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

July/August 2005 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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.
   
 
A TEAM EFFORT

Having recently observed the 37th anniversary of the battles at the Kham Duc Special Forces Camp and its forwarding operating base at Ngok Tavak, it is fitting for the veterans’ community and their families to know that VVA has perhaps achieved one of its greatest and most significant contributions to America. As I write this letter of grateful appreciation, the U.S. Marine Corps is notifying families that the remains of their loves ones have been recovered and, in some cases, have been positively identified.

This remarkable achievement is a direct result of VVA’s Veterans Initiative and its ongoing involvement with and support of the Kham Duc-Ngok Tavak Project since 1994. This effort, which has benefited from the involvement of many family members, veterans of the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Army Special Forces, along with the Australian Army, has finally brought some closure and peace of mind to those involved who are working toward achieving the fullest possible accounting of our dead and missing brothers.

In recent conversations with family members and the veterans who served at Kham Duc and Ngok Tavak, I have been asked to extend a very special thanks to VVA, its team members, and leaders who participated in the field operations and negotiations with the Vietnamese, and to the U.S. military members involved in this remarkable endeavor. This project was, and remains, a team effort.

Tim Brown
Dallas


CORE VALUES

Reading the Government Relations column in the May/June issue of The VVA Veteran was very interesting. Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), in responding to VVA President Thomas Corey, spoke nothing short of political rhetoric. Rep. Buyer likes to speak of his strong military family background. He speaks of core values and the VA. Let us not be fooled.

The firing of Rep. Chris Smith, who served on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee for 23 years, four years as chairman, was politics at its worst. Rep. Buyer is in lockstep with the administration, which is trying to plunder the VA healthcare system. This is immoral.

We have soldiers returning from Iraq who will need the VA. I encourage all veterans to contact their elected representatives in the House and Senate and request that the VA be properly funded.

Andrew Butzko
Via e-mail


THE WOMEN

This is in reference to your article, “Vietnam Veterans and Alcoholism,” by Thomas Brinson and Vince Treanor. Apparently these men aren’t aware or don’t care that over 10,000 women also served in Vietnam and came home with many of the same problems as the men, i.e., PTSD, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, etc. It’s time that women were included in these studies and articles.

Karen Offutt
Via e-mail

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the August 1984 issue, and was reprinted in the March/April issue along with two other previously published VVA Veteran articles on PTSD.


SHAME AND EXPEDIENCY

I want again to thank you for the article in The VVA Veteran and for the interest expressed by veterans of the Vietnam era in the sad events that befell the intelligence ship, the USS Liberty. Also, I wanted to give you an update.

On June 8, a Report of War Crimes brief was filed on behalf of the USS Liberty Veterans Association concerning the 1967 Israeli attack on that vessel. The report was filed with the Secretary of Defense on the 38th anniversary of the attack.

On that day in 1967, while patrolling in international waters, the ship to which I was attached was attacked by Israeli air and naval forces. More than thirty sorties were flown over the ship by at least a dozen warplanes. After the first fighter aircraft exhausted their ordnance, subsequent flights continued to prosecute the attack with rockets, cannon fire, and napalm. Air attacks were followed by a surface attack by three torpedo boats. Five torpedoes were launched; one struck the side of the Liberty opposite the ship’s research spaces.

Following the torpedo attack, the boats moved up and down the length of the ship, raking it with cannon and machine-gun fire. Crewmen later counted 861 holes in the ship, each at least the size of a man’s fist, as well as thousands of machine-gun holes. “The torpedo boats circled the ship for a long time firing at close range at anything that moved,” survivor James Ennes testified. “Men trying to aid their wounded shipmates on deck were fired upon. Men fighting fires were fired upon.”

Although the order was given to prepare to abandon ship, it had to be rescinded because the crew was unable to stand on the main deck without being fired upon and the lifeboats were being destroyed as they were launched.

Israeli attack helicopters appeared overhead. The Liberty’s captain gave the order to “prepare to repel boarders.” Then, despite radio scrambling, the ship’s radio operators sent a brief distress signal that was received and acknowledged by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Aircraft were launched to come to the aid of the Liberty.

Shortly after the Sixth Fleet transmission of rules of engagement, the helicopters disappeared. The Israeli torpedo ships broke off their attack and signaled in English: “Do you need assistance?”

Thirty-four Americans lay dead. One hundred seventy-three were wounded. And the Liberty, a forty-million dollar ship, the world’s most advanced intelligence platform, was so badly damaged it had to be sold for scrap.

The Sixth Fleet’s planes were recalled. Never before in American history had a rescue mission been cancelled when an American ship was under attack. The inquiry that followed was humiliatingly brief. When the report was delivered to Washington, President Johnson and Defense Secretary McNamara had it substantially rewritten to conclude that the attack was a case of mistaken identity And for almost forty years there has been an official cover-up.

We have been betrayed by our government. We ask for the help of our brother and sister Vietnam veterans in finding justice. How can any American fightingman feel safe when other nations know his murder may go unpunished?

John Hrankowski
Rochester, N.Y.


GOODRUM UPDATE

I would like to express my appreciation to Richard Currey for writing “Waiting for Justice” in the March/April issue and Mokie Pratt Porter who asked him to write it. I wanted to let you know that on March 15, the Commanding General for the Military District of Washington dismissed all court martial charges against me and decided to pursue non-judicial punishment for the alleged charges.

On April 1, an Article 15 hearing was conducted and I was found not guilty on one charge and guilty on another. An appeal has been submitted through the Commander of the Military District of Washington because of tainted evidence, violations of procedures, denial of rights of the accused, and unjust command influence. I am still waiting for justice.

Ironically, I was promoted to the rank of Captain on February 14.

Jullian P. Goodrum
Washington, D.C.

   

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