875 – Vietnam Vet family still seeking answers

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Mark V. Dennis, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Vietnam Vet, Mark V. Dennis, memorial service in Miamisburg, Ohio

The Vietnam War legacy is filled with many gut wrenching stories of sadness and sorrow many families suffered when they discovered they had lost a loved one in that war. In this 875th episode of the “Vietnam Veteran News Podcast” the story of a fallen hero’s family and their excruciatingly painful experience will be featured. The story about the family of fallen Vietnam Veteran, Mark V. Dennis, and their quest to know who is buried in their loved one’s grave is found in two stories on WDTN Channel 2 News in Dayton, Ohio, one is titled: Buried truth: who was laid to rest at Hill Grove Cemetery? and a follow up story titled: Graveside memorial for local man killed in Vietnam.  Both stories were submitted by Katie Ussin.

Mark V. Dennis was a Navy medic serving in Vietnam with the US Marines. In 1966 at the age of 19 he was in a helicopter with fifteen others. It crashed and burned after being shot out the air and only three survived the disaster. The survivors did not include Dennis. The GR (graves registration) personnel apparently chose one of the burned corpses and assigned it the identity of Dennis.

The pick and miss identified remains of the brave and good Mark V. Dennis were sent home to his family at Miamisburg, Ohio and he was honored with full military honors and a graveside memorial at Hillgrove Cemetery. The grieving family and friends went on with their lives the best they could after the burial ceremony. Then something happened that stirred up the pot in reference to the disposition of the earthly remains of Mark V. Dennis.

In a 1970 edition of Newsweek Magazine that included an article about POWs, an image of an unidentified American POW was included in the story. Due to the remarkable resemblance of the POW in the story and their loved one, the family decided to dig into the matter literally. They had samples of the remains in Mark’s grave analyzed by laboratories in two different states. Both reported the remains in the grave were not those of Mark. Despite the findings of the independent labs, as of today, the DoD still stands by its position the remains in the grave are those of Mark.

Mark V. Dennis, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Mark V. Dennis, on at left and the mysterious unidentified POW photo in a 1970 Newsweek article on the right.

The remaining family members essentially said “to hell with it” and decided to put the matter to rest by holding a second memorial service for Mark at the same spot it was first held in 1966.

The pastor at the service said it best: “Today we lay Mark’s spirit and memory to rest.”

874 – A Vietnam Vet and his Pontiac LeMans

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  • Bob and Sue Banks, vietnam veteran news, mack payne
    Newlyweds Bob and Sue Banks pose for a picture while on a fishing trip to Little Fort, British Columbia, in the spring of 1968. Their boat is atop Bob’s 1967 Pontiac LeMans Sprint, which he bought two days after returning from serving with the Navy in the Vietnam War in April 1967. (Courtesy Bob and Sue Banks)

This episode of the podcast “Vietnam Veteran New” you will be treated to a love story. It is about a Vietnam Vet, Bob Banks, who is celebrating several fiftieth anniversaries this month. The story about them are found in The Herald of Everett, Washington titled: Home from war 50 years ago, he met his love and bought a car.  It was submitted by Julie Muhlstein, 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein @heraldnet.com.

Some of the fiftieth anniversaries Bob is celebrating this month include:

  1. His safe return from the Vietnam War.
  2. He was able to go back to his old pre-Vietnam War job he had with West Coast Telephone Co. in Everett.
  3. He bought a 1967 Pontiac LeMans.
  4. He proposed marriage to his sweetheart and she accepted.

The notable thing about Bob’s anniversaries is that he is still married to his sweetheart, Sue and he still owns the same 1967 Pontiac LeMans.

Bob is another great example of the tremendous Vietnam Veteran Generation. He served his country in Vietnam, came home and continued serving as a citizen of Marysville, WA. He put in a career with West Coast Telephone Co. (later GTE Corp) in Everett, he maintained a stable home where he raised two children and he stayed married to the same woman.

The fact that he kept the car he purchased fifty years ago is especially noteworthy to this writer because I too bought a Pontiac LeMans in 1966 but did not have the foresight or wherewithal to hold on to it. When I went to Vietnam the first time, one year seemed like an eternity so I sold my prized LeMans before I departed. Now after hearing about Bob Banks keeping his LeMans, I am kicking myself for not doing the same.

Talking about his life in Marysville, Washington Bob says: “We’ve been awfully happy and awfully blessed.”

