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January/February 2024  -   -  


On the November/December cover, you had a photo of Vietnam War nurses. This is an amazing photograph of those angels.

I was a Dustoff medic for the 237th Med Det and worked with a couple of them in Vietnam at the 95th Evac in Da Nang and the 18th Surgical Hospital in Quang Tri. They were the true angels, while we were angels from above. We saved many lives.

Wayne Gordon
via email

Broad Generalization

In Vice President Tom Burke’s report in the November/December issue he mentions an unpleasant personal experience in attempting to reach a department in a VA hospital. Rather than identifying the hospital where the problem occurred (so that it might get fixed), he instead alludes to his problem as part of “systemic issues plaguing the VA today,” thereby throwing all VA hospitals under the proverbial bus.

I have been in the VA hospital system since 1970, soon after returning from Vietnam. Since that time, I have been treated at the Oscar G. Johnson Medical Center in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Over many years, the treatment and interactions with staff have consistently been exceptional.

I don’t think Tom Burke intended to create an impression that all VA hospitals have “systemic” problems, but ultimately his words may have created that impression.

Rather than generalize about problems within the system, let’s name the problem facilities so corrections can be made. Otherwise, we do a great disservice to the many employees in the system who work hard and give their best efforts to me and my fellow veterans in their care.

Ron Lovel
via email

A Too-Familiar Story

Like Frank Gattuso and apparently others, I was also uneasy about seeking help from the VFW with my Agent Orange application since I wasn’t a member. But I decided to give them a try.

Upon walking in, I was ignored. Then I went to the office where a woman was talking on the phone. She ignored me until her long conversation ended. When told what I wanted, she asked me a couple of questions and told me she didn’t think I qualified for anything.

That was very discouraging and disheartening. I left deflated and felt unimportant. I was never greeted by anyone or even asked my name.

A fellow veteran told me to try again later. I went to a group of volunteers in Norman, Oklahoma. With their help, I applied and was approved for a 60 percent disability. Thank God for those willing to help others and for fellow veterans who care.

I thought about joining the American Legion or VFW but discovered that the same people run both organizations. Not interested.

Now I am a life member of VVA.

George Palmer
via email

Parting Misfire

Lou Pagano, shown in the “Parting Shot” in the last issue, was in Dong Ha at the same time I was serving as a battery commander with the 94th Field Artillery. The 2/94th Field Artillery was formed at Fort Sill in 1966 with the mission of providing General Support Reinforcing for the 3rd Marine Division deployed along the DMZ between North and South Vietnam.

It was a 175mm artillery unit that could “reach out and tickle” the North Vietnam at ranges twice as far as our organic field artillery could. The entire time that I was in country it had batteries at Camp Carroll and Rockville so that it could cover nearly the entire DMZ from Khe Sanh to the South China Sea.

Lou is cleaning an M109 155mm howitzer, not an M107 175mm gun (not a howitzer, which had a shorter range.) The M109 had a muzzle break (the end of the barrel where Lou is standing) but the M107 did not have it.

We were proud to provide our long-range fire support to the Marines, and they gave us grudging appreciation for that added range. We appreciated that, and appreciated the physical security that they gave us.

Tom Sharratt
via email

My Gun

Always love your magazine and all the articles. The “Parting Shot” in the last issue, though, shows the end of the barrel of what I am pretty sure is an M109 155mm howitzer, not the M107 175mm as stated in the story.

I salute Lou Pagano’s artillery service in Vietnam. My gun was the M109 155 of B Battery, 5/16 Arty, 4th Infantry, in the Central Highlands in 1969.

Jerald Stroebele
via email

Parting Note

Normally, after I just receive the latest issue I thumb through and scan quickly. But the “Parting Shot” really caught my eye, and I read it very carefully and noted two unusual things. First, it indicates Pagano is doing maintenance on the howitzer’s fume extractor. But he is working on a M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer, not the M107, which has a very long barrel, no turret, and certainly no extractor.

The second odd thing is the barrel is surprisingly clean. Marines, especially those of the 3rd Marine Division, weren’t noted for their particular exemplary housekeeping habits, except their M-16s were clean.

