921 – Vietnam Vet Carey Owen honored at Auburn, Alabama

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On Monday, retired U.S. Army medic and Vietnam War veteran Carey Owen will be recognized as this year’s Distinguished Veteran at the annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Breakfast. (Don’t know which is Carey but they both look good.)

In this episode number 921 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast the story of Carey Owen will be featured. He is a Vietnam Veteran from Auburn, Alabama who is being honored at the annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Breakfast at Auburn. The story comes from The Auburn Villager, Auburn, Alabama and is titled: Army medic to be honored for service during Vietnam War. It was submitted by Allison Blankenship Associate Editor.

Owen is another one of those brave and outstanding Vietnam Veterans who served their country well in Vietnam and came home to continue service as civilians back home. He was drafted in 1968 at the age of 20 in his home town of Alexander City, about thirty miles northwest of Auburn.

He was sent to Vietnam as a combat medic and assigned to the 506th Infantry with the 101st Airborne Division.  Owen said this about his call to arms: “When it was my turn, it was my turn, and I felt like I needed to serve just like they did.” His father and grandfather had served in the military before him.

Owen was thrust into many dangerous and life threatening actions with the 101st. For his brave service he was awarded a Silver Star for saving a wounded lieutenant during the battle at Hamburger Hill. He and the lieutenant, Terrence Smith still to this day keep in touch with each other.

He left the Army in March 1970 and went off the college down the road at Auburn. He earned a degree in sociology with a minor in management from AU. He went on to become CEO of East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier.

In 2014, Owen was awarded the 506th Infantry Distinguished Member of the Regiment award. He said he believes it’s important to share what serving is like from a veteran’s perspective. In retirement he devotes much of his time to share his military memories with students at Auburn City Schools and Auburn University.

Go to episode 921 at the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast to hear about how this Vietnam Veteran will be honored on Memorial Day, 2017.

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920 – Reece brothers close out NC Vietnam Vet picture quest

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Brothers Tom and Jim Reece at the New Hanover County veterans memorial in 2013. Paul Stephen Paul Stephen – Wilmington Star News

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has taken up the mission to find a photograph of every person whose name appears on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. To date they have surpassed the 40,000 mark for pictures located. Although much progress has been made there is still much to be done to find a picture for every name.

There are wonderful people across the nation who are dedicated to helping make the noble mission complete. Janna Hoehn of Hawaii is one of the “rock stars” of the crusade and she has been on our podcast several times. She provides updates on her efforts and gives helpful hints to others who desire to join in the mission.

In this podcast episode the work done by two brothers in North Carolina will be featured. A story in The News and Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina titled: A successful, decade-long mission for 2 brothers: Finding photos of NC Vietnam casualties that was submitted: By Richard Stradling  (stradling@newsobserver.com) outlines the work done by brothers, Jim and Tom Reece.

Douglas Bane ‘Smitie’ Smith, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Douglas Bane ‘Smitie’ Smith

Recently they were able to locate a photo of Douglas Bane ‘Smitie’ Smith, the last missing photo of the 1,958 North Carolinians who died in Vietnam. The Reece brothers got involved in the picture search over a decade ago when Jim Reece began a project to find pictures of his high school classmates in Wilmington who had died in the war.

Once they began finding missing pictures they were hooked and made it their mission to find all the photos for North Carolina names. Last November, 2016, they were down to needing the last 22 names. These were the toughest of the tough, they said, the ones with tenuous or no connections to family or the places they had lived. With dogged determination they were able to complete the task.

After a short break they intend to assist others in other states locate missing photos.

If you would like to assist in this noble pursuit go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website for more information. CLICK HERE. www.vvmf.org

919 – Vietnam Vet’s Corvette brings $675,000 at auction

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The marina blue 1967 Chevrolet Corvette that was auctioned for $675,000 Saturday at the 30th annual Mecum Auctions, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis. The Corvette belonged to late Vietnam war hero Richard Litavsky.

