999 – Texas Vietnam memorial to be dedicated at Killeen

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Vietnam Memorial at the Central Texas State Cemetery.

Episode 999 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will be finishing up a story that began in episode 552 and was published on February 13, 2016. That episode announced plans for the creation of a Vietnam memorial to be placed at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery located on Texas Highway 195 south of Killeen. Episode 969 announced that work on memorial was completed at the Riley-Gardner Memorial Services Company in Hamilton and its immediate movement to the cemetery.

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retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, keynote speaker for the dedication.

In this episode a story in The Fort Hood Herald titled: Retired general to speak at memorial dedication by Julie A. Ferraro, Herald Correspondent is featured. It describes the upcoming formal dedication ceremony to be held at 10:00 am this coming Monday, August 28, 2017. The monument consists of four black marble panels bearing the words “Welcome Home, Brothers & Sisters” along with dozens of engraved quotes from Vietnam veterans in Central Texas and elsewhere.

The keynote speaker for the event is the very appropriately chosen retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk. He is a Vietnam Veteran who brings with him an impressive resume. He was born at Fort Hood, he graduated from nearby Baylor University in Waco, he married his wife Beth in the Fort Hood 1st Cav Division Chapel. She was the daughter Lt. Gen. John Yeosock, who commanded the 1st Cavalry Division at the time. All his children graduated from high school in Harker Heights. Both he and his father commanded III Corps and Fort Hood.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1000 of Killeen deserves a great deal of credit for helping make the memorial a reality. They were instrumental in raising the $40,000 required to complete the project.

Everyone in the Central Texas area are encouraged to attend the dedication.

Get more information about the event in episode 999.

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998 – Vietnam Vet Bill Hotaling served on the USS Saint Paul

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Episode 998 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will highlight another excellent representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation. He is Bill Hotaling, a US Navy Vietnam Veteran who today resides in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is even more important to do that in this day and time when highly paid professional football players can’t seem to be able to bring themselves to stand for the national anthem of the country that provided them with the opportunities of wealth and the freedom to speak they so amply enjoy. The writer of this piece will stick to watching the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team beat up on their SEC opponents and refrain from watching the professional football games and supporting their sponsors. Thank goodness we still have the freedom to do that. Thank you Vietnam Veterans.

Deborah Highland, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Deborah Highland

Now getting back to Bill Hotaling, there was a story about him in The Bowling Green Daily News titled: Veteran: Vietnam War naval service routine, with bursts of fear by Deborah Highland, dhighland@bgdailynews.com. Bill is a native of Philadelphia. Both his father and grandfather were US Navy veterans and probably due to that heritage he was imbued with the belief that military service was an obligation.

After college he decided to follow in his forbearers footsteps and join the US Navy. When he entered the Navy, the Vietnam War was raging at its fullest but that did not deter young Bill Hotaling. He figured it was his duty to serve his country in the military and the fact a war was going on did not make any difference in his duty obligation.

Bill served three tours in the Vietnam theater of operations as an officer aboard the USS Saint Paul a Baltimore class heavy cruiser that could fire 8″ shells on targets 26 miles away. On many occasions the ship would sail into the middle of Haiphong harbor and shell targets of opportunity.

Discover more about Bill Hotaling and his service to his country during and after the Vietnam War in episode 998.

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997 – Vietnam Vet Luis Lopez leads the way in Mission, Texas

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Vietnam Vet and member of the Catholic War Veterans of Mission, Texas Luis Lopez

Episode 997 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will be a continuation of its primary mission of extolling the virtues of the Vietnam Veteran Generation, one as great as any that ever heeded the call of duty from its country and one that has continued to serve despite the lack of appreciation from that country. A story about one of those veterans from Mission, Texas comes from reporter Trason Bragg of KRGV channel 5 TV of Weslaco titled: Veterans Concerned Over Fence Damage.

Luis Lopez is a native of Mission, Texas and lived there all his life except for a four year hitch he served in the Air Force. Back in the sixties he was called to serve and despite the fact he was married and had a child he proudly went off to serve the country he loved. One of those years in the Air Force took him to Vietnam. He often thanks God for his safe return home to Mission and his family.

