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Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
. __ . . -*- N A M V E T -*- ____/ \_ . . ( * . . Managing Editor Quangtri . . ---------------- \_/ \_ Hue . . G. Joseph Peck \_Ashau Phu Bai . . \_* \_ . . Distribution Manager * ) . . -------------------- _/ Danang . . Jerry Hindle |/ ( \_*Chu Lai . . --*-- \_ ------- \__ . . Section Editors /| \_ I Corps . . --------------- ------- ! . . IN-TOUCH: Ray "Frenchy" Moreau /\_____ ! . . INCARCERATED VETS: Joyce Flory / ! . . VETERAN BENEFITS: Jim Hildwine ! !___ . . AGENT ORANGE: Jim Ferguson ! /\____! . . NEED-TO-KNOW: Lefty Frizzell ! ! . . MIA/POW: Marsha Ledeman / Dak To ! . . VETERAN EMPLOYMENT: Fred Sochacki / * / . . KEEPER OF THE LIST: Charlie Revie ! \_ . . ! Phu Cat . . * * ) . . Pleiku ) . . -*- N A M V E T -*- . . / / . . "In the jungles of 'Nam, some of us ( -------- ! . . were scared and wary, but we pulled _ II Corps ! . . one another along and were able / -------- . . to depend on each other. That has . . never changed. Today, free of the ! * / . . criticisms and misunderstandings _/ Nhatrang / . . many veterans have endured, _/ / . . NAM VET is a shining beacon, __/ ! . . a ray of hope, and a _ __/ ! . . reminder that the _____( )/ ! Camranh Bay . . lessons learned / !__ ! . . at such a high / / . . price shall not Bien Hoa / . . be forgotten - ! Chu Chi * __/ . . nor the errors \_ * --------- ___/ . . repeated!!!" ____ III Corps _/ . . / \_____) )_(_ --------- !__/ Duplication in . . ! ( ___/ any form permitted . . _____! \__ * ___/ for NONCOMMERCIAL . . ! Saigon/ purposes ONLY! . . \___ -------- / / . . IV Corps / For other use, contact: . . ) -------- / . . / ! G. Joseph Peck (413) 442-1660 . . / ____/ Managing Editor . . / Mekong/ . . ! Delta/ This newsletter is comprised of articles . . ! ____/ and items from individuals and other . . ! / sources. We are not responsible for the . . ! / content of this information nor are any of . . ! __/ NAM VETs contributors or Section Editors. . . \_/ gjp . . .
Fourth Annual NamVet Page i Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S
1. Editorials n' Stuff Dreams DO come true! ..................................... 1 Happy 4th Birthday NamVet!!! ............................. 2 Yahrzeit '88 ............................................. 3 The Silent Warrior ....................................... 6
2. Drums be not Silent Colonel Peck resigns from DIA Office! .................... 8 They haven't forgotten US!!! ............................. 13 Why? ..................................................... 14 The Loneliest Prayer ..................................... 15
3. Don't drink the water! Were YOU exposed to Agent Orange??? ...................... 16 Break out the Clearasil
! ............................ 19 All in a day's work... ................................... 20
4. Close to home... Wall puts war in focus ................................... 21 Epitaph .................................................. 24 In-Touch Unites Many ..................................... 25 The Wall ................................................. 28 IN-TOUCH Registration/Request Form!!! .................... 29 Did you? ................................................. 31 Remembering our brothers and sisters ..................... 32 Tour of Duty??? .......................................... 34
5. Forgotten - again? Wanna share some time and news? .......................... 37 A visit or note once in awhile? .......................... 43 What is a Sailor? ........................................ 44
6. The Chapel at NamVet Combat Stress - The Forgotten Warrior .................... 45 War ...................................................... 52 NamVet's Electronic Chapel ............................... 53 When Remembering is too much ............................. 54
7. Sister Vets VWMP's Sister Search ..................................... 57 Monumental Difference .................................... 58 VWMP's Sister Search Form ................................ 59
8. Shifting Sands Stormin' Norman's Address to Congress .................... 60 A real heartwarming letter ............................... 63 She Flies Ever High!!! ................................... 65 My Symbol ................................................ 66 Hands Across Time ........................................ 67
9. NamVet Service Desk Letter from The White House .............................. 68 A NEW American "Bush"? ................................... 69 Homecoming III ........................................... 71
10. Index To NamVet Articles Index to Articles in NamVet .............................. 72
11. Charlie's Angels Where do YOU get NamVet??? ............................... 93 Where to find VIETNAM_VETS/NamVet ........................ 94 Some Gave All... ......................................... 97
Fourth Annual NamVet Page ii Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
================================================================== Editorials n' Stuff ==================================================================
Dreams DO come true! by G. Joseph Peck NamVet's Managing Editor VETLink #1 - Pittsfield, MA (413) 443-6313
Four years of producing NamVet's... Counting our Anniversary and Special Editions, this will be the 50th issue of NamVet that we've produced! Its hard to believe that so much time has passed and so many topics have been covered!
Even *-MORE-* difficult to believe is the number of subjects that HAVEN'T yet been touched on or covered in anywhere near the depth we'd like to do them in. When first NamVet appeared on the electronic horizons, there was great concern that it would only be a five- or ten-page monthly publication. NOW our biggest battle is to keep a NamVet within the 360k limitations of a floppy disk!
Its been an exciting dream come true! So many voices; so many things to say; so much to be done - revealed to us almost every day via telephone, USSnail, NetMail or in the various VETNet echoes. Items to be saved; items that would interest some of our veterans and their families; items that would be helpful to us all. A "dream", though, that wouldn't have come true without YOU, your families, friends, and the great number of folk all over the world who care enough about veterans and what the veterans experience to write articles about them, publish information packets for them, or get involved in issues that will have an effect on today's soldier, ex-soldier and future soldier.
THANK YOU - Each and every one of you for helping make NamVet what it is today and what it will be tomorrow; for shipping it overseas; for taking it with you to VA hospitals and nursing homes; for contributing articles and poems.
Above all, THANK YOU for allowing me the opportunity to add MY efforts to one of the proudest, most persistent and determined teams in all the world! I still get all misty-eyed when I reflect upon the trust and faith you have placed in me to do this job!
'til next month... Show a brother or sister veteran ... that YOU care!
Ci'ao for Ni'ao
- Joe -
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 1 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
HH HH AAA PPPPPP PPPPPP YY YY HH HH AA AA PP PP PP PP YY YY HH HH AA AA PP PP PP PP YY YY HH HH AA AA PP PP PP PP YY YY HHHHHHHH AAAAAAA PPPPPP PPPPPP YYYYYY HH HH AA AA PP PP YY NH HH AA AA PP PP YY HH HH AA AA PP PP YY
G. Joseph Peck * Joyce Flory * Jerry Hindle * Ray Moreau * Doc
BBBBB IIII RRRRRR TTTTTTTT HH HH DDDDDDD AAA YY YY BB BB II RR RR TT HH HH DD DD AA AA YY YY BB BB II RR R TT HH HH DD DD AA AA YY YY BB BB II RR RR TT HH HH DD DD AA AA YY YY BBBBBB II RRRRR TT HHHHHHH DD DD AAAAAAA YYYYY BB BB II RR RR TT HH HH DD DD AA AA YY BB BB II RR RR TT HH HH DD DD AA AA YY BBBBBB IIII RR RR TT HH HH DDDDDDD AA AA YY
Charlie Revie * Dave Doehrman * Joan Renne * Dale Malone * Bac Si
NN NN AAAA MM MM VV VV EEEEEEE TTTTTTTT NNN NN AA AA MMM MMM VV VV EE TT NN N NN AA AA MM M M MM VV VV EE TT NN N NN AA AA MM M MM VV VV EE TT NN N NN AAAAAAAA MM MM VV VV EEEEE TT NN N NN AA AA MM MM VV VV EE TT NN NNN AA AA MM MM V V EE TT NN NN AA AA MM MM VVV EEEEEEE TT The International Newsletter for Vietnam Veterans
` ` ` ` _________|_|_|_|_____________ : Putting unity : :=============================: : In our Veteran CommUNITY! : :_____________________________:
Clay Tannacore * Jim Hildwine * Lefty Frizzell * Alex Humphrey Craig Roberts * Ray Walker * Bill Plude * Jim Ferguson Ed Brant * Mike Harris * Glenn Toothman * Carl Dunn * Don Purvis Fred Sochacki * Sarge Hultgren * George Currie * Ken Flory Joe Krickenbarger-Oliver * Sam Thompson * Marsha Ledeman Martin Kroll * Glen Kepler * Terry Hayes * Lydia Fish * Jim Ennes Karen Winnett * Scott Summers * Ralph Carlson * Joe Meadors Mike Kelley * Chick Curry * Charles Harper * David Kirshbaum Gordon Giroux * Rod Germain * Todd Looney * Pete Farias Faye Kahn Brad Meyers * Jan Gerstner * Marge Clark * Ann Murrell * Bil Cook Bob Morris * Gale Barrows * Billy Palmergunner * Ralph Feller Richard Morrow * Henry Elsworth * Jesse Kitson * Jim Henthorn Art Fellner * Harlow Campbell * Rick Kelley * Mike Readinger Richard Wolbaum * Walt Fletcher * Mike Halley * Gary Searles Fannie Benware * Mike Leclair * Jery Allison * Don Murray >>>>>>> and all the rest of us!!! <<<<<<< Our *-FOURTH-* Year
" Service with Pride! "
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 2 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
Yahrzeit '88 Submitted Anonymously
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: - John Keats "Ode to a Nightingale"
She put them up in a brass and stained oak frame. Against the white satin background they didn't appear so ominous, and didn't supply a hint as to the way in which they are awarded. A pretty color, like that on the robes of royalty; pure and deep with majestic allusion. On a weekly basis, she polished the frame, keeping the brass as bright as a ray of morning sunlight. The glass was so spotless that it was possible to see quite clearly ones own reflection. She picked a conspicuous spot for them, and fastened them to the wall in the hallway.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
But I didn't look at them. I didn't want to see the morbid days and endless nights that caused their arrival. I didn't want to face the face that won these prizes through violent means. But she kept polishing the brass and glass, commenting "They are precious metals" to those who asked about them. And they hung there on the wall, passed each time a step was taken in the hall.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
Each week she would clean them, and the evening sun would cast a reflected light ray to the end of the hall. Each week she would polish them with a tenderness as if they were children to be held. She never said a word about them, but it was easy to tell she was extremely curious about their origins.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
Any appeal to remove them was met with stern disapproval. She wanted something to remind her of what had happened, even if she didn't know exactly what that was. She never pried, but held me gently on the nights I would wake up soaked in sweat and tears. She never complained, and never wanted out; instead she would shed tears for my fears, and cry for my sorrows. And every week, she would clean and polish them, until like a beacon they shone.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
The sleepless nights faded into the past, the weeks melted into months, and the months passed into years. And each week she would polish them, not voicing a bit of curiosity. She understood the pain, because it was evident in her eyes each morning after a dream of return had come. Her soft touch and wavering voice exposed the silent melancholy her heart felt and she tried so hard to hide. And each week, she returned to them, polishing them brightly.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
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The tenderness, style and beauty was taken from her in an instant she never realized. I never had a chance to explain to her the prize was one of immense sorrow. She would polish them as if they were the most important thing in our existence. She held them as tenderly as she had held me on the occasions that it was needed. She understood that the key to my welfare was locked in that frame of brass and oak, and the only way to release the demons was to face the face in the reflected glass.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
Her funeral was a complete shock. The realization of death I thought had died many years ago. Death was something benign, something that didn't affect me anymore. Yet here she was, the Joy, Beauty and Truth of my life, lying in grassy solitude. She was no longer there to polish the brass and oak frame, so the dust and tarnish collected, dimming the Light they reflected in the past.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
What the war couldn't accomplish, I thought pills could. G-d it's such a hard life! The pills: they can fix everything. If I take enough of them.... And like a memory hidden by time, the brass greened and the oak cracked.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
Waking up in the hospital, I was told death had been a breath away. My first reaction was anger for failing, then anger for trying, and finally settled into weeks of self imposed isolation, purging the pent up feelings in emotional self-abasement. The questions came faster than I could possibly answer, and I closed myself off even further. Ignoring all life around me.
And so they hung there, waiting. Waiting.
I got home with the feeling she had deserted me; leaving me in not so silent agony. The first thing I noticed was they were polished, bright as any day she had cleaned them. I asked who polished them, and everyone said they didn't know. I took them off the wall, excused myself and went into my private chambers. For the first time I was able to look at them since they were hung around my neck by the powers that warranted their action. For the first time I was able to look at the face that won them, and realize that it was a face of an ordinary man, and not a maniacal killer. I held them and finally the tears came. The tears that would begin to wash away the stench of guilt and sorrow of the years past. The tears that would finally release me from the unbearable torments of my dreams. As I moved to wipe the fallen tears from the polished glass, I looked and saw her face, as clearly as she was sitting there with me. She was smiling a smile of extreme serenity, and lipped the words "Welcome home. I love you." And just as suddenly, she was gone. I knew then who returned the lustre to them.
And they no longer hung there, waiting. Waiting.
I took the medals and wrapped them in a bedsheet and boxed them
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up. The box was taken to a family storage place, where they will be safe and cool. The brass and oak frame that she polished so persistently will be safe from corrosion and decay until I decide to take them out again. But for now, they have served their purpose. The Marines gave them to me for my conduct. My wife gave them to me for my sanity.
And they no longer hang there, waiting. Waiting.
15 years ago I finished my SEA tour. 10 years ago my wife died, taking that beautiful smile and that full life with her. With this, the tenth anniversary of her death, I would like to let the world know that she was with me when all others had given up hope, and loved me when I didn't seem to love her back. So my continuing love for her I express poorly in these words:
You were all of life to me. Yet when I thought that you had abandoned me in death, you still managed to pull me through life. You gave me back that burning desire for life I had lost. Even as you could support me in life, you saved me in death. I cannot offer anything other than the troth I pledged before, to reaffirm before G-d and man to love you for all eternity.
