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



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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

Thank you for your very informative article on SHAD in the February/March issue. In 1964, while aboard the U.S.S. Isle Royale, the crew was ordered to man their battle stations with long-sleeve shirts although the weather was warm. We were not told it was a test. We were led to believe that we were possibly being attacked. Most of the crew was issued gas masks, but some, including myself, were not. Sounds like the SHAD tests to me.

Within weeks I became very ill. I was admitted into the ship's hospital where I went for about two weeks without food or IV. The corpsmen extracted nine tubes of blood twice a day. I remember waking up and vomiting a dark green substance. At the end of the two weeks I had lost 50 pounds. I began to have health problems just three days after I was released from active duty in January 1966.

In 2000 I became increasingly suspicious that the multitude of illnesses I suffered from might be service connected. I submitted a request for my medical records in December. I still have not heard anything. In November 2001 I decided to file a formal VA claim although I still did not have my medical records from the service. That claim is now pending.

If it would be helpful, I could provide more details about all this. I am hopeful that if I -along with other veterans - who were possibly involved in SHAD pool their information it may help other veterans with their VA claims.

Raymond H. Veitmeier
Via e-mail


I served in the Navy from 1965-71 and was on several ships on the East Coast. I served for two years aboard the U.S.S. Howard W. Gilmore. Does anyone have any information on ships in Charleston,  S.C., that may have been involved in the SHAD tests or if any such testing was done in Washington, D.C., where I was awaiting orders? I have many of the symptoms mentioned in the article on SHAD in the February/March issue. While I was in D.C., another seaman and I were taken to do a three-or-four-day test in a closed room to see if an untrained person could work the radar. I didn't buy it then and still don't.  

Jim Sandlin
Via e-mail


I just came across an online copy of your publication and was greatly interested in the article by John Prados on Operation Masher in the February/March issue. I found it especially interesting because Mr. Prados describes an An Lao Valley incident in which I was an active participant. 

While generally true, Mr. Prados' description of what happened to the Delta recon teams in the An Lao Valley contains an error in regard to Maj. Charlie Beckwith. The statement that "The survivors held on long enough for extraction by Beckwith, himself wounded aboard his command helicopter,'' is not accurate. I know because I was sitting next to Maj. Beckwith when we were both wounded before we even got into the An Lao Valley and our mission was aborted.

I was the crew chief of a UH1-B slick, piloted by Maj. Kevin Murphy. On the morning of January 29, 1966, the other Hueys were just returning to Bong Son from missions to refuel, so my aircraft with Maj. Beckwith and two or three other Delta members took off to orbit the area over the trapped team and coordinate the pickup. Because the weather was bad, we were forced to fly at about 150 feet. As we broke into a rice paddy area, we took fire from the tree line.

Beckwith and I were hit by a .30 caliber round. I was hit in the right hand and wrist, Beckwith was gut-shot, and our flight detoured back to Bong Son. We were both off-loaded, pumped full of morphine, and medevaced to a hospital in Qui Nhon. The 145th ALP then re-entered the Valley and extracted the survivors of the trapped team. I hope this information clears up this small error in an otherwise interesting article.

Duane Vincent
Derwood, Md.


I was a Marine assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in Vietnam, between 1965 and 1966. There is a picture on page 19 of the February/March issue of two Marines. One has a bugle. Iím positive that the second person in that picture is me.

Richard Coulter
By E-mail


Paul Suttonís article on the Ranch Hand Study in the April/May issue indicates that the U.S.A.F. has knowingly withheld information on Agent Orange and its ability to cause far more damage to human life than anyone in authority is willing to admit. I believe it is because of the cost of providing for birth defects and other diseases and that the manufacturers knew their chemicals caused those diseases in South Vietnam. I believe that more information will come out after our generation has passed on and no one is left to apply for any more Agent Orange compensation.

My question is: "What can we do since our government sold us out to the chemical companies to protect them?" I think VVA and AVVA need to get together with other VSOs and through our numbers force our government to come forward with truthful and complete information on what Agent Orange can and does cause. We need to reopen the terms of the settlement to make up for the less-than-minimal treatment it offered to so few veterans and families because of the fraudulent and misrepresented information that the case was settled with.

James M. Egyud, Sr.
North Wildwood, N.J.


Daniel Ellsberg commented that the Vietnam War was "winnable" (June/July 2002). That's nonsense. The U.S. won every battle, and we could have - and would have -won the war, too, had the American people supported it. More importantly, wars such as Korea and Vietnam may now be seen as agonizing parts of America's overall victory in the Cold War.

John J. Forbes, Ph.D.
Arlington, VA



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