Keith Richard Litavsky, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Keith Richard Litavsky

In this episode of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast the story about a Vietnam Veteran and his car will be featured. When Keith Richard Litavsky came home from Vietnam, one of the first things he did was buy a marina blue 1967 Chevrolet Corvette from a dealer in Illinois. He had dreamed about that car everyday he was in country. Done on a leap of faith, he carefully saved up enough money to purchase his dream car because survival in Vietnam was doubtful for Keith because he faced some of the toughest fighting.

Apparently the fact that he survived the fighting and killing in Vietnam and that he had wisely saved the money to buy the car on his own made him appreciate it even more. He took meticulous care of his treasured car until he passed away in 1993 as a result of a cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The car was passed on to Keith’s son Matt who continued the meticulous maintenance of his father’s car mainly due to the tremendous respect he held for his father.

After 24 years of treasured ownership son Matt made the difficult decision to sell his father’s Corvette. There were two newspaper articles about the car and it sale that will be shared on the podcast episode. One came out just prior to the sale of the car and the other describes the result of the sale where the car brought $675,000 in a Dana Mecum auction in Indianapolis.

The first story came from USA Today titled: Vietnam Vet’s beloved Chevy Corvette heads to auction and was submitted by Justin L. Mack of the Indianapolis Star. The auction result story came from The Indianapolis Star and was titled: Carmel man pays $675,000 for a 1967 Corvette at Indy auction  and was submitted by John Tuohy, john.tuohy@indystar.com.

God bless Keith Richard Litavsky and his extended family.

918 – Vietnam – West Virginians Remember – documentary debuts Sept. 14 on WVPB

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Morgantown resident Paul Casto on his first tour of Vietnam. He is one of five combat veterans from West Virginia featured in the upcoming West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary, “Vietnam: West Virginians Remember,” which airs Sept. 14

In this episode 918 of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News word about something of interest to Vietnam Veterans from the great state of West Virginia will be featured. It comes from a story in The Charleston Gazette-Mail titled: Documentary creating archive of West Virginians in Vietnam War that was submitted by Douglas Imbrogno, Assistant Lifestyles Editor.

It seems that two of West Virginia Public Broadcasting award-winning documentarians are creating a one-hour show titled: “Vietnam: West Virginians Remember.” It will make its debut Sept. 14 on WVPB. The program will be in conjunction with the Ken Burns Vietnam War documentary program series which is also planned for a September 2017 showing.

West Virginians played a significant role in the Vietnam War with a total of 36,578 Mountain State residents serving in the war and, of that number, 1,182 making the ultimate sacrifice. That is why West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the West Virginia State Archives are sponsoring the upcoming program that will highlight the service of West Virginia Vietnam Veterans.

They are looking for help from the public. They need more material from the Vietnam Era to make the program as vivid as possible. The producers are putting out the call for home movies, pictures, slides, letters and other papers from the war related to experiences of West Virginia soldiers, their families back home, doctors and nurses, and other related material . It will be used to build an archive on the Vietnam War at the West Virginia State Archives in the state Capitol Complex.

The state archives will create a digital copy of the materials for its records, and the originals will be returned, unless people wish to donate them permanently to the collection. People who donate materials will also receive a digital copy of their materials for their own use.

To lend or donate materials for this program or for more information, contact:

  • Richard Fauss at richard.e.fauss@wv.gov or call 304-558-0230 x701
  • Russ Barbour at rbarbour@wvpublic.org or phone at 304-696-3635.

917 – The Marine on a tank

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Wounded Marines including Alvin Bert Grantham ride on top of converted tank used as a make-shift ambulance during The Battle of Hue, Vietnam, 1968. By John Olson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images.

A new book titled: Huế 1968 has been added to the recommended reading list of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast. It was recently released by Mark Bowden. He is an American writer and author thirteen books. They include:

In his spare time he has been The Distinguished Writer in Residence at The University of Delaware since 2013. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and also a National Correspondent for The Atlantic.

