friend—Spec4 Richard Arthur Walrod—killed in Quang Tri Province on November 14, 1965. He was with 1st Infantry, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry, HQ Company. The cause of death was “non-hostile, accidental homicide, ground homicide.” What is “accidental homicide”? Was someone trying to kill someone else and killed him instead? His name is on The Wall.
I have always searched for the truth. I will continue searching.
Also, I’m glad you’ve returned to print. I turn to Books in Review and check it out first. “Come Fly the World” was good. “You Don’t Belong Here” also was a good read. Keep ’em coming.
T. Ann Ruby
LOCATOR & REUNIONS
The Locator works! A few years back I posted this photo, not knowing who the other Marines were with me. You are looking at Bravo Co., 1st Tanks, 1st Marine Div. On the same Hill 55 (between Danang and Chu Lai) next to us were 7th Marines, where The Duke had just come from before visiting our camp.
Because of the Locator, I got calls from L/Cpl. Denton in Ohio, Rick Lewis in California, and Earl Hambly in Pennsylvania. Even stranger, Lewis and I had been attending the same reunion for years.
More on the “No Chance of Unity” letter by John Thompson. I spent my 21st year in Vietnam as a grunt with an Air Cavalry platoon. I went over believing in what we were doing and came home disillusioned by what we did to the people and countryside. I am by no means a pacifist. Businesses made a lot of money off the blood and sweat of my fellow soldiers, families were torn apart by the deaths of over 58,000 of “America’s Finest.” All the while these same businesses sent us substandard food and equipment while pretending that they cared.
As for Mr. Thompson’s claim that we, the “Left,” don’t love our country or our flag—which one? I’m confused because I know only one: Old Glory. There are so many now: blue stripe, red stripe, pictures of draft dodgers on the red, white. and blue, outdated 13 colonies, you name it. Of course, they haven’t read the protocols on displaying our flag with the desecration extending to hats, shirts, bikinis, shoes, and socks.
I’ll certainly identify myself as left, liberal, and proud to have served my country. I met some fine men over there and some believe as l do. I’m happy to see the Vietnamese live in safety without fear of being killed in their sleep, although to this day they fly the flag of a communist nation.
I know brotherhood. We come in all colors and walks of life. Mr. Thompson called us freeloaders, but conveniently forgets that the oil industry is subsidized to the tune of over $600 billion a year and then screws us at the pumps. Farmers received over $28 billion to help them stay in business after a misguided tariff was implemented, but the money never trickled down to those farmers who needed it the most.
My issue is really with VVA Veteran Editor Michael Keating for printing Mr. Thompson’s letter. A while ago you tried to pass a gold coin of the draft dodger president upon us. You were met with disdain. We now know that your motives are not objective, in that you’ve given Mr. Thompson the platform he was seeking by labeling us right or left.
By printing Mr. Thompson’s letter, you now own it. I agree with Richard Timmerman in the May/June issue: Tear down your bunkers, empty your sandbags, pick up your Claymores, and turn off the lights at VVA headquarters. Lock the door and throw away the keys. You got my money years ago as a life member when you were a viable organization. I’ve decided to resign my membership.
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