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

January/February 2006 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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.
   

SHOOTING STAR
“The Ballad of Speedy and Short” in the September/October issue of The VVA Veteran described a 1969 battle I was in with my friend, Gary Meneley (Short), our subsequent separation, and our reunion. I have some information I need to share with everyone.

Gary called me. He recently received his 201 File military records, which he had requested as part of a claim he is filing. But what surprised him—delighted him—was a notation in his file that he had been awarded the Bronze Star for his actions on May 12, 1969 (our Night of Hell). This was news to him: he had never been told about the award, and it didn’t appear on his DD-214.

Boy, was he excited. After 36 years, he is going to make sure it’s in his possession as soon as possible. Only thing is, how does he proceed? Any suggestions?

Ed “Speedy” Sona
Clifford Beach, New Jersey
 


STUNNING
Many thanks to VVA for the November/December front cover and the in-depth interview of photographer Jeff Wolin’s work in the Arts of War column. Each stunning portrait and story provides an unsparing look at the heart of combat and its aftermath. That’s Dave Cline in the center. Like many who saw combat in Vietnam, he’s been through a lot. Overcoming hardship, Dave heads up both VVAW and VFP.
Marc Levy
Via e-mail
 


CONTINUED VIGILANCE
The article in the November/December issue by Richard Currey about the trial and challenges of Marine Gunnery Sergeant Matthew Hevezi was compelling and frightening. Once again, we have the portrayal of senior military leadership who care little about the men they are sworn to lead and care for. While we are fortunate that all senior military leaders are not of the reckless and insensitive nature that have contributed to the havoc Hevezi appears to have suffered, just a few like them is enough to create and justify the continued internal vigilance all veterans and active military must maintain.

It is appalling that any senior military leader would disdain moral conscience and responsibility for the personal politics reflected in the article. Yet history is replete with such instances. Yes, the use of Lariam and other quasi-experimental drugs on uniformed military personnel is tragic, but the denial, obfuscation, and crass irresponsibility shown by leaders is more than abhorrent. It is criminal.

Thomas J. Wiltzius
Via e-mail
 


IT’S WONDERFUL
I want to thank everyone at VVA for doing such a great job and for putting out a wonderful magazine. May the world never forget what our Vietnam veterans and all veterans have had to endure. Most people will never know or understand unless they served in the military. God bless and be with our veterans and present military service personnel.

Paul G. Chapman
Newark, Ohio
 


GRACIOUS LADY
When I opened my copy of the November/December issue, I found a picture of a lady I remember from my time in Vietnam. I was one of the older men there, being all of 30. I had been wounded a week or so before and was in my bed in the Naval Hospital at Danang. A USO group came through the ward, and this lady came to my bed and said, “You probably don’t know me.” I said, “You’re Ann B. Davis. I remember you from the Bob Cummings Show.”

This gracious lady then sat down on the edge of my bed, and we talked for about an hour. The rest of the group had gone on. They finally came back looking for her, and she left with them. It has been a long time since then, and this great lady has never received the recognition that she so richly deserves for lifting the spirits of at least one Seabee that afternoon. I don’t even remember the others who were on the tour, but I do remember Ann B. Davis.

Fred W. Malone
Greenwood, South Carolina
 


ACE ON THE WEB
The great article in the November/December issue about Ace Lundon brought back some wonderful memories. I visited the web site mentioned in the article and was able to see lots of pictures of shows and the people in them. I would strongly recommend to anyone who was at Camp Pendleton during this period to visit www.vietnamjeanlondonshow.com

Frank Gillette
Via e-mail
 


A BUNCH OF BULL
This PTSD review is just another reason to stick it to the Vietnam veteran. President Bush has gotten us into such a deficit with the Iraq mess that now the government is trying to make up for it by targeting those who risked their lives for this country. 

The original reason for the IG investigation was that some veterans complained about the disparities in claim awards in different VA regions. What does that mean? Texas, being the largest state, probably has the most veterans. Does the complaint refer to Texans; that is, Hispanics or blacks? Is this maybe a race issue? It may sound far fetched, but one never knows. There seems to be bias as to those who were infantry and those who weren’t. I heard that from a couple of veterans in a counseling group. According to one, if you weren’t in the infantry or in Vietnam during Tet 1968, your trauma couldn’t have been as bad as his. What kind of bull is that?

You didn’t have to be a grunt to see the ugly things of war. I was a combat engineer. Although our company’s casualties were light, I saw plenty of things that I will never forget and that affected me. But how could I prove that I saw those civilian dead children blown in half, decapitated, or American dead lying on the road, all distorted, burned to death? I know what I saw, and I never want to see it again.

The VA is, in effect, calling some vets liars. Who will make up this review board? Let me guess. People who have never seen for themselves the ugliness of war. It’s a bunch of crap, if you ask me.

David A. Garcia
Via e-mail
 


FROM INSIDE
I noticed a troubling tendency of thought in Jim Anders’ letter in the September/ October issue. The thought I hear implied is the discounting of what veterans incarcerated deserve. Why should we have a voice? Why should we be grateful for better prison conditions, for an end to stigma, for having hopes, dreams, and ambitions? Why should we feel blessed for any hard-fought legal protections for fundamental social change to combat injustice and recognition of us as real human beings?

The message is that we’re lucky to be alive, so we should just shut the hell up. That message, however, is a way of squashing the moral insights, the emotional and spiritual healing, as well as a re-commitment to America we, who have been disenfranchised by society, have earned through living with the consequences of our actions and behavior choices.

I have survived and healed in prison because I’m lucky to have the strong support of family, church, and friends—something many men in prison do not have. But my successful rehabilitation has required hard work and an effort of body, mind, and soul that only those who have been seriously wounded by life can appreciate.

So, please continue to include the stories of all veterans. Articles such as Michael Keating’s concerning veterans incarcerated are precisely what is needed, deserved, and required for the readership as well as the community.

Phillip Carter
Parchman, Mississippi
 


THE BIG PICTURE
After hearing what happened with my Resolution at the VVA Convention in Reno, I was disappointed. The Resolution attempted to correct (not change) the eligibility requirements for the award of the Vietnam Service Medal to include military personnel stationed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand from 1961-1975.

My original Resolution included U.S.A.F. bases in Guam, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand. This was removed by VVA. The Vietnam Service Medal, to me, represents recognition for a group of veterans who are deserving, but also is based on favoritism and exclusion, which so accurately is defined in the term “in- country.”

The war was not only in Vietnam. During the war, U.S. military personnel stationed throughout Southeast Asia directly supported the war in Vietnam through a variety of missions: direct bombing, aerial refueling, reconnaissance, bomb damage assessments, medical evacuations, logistics support, and other essential missions by all branches.

The gentleman at the Convention who stated that in-country veterans are the only ones who deserve to be recognized by the award is very narrow minded and knows only the small picture of what happened. I would like to point out that thousands of personnel who supported the war who were stationed in Southeast Asia did not qualify for any ribbon or medal for their war-time service in the theater.

I had hopes that all of VVA would come to understand that the Cold War battle for democracy in Vietnam was in Southeast Asia. I would like to thank all those who supported my Resolution at the Convention.

Jack Head
Laconia, New Hampshire
 

   

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