“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
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
Ed “Speedy” Sona
Clifford Beach, New Jersey
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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-
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
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
Laconia, New Hampshire