|Vietnam Veterans of America|
BEANS, BULLETS, & BANDAGES
“Supply Line on the Cua Viet River” (January/February) sure brought back memories. Around October-November 1969 l was TAD to a fuel supply depot on the coastline near the mouth of the river. My unit was Force Logistics Support Group-Bravo, Force Logistics Command, out of Dong Ha and attached to the 3rd Mar. Div.
My MOS was Motor-T. My 5-ton 6 × 6 and I were transported downriver to Cua Viet on a Navy boat. The people who bring you the “Beans, Bullets, and Bandages” are often not thanked.
Later on during my tour, we were out of Red Beach in Da Nang and attached to the 1st Mar. Div. My best friend, Cpl. Steven Boegli, gave his life delivering fresh water to the grunts. He was driving a 6 × 6 water tanker and ran over a mine. I was lucky in Nam; my mother prayed for me a lot.
William B. Carroll
Excellent article by Pete Peterson in the March/April issue. I have just one gripe. Pete says, “The membership must tell us what their needs are. We are not mind readers.” Right. But we need to be provided with the means to contact those who are in positions of responsibility and are writing informative committee reports, for example. I recommend that VVA include the email addresses of those who provide these updates.
I also suggest that VVA include the names of those legislators who have signed on as co-sponsors of the Major Richard Star Act, which would give full benefits to disabled veterans with fewer than 20 years in service. Better yet, name those representatives who have failed to co-sponsor this legislation—and challenge each of us to contact those we have elected and, well, you know.
So Pete is right: our vote, our right, our duty to care for those not as fortunate as we are.
HELPING INCARCERATED VETS, REALLY?
While jogging through my March/April 2022 issue, I ran across statements by D. Yezzo, the Incarcerated Veterans Committee chair. They were basically the same words that have been uttered by chair after chair, decade after decade. Helping paroled veterans is truly a positive deed. Curiously though, what about the veterans still incarcerated?
During 48 years of incarceration with positive rehabilitation, I have been an active participant with many prison veteran groups. This includes being a past board member of VVA Chapter 726. Never have I met a veteran who was being helped by VVA.
Please stop insinuating that VVA is helping the inside lives and chances for parole of us veterans. Yes, we are felons. We screwed up our lives and our victims’ lives. True, PTSD did help some of us to long-term imprisonment. But we were veterans prior to being labeled felons. Whatever happened to the “never leave anyone behind” mantra? I suppose those are just printed words.
NO SANTA CLAUSE
The Vice President’s Report in the March/April issue directed vets to get an ID to gain access to military base commissaries, PXs, etc. But when you go on the site to register, it specifically says the ID will not get you on a base and will not give you access to commissaries or PXs. All the ID is good for is to get discounts in restaurants, hotels, stores, and the like.
Your members are going to be very disappointed that you are wasting their time. Santa Claus is not here yet.
J. Gary Condon
Slight correction to Barry Gage’s letter concerning amnesty for those who fled to Canada to avoid the draft. The amnesty was for civilians only. Military deserters were subject to penalties under the UCMJ.
We had a deserter in our crew of guys who enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was from Hopkins, Minnesota. For years, even after the amnesty, FBI agents would occasionally come to the door and ask about our friend. One of our guys went to see his parents and was met with a very dramatic rejection.
From what I understand, there were very few, if any, imprisonments. Most men I have met turned themselves in upon return and were bureaucratically turned out within a day with an Undesirable Discharge.
John M. Flagler
I appreciate The VVA Veteran and look forward to reading it throughout the year. While reading through the March/April issue’s “50 Years Ago,” I realized that the information given for March 25, 1972, was incorrectly reported by DOD concerning Huey 69-15715, which was sent into Dak To on March 24 to recover the six-man MACV Advisory Group Team 22 from being overrun by the NVA.
My childhood friend, Spec.5 Ricky Vogel, was the crew chief on the slick Gladiator 715 that volunteered to go in and attempt the rescue of the MACV team. The team was picked up. But while gaining approximately 1,000 feet of altitude, the Huey was peppered with 127 rounds from the NVA, killing the pilot outright and mortally wounding the first officer who did a controlled crash whereupon the craft broke apart.