In this episode, an excerpt from his new book, Huế 1968, about the Tet Offensive which took place in Vietnam during the month of February,1968 is featured. It described the tortured experiences of Alvin Bert Grantham, an eighteen year old Marine from Mobile, Alabama.

The story picks up where Grantham was a machine gunner with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment based in Huế. On the night of January 31, 1968, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops began pouring into the city and a bloody 25 day battle began with a bang. The fighting was hand to hand and room by room as the Marines fought to clear the three-square-mile ancient citadel that was the former imperial capital of Nguyen Dynasty. It was built in 1362, and it took 203 years to complete.

One day in the battle the four other members of Grantham’s machine gun crew were knocked out. Despite this he kept pouring heavy fire on the enemy until he took a bullet to the chest. His struggle to survive a life threatening wound is described in an award winning fashion by the writer, Bowden.

 Huế 196 should be read by all who want to get a true picture of the Vietnam War and the brave Marines who fought in that war.

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916 – StoryCorps – a cool tool for Vietnam Veterans

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Many Vietnam Veterans have vivid memories of their time in country. Sometimes those memories can be unpleasant and as hard to get rid of as a visiting in-law who will not go away. Sometimes they can be a poignant and unforgettable hangover from the past. In this episode of Vietnam Veteran News Podcast a handy way to record and archive Vietnam Veteran memories will be featured.

StoryCorps is an organization that records interviews about the lives of individuals. Since their founding in 2003 they have given a quarter of a million Americans the chance to record interviews about their lives. Their goal is to pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and to leave a legacy for the future. It is the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered. Voices are archived at Story Corps and the Library of Congress.

StoryCorps is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. Call 1-800-850-4406 to schedule an interview. CLICK HERE for additional information on their website.

StoryCorps offer Vietnam Veterans an excellent way to record their vivid memories. In this episode a sample interview about a Vietnam Veteran is presented to show a finished product from StoryCorps.

The featured interview is a conversation with Roberta Vincent with her son, Robert Howard II. They are the widow and son of Army Sgt. Robert Louis Howard who died in 1969 during the Vietnam War. He left behind his ex-wife Roberta Vincent, and their 4-year-old son, Robert Howard II. They talk about how the loss of Robert Louis Howard in Vietnam changed their lives forever.

If you are a Vietnam Veteran with a memory of your time in Vietnam or after and you would like to save it for future generations StoryCorps offers an easy and simple way to get the job done. So why don’t you give it a try?

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Roberta Vincent with her son, Robert Howard II, at their StoryCorps interview in Hartford, Conn. Courtesy of StoryCorps

915 – Another look at the Battle of Dak To

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Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Quinn of Southport, NC

In this episode of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast, Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Quinn of Southport, NC will be featured. He recently published a new book titled “The Battle of Dak-To.” It recounts a Vietnam War battle on its 50th anniversary. The new book and its author were discussed in an article in The Star News of Wilmington, NC titled: ‘Battle of Dak-To’ recalls Vietnam conflict that was submitted by Ben Steelman of the StarNews Staff (910-343-2208 or Ben.Steelman@StarNewsOnline.com).

Robert Quinn had a firsthand view of the fierce battle at Dak To, Vietnam fought during November of 1967. He was a newly promoted major serving as an operations officer in one of the infantry battalions engaged in the battle. In addition to describing the battle, Quinn lays out in his book a very incisive brief history of the Vietnam conflict.

Quinn is and was conservative in political leanings but he could not help holding a grudging admiration for Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam. Ho’s main intent was to reunify his country under a single independent government. Unfortunately for all involved he was a declared communist and at that time in history the US could not allow a communist take over the country.

