939 – President Johnson was played like a fiddle

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President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara

Robert K. Brigham, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Robert K. Brigham is a professor of history and international relations at Vassar College.

In this episode 939 of the Vietnam Veteran News a lost chance for peace in that war will be the featured topic. That still born opportunity for peace occurred in the summer of 1967. It was described in an opinion piece in The New York Times titled: A Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam. The piece was submitted by Robert K. Brigham a professor of history and international relations at Vassar College located at Poughkeepsie, NY.

Most all Vietnam Veterans remember the summer of 1967. Fighting was raging in the war. Back home the country was being racked by opposition to the war. President Johnson who was the architect of that terrible overseas contingency was desperate to end it so he could continue with the building of his “Great Society” back home.

Despite drilling many dry holes in the search for a gusher of solutions for the war, the president at the urging of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara reluctantly decided to try a solution from an unlikely source – Henry Kissinger. At the time Mr. Kissinger was a professor at Harvard and had a friend in France, Raymond Aubrac, who just happened to be a good friend of Ho Chi Minh.

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Raymond Aubrac

Aubrac was a Jewish member of the French Communist Party. During World War II he had been pursued and persecuted by Klaus Barbie, a leader of the Gestapo in Lyon, France. Fast forward to the summer1967, he offered his services as a go between the US and his old friend Ho.

It sounded too good to be true after Aubrac and his fellow scientist associate Herbert Marcovitch traveled to Hanoi and met with Ho Chi Minh himself along with Prime Minister Pham Van Dong. The proposal was accepted in principle. Unfortunately subsequent events doomed it to failure.

Discover what doomed the peace proposal in episode 939 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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938 – Craziest friend visit of the Vietnam War

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John “Chick” Donohue, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

John “Chick” Donohue (in yellow shirt) and friends from the neighborhood who served in Vietnam.

In this episode number 938 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast one of the most amazing stories of friendship and patriotism ever to come out of the Vietnam War will be featured. It comes from the website Menshealth.como and is titled: This Hero Went on the Greatest Beer Run Ever, Bringing Brews to Friends in Vietnam War. It was provided by John “Chick” Donohue.

The story is about a young man from Inwood, New York, a community on the northern tip of Manhattan Island. On the spur of the moment he decided to go to Vietnam and visit guys from the neighborhood to show his appreciation for their service to their country.

It all started In November of 1967, when John “Chick” Donohue, a former Marine was at an Inwood local bar named Doc Fiddlers. The Vietnam War was raging at the time. George Lynch, the bartender was complaining about the rise of the anti-war protestors and how they had turned against the soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in Vietnam. Being a veteran himself Donohue, then 26, thought the protesters calling GIs “baby killers” were akin to thumbing your nose at those who were serving .our nation.

Out of the clear blue, bartender Lynch threw out a crazy idea. He said someone should bring those good old boys fighting for the U.S. of A. a beer. Let them know the fellows back home were still thinking about them, still grateful for their sacrifices. Donohue didn’t hesitate. He volunteered to go to Vietnam and bring some suds for the troops.

Donohue actually did take up the challenge. He was a merchant seaman at the time. With his seaman’s card he hopped a freighter that was enroute the Vietnam with a rucksack full of beer cans. He did make it to Vietnam and succeeded in tracking down all the GIs from his neighborhood on his list.

The Pabst Blue Ribbon Company was able to recently get Donohue together with the GIs he met in the country for a reunion in the neighborhood bar that engendered the idea. You can hear the conversation with the old friends on the podcast.

Donohue wrote a book about his adventure titled: The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A True Story of Friendship Stronger Than War.

Hear a firsthand account of this amazing story at episode 938 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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937 – Irish Vietnam Vet to receive CMoH

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Former Army medic James McCloughan kneels next to a statue presented to him by a fellow soldier in South Haven, Mich. on June 9, 2017.(Photo: Carlos Osorio, AP)

 

The Vietnam Veteran News Podcast is happy to announce another brave Vietnam Veteran will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. In episode 937 the story about James McCloughan, a 71-year-old resident of South Haven, Michigan receiving the award at the White House on July 31 will be covered. The announcement of the award appeared in several publications including The Army Times, The Irish Times website and The Detroit Free Press. The Detroit Free Press story titled: Michigan Vietnam vet to receive Medal of Honor from Trump that was submitted by: Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press will be featured on the podcast.

There are several noteworthy aspects surrounding this event. First, it is about fifty years late.  It was finally authorized by an act of Congress. It is written that a CMoH must be awarded within five years of the qualifying action. At the insistence of then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Congress passed a defense authorization bill in December 2016 with a rider attached that exempted McCloughan from the five year stipulation.

Another aspect of this story is that James is an American of Irish descent which is notable to all Americans who can claim they are from the “Old Sod.” Irish Americans have played an important role in the making of this country from the beginning and are rightly proud of their contributions to America including those of James McCloughan.

Another noteworthy aspect of this story is that it will be the first Congressional Medal of Honor award presided over by President Trump.

James McCloughan is another outstanding representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation. He served his country with distinction in the Vietnam War and then came home to South Haven and continued serving. For more than forty years he taught psychology, sociology and geography at South Haven High School and coached football, wrestling and baseball. He is a member of the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

Hear his story at episode 937 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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936 – What you should know about Vietnam-Korea dust-up

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony marking Korean Memorial Day at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, June 6, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

In this episode number 936 of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News, an aspect of the modern day relationship between Vietnam and South Korea will be featured. A story in The VN Express International titled: South Korea seeