781 – Lessons from Vietnam and Australia immigration policy

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A Vietnamese court has sentenced four men to three to three and a half years in prison for people smuggling.

In this episode we will take a look at two participants in the Vietnam War and how they are handling a vexing problem faced by the US today. That vexing problem is immigration. The writer of this piece realized an anagnorisis that led to believing the solution to the problem lies in the principles of first aid training he received in the Army. Army training teaches when someone is wounded the first of the life saving steps is to stop the bleeding and take care of the broken bones and other injuries immediately afterward. That concept should apply to the US immigration botheration.

Stop the bleeding by sealing off the southern border where most of the “undocumented visitors” are entering the country and yes it can be done with a concerted national effort. Then treat the other injuries which in this case are the aforementioned undocumentals. A suggestion is to set up a nationwide chain of “Ellis Island” processing centers where the unregistered people can come forward and be legalized. Any undocumental who does not come forward to legalized should then be removed from the country.

A story in The Bangkok Post titled: Vietnam jails people smugglers deported from Australia describes new immigration policies implemented by Vietnam and Australia. Four Vietnamese were convicted of trying to smuggle a boat load of 21 Vietnamese emigrants attempting to enter Australia less paperwork. The convictions occurred after the hopeful immigrants were apprehended by the  Australians when their rickety boat was discovered in Australian waters.

The intruders and their people smuggler escorts were victims of bad timing. Only days before their capture by the Australian authorities, Australia and Vietnam signed an agreement that required the return of Vietnamese nationals deemed to be in Australia illegally. Australia has decided it will not continue to be a haven for worldwide refugees.

The US should take note of what Australia is doing and maybe take a few notes.

780 – Jan Scruggs – father of the Vietnam Memorial Wall

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Vietnam Veteran Jan Scruggs at the Vietnam Memorial Wall

Vietnam Veteran Jan Scruggs can rightly be called the father of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. His story is the stuff of legends because he overcame so much to make the Wall a reality. Jan Scruggs was born in Bowie, Maryland in 1950. He grew up in modest circumstances and upon his graduation from Bowie High School in 1968 he joined the Army more to get away from home rather than from any big patriotic motivations.

He served honorably two years in Vietnam with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. One terrible incident that occurred in his unit where twelve members of his unit were killed in an accidental explosion of three mortar rounds has haunted him ever since. That incident and others like it caused him to suffer symptoms of what would later be known as PTSD.

When he came home he took a year off to roam the nation on a motorcycle as he dealt with his memories. Scruggs came home, enrolled in the American University and eventually earned a masters degree in psychology where he specialized researching posttraumatic stress disorder. He got married, took a job with the Department of Labor and became a renowned expert in the treatment of PTSD. It looked like he was set for life as a government employee.

That all changed one night when he and his wife went to see the movie The Deer Hunter. The intensity of the movie caused Scruggs to have flashbacks later that night as he remembered the accident that took the lives of his friends in Vietnam. As the new day dawned an idea of a memorial with the names of American service members who had died in the Vietnam War flashed into his mind. His wife thought the idea was crazy but Scruggs persisted with the idea and brought it up at the next meeting of his local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter.

He had proposed an obelisk 30 feet high, erected without government funds, with the names of the dead inscribed on it. The reaction of the chapter was generally negative actually his idea was strongly opposed by the members. Some felt the idea naive, while others argued it would distract the organization from winning better benefits for veterans. Apparently the people at the meeting did not realize Jan Scruggs was on a mission and nothing was going to deter him.

With the help of another Vietnam Veteran, attorney Bob Doubek, he set up a foundation to get the job done. Scruggs announced the formation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) on May 28, 1979. He was so devoted to his mission he quit his secure government job to devote all his time to the memorial effort.

Initially his mission was met with contempt, disdain, laughter and mockery. After two months of hard word, Scruggs had raised just $144.50. The idea was even ridiculed by Roger Mudd on the CBS Evening News. Adding insult to injury, Mudd’s brief report was used as material by late-night comedians. The Lord works in strange ways and it turns out that Mudd’s mention turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The publicity from the CBS mention raised the VVMF’s profile, and soon Scruggs was raising thousands of dollars (most of the donations in the $5 and $10 range).

After a mammoth and determined effort accomplished by Scruggs on November 13, 1982 the Vietnam Memorial Wall was unveiled. Jan Scruggs is a true American hero.

Discover more about his accomplishment in his book To Heal a Nation: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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779 – Vietnam Era Vet Wayne Wagner served on Easter Island

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Wayne Wagner flies his US and POW/MIA flags at his home outside of Buckley on Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

In this episode of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast a Vietnam War Era veteran who never set foot on the “Olde Sod” of that exotic land will be featured. Wayne Wagner of Ford County, Illinois served in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. His place of duty was on Easter Island, another exotic location. His story of service to his country was featured in a story in The News-Gazette of Champaign, Illinois titled: Those Who Served: War duty no holiday on Easter Island that was submitted by Paul Wood.

In the story, Wood, tells about how Wagner, now 71, avoided being drafted into the Army by immediately joining the Air Force. The Air Force assigned him to communications duties and after short stints of duty at Travis AFB and Panama he was sent to Easter Island to perform top secret communications duties.

Easter Island, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Some of the 900 giant Easter Island statues carved out of volcanic rock.

Easter Island is a possession of Chile and it lies in the Pacific Ocean 2,000 miles from its ruler’s coastline. Wagner was one of the first to arrive at the new duty station that had few facilities for the Airmen. Due to the fact the US presence at the island during the Vietnam War caused concern for the Chilean Government the Air Force personnel on the island were not allowed to wear uniforms. Their mission on the lonely island was to provide communication links between the Pentagon and forces fighting in Vietnam.

Life on the lonely island was primitive for the airmen. There were two distinguishing factors about Easter Island, one is that it is near the Pitcairn Islands where the mutineers of the HMS Bounty settled to hide from the British Admiralty. The other unusual thing about Easter Island is the 900 large stone statues that dot the island. Some speculate they were brought there by aliens but we will probably never know. In the 1500s, Spanish missionaries destroyed all traces of the native culture including the Rongo-Rongo tablets, which contained a record of the lost language of the Rapa Nui. So few of these tablets remain that no one has been able to decipher them.

Wagner finished his hitch in the Air Force and went home to Ford County where he has worked as a productive member of his community. Today among other things he serves on a national post in the American Legion.

Thank you Wayne Wagner for your service to your country.

778 – Boy from Mayo, Ireland died in Vietnam

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Patrick 'Bob' Gallagher, USMC, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Patrick ‘Bob’ Gallagher, USMC

The primary purpose of this podcast is to tell about the Vietnam War and the brave men and women who participated in that overseas combat operation regardless of their country or origin. In this particular episode we are going to take a look at the story of a brave young Irish lad who went off to fight for his new country in Vietnam as a US Marine and paid the ultimate price. He story was highlighted in research recently conducted by Irish documentary maker, Kathy Rafferty. He work was highlighted in a story from thejournal.ie Titled: ‘Mayo Boy, Vietnam Hero’: The fascinating story of Patrick Gallagher that was submitted by Kathy Rafferty.

Patrick ‘Bob’ Gallagher was born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1944. He grew up in the small town of Ballyhaunis about thirty miles east of Mayo. Around 1960 he came to America where he had relatives in Long Island, New York. He decided to join the US Marines and fight for his adopted country over in Vietnam. He was so considerate of his parents feelings back in “the old sod” he swore his relatives to secrecy about him going to Vietnam. He did not want his mother to be overly worried about her dear son’s well being in war.

Gallagher’s cover was blown when he was awarded the Navy Cross by General Westmoreland for extraordinary heroism and gallantry in combat. Gallagher’s unit was attacked with grenades by NVA soldiers. When a live grenade landed in their midst, Gallagher with total disregard for his personal safety immediately through his body on the grenade. This brave Marine was willing to give his life for his fellow Marines. Fortunately his discovered the grenade had a delayed fuse so he had time to throw it away before it exploded.