Tony Ashdown
via email

Its About Time

It’s about time someone talked about Universal National Service. I hope it’s not just talk. I have been advocating for it to anyone who would listen.

The only thing I disagree with is when VVA President Jack McManus advocated the freedom to choose a type of National Service. I feel many men and women, regardless of their family’s income level, should serve two years in a military branch, learning a trade, learning about working with other nationalities, and learning about themselves. We need to continue to build a strong military, especially around advanced technology.

Richard Faucher, Sr.
via email

In Support of Service

I agree wholeheartedly with Bill Graham’s article on Universal National Service. All Americans should ask what President Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” As Graham said, service to our country will “rebuild a sense of civic duty and shared responsibility among all citizens.”

I believe that a sense of patriotism and pride in America would come with National Service, too. Being able to support the freest country ever by such service is a very honorable and high calling.

I encourage my legislators to support a Universal National bill when one is introduced in our Congress. Even though I had a draft deferment, I enlisted at 26 in the Air Force and completed 23 years active duty and 3 years Reserve duty and am proud to have served.

Terry D. Mone
via email

Poor Case

I was disappointed in the article detailing the case for Universal National Service by Bill Graham. Simply put, compulsory servitude violates the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The 13th Amendment clearly states that mandatory service infringes on Americans’ constitutional right to liberty. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

The Supreme Court sustained military conscription during wars declared by Congress, but there is no similar justification for a civilian draft or public service in peacetime.

While some consider the Constitution a rough guideline which may be ignored at the whim of whomever is elected to power, I am among those who consider it a strict ruleset, an architecture, to constrain government’s growth and power. A government given too much power and then falls into the wrong hands is perhaps the greatest threat to America’s Constitutional Republic.

This is yet another example of old men ignoring the Constitution for political gain or unproven public benefit, in this case by imposing involuntary mandatory labor on the young. I certainly hope it is not the position of VVA to support this.

Alan P. Alborn
via email

Wouldn't It Be Nice

Bill Graham’s “Speak Out” makes a good case for National Service. It would be nice to instill Americanism back in our world. Unfortunately, it won’t happen in this country.

We are running on politics and capitalism. Those two variables make knowing someone and buying someone facts of life. There will always be the entitled who will have bone spurs or other issues to exempt them from any service. If that doesn’t work, then parents will make a great donation to their local politico and they’ll join the exempt.

That being said, as a Marine, I wouldn’t want someone next to me who didn’t want to be there and whined all the time, although we lose most of them in boot camp.

A commitment to America and working together with common values to build a better country all are noble causes. I wish we still had them.

Bill Schrum
via email

Service In Perspective

My veteran community has been discussing Universal National Service for many years. We have a historical perspective with the CCC and WPA programs. We mostly agree that the value to our country regarding national defense, infrastructure, and realizing that freedom is not free would be a byproduct of National Service. There are too many citizens who have no investment in their country. How about a system that includes a free educational component?

Tim Clark
via email

Worth Remembering

Thank you for the coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Woman’s Memorial in the November/December 2023 issue. However, a very important part of that story that was not mentioned: that the memorial was the work of a talented Texas woman, Glenna Goodacre. She has passed away, but I am sure that her family would appreciate an acknowledgement of her stunning creation.

Rose Morrow Schroeder
via email

Regarding Recon

Regarding the article in the last issue, “At the Brink Along the DMZ,” the information given about the reconnaissance aircraft shot down by North Korea in 1969 is incorrect. The plane originated at Naval Air Station, Atsugi, Japan, with a primary flight crew of Navy personnel. There were also Army personnel manning some of the electronic equipment.

Thirty-one brave Americans were shot down. There were no Air Force personnel aboard or involved.

Gerald Laffey
via email

Fantastic Flight

As an alumni Honor Flight participant, I was able to experience a day of honor at our nation’s memorials in Washington, D.C. I urge my fellow veterans to do an online search for Honor Flight Network for details.

No matter where you live, they will cover costs to give you the experience of a lifetime.

Rick Waldo
via email




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