# # #
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 5 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
THE SILENT WARRIOR By Karen Winnett S.I.R.E.N. IS CALLING BBS - Sacramento, CA (916) 971-0589
The fire fights have ended and the big guns no longer roar but the Silent Warrior's fighting like he's never fought before! No point man walks before him and no man takes the rear, no comrade stands beside him though death is always near!
He humps no hills or valleys and he sweats no jungle heat. He stalks no Vils or cities, yet has no road to retreat. His field pack long abandoned and his rifle gone to rust, The Silent Warrior battles, because, he has no choice, he must!
It's a long range operation, the objective long and hard, to the Valley of the Shadow, where only Angels are. The Silent Warrior battles, where no soul should have to go, and no heart can ever reach him, for his battlefield's unknown!
Don't look to the north or south, don't look west or east, look to home and know the truth, this is where the warrior bleeds! His campaigns rage in silence, and he battles here at home, his courage goes unnoticed and his valor, few have known!
Behold the Silent Warrior, lost deep within his thoughts, his body frozen solid, never never to unlock! What enemy could do this, what hearts could be so cold, to do him such dishonor, a brother of our own!
I look into unseeing eyes and I wonder where he is, and damn the souls who were taught to care, yet did a thing like this! Behold this valiant warrior, who never more shall speak, curled up in a fetal ball on antiseptic sheets!
His arms and legs contracted, his body old and frail his honor stripped away and lost where love should not have failed! Look gently on this old one, who battles day and night, and let every warrior cry for him, until Valhalla's in his sights.
For such are the forgotten, not daed yet not alive, doing battle on the Veterans wards beyond uncaring eyes! Behold the Silent Warrior, who's stillness screams with rage, who wars in fields of solitude, and there, til death, he stays!
I have touched the Silent Warrior, and learned to know his pain, I have fed and I have bathed him, and cried when no one came! I have reached down to his anger and held his ruined hands, and I felt the battle raging, and I cursed, "God damn!"
Behold the Silent Warrior, who battles until death, honor him and know his face, stand guard beside his bed. For such are the forgotten, some lost and some abused, victims of a friendly fire we never can undo.
Yes, the Fire fights have ended, and the big guns no longer roar, but the Silent Warriors fighting like he never fought before!
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Go to him, and speak his name, and understand the truth, don't let him die behind the lines, the next warrior could be you!
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 7 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
================================================================== Drums be not Silent ==================================================================
Colonel Peck Resigns from POW/MIA Special Office! Input by Marsha Ledeman NamVet MIA/POW Section Editor VETLink #1 - Pittsfield, MA (413) 443-6313
Date: 28 March 1991 Office: POW/MIA Subject: A Farewell To: All Personnel
1. The purpose of this memorandum is to bid farewell to the Office and to wish everyone the very best. I will sincerely miss each one of you, and will always retain fond memories of our efforts together and the many triumphs we were able to achieve as a team. Because of the intensity of our activities and being under constant political fire, the bonding that I felt for you was similar to that which occurs to soldiers in combat and I came to love you as brothers and sisters.
2. The attached document fairly well sums up how I feel about the entire issue although, I subsequently lined out several portions. I am convinced that no one working within the present "structure" will ever satisfactorily resolve the question of whether or not U.S. prisoners were held after the cessation of hostilities in Vietnam or elsewhere.
3. It is my plan to pursue the issue via other avenues, and while so doing, will work diligently to give the POW/MIA Office the credit it so richly deserves and to ensure that your reputation, in all circles, is defended and upheld. Your honor and interests will always be one of my highest priorities -- and when I say that I mean it.
4. Many thanks to everyone, for your support; your devotion; your hard work; and your dedication to excellence. God bless you all.
Adieu, Millard A. Peck Colonel, Infantry USA
Date: 12-Feb-1991 memorandum
REPLY TO THE ATTENTION OF: POW/MIA U-0173/POW/MIA SUBJ: REQUEST FOR RELIEF TO: DR
1. PURPOSE: I hereby, request to resign my position as the Chief of the Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. (POW/MIA)
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a. Motivation. My initial acceptance of this posting was based upon two primary motives: first, I had heard that the job was highly contentious and extremely frustrating, that no one would volunteer for it because of its complex political nature. This, of course, made it appear challenging. Secondly, since the end of the Vietnam War, I had heard the persistent rumors of American Servicemen having been abandoned in Indochina, and that the Government was conducting a "cover-up" so as not to be embarrassed. I was curious about this and thought that serving as the Chief of POW-MIA would be an opportunity to satisfy my own interest and help clear the Government's name.
b. The Office's reputation. It was interesting that previous exposure to the POW-MIA Office, while assigned to the DIA, both as a Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) and as the Chief Of the Asia Division for Current Intelligence (JSI-3) was negative. DIA personnel who worked for me, when dealing with or mentioning the office, always spoke about it in deprecating tones, alluding to the fact that any report which found its way there would quickly disappear into a "black hole."