As a result of the publicity he knew his parents would learn where he was so he wrote a letter to his parents to explain. In the letter he told them not to worry about him because his tour was almost home and he would be seeing them soon. A few weeks later just prior to his DEROS (date of effective rotation from overseas), he was killed while on patrol.

Patrick ‘Bob’ Gallagher was a brave Vietnam Veteran we should all hold in the highest regard. You can help honor his memory by signing the online petition to have a US Navy vessel named in his honor.

CLICK HERE for the online petition to has a US Navy vessel named in honor of Patrick Gallagher.

777 – Interview with Steve McCullagh about his Vietnam Jeep Journeys

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Jeeps pass through a village on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Picture: Geoff Hill

Steve McCullagh, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Steve McCullagh

Steve McCullough, owner of Classic Car Journeys, has an unusually interesting tour program in Vietnam that can be very enticing for a Vietnam Veteran. Tours of Vietnam are becoming popular with Vietnam Veterans and more travel agency offerings for Vietnam sojourns are popping up more and more. McCullough has something totally unique in Vietnam tours. He offers tours of the country in authentic reconditioned American military jeeps of the Vietnam War Era. McCullough likes to go off the normal beaten paths taken by tourists and his Vietnam Jeep Tours definitely do that.

His travel services came to the attention of this podcaster through a story in The Weekend Australian titled: Vietnam War recalled on the drive by Jeep from Hanoi to Saigon that was submitted by Geoff Hill of the Australian. As a result of that story it was learned that McCullough had located a person in Vietnam who had collected dozens of the jeeps after the Americans pulled out of the country in 1973 and stored them away hoping they would someday gain in value.

McCullagh realized their value and decided to put them to work as touring vehicles. After four years of cutting through the Vietnamese red tape he was able to set up a program where he could escort groups of visitors visiting the country riding in his fleet of Vietnam War Era jeeps.

In the interview, McCullagh explained how he got started in the vacation tour business and specifically how his Vietnam Tours work including the itinerary the traveler follow in their jeeps. The tours start in Hanoi and end up down in Saigon. He makes an effort to show his travelers sights and places not normally covered in competing travel tours.

All Vietnam Veterans are encouraged to take a look at Steve McCullough’s unique Jeep tours of Vietnam.

CLICK HERE for more information about the Vietnam Jeep tours.

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One of Steve McCullagh’s jeeps on the road in Vietnam.

776 – Aussie Vietnam Vets emigrate back to Vietnam

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Russell Hutchinson 67 with his wife Nguyen Ngoc Hahn, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Russell Hutchinson 67 with his wife Nguyen Ngoc Hahn 26 tells a story over a beer with other veterans. Photo: Kate Geraghty, The Sydney Morning Herald

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General view today overlooking what was known as the Back Beach in Vung Tau. Photo: Kate Geraghty

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Vung Tau in 1969

It is becoming a popular phenomenon for Vietnam Veterans to return to the scene of their experiences in that war. Ron Kirby of Knoxville, Tennessee has hosted several sojourns back to Vietnam and is preparing for his final trip to that country as we speak with a planned departure date in January of 2017. Apparently this desire to return is also prevalent with Australian Vietnam Veterans. The Aussies are taking this visiting Vietnam to the next step. According to a story in The WA Today website titled: Swearing they’d never go back, many veterans now call Vietnam’s Vung Tau home that was submitted by Lindsay Murdoch many of them are emigrating to Vietnam.

Murdoch visited the city of Vung Tau in the southern part of the country and interviewed several Australian Vietnam Veterans who now live in the city. It is natural retirees of any ilk would gravitate to Vung Tau because it is in a wonderful location on the South China coastline. During the Vietnam War its beautiful location with its white sand beaches was a popular in country R&R location.

The byline of Murdoch’s story says it all: “After serving in the war, most Australian veterans swore they’d never go back to Vietnam. But scores have since moved permanently to the southern port city of Vung Tau.” The veterans are returning to stay for numerous reasons. On the one hand the people are friendly, the city is one of the most modern in the country and it is cheap to live there. Beer is only $1,00. On the other hand many of the émigrés say they are unhappy with the direction their home country of Australia is taking.