873 – Montagnards still under the gun in Vietnam

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Montagnards attend a church service in Bang Yai, Thailand, in an undated photo. Photo courtesy of the Montagnards Assistance Project

In this episode of the podcast “Vietnam Veteran News” the plight of one of our most loyal and effective allies in the Vietnam War will be featured. In the highlands of Vietnam there existed numerous tribes of “indigenous” peoples. Historically they were looked down upon by the ruling Cochin people of Indochina as backward and they suffered much discrimination at the hands of their more advances neighbors in the lowlands. The French referred to the tribes as  Montagnards which translated means mountain people.

The friction that existed between the Montagnards and especially the northern Vietnamese contributed to their willingness to work with the Americans when they came to fight against the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. When the war ended and the Americans left the country the Montagnards were left high and dry to suffer the ire of their former opponent when the North Vietnamese took over the entire country in 1975. Ever since they have suffered persecution and retribution from a revengeful Vietnam Communist government.

Recently a story appeared in Radio Free Asia titled: Dozens of Montagnards Flee Cambodia For Thailand Amid Fears of Repatriation to Vietnam. The story was reported by Thanh Truc for RFA’s Vietnamese Service, translated by Viet Ha and written in English by Joshua Lipes. It describes what some Montagnards are doing to escape the vengeful treatment they receive from the Communists in Vietnam and Cambodia.

It appears that a group of Montagnards who made their way to Cambodia seeking refugee status are being threatened with repatriation back to Vietnam where they face jail time and torture according to the escapees. Some have moved on to Thailand to avoid being sent back to Vietnam.

This is a sad state of affairs for a former loyal and effective ally in the Vietnam War.

CLICK HERE for more on Denise Coghlan, the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, and what she is doing to help the Montagnard people in Cambodia.

872 – Vietnamese food comes to Deland, FL

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In this episode of the podcast “Vietnam Veteran News” you will be treated to  enticing news of a culinary nature. A new Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Deland, Florida. The opening was covered in a story found in The West Volusia Beacon titled: Pho Co. adds Vietnamese cuisine to Downtown DeLand mix that was submitted by Anthony DeFeo and Barb Shepherd.

It is always heartening to this writer when someone takes the plunge into the entrepreneurial arena especially if it is a foreigner who is escaping the bleak aspects of living in a Communist country. Tai Pham, an emigre from the Communist paradise of Vietnam, has opened a Vietnamese restaurant at 111 N. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand, Florida. The new eatery is called Pho Co. Noodle House and features a menu filled with Vietnamese delights. The star of the culinary show is the popular Vietnamese pho noodle soup which is available with a variety of meats and is served with a plate of fresh Thai basil sprigs, sliced jalapeños and limes.

A DeLand artist, Rachel Hernandez, painted a large mural that shows Vietnamese farmers in their fields. This adds to an atmosphere that makes diners feel like they are in a cafe in Vietnam when they walk in the door. The locals in the Deland area appreciate the fact they can enjoy authentic Vietnamese food made by Vietnamese right there on Woodland boulevard in Deland.

The new restaurant comes highly rated by diners and all who would like to enjoy some real Vietnamese dining are encouraged to try out the new restaurant in Deland.

Pho Co. Noodle House fact sheet:

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Specialty: Pho

Location: 111 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sunday

Bill for two meals, an appetizer and dessert: $38.29

Seating options: Inside table service

Beverages available: Bubble tea, milk tea, iced tea, lemonade, coffee, soft drinks, smoothies

Types of service: Table service

Kid-friendly: Yes

Pet-friendly: No

Reservations: No

871 – Fake news about Kim “Napalm girl” Phuc of Vietnam

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Kim “Napalm girl” Phuc, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Kim “Napalm girl” Phuc of the Vietnam war today.

These days “fake news” is getting a lot of attention in the political area. If one did not know better they would think it is a new phenomenon. In this podcast I will point out that it has been going on at least back to the Vietnam War. Take for example the case of Kim Phuc, the “Napalm Girl” of Vietnam. It is hard not to forget the image of her as a nine year old back in June of 1972 running from a napalm attack on her village of Trang Bang where she was terribly burned. Award winning Associated Press photographer Nick Ut was in the right place at the right time to snap the iconic photograph. Over the years it has been a lasting reminder of the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe.

Since the “Napalm Girl” image is so ingrained in our national psyche, fake news myths (lies) have grown up about the incident. Recently W. Joseph Campbell, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. and an author of six books, including a recently published second edition of “Getting It Wrong” (University of California Press), which is about media-driven myths. Submitted a story about the subject of fake news about the “Napalm Girl” to The Baltimore Sun titled: Confronting the myths of the ‘Napalm Girl’.

In his piece in the Baltimore Sun he lists these three myths (lies) about the incident:

  1. The bombs were dropped by the US military aircraft.
  2. The image changed Americans attitude toward the war
  3. It caused the US to withdraw its forces from the war.