Of the crew of four and the six-man MACV team, five survived: Ricky and the door gunner and three of the MACV team. After flyovers, DOD listed all as KIA/BNR. The survivors were all injured, and it took 13 days while evading in an extremely hostile environment before a Montagnard who was working with Special Forces crossed their path and initiated a recovery.
I spoke with Ricky a few times long after the war and was given most of the above information directly from him. He was still very consumed by the war, believing the military had abandoned them through lack of diligence in ensuring there were no survivors. He died too young because of his experience.
He is interred in a cemetery a short distance from my home where a significant number of young men killed in the war are also at rest. One man I grew up with was a medic with the First Cav and was killed at LZ Becky on August 12, 1969. My cousin was killed while serving with B/1/46th Americal on August 12, 1968, near Hill 55 and is interred at Fort Scott National Cemetery.
I served with the Marine Corps in the war. Seven Marines I served with were killed during my tour and another was severely injured and taken prisoner by the NVA. He was released in March of ’73 and passed in 2019.
I just wanted to note that not all six of the advisors were killed in the shoot down, but several of the air crew also were lost.
Ken “Chris” Christeson
PFC Campbell was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and is buried in Port Alberni, British Columbia. His tour of duty began January 21, 1968; he died on April 26, 1968. He was in the 101st Airborne, 3/506 Infantry until he was transferred to the 327th Infantry in Vietnam.
The 3/506th was known as the Band of Brothers during World War II and the men of the Vietnam War era also consider themselves a band of brothers. They remember their brothers who made it home and those who didn’t. As a way to remember the 3/506 KIAs from 1967-71, flowers with a card are placed on each grave every Memorial Day.
It took many people years to hunt down those gravesites. The help of people outside of the 3/506 group was amazing, and includes funeral directors, school and local librarians, newspaper people, florists, family, and friends. Approximately 160 graves across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico receive flowers every year.
Thank you for recognizing the Canadians who served in Vietnam. The war made them all brothers.
How could you possibly use the “50 Years Ago” photo in the last issue? The caption says he’s “just returned from a mission.” The soldier is carrying a weapon slung around his neck in apposition, which would make it extremely difficult to fire in any position other than standing. Hung around his neck and laying on top of his magazine pouch are machinegun belts of ammunition that would not stay there except in a standing still-position. The grenades hung on his belt would not stay there if he ever hit the deck and crawled.
This picture was not of an infantry soldier. He was more than likely a rear-area poge, and the picture most likely was taken to impress someone back home or non-infantry veterans of his “combat” involvement.
In the future, please use photos that are realistic.
Fredrick P. Peterkin
WEAR THE MEDAL
I read Bob Kuhn’s “Am I a Real Vietnam Veteran” with keen interest. In his closing statement he addresses “all of my fellow Vietnam veterans.” I am a VVA life member but, unlike Bob, I have never doubted my Vietnam veteran status. I can state with absolute certainty that I AM NOT a Vietnam veteran. I never had boots on the ground and never sailed in Southeast Asian blue waters.
After a 31-year Navy career I went to Egypt as a contractor and served there intermittently for 20 years supporting U.S. Army and Air Force personnel. Upon my retirement from my expat job and returning to my home town, the local VVA chapter discovered me. Some of the members vigorously recruited me. I resisted. One member took great pains to explain to me that the organization was for Vietnam Era veterans. After more persuasion I reluctantly joined the chapter.
Although the members welcomed me with open arms, I still consider myself an outsider. I have a chapter name badge with the VVA logo. Other than that, I refuse to wear the Vietnam Service Ribbon colors of yellow, red, and green. Even when wearing the small name badge, it feels as if I am participating in stolen valor.
A couple of years ago, the chapter elected me as their president. I considered this a great honor; however, I accepted the position with as much reluctance as I had when I initially joined the group. Now, when I stand facing the group at monthly meetings, I see camo trousers bloused over muddy boots. I smell battlefield rations. I hear projectiles whizzing overhead with some maybe landing nearby. I realize the great price these men paid so that I could spend an entire career on mostly landlocked bases in the United States well out of harm’s way. To these men and all of the other men and women who saw duty in Southeast Asia I owe a debt of gratitude.
I would like to thank my fellow chapter members for accepting me as I am. And I would like to say to Bob Kuhn, “Please wear your yellow, red, and green Vietnam Service Ribbon with great pride. You earned it.”
Bernard E. Wooley
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