Peter Taylor who now lives in Vung Tau offers this as reasons for leaving his home country: “There is no pressure here as long as you keep your nose clean and don’t get into any trouble with the police, or anything like that. If you want a taxi, you just walk out and get one – unlike in Australia, where you have to wait an hour. And I don’t like the way Australia is changing. I just don’t agree with the people they are bringing to Australia these days. They are not workers – not like the Vietnamese when they came to Australia on boats [after the Vietnam War].”

775 – Vietnam Vet Richard Thomas talks about his PTSD

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PTSD, vietnam veteran news, mack paynePost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. The Veterans Administration estimates 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans suffer from this condition. In this episode the story of how one Vietnam Veteran has successfully coped with this condition. The story comes from The Rocky Mountain Collegian of CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado titled: Living with PTSD: Former CSU professor shares his experience, encourages others to seek help  and was submitted by Randi Mattox.

Richard and Fini Thomas, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Richard and Fini Thomas. Photo credit: Randi Mattox

Richard Thomas had several intense experiences in Vietnam whose memories have stayed with him to this day. During the ensuing years after the War he was busy with his life and that busy activity kept those horrible war memories repressed and he could live a relatively normal life. That changed when he retired. He began to experience the feeling of heightened emotions and wanted to know the reason why.

Thomas said: “After you retire, then it all starts coming back to you, and you can only deny it for so long. I decided that I needed to go get some help, and I went to the VA, and a psychiatrist helped me understand what was going on.” In addition to the help he received from the VA, Thomas was blessed to have a supportive family that included a loving and loyal wife and three sons, all of which who served in the military that has been immensely helpful in helping him cope with the PTSD challenge.

The primary reason Thomas is opening up and telling his story is to hopefully provide some benefits to other PTSD sufferers, both military and civilian and to encourage them to look for help. It is available but they have to ask for it.

CLICK HERE for help in the Fort Collins, Colorado area.

CLICK HERE for help from the Larimer County Veterans Service

If you are not in the Fort Collins area ask them for local contacts.

774 – Deja Vu all over again – Koreans Massacre Vietnamese in ’68

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South Koreans bow at a memorial for Vietnamese civilians killed in massacres during the Vietnam War in December. Photos by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

Reinhard Heydrich, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942) was second in importance to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS organization. Nicknamed “The Blond Beast” by the Nazis, and “Hangman Heydrich” by others, Heydrich had insatiable greed for power and was a cold, calculating manipulator without human compassion who was the leading planner of Hitler’s Final Solution in which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe.

War is an abhorrent thing. Among other things it brings out the worst in mankind. One of those “worsts” is the murder of innocent civilians who get tangled up in the conflict. In this episode we will take a look at how history repeats itself even in war time. A story found in The Vietnam Express titled: In tale of massacre, Vietnamese survivor wants South Koreans to ‘know the truth’ by Nguyen Dong is featured in this episode. It describes an incident in the Vietnam War where South Korean troops operating in Quang Nam Province took retribution on a village that had the misfortune of being near a mined road that destroyed one of the Korean’s vehicles.

As Yogi Berra once said, “it’s deja vu all over again.” This incident reminded the podcast master of a similar event that occurred in World War II. It seems as if history is destined to repeat itself regardless of its nastiness. In 1942 SS Leader Reinhard Heydrich was in charge of Czechoslovakia. He ran the country in such a ruthless murderous fashion British trained and supplied Czech assassins decided to eliminate the cruel leader. They chose the village of Lidice to carry out their mission as Heydrich passed through in his Mercedes convertible. They succeeded and the Nazis were so upset they killed the residents and then razed all the structures in the village. Sadly the villagers had nothing to do with the assassination but they paid a hard price for it.

Nguyen Thi Thanh, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Nguyen Thi Thanh, 58, is one of a few who survived deadly shootings by South Korean soldiers that killed around 9,000 Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War.

It was a very similar situation that February 12th of 1968 in Quang Nam Province. Innocent villagers were slaughtered merely because their village was located near a planted road mine. Dong’s article tells about how the story of the killings is slowly being told to the Korean People.