c. General Attitudes. Additionally, surveys of active duty military personnel indicated that a high percentage (83%) believed that there were still live American prisoners in Vietnam. This idea was further promulgated in a number of legitimate veterans' periodicals and professional journals, as well as the media in general, which held that where there was so much smoke there must be fire.
d. Cover up. The dark side of the issue was particularly unsettling because of the persistent rumors and innuendoes of a Government conspiracy, alleging that U.S. military personnel had been left behind to the victorious communist governments in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and that for "political reasons" or running the risk of a second Vietnam War, their existence was officially denied. Worse yet was the implication that DIA's Special Office for POWs and MIAs was an integral part of this effort to cover the entire affair up so as not to embarrass the Government nor the Defense Establishment.
e. The Crusade. As a Vietnam veteran with a certain amount of experience in Indochina, I was interested in the entire POW-MIA question, and willingly volunteered for the job, viewing it as a sort of holy crusade.
f. The Harsh Reality. Heading up the Office has not been pleasant. My plan was to be totally honest and forthcoming on the entire issue and aggressively pursue innovative actions and concepts to clear up the live sighting business, thereby refurbishing the image and honor of the DIA. I became painfully aware, however, that I was not really in charge of my own office, but was merely a figurehead or whipping boy for a larger and totally Machiavellian group of players outside of DIA. What I witnessed during my tenure as the cardboard cut-out "Chief" of the POW/MIA could be euphemistically labeled as disillusioning.
3. CURRENT IMPRESSIONS, BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE
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a. Highest National Priority. That National leaders continue to address the prisoner of war and missing in action issue as the "highest national priority" is a travesty. From my vantage point, I observed that the principal government players were interested primarily in conducting a "damage limitation exercise" and appeared to knowingly and deliberately generate an endless succession of manufactured crises and "busy work". Progress consisted in frenetic activity, with little substance and no real results.
b. The Mindset to Debunk. The mindset to "debunk" is alive and well. It is held at all levels, and continues to pervade the POW- MIA Office, which is not necessarily the fault of the DIA. Practically all analysis is directed to finding fault with the source. Rarely has there been any effective, active follow through on any of the sightings, nor is there a responsive "action arm" to routinely and aggressively pursue leads. The latter was a moot point, anyway, since the Office was continuously buried in an avalanche of "ad hoc" taskings from every quarter, all of which required an immediate response. It was impossible to plan ahead or prioritize courses of action. Any real effort to pursue live sighting reports or exercise initiative was diminished by the plethora of "busy work" projects directed by higher authority outside DIA. A number of these grandiose endeavors bordered on the ridiculous -- quite significantly -- there was never an audit trail. None of these taskings was ever requested formally. There was, and still is, a refusal by any of the players to follow normal intelligence channels in dealing with the POW/MIA office.
c. Duty, Honor, Integrity. It appears that the entire issue is being manipulated by unscrupulous people in the Government, or associated with the Government. Some are using the issue for personal or political advantage and others use if as a forum to perform and feel important, or worse. The sad fact, however, is that this issue is being controlled and a cover up may be in progress. The entire charade does not appear to be an honest effort and may never have been.
d. POW/MIA Officers Abandoned. When I assessed the office for the first time, I was somewhat amazed and greatly disturbed by the fact that I was the only military officer in an organization of more than 40 people. Since combatants of all Services were lost in Vietnam, I would have thought there would at least be a token service representation for a matter of the "highest National priority". Since the normal mix of officers from all services is not found in my organization it would appear that the issue, at least at the working level, has, in fact, been abandoned. Also, the horror stories of the succession of military officers at the 0-5 and 0-6 level who have in some manner "rocked the boat" and quickly come to grief at the hands of the Government policy makers who direct the issue, lead one to the conclusion that we are all quite expendable, so by extrapolation one simply concludes that these same bureaucrats would "sacrifice" anyone who was troublesome or contentious -- including prisoners of war and missing in action. Not a comforting thought. Any military officer expected to survive in this environment would have to be myopic, an accomplished sycophant, or totally insouciant.
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e. The DIA Involvement. DIA's role in the affair is truly unfortunate. The overall Agency, has generally practiced a "damage limitation drill" on the issue, as well. The POW/MIA Office has been cloistered for all practical purposes and left to its own fortunes. The POW office is the lowest level in the Government "effort" to resolve the issue, and oddly for an intelligence organization, has become the "lighting rod" for the entire establishment on the matter. The policy people manipulating the affair have maintained their distance and remained hidden in the shadows, while using the Office as "toxic waste dump" to bury the whole "mess" out of sight and mind in a facility with limited access to public scrutiny. Whatever happens in the issue, DIA takes the blame, while the real players remain invisible. The fact that the POW/MIA Office is always the center of an investigation is of no surprise. Many people suspect that something is rotten about the whole thing, but cannot find an audit trail to ascribe blame, so they attack the DIA/POW/MIA "dump", simply because it has been placed in the line of fire as a cheap, expendable decoy.
