The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

March/April 2004 POLICY FOR LETTERS

Letters

We welcome letters to the editor for publication in The VVA Veteran. We are interested in your criticism as well as your praise. Letters may be edited for purposes of clarity or space. Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.
   
 
HIGHWAY ONE REVISITED

I want to thank The VVA Veteran for recognizing, in the December 2003 issue, Chapter 53's actions in having California Highway 1 designated the Los Angeles Country Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway and as a Blue Star Memorial Highway. The California Legislature approved the Blue Star Memorial Highway designation on July 29. Those who attended our National Convention in St. Louis last summer may recall that I announced this statutory designation during one of our sessions.

As the creator of the project and donor of the marker, I have the Blue Star Memorial marker in the VVA Chapter 53 office in Redondo Beach. It will be placed on the grounds of the Redondo Beach Main Library/City Hall complex. We will have a dedication ceremony this spring. All VVA members are invited to attend.

Jerry Yamamoto
Redondo Beach, California

A LIFELINE

In the March/April 2003 "Books in Review'' column there was a review of a book called Call Sign Rustic: The Secret Air War Over Cambodia, 1970-1973 by Richard Wood, a retired USAF colonel. He was a Rustic FAC. I am very happy to know that the story is finally coming out. I have been trying to find information concerning this part of the war for a very long time, but I have not been able to find anything until a fellow inmate gave me his VVA Veteran.

I know that Col. Wood's story is true because I was a Forward Observer in Cambodia during the war. I served with the Cambodian Airborne Unit after I volunteered to go to Cambodia from Vietnam. I called and talked to American pilots to give coordinates almost every day. I also called and talked to C-130 gun ships to support the troops at night. Both were a lifeline to Cambodian soldiers, because without air support they would not survive long.

Vila Chau
Represa, California


WHERE WE WERE

I agree with Gary Gaugherty's letter in the August/September issue. There should be some kind of recognition for the combat support troops in the Vietnam conflict. In 1969, I was 17 and enlisted in the Air Force. My 19-year-old brother was already in Vietnam with the First Marine Division. Upon completing jet engine school, I volunteered to serve in country but was assigned to an Air Force base in Taiwan. This base was established in 1965 to provide combat support to troops serving in Vietnam.

We serviced B-52s, KC-135s, and C130s flying to and from Vietnam and the United States. This base served no other U.S. purpose. Shifts were 12 hours. The services provided by this base were critical to the operations these aircraft were involved with in Vietnam.

In 2002, I was completely amazed that after 32 years I was recognized by the Taiwanese government for having helped in their defense in 1969-70. Yet, to this day, I have not been recognized by my own country. I believe something like this should be done for those who helped support their brothers in Vietnam.

We were all in this together, no matter what we did or where we were. Whether processing paperwork, repairing jet engines, or pulling triggers, one wouldn't work without the other. I can see a day when a Vietnam Combat Support Veterans Association may take hold, and I'll be there to support it.

Tim Brothers
Via e-mail


FULL OF SAND

I recently joined VVA. I just received my first VVA Veteran, and I am favorably
impressed. The article "Death on the Evans'' by John Prados contains one small mistake. The author seems to have confused his civilian left, which he called starboard, with his military left, which is port. Many years ago one of the recruits in my platoon at Parris Island kept making the same error. Our DI made him carry a fire pail full of sand in his left hand for a couple of hours.

When he finally got to put the bucket down, the DI said that his military left was the side with the hand dragging on the ground. He never made that mistake again.

For those veterans who subscribe to military publications like The VVA Veteran and have occasion to visit a VA medical facility: When you finish with the magazine, take it to the waiting room. That way, other veterans can enjoy it, and it sure beats four-day-old newspapers or six-month-old issues of Good Housekeeping. Semper Fi.

Michael C. Ross
Laurel, Maryland


PTSD PERCEPTIONS

Bill Triplett's article "Proving PTSD Post-Prison Sentencing'' in the December issue was excellent. It strikes a sharp chord with me because I am in prison. When I was sentenced in 1986, PTSD was not recognized by the American judicial system. To this day, I have some serious problems with PTSD symptoms. At the time of my arrest I was awaiting a room in the VA psychiatric unit in Battle Creek, Michigan. That fact and the illness itself were ignored by everyone involved in my case, including my attorney. I'm sure that is exactly the same situation most vets encounter across the country.

The truth of the matter is that a veteran, especially a veteran with psychological problems, is perceived by the courts not as someone suffering from an illness deserving consideration of lesser culpability, but as someone who represents a significantly greater threat to the establishment. American veterans will continue to suffer this stigma because the American judicial system does not care one bit about them and neither does the U.S. government.

Robert B. Saunders
Jackson, Michigan

   

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