Nguyen Thi Thanh, one of the survivors of the massacre, now tells Korean visitors about that terrible day where her entire family was shot and bayoneted as she watched from a hiding place by South Korean soldiers.

It is a shame these terrible things keep happening.

773 – VFW cites Ann-Margret for Vietnam service

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Actress and entertainer Ann-Margret was honored in Denver Sunday with a lifetime achievement award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ local chapter. VFW Post 1, celebrated VFW’s 117th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by honoring Ann-Margret at a banquet at the Brown Palace Sunday.

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Ann-Margret at the Bob Hope Christmas show in Vietnam, 1968. Provided by VFW

There have been several notable women that have made impacts on the Vietnam War. One that has been mentioned in the past is Jane Fonda, a name that will live in utter detestation to most all Vietnam Veterans. The mere mention of that name brings ill feelings to many Veterans. In this episode, your podcaster brings you a breath of fresh air with a story about another lady who left a different and more uplifting impression with Vietnam Veterans. A story found in the Denver Post titled: Actress Ann-Margret in Denver to receive VFW lifetime service award: “I love my guys” that was submitted by Bruce Finley (bfinley@denverpost.com) tells it all.

Ann-Margret was honored by the VFW with its Lifetime Service Award recently at a ceremony in Denver, Colorado. She was a singer and actress who made several visits to Vietnam during the war to entertain the troops. In her interview with Finley about her desire to do her part during the war she said: “I could entertain. I can sing and dance and perform. So I felt that I could do something. There was nothing like what they were doing. Every single day, they were out there, men and women. I think about them every single day. See, I am not a doctor. I am not a dentist. I mean, I can’t do that over there. But I can entertain.”

She put her entertaining talents to good use in Vietnam. That was attested to by the fact that All through these years, she has been receiving letters and notes from Vietnam war veterans. They reach her backstage, written by men reminding her they saw her in Vietnam during the war.

One lucky Marine Vietnam Veteran, David Garcia, 73, was able to get her autograph when she entertained the Marines in DaNang. He was at the event in Denver where she was recognized and rewarded for her service to the troops in Vietnam. The lucky dog was able to meet Ann-Margret and remind her of the event in Vietnam and he was rewarded with a hug from the lady.
Ann-Margret’s attitude toward the troops in Vietnam was summed up to the Marines attending her show in DaNang when she said: “they had her deepest respect, admiration and loyalty.” Take that Jane Fonda!

772 – New York road dedicated to memory of Vietnam Vet PFC Duane C. Scott

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Duane C. Scott Memorial Highway dedication.

During the terrible War in Vietnam more than 50,000 mothers received word they had lost their son and daughter in that war. It was a terrible thing because when that happens lives are forever changed. Mothers never really recover from losing their dear children at such an early age. Things can never be made right again for those mothers due to the merciless and devastating finality of death but it does help when the memory of the fallen loved ones is properly honored.

772bThat has recently happened up in the great state of New York. According to a story in The Wellsville Daily Reporter titled: State Route 275 dedicated in Richburg native’s memory a fallen Vietnam Veteran, PFC Duane C. Scott, had a section of New York State Route 275 was dedicated to his memory. He died in Vietnam on Sept. 29, 1969, in Pleiku Province. Fittingly, the section of state Route 275 that has been dedicated in his honor passes his school and the cemetery in which he was laid to rest.

Upon graduation from Richburg Central School’s Class of 1967, where he played both basketball and soccer Scott entered the US Army. After basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey he was sent to Vietnam and joined up with B Company, 2nd of the 35 Infantry (the “Cacti Green”), 4th Division based at Camp Mark Enari (named after another fallen Vietnam Veteran) south of Pleiku. Scott was killed in action only 60 days after his arrival in country. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.

After a great deal of work by Scott’s personal friends and fellow veterans, their efforts ensured that such deserved recognition has come to fruition when Governor Cuomo sign the bill that authorized the highway dedication. Others who provided assistance in the dedication were NY Assemblyman Joseph Giglio and State Senator Catharine Young.

With this action approved by the Governor, PFC Duane C. Scott with be remembered by those traveling along State Highway 275 in Richburg, New York.