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

August/September 2004 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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

On behalf of Chapter 82, Nassau County, New York, I wish to express our sincere gratitude and humble appreciation for being selected and honored as VVA's 2004 Chapter of the Year. 

Whether a chapter has only 30 members or 500, the mission is ongoing: to help those who served receive the health care and disability they are entitled to; and to fight the injustices and shortcomings of the VA budget. For those who have come after us, it is critical that funding be increased and be mandated.

Again, on behalf of the executive board, board of directors, our members, and our associates of Chapter 82, it is an honor that has come with dedication and hard work for many years. To all of our VVA chapters across the nation: You all deserve the respect and honor from your service to America during the Vietnam War and the Vietnam era.

God Bless America and all those young men and women deployed in freedom's cause on the seas, in the air, and on the ground.

Paul Masi
President, Chapter 82
Via e-mail


Your articles in the July issue on In the Shadow of the Blade were especially meaningful to the members of the Southeast Asia Army Security Agency Veterans Association. We recently saw the documentary at the reunion of the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association. This provided us an opportunity to recall the first mission of the crewmembers the recovery of the body of an Army Security Agency soldier who was the first American killed in action in Vietnam. I made the following remarks:

In December 1961, two U.S. Army helicopter unitsthe 8th and the 57th Helicopter Companies arrived at the port of Saigon. The only American unit there to witness this event was an Army Security Agency contingent. None of the helicopter crewmen could have known that these other Americans were ASA because the presence of the ASA in Vietnam, and its mission, wasand until recently remaineda secret.

On December 22, ASA Spec4 James Thomas Davis was leading a team of ten South Vietnamese signalmen on a radio direction-finding mission in search of Viet Cong radio transmitters northwest of Saigon. The VC detonated a land mine under the truck in which Davis and his team were riding and attacked with machine gun and rifle fire, killing nine of the ten Vietnamese. Tom Davis escaped the wreckage and, against overwhelming odds, began returning fire before falling to a bullet wound to the head.

The first mission of the newly arrived helicopter units was to recover the body of Specialist Davis from that first battlefield. History does not record whether anyone at the time thanked the men of the 8th and 57th Helicopter Companies for recovering Tom's body. So we thank you now.

Gary D. Spivey
First Vice President
SEA ASA Veterans Association
Via e-mail


I served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967-71, but did not go to Vietnam. I know how
fortunate I am. My twin brother served during the same period and did go. I feel that I have no identity with my brothers and sisters who did serve "in country." I've struggled with this issue and don't know how, or where, I fit in that part of history.

I heard a song about The Wall that said, "This is for all those whose names are on The Wall, and for all of those who risked having their names there.'' At that point I felt, yes, I took the risk. I served my country during a difficult time. Who would ever have guessed that a Marine during that period, with a four-year hitch, would not go to Nam?

So, am I a Vietnam vet, in the same sense that all those who served in WWIIwhether in combat, in a combat zone, or neutral location, including in the Statesis a WWII veteran? It seems one can only claim that title if service was in a certain location. I am proud to associate with all of those who did sacrifice during that period. I am particularly proud because we served when the military was not popular and the only support we received was from one another.

Bob Patterson
Via e-mail


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