Upon leaving the military he went home and continued to serve his country in Mission as a proud American citizen. One of the things he did there was to join the Catholic War Veterans which is officially known as the Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America. It is a national service organization of baptized Catholics that have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. Founded in 1935, the Catholic War Veterans are dedicated to serving all service members regardless and their families regardless of their religion.

Luis became an active member of the organization and he said this about what they do on a regular basis: “We help widows, we help any members that are sick, in the hospital or that are ill. We also help the churches. We give donations to the churches.”

Recently something happened to the Catholic War Veterans facility there in Mission that is causing problems.

Discover what this outstanding Vietnam Veteran Luis Lopez is doing about the situation in episode 997.

996 – Unexploded ordnance – a terrible Vietnam War hangover

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Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, more than 42,000 people have been killed and over 62,100 injured by unexploded ordnance dropped by US aircraft, according government figures. (Photo: AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Episode 996 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will cover one of the darker Vietnam War hangovers. It is not easy to pick out the worst because they are so numerous and terrible. They include such things as the scourge of PTSD, the heartbreak of Agent Orange and the loss of trust in government. Unexploded ordnance is one of the terrible hangovers that has largely not affected us here in America but is still causing havoc with the people of the former Indo-China region.

A story in The Channel News Asia website titled:6 Vietnamese killed by US war-era bomb paints a picture of the sorrowful situation. It comes from VGPNews, the government’s online mouthpiece out of Hanoi. According to the government story six Vietnamese villagers, including three children, were killed Friday (Aug 18) when a United States war-era bomb exploded in Khanh Hoa province where Cam Ranh Bay and Na Trang are located.

Local police refused to comment on the accident, but it is believed to have occurred when someone was trying to dismantle a 105 mm howitzer projectile in a house in the village of Ta Luong. In addition to the deaths and injuries a home was completely destroyed.

According to government figures since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, more than 42,000 people have been killed and over 62,100 injured by unexploded ordnance dropped by US aircraft or fired by American and South Vietnamese artillery units. Some estimate as much as half the fifteen tons of bombs dropped or fired during the conflict failed to detonate upon impact. Other reliable sources put the amount of bombs dropped at seven and a half tons but whatever the true number may be the peril they present to the citizens of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is unacceptable.

Discover more about this situation at episode 996.

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995 – New bill to expand veterans health benefits

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President Trump signed into law a bill providing over $2 billion to open new Veterans Affairs department medical facilities and fund care for veterans seeking medical care outside the government system on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Episode 995 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature some recently passed Congressional legislation that is designed expand veterans health benefits. It seems President Trump recently signed a bill that must be good because apparently it has few fans.

An article in the Washington Examiner said this about the new law: “The legislation, which passed the House unanimously, provides funding for veterans who seek treatment from a private doctor in certain cases. It also allows the Veterans Affairs department to lease 28 new facilities around the country, in an attempt to expand access to government-provided care. That makes it a compromise in the larger debate between conservative and liberal proponents of VA reform.”

The casual observer would think this was a good thing. The bill is intended to provide more health care professionals to treat veterans. Veterans have died waiting to be treated at VA facilities around the country. This bill will address  at least a part of that problem by allowing some veterans to see an doctor outside of the system, while turning parts of some private facilities over to the VA.

According to a blog post in the American Thinker website titled: Bill to expand veterans health benefits signed by Trump by Rick Moran, Despite the good intentions of the new bill, Dan Caldwell, policy director for the conservative Concerned Veterans for America and Rick Weidman, legislative director of the Vietnam Veterans of America are squaring off with differing viewpoints as to the worth and utility of the new bill. The aforementioned casual observer would wonder why would these two veterans organizations be opposed on the goodness of this bill.

Discover the reasoning behind the positions of the CVA and VVA toward the new legislation to expand veterans health benefits in episode 995.

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994 – Vietnam Vets blink at new US – Vietnam ties

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) and Vietnamese Defense Minister Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich listen to national anthems during an honor cordon at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Helen Clark is a New Zealand politician who served as the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008.

Episode 994 of the Vietnam Veteran News podcast will take a look at the growing friendly relationship between the US and Vietnam. Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand, wrote an article titled: With an eye on China, US-Vietnam float closer together for the Asia Times. It describes in detail the current developments in the budding affiliation between the two countries.