In the podcast each one of these myths will be shown to be totally false by Campbell and the evidence he lays out.

The lesson to be taken from this podcast episode is to be careful when you things in today’s media.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Getting it Wrong, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

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870 – A salute to the Douglas A-1 Skyraider in Vietnam

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An A-1 Skyraider over Vietnam loaded for bear

Back in the olden days of 1970 and 1971, I had the distinct privilege of being allowed to fly an AH-1G Cobra gunship in the Vietnam Conflict. As a member of A Battery, 4th Battalion, 77th Field Artillery (Aerial Rocket Artillery) of the 101st Airborne Division I flew in many high intense situations where we were rockin’ and sockin’ members of the oppositional forces. We flew out of our home base at Phu Bai near the old imperial city of Hue that was surrounded and protected by its St. Augustine style fortress wall. I guess the ancient Cochin people believed in walls. We operated in areas like the A Shau Valley, Khe Sanh, Laos and both sides of the DMZ to name a few.

Many times our activities involving hostile action would include the participation of fast movers (jet aircraft) from other services including the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The aircraft included everyone’s favorite the F-4 Phantom Jet, The F-105 Thud (name picked up because of the sound they made when they frequently crashed into the ground) and the A-7 Corsair. One day in the midst of some intense action I noticed a strange looking propeller driven aircraft participating in the combat melee. It looked strangely like a World War II attack aircraft lost in a time warp.

That unusual looking plane turned out to be the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. It was a very tough and capable addition to the American combat weapon inventory during the Vietnam War. The Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. The Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career.

It was slow and deadly. It cruised at 200 knots, could hang around (loiter) for days (seemingly) and carried twice the bomb load of a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress. It also came fitted out with four forward firing fixed 20 mm cannons. That last feature enabled A-1 Skyraiders to shoot down several North Vietnamese jet fighters.

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider served well in the Vietnam War.

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869 – The Dartmouth College Vietnam Project

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Dartmouth College, Rauner Library, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Dartmouth College, Rauner Library

2.7 million Americans put on a uniform and served their country in the Vietnam War. It is estimated 850,000 of the veterans of that war are still with us today. As they pass off into the sunset of life their memories and stories about those troubled times disappear with them never to be known again if those remembrances are not somehow recorded. It is so important for succeeding generations to know about the experiences of preceding generation war veterans so they will have greater insight into facing the challenges of the future.

There is something special going on up at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire that is helping preserve the memories of participants of the Vietnam War Era. History professor Edward Miller has established the Dartmouth Vietnam Project (DVP). Along with the help of history professor Jennifer Miller and Dartmouth College Rauner Special Collections Library archivist Caitlin Birch.

The DVP was described in a story found in The Dartmouth (America’s oldest college newspaper, founded in 1799) that was titled: Vietnam Project collects oral histories and was submitted by Racquel Lyn. Dr. Miller started the project three years ago and has since added 100 interviews to their collection. The interviews are conducted by volunteer students who participate in a cocurriculum program where they are trained in a series of eight workshops. The students conduct the interviews with volunteers under the supervision of faculty staff. The interviewees must have a connection to Dartmouth College.

According to Dr. Miller, the program has been highly beneficial to the students, the interviewees and the College.  He said “this is a program where the students who are participating are learning by doing, especially learning how to do oral history and the program also teaches the theory and ethical issues of oral history.”

Dr Miller is highly qualified to run the DVP. He has a PhD in history from Harvard University, he speaks Vietnamese and has visited the country of Vietnam on many occasions.

CLICK HERE to listen to DVP interviews.

868 – The slippery slope that led to 58,307 names on a wall in DC

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In this episode of the Vietnam Veteran News podcast, we will be taking a look at the slippery slope that led to the creation of a monument in Washington, DC where 58,307 names of fallen Americans were etched on a black marble wall. When the process is examined it becomes reminiscent of a dream where the dreamer is being pushed toward a steep cliff by an unstoppable force. When the dreamer falls over the cliff they wake up and realize it was only a dream. In this case the dream turned out to be a real nightmare for the mothers of those named on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall.

The events leading up to our presence on the slippery slope were presented in a story found on the army.mil website titled: U.S. Army Helicopter Evolution during the Vietnam War. The story was submitted by Dr. Kaylene Hughes who is an AMCOM Historian. She pointed out how our fear of Communism overrode what seemed like clear logic.

Before World War II, France owned Indochina. In that war the Germans defeated France and this allowed the aggressor’s friend and ally, Japan, to take the Indochina prize along with its rubber plantations and other resources for their use in fighting the war. The staunch Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh cooperated with the Americans in fighting the Japanese. As a reward for his cooperation, he was  promised by the Americans that he could lead an independent Vietnam after the war.