f. "Suppressio Veri Suggesto Falsi". Many of the puppet masters play a confusing murky role. For instance, the Director of the National League of Families occupies an interesting and questionable position in the whole process. Although assiduously "churning" the account to give a tawdry illusion of progress, she is adamantly opposed to any initiative to actually get to the heart of the problem, and, more importantly, interferes in or actively sabotages POW-MIA analyses or investigations. She insists on rewriting or editing all significant documents produced by the Office, inserting her own twist or meaning to what was originally prepared. This is then touted as the DIA position. She apparently has access to top secret, codeword message traffic, for which she is supposedly not cleared, and she receives it well ahead of the DIA intelligence analysts. Her influence in "jerking around" everyone and everything involved in the issue goes far beyond the "war and MIA protested gone straight" scenario. She was brought from the "outside" into the center of the imbroglio, and then, cloaked in a mantel of sanctimony, routinely impedes real progress and insidiously "muddles up" the issue. One wonders who she really is and where she came from. . .
a. The Stalled Crusade. Unfortunately, what began on such a high note never succeeded in embarking. In some respects, however, I have managed to satisfy some of my curiosity.
b. Everyone is Expendable. I have seen firsthand how ready and willing the policy people are to sacrifice or "abandon" anyone who might be perceived as a political liability. It is quick and facile, and can be easily covered.
c. High-Level Knavery. I feel strongly that this issue is being manipulated and controlled at a higher level, not with the goal of resolving it, but more to obfuscate the question of live prisoners, and give the illusion of progress through hyperactivity.
d. "Smoke and Mirrors". From what I have witnessed, it appears
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that any soldier left in Vietnam, even inadvertently, was, in fact, abandoned years ago, and that the farce that is being played is no more than political legerdemain done with "smoke and mirrors", to stall the issue until it dies a natural death.
e. National League of Families. I am convinced that the Director of this organization is much more than meets the eye. As the principal actor in the grand show, she is in the perfect position to clamor for "progress", while really intentionally impeding the effort. And, there are numerous examples of this. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that so many bureaucrats in the "system" would instantaneously do her bidding and humor her every whim.
f. DIA's Dilemma. Although greatly saddened by the role ascribed to the Defense Intelligence Agency, I feel, at least, that I am dealing with honest men and women who are generally powerless to make the system work. My appeal and attempt to amend this role perhaps never had a chance. We, all, were subject to control. I particularly salute the personnel in the POW-MIA Office for their long suffering, which I regrettable was unable to change. I feel that the Agency and the Office are being used as the "fall guys" or "patsies" to cover the tricks of others.
a. One Final Vietnam Casualty. So ends the war and my last grand crusade, like it did actually did end, I guess. However, as they say in the Legion, "je ne regrette rein..." For all of the above, I respectfully request to be relieved of my duties as Chief of the Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action.
b. A Farewell to Arms. So as to avoid the annoyance of being shipped off to some remote corner, out of sight and out of the way, in my own "bamboo cage" of silence somewhere, I further request that the Defense Intelligence Agency, which I have attempted to serve loyally and with honor, assist me in being retired immediately from active military service.
Signed Millard A. Peck Colonel, Infantry USA
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 12 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
W W M M W W M M M M W W / M M M M OOOO W W W --*-- M M M IIII O O W W W W / M M II O O W W W W M M II O O W W M M II O O II PPPPPP O O ..... II AA PP PP OOOO . '' '' .. IIII A A PP PP ..' '.. A A PPPPPPP ..' ''. A A PP ..' '. AAAAAA PP .' ''. A A PP .' '. A A .' .:::::.. '. .' .::::::::::. ' .' .::::::::::::::. '. .' __ .::::::::::::::::;:... '. .' _- -_ .:::::::::::::::::::::::. '. .' _-_ _ _ -_ ::::::::::::::::::::::::' '. .. _- -!!___!!!-_:::::::::::::::::::::::. .. .' ==_ _- _= .:::::::::::::::::::::::: ', . =-_= _= = :::::::::::::::::::::::: . .' =-_ =_- = ::::::::::::::::::::::: '. .' = - -_ =_:::::::::::::::::::::. '. .' -_ -_- .:::::::::::::::::::;;;. '. .' _-_ ..::::::::::::::::::::::::; '. . _ _ .:;:::::::::::::::::::::;, . ' _ .:::::::::::::::::::::::::. '. Y .'.....::::::::::::::::::::::::::;' '. N ::::::::::::::::::::::::' `''' ': O `::::::::::::::::::::::: v/ / :'E `:::::::::::::::::::::: =========================== :' U `:::::::::::::::::::::. /^ :'T `:::::::::::::::::::: .: A `:::::::::::::::::: .:'T `::::::::::::::::::. .;' R `:::::::::::::::::. .;' T `::::::::::::::::. .;' E `:::::::::gjp::: .:' O `:::::::::::::...........'' G N O T F O R
" Bring them home --- NOW !!! "
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 13 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
Why? by Lord Strider Submitted by Nancy Dunn The Landing Zone/VETLink #7 - Portland, OR (503) 254-6819
To all of you who read this message: This poem was posted on a BBS in Portland, Oregon. It shows that there are people out there who do still care.
