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

January/February 2003 POLICY FOR 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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

I'm a Vietnam vet. I served with the 374th RRC (ASA) attached to the 4th Division in Pleiku from November 1966 till April 1967 then went to the 509th RR Gp in Saigon from April till November 1967. Though I'm not a member of VVA, I saw your September‑October issue which had several small photos across the lower part of the cover. The veteran pictured on the left is wearing a round patch above his name tag that I think is from an Internet group I belong to now called the Pleiku Pals. The veteran pictured on the fourth from the left is wearing an ASA patch above his sergeant stripes and to the right of the 4th Division patch. Do you have names to go with these guys? I would really like to see if I can find them and get in contact.  

Michael Hannan


Thank you for the In Memory Plaque Project article and update in your November commemorative issue. The Plaque, to be placed near the Three Servicemen Statue, will provide year‑round recognition at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for those men and women whose premature postwar deaths are due to their service, but whose names are ineligible to be added to The Wall, including, but not limited to, those lost to illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure and the effects of PTSD. 

The memorial plaque will only be installed and dedicated after full funding is assured. Individual, organizational, and corporate donations in the form of checks or money orders payable to "ABMC ‑ VVM Plaque" may be sent to: 

The American Battle Monuments Commission
Courthouse Plaza II, Suite 500
Attn: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaque
2300 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Ruth Coder Fitzgerald
Fredericksburg, Virginia


There's an error on the Jack Smith article in the December issue. You better look closer at that photo. Those cats are wearing a Big Red One on the shoulder. That ain't the 1st Cav.

T.M. Fitzgerald
Via e-mail

Editor's note: T.M. Fitzgerald, who served with Company B, 2/18 of the Army's First Infantry Division (the "Big Red One") in Vietnam, is correct. The soldiers depicted in the Henri Huet photograph in the article "Stay Alive" are indeed not members of the First Cavalry Division. We regret the error and thank Mr. Fitzgerald for putting us straight.


I would like to thank you for the September/October issue and the November Special Commemorative issue. These are excellent publications, which I read cover to cover. I would especially like to thank you for the outstanding article, "Death On The Liberty," by William Triplett. It was well written and told the story we try to tell every day ‑ a story that no one in Washington wants to hear. 

As a survivor of the Liberty, the senior enlisted man on‑board, one of the founders of the Liberty Veterans Association, and one who held the horrors inside my head and heart for nearly twenty years, every time someone takes the time to listen or to write and support me and my shipmates, a small load comes off my shoulders. 

Stan White
Via e‑mail


The September/October issue had a well‑written article about the U.S.S. Liberty by William Triplett that is unfortunately not factually accurate in many respects and repeats myths that have been refuted or discredited long ago. I mean no disrespect toward the victims of the tragedy. I hold them in high regard. In fact, I was the first person to endow a chair in honor of The Liberty and Liberty crew members at the Naval Memorial in Washington. 

I spent 38 years in the Navy and Naval Reserve. During the sixties, I flew volunteer airlifts to Vietnam. I researched this subject for almost 15 years and have published a book, The Liberty Incident. Mr. Triplett perpetuates the myth that the Medal of Honor award Capt. McGonagle received "little media attention." Capt. McGonagle, however, had his picture in The New York Times and The Washington Post. 

There are other items in the article ‑ some major, some minor ‑ that should be treated more fully. For example, the Liberty was dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean on May 24, 1967, not "when the war broke out," twelve days later as the article stated.  

Investigations were conducted by the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, the CIA, the DOD, and the President's Foreign Intelligence Board, all of which concluded that the incident was a tragic mistake resulting from mistakes made by both the United States and Israel. The Johnson administration accepted the Israeli explanation. In 1981, NSA agreed with other agencies. Likewise, eight U.S. presidents agreed. 

All the alleged motives mentioned in the article have been refuted or discredited by competent evidence over the years. No mention is made thereof and a reading of the article leaves the impression that the motives stand unchallenged. 

A. Jay Cristol
Miami, Florida


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