Unfortunately the rise of the world wide Communist threat nixed that promise. We reneged on the promise so Ho decided to fight for independence as we had against The King of England.

A war of more than ten years followed with the deaths of millions. Ironically the end result came about regardless of the lives and fortunes sacrificed on both sides. Today Vietnam is united, we are friends with the Vietnamese against a common enemy – Communist China.

Go figure!

867 – Bill Reesor and the United for God and Country Foundation Event

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Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium – site of 2018 “United for God and Country Foundation” rally.

This episode of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature an interview with Bill Reesor who is the chairman of the United for God and Country Foundation. That organization is planning a mammoth rally event scheduled for the spring of 2018 in Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium, a 20,000 plus outdoor sports venue. The purpose of the rally is help in the restoration of spiritual clarity to our government and the American family unit. It will also devote much attention to honoring our veterans. Vietnam Veterans will be recognized with a 21 gun salute.

The foundation membership is made up of spiritually minded military flag officers, politicians, entrepreneurs and clergy from almost every Judeo-Christian denomination in America. It’s chairman, Bill Reesor is a US Air Force Vietnam Era veteran who has retired from a career in the airline and investment brokerage business. Today he lives in Ooltewah, TN where he devotes most of his time to work for the Foundation.

In our conversation, he described the scheduled rally event that will be held in the Finley Stadium if it doesn’t outgrow the venue which could happen the way interest in the event is growing.

Here are some of the features of the rally:

  • A large stage at one end of the field with a gigantic American flag backdrop.
  • A speaker’s podium flanked by seating for the military flag officers.
  • A small choir directly behind the podium with seating for clergy and other honored guests and speakers.
  • Flags from each branch of service presented on stage by their representative servicemen. and up to the stage.
  • A “Medal of Honor recipient” escorted by an honor guard.
  • A prayer and The Pledge Of Allegiance led by a military officer and clergy will begin the program.
  • The National Anthem sung by a nationally known recording artist.
  • A military jet flyover
  • Short testimonials by various flag officers
  • Spiritual music by a well known recording artist.
  • A gigantic fireworks display and the singing of ‘God Bless America’

The event is expected to incur expenses exceeding $300,000. Reesor said the Foundation would welcome donations to help cover the costs of this wonderful program.

Send your donation to:

United for God and Country Foundation
P.O. Box 21966
Chattanooga, TN 37421

CLICK HERE for the Foundation’s website

866 – Vietnam Vets to be honored at Grafton, WV

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 Grafton National Cemetery, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

The Grafton National Cemetery will be holding a Vietnam Anniversary commemoration ceremony on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.

Bill Wiemuth, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

For the past 15 years, writer, arranger, magician, musician, and singer Bill Wiemuth has produced and performed a variety of shows for cruise lines, theatres, hotels/resorts, marketing events, trade shows, private parties, organizations, and corporate events.

Your Vietnam Veteran News podcaster, Mack Payne, recently took a ten day hiatus from spreading the news about the Great Vietnam Veteran Generation with a tour of the Mississippi River aboard American Cruise Lines super river steamer, The America. One of the highlights of the tour was the appearance of historian, writer, singer, musician and magician Bill Wiemuth. Among his many talents on display during the river cruise was that of presenting lectures about the river and its history. He was able to present a great deal of historical information in an enjoyable, informative and humorous manner that delighted the audience. You can learn more about Bill Wiemuth and his river history program at his website: riverhistory.com.

In this first episode since my Mississippi River sojourn, I want to tell you about an event that is in the works to honor Vietnam Veterans in West Virginia. The event is described in a story found in The Mountain Statesman titled: Giving Vietnam Veterans the recognition they deserve that was submitted by Sarah Jones, Senior Staff Writer. Jones reports that The Grafton National Cemetery will be holding a Vietnam Anniversary commemoration ceremony on Wednesday, March 29, at 2:30 p.m. The Cemetery Director, Keith Barnes stated: “The purpose of this ceremony is to thank and honor our veterans of the Vietnam War, and to give them the recognition they deserved when they came home all those years ago.”

The Grafton event is being held in conjunction with the DoD Fifty Year Commemoration of the Vietnam War Program. It will include a pinning ceremony for all Vietnam veterans in attendance. Barnes will be the keynote speaker with remarks to reflect the nation’s thanks to the Vietnam Veteran Generation for its service to the nation in a difficult war.

Everyone in the Grafton, West Virginia area are encouraged to attend this event to help show this generation of veterans how much they are appreciated. For more information, contact Keith Barnes, at 304-265-2044. CLICK HERE for more information about the Grafton National Cemetary.