According to Clark, here is the primary reason why the change in relations is happening. For centuries various nations in the South China Sea region have been contesting over control of the sea. A few of the reasons why include the following, first it is a gateway for a large volume of world commerce moving between East Asian and European ports of call. Whoever controls the South China Sea controls a good deal of world commerce. Another factor is the rich natural resources in the area. The fishing grounds around the Scarborough Shoal are said to be some of the richest. Control of such large seafood sources is critical for populations who like and depend on food from the sea. Another key component of the South China Sea equation is the presence of substantial natural gas and petroleum deposits.

Two groups of contested islands, the Spratlys and Paracels are at the center of the dispute where the two primary contestants, China and Vietnam are concentrating their efforts to gain and maintain control of the sea. The other regional claimants have either been bought or scared off by the heavy handed Chinese but Vietnam is standing firm. Some analysts believe the rising disputes are driving a re-calibration of Hanoi’s ‘more friends and fewer enemies’ independent foreign policy towards friendlier US relations.

As a result of the thawing of relations between the US and Vietnam. Next year for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War a US aircraft carrier will visit Vietnam.

Discover more on this development at episode 994.

993 – Spotlight on Arkansas Vietnam Vets

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Hot Springs Village Voice managing editor Jeff Meek (center) with LaShuan Vaughn (back) and cameraman Michael Helmbeck interview Vietnam Vet George Hollingsworth.
Bobby Ampezzan / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

Episode 993 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature the latest in Vietnam Veteran news in Arkansas. In anticipation of the soon to be aired Ken Burns documentary, The Vietnam War, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) has ramped up its own Vietnam Veteran programming. Bobby Ampezzan has written an article for the Arkansas Public Media about upcoming event that will be held in conjunction with the Ken Burns’ documentary.

This month and next AETN will hold screenings of the documentary all around Arkansas. In Jonesboro Saturday, Little Rock next Tuesday, and Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jacksonville and Little Rock (again) next month. Each screening will be followed by a panel discussion consisting of Vietnam Veterans, civilians and other notables.

CLICK HERE for the list of screenings and educational events.

Along with the announcement about the AETN Vietnam War Program, it is requested that you review the list of names of Arkansans whose name is on the Memorial Wall in Washington DC and is without a photo. Any assistance in locating missing photos is sincerely requested by the VVMF.

 CLICK HERE for the list of names with missing photos.

Hot Springs Village Voice managing editor Jeff Meek is recording and producing about 10 Arkansas veteran interviews the AETN collected as part of the networks’ supplemental production. His contribution to the project is highly valuable. He and wife Jean moved to Hot Springs more than a decade ago from his home state of Illinois. About twenty years ago he began a mission to capture and save the stories of World War II veterans.

As a new resident of Hot Springs, a retirement community of about 13,000 Village Voice, he began to submit 750-word excerpts of those interviews once a month to the Hot Springs Village Voice. They were well received by the residents who asked for more. That led the retired gym teacher on the path being a staff writer, then an interim managing editor and then to managing editor.

He invites Vietnam Veterans to join in his interview program.

 Meek may be reached at jmeek@hsvvoice.com

Discover more about what Arkansas AETN is doing to promote understanding about the Vietnam War and its veterans in episode 993.

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992 – Vietnam was a piece of the big puzzle

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Koreans meeting

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James A. Thomson

The episode 992 spotlight of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will focus on the  complex puzzle of international relations with special emphasis on the current situation with North Korea and how it relates to the Vietnam War days. James A. Thomson submitted an opinion piece to the Newsweek website titled: To Pacify Kim Jong Un, How About Ending the Korean War?

Thomson is president emeritus of the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, CA. In his piece he recounts how this country went through a similar situation with China during the Vietnam War Era.  He asks: “sound familiar? A hostile power other than the Soviet Union, led by a leader considered by many to be a madman, is developing a nuclear capability with the ultimate aim of being able to strike the U.S. with nuclear-tipped missiles.”

The answer is yes. Back in the 1950s China began a nuclear weapons development program. this deeply worried President Kennedy when he assumed office in early 1961. The question of how to handle the growing peril of nuclear annihilation at the hands of the Chinese Communist were the same as they are today with the North Korea challenge.