Still the teardrops fall, As a maybe widow, or a might be orphan, Wonder in the night where thier loved one is. Is he in an unmarked grave, In a land not his own to which he went, Not of his own choosing but by a politicians hand? Or does he yet live a tortured prisoner, Of an opressive regime he fought against? Why have those who sent him to fight a war, Which they would not allow him to win, Forsaken him and left him for dead, With not an investigation, but a cover up? And why have the people of his native land, Which he loved dearly enough to fight for, Rather than run to foreign soil in wars evasion, Stood silently by while his memory fades, To be swept beneath the carpets, a hidden embarassment, To all but the families who live a hell of not knowing? Still the teardrops fall, And ever will they fall in vain, While we allow our leaders to shirk their duties, To the men whom they have abandoned, And sought to deny the very existance of in past, But perhaps if voices in sufficient numbers raise, Another families tears might yet be stayed. Lord Strider
There are still 2,270 American servicemen listed as M.I.A. or P.O.W. from the Viet Nam War which ended 18 years ago. Why?
Fourth Annual NamVet Page 14 Volume 4, Number 1 November 11, 1991
THE LONELIEST PRAYER Hardy Abbott Input By Joyce Flory NamVet's Incarcerated Veterans Section Editor Desert Dolphin BBS - Las Cruces, NM (505) 523-2811
[Poem read at the conclusion of the candlelight ceremony for POW/MIA's held in Las Cruces, NM 9-22-91]
As I squat here in this lonely place a man maybe even YOU forgot, I wonder, am I living in hell? Am I alive or not? I think it's more than ten years now since my last friend left this place. I guess he's back home - wherever that is - among the human race. Forgive me, Lord, if I seem untrue to the values my parents taught, To thoughts of you, of family and country, those things for which I fought. But, as I've endured the endless days that dragged on into years, I've battled with all my very being to hold back bitter tears. My children, by now, they're no longer small, by now they're nearly grown. My poor wife - she's had that too, she's raised them all alone. I wept to hold my darlings, to watch my children grow, To feel your presence, Lord, my faith in you to show. Bless me, Father, and take this life - please let it end today. I wonder how they listed me, POW or MIA?
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================================================================== Don't drink the water! ==================================================================
Were YOU exposed to Agent Orange?? By Jim Ferguson NamVet Agent Orange Section Editor VETLink #1 - Pittsfield, MA (413) 443-6313
I remember quite well when a doctor asked me that question two years ago. I was sitting in his office at Memorial Hospital Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It was the first time I seriously contemplated the answer. Like many other vets, I usually answered "No." In fact, it seemed to me that some vets blamed all their life's woes on Agent Orange. An article in my hometown paper quoted a boyhood friend as saying that he could no longer concentrate after his exposure to Agent Orange, and it was destroying his social life. I snickered as I recalled that he didn't have much of a social life for as long as I'd known him. (If you're reading this, Sorry, George.) Now I had cancer and it wasn't quite so funny to me.
To the best of my knowledge, I had never been sprayed and had never handled Agent Orange. But when you consider how much Agent Orange was used in Viet Nam, and HOW it was used, it's probably difficult to really avoid exposure. This point has been made more eloquently and with more quantitative and technical information than I have here. (See Martin Kroll's article in Namvet 4.11) My point here is to suggest avenues of exposure you may not have considered.
I was an infantryman (up in I Corps). I specifically recall that we worked in some PREVIOUSLY defoliated areas. These certainly weren't freshly defoliated. If you've seen the type of area I'm talking about, you probably still remember it. It's acres and acres of three foot high grass, nothing else grows there.
We made a night camp in one of these areas, sleeping on the ground as there were no trees for hammocks. I recall watching a thunderstorm roll in late in the afternoon. The only reason I remember this incident is because I was worried about the possibility of lightning. We were on the highest hill in the area and except for the grass (and us) it was bare. I was concerned about a lightning strike to the top of the hill, taking us out. Charlie, the radioman, had his 10 foot whip antenna stuck up in the air. I told him it looked like a good lightning rod and moved a ways away from him. I do not recall the later details, as they probably weren't anything unusual. I suppose I got quite wet, sleeping on the ground with a poncho wrapped around me. Typically, we would have gotten clean clothes with a resupply, sometime in the next three days. Is THAT exposure? I wish I knew.
As I thought about that night, I also recalled an incident where one guy (can picture him but can't remember his name) pretended to be a "rural hayseed," chewing on a stalk of grass. I'm not certain that this happened at the same place (but I believe that it did.) I also don't remember if I joined in the game. I very well could have, it's not something I would have thought twice about. Could
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one be exposed from THAT?
For the first part of my tour, I spent about 25% of my time, on LZ Maryann. Our nominal schedule was 15 days out and 5 days "on the hill." Maryann was our "fire base" or artillery support area. As I recall, there were two 105's, and at least one four deuce (4.2") and at least one 81mm mortar but not much else. [To be technically correct, yes there was an ammo dump, a kitchen, a helicopter pad, and a commo hootch. This was a SMALL place, not far from the Laotian border.] Maryann was usually defended by one infantry company (about 60 men) in addition to the permanent residents.
I remember vividly the first night I spent on Maryann. We had an alert that night, and I thought we were under attack. With the light of flares from the 81's and a search light mounted on a jeep I looked out on a clear field of fire, searching for targets. There were only a few dead tree trunks and that low vegetation to obscure the view. It wasn't until those many years later that I thought about WHY the jungle didn't grow right up to the barbed wire perimeter.
My point here is that Maryann was simply a defoliated hill in the middle of the jungle. Again it was not freshly defoliated, but I don't know how "old" the defoliation was. When you consider that we LIVED there, (eat, drink, sleep) with an open tank for the drinking and cooking water, slogging through the mud during the rainy season - could we really avoid exposure?
I have read that dioxin is not water soluble, I'm not sure if that's positive or negative. It makes me feel somewhat better about all the water I drank from rivers and streams (?), but it also means that the dioxin was not simply washed away by the first monsoon season after spraying. Perhaps the greatest frustration here is that the government does not tell us what would have contributed to exposure.
One last incident I'll note for you. When I first got out to the field (FNG) I used the water purification (iodine) tablets. After I found that none of the old hands did, I stopped using them. However, there was one other time when I used them. I was stuck in an area waiting (Weren't we always waiting for something?) and I had no water. There was a light rain and I had my poncho set up as a rain shelter. I loosened the strings so the poncho formed a funnel and I caught the rain water running off from it in my canteen cup. The water was really dirty from the poncho, so I used a tablet to kill the microbes. Maybe I should have worried about the origin of the "mud" as well.
These are the things I remember and KNOW about. There are probably many more I haven't yet learned and may never know. So think about it. What kept the weeds from growing over the perimeter where YOU were? Where did YOUR drinking water come from?
If you've read this far, I guess you're also wondering what the upshot of my visit with the doctor was. My tumor (soft-tissue sarcoma) was removed Memorial Day weekend 1989 at my local hospital. Two different pathologists have different identifications for the exact type of cancer. However, the
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treatment is the same so I'm not sure it matters to me. They're both very rare. Of the one type there are 1,500 new cases in the U.S. each year. Of the other type only 900 new cases. After they identified and confirmed the diagnosis, the recommended treatment was more tissue removal from the area and radiation treatment. I had that surgery done at Sloan-Kettering in July 1989. They implanted tubes under the skin during the surgery and loaded them with a radioactive implant a few days later. After seven days they pulled out the implants and the tubes.
I've had good 6-month checkups, most recently in June 1991. This last one was particularly good news as 80% of reoccurrences are within the first two years.
Is my tumor connected to Agent Orange? On an administrative basis, there is now a presumption of service connection. Whether it was really CAUSED by Agent Orange exposure, there doesn't seem to be any way to tell.
A side note here. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, get the best care you can within the benefits available to you. Medical care is NOT the same everywhere. My neighbor still wonders why I went to New York for care (a "mere" three-hour drive, each way.)
A FEW REASONS WHY I'M GLAD I DID: The LOCAL surgeon had little or no experience with the wider excision of tissue that I needed. At the hospital specializing in cancer treatment, I found a surgeon who performed this operation many times.
The LOCAL medical oncologist (chemotherapy doctor) could only find one type of chemotherapy to use on this cancer. He recommended a program where this chemotherapy would have been administered by IV, requiring a two-day hospital stay every four weeks. I found that the EXPERTS from the cancer center have not found chemotherapy effective for soft-tissue sarcomas in the trunk. Can anyone CONCEIVE of going through chemotherapy on an inpatient basis, when it isn't effective for the particular type of cancer?
At the cancer center I also could have the radiation implant, which was six DAYS of isolation instead of six WEEKS of daily visits for radiation at my local hospital.
In fact, I believe that if I'd been at Sloan-Kettering for the initial surgery, I'd have had only ONE operation (taking care of the whole thing) and only ONE hospital stay.
Keep in mind that the doctors themselves say that medicine is an art, not a science. Find yourself a Rembrandt, not a street wise kid with a spray can.
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