As a result of the situation at the time the US backed the leader of South Vietnam. Initially that was Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic who clashed with the Buddhist majority and who packed his administration with relatives and cronies. Fed up with Diem’s ineffective and corrupt leadership, President Kennedy okayed a CIA engineered military coup that resulted in Diem’s execution. That resulted in a succession of military leaders of schemed more against each other than the enemy from the north. We all know what happened next.

For all looking for a highly interesting and informative account of a major battle in the war and an excellent brief history of the whole Vietnam conflict get a copy of Robert Quinn’s new book ‘Battle of Dak-To’ recalls Vietnam conflict.

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914 – Vietnam Vet moves California lawmaker to pull Communist hiring bill

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rob bonta, randy voepel, vietnam veteran news, mack payneIn this episode of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast another reason to be proud of Vietnam Veterans will be presented. In comes out of a situation that occurred in the great state of California and is described in a story from WFMJ, Youngstown, Ohio titled: California lawmaker pulls bill on Cold War-era communist ban  that submitted by Sophia Bollag of the Associated Press.

It seems California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat from the San Francisco Bay Area, felt it necessary to submit a bill to the state legislature. His bill, AB22, would have let communists legally work in California government. He believes the threats communism poses to our way of life here in America have sufficiently eased to the point “commie pinkos” can be employed by the State of California.

Thanks to Vietnam Veterans like Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel who were willing to stand up to such a misguided action, Bonta has decided to withdraw his proposed bill. His official reason for the action was that it caused veterans and Americans of Vietnamese descent “distress and hurt.” Bonta’s proposal was so outrageous even one of his fellow Democrats Assemblyman Ash Kalra, lauded his colleague for pulling the bill.

Even Democrats in California recognize the fact Communism is still a serious factor to be reckoned with it today’s world. It must not be forgotten Communism is a bankrupt concept that only leads to equality in poverty and death. We must remember the Communists in the USSR killed 15 million of their own people and 12 million Ukrainians through state enforced starvation. It is reported the Chinese Communists killed 50 million of their citizens. And don’t forget the Cambodian Communist, Pol Pot, who summarily murdered 2 million of its 7 million citizens.

Anyone who appreciates the liberty and prosperity we enjoy in America should always be alert to the menace of Communism. We should all thank God for the bravery of Vietnam Veterans both back in the day and on today’s front lines of defending liberty.

913 – Vietnam Vet Edward Abair found adventure on a bike

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Edward Abair – A former Army medic in Vietnam and substitute high school teacher, bicycled across the United States on Route 66 in 1972.

Edward Abair is a Vietnam Veteran who looked for adventure. He found it on a bicycle ride across America. His story was covered in a Webwire article titled: Ex-Vietnam Medic’s Bike Trip across America: It’s About Meeting People. Edward was an Army medic in Vietnam. That job brought him lots of excitement. He came home to a life with no adventure.

Upon his return he bounced around jobs of being a hospital orderly and a substitute teacher. As he worked those jobs he began to think it would be too late to experience adventure by the age of 28. In 1972 he decided to go and seek adventure. With $250 in his pocket, a bicycle, and a pack weighing thirty-seven pounds, he set off on an adventure of a lifetime.

He pedaled his bicycle 5,800 miles solo from Long Beach, California, to Miami, Florida, to Boston, Massachusetts. Edward found lots of excitement and adventure on the trip as he endured 110-degree heat in Southwest deserts, crossed the intimidating Rocky Mountains, fought off Mississippi mosquitoes, sweated in the humid swamplands of the South. He spent nights in an assortment of places that included: abandoned buildings, fire stations, jails and under porch roofs.

At age 68 Edward decided to go on another bicycle adventure. This time it would be a reverse course of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from Astoria, Oregon, to St. Louis, Missouri. On this trip he was shadowed by his wife in a car loaded with modern supporting equipment.

Edward wrote a book about his bicycling adventures titled: Discovering the US on a Bicycle: And 40 Years Later. You are highly encouraged to get a copy of this interesting and well written account of his amazing adventures. In it he shares observations of finding the people and adventures from small town America to the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

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