Just as the Kennedy administration studies concluded back then it is clear today that military options are either infeasible or too risky. Even more so now considering the vulnerability of South Korea to North Korean artillery and the possibility that a U.S. war with the North could lead to a U.S. war with China. This leads to massive deterrence as the only seemingly sensible course of action.

But wait!! Thomson offers another obvious course of action that could not only eliminate the threat but correct some historical hangovers that could lead to unparalleled peace and prosperity.

Discover what his earthshaking proposal is in episode 992.

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991 – Rochester’s open door for its Vietnam Vets

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House donated to the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center in 1981.

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Hon. Patricia D. Marks, Monroe County Court judge and the executive director of Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester.

Episode 991 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about the wonderful citizens of Rochester, NY who are doing remarkable things along with and for the Vietnam Veterans who reside in that great city. The story is told in a guest essay by the Hon. Patricia Marks titled: Opening a door for Vietnam veterans in The Democrat & Chronicle of Rochester, New York. It centers around the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center.

The Hon. Patricia Marks is a Monroe County Court judge and also serves as the executive director of Veterans Outreach Center located at 447 South Ave. It was established soon after the close of the Vietnam War in an old a storefront at the corner of South Ave. and Comfort St. It was run by five committed veterans conducting peer counseling, providing job search assistance and performing Agent Orange registration.

It was tough going back then. PTSD was an undiagnosed malady and Agent Orange disease connections were still in the theoretical stage which made complications from these diseases and conditions difficult to understand and discuss. On top of those challenges, America had not yet separated its negative feelings toward the war from the warriors who did their duty and served. This meant, for most people, Vietnam War veterans remained in the shadows.

Today the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center has survived to become the longest continuous veteran non-profit center in the country. It serves over 1,000 veterans and their families a year, providing them with paths to security, success and peace of mind. The path of the VOC was not always smooth and easy.

In 1981, when funding was drying up along with community support the VOC was facing closure. Something happened that brought dramatic improvements for the VOC and the entire Rochester community including its Vietnam Veterans.

Discover what that seminal event was in episode 991.

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990 – Special Vietnam Vet in Bastrop, Texas needs help

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McDonnell Douglas F-4D-31-MC Phantom II 66-8768 sitting outside of American Legion Post 533 in Bastrop, Texas.

Episode 990 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will take a look at how a town in Texas is treating a special Vietnam Veteran. That special veteran is a McDonnell Douglas F-4D that flew with the famed 8th Fighter Wing “Wolf Pack” during the Vietnam War. The history behind the jet fighter and its current situation was covered in a story by Alicia Inns that was broadcast on KXAN NBC-TV of Austin, Texas titled: Bastrop community rallies to restore Vietnam War fighter jet.

The McDonnell Douglas F-4D-31-MC Phantom II 66-8768 that today sits outside the American Legion Post 533 in Bastrop was built at the McDonnell Douglas plant in St. Louis, MO in 1966. From there it went straight to Vietnam where it took part in the War and still to this day bears scars from the conflict.

After serving in Air Force units around the world it came home to the former Bergstrom AFB at Austin for its last assignment with the 924th Tactical Fighter Group. The air base closed in 1993 and the Air Force did not need F-4 66-8768 anymore. Dennis Walter, veteran and former crew chief with the 924th Tactical Fighter Group decided to take action to save this valiant war horse from the metal shredder.

Walter, a resident of Bastrop, approached the American Legion Post 533 in Bastrop about the possibility of it becoming the new home for the special Vietnam Veteran. The Post accepted the offer and in 1996 Walter towed the airplane down Highway 71 to its new home.

For more than twenty years the F-4 has sat next to the American Legion hall reminding its citizens of the service all Vietnam Veterans rendered to their country. Unfortunately the ravages of time and weather have caused the special Vietnam Veteran to show its age.

The community has decided to restore the aircraft to its former impressive appearance. They put Herman Fabela, an aircraft mechanic in charge of the task. It is estimated the job will require an investment of $20,000.

Donations are requested and can be made at the First National Bank of Bastrop in the “Special F-4 Account.” The bank’s phone number is 512-321-2561.

For more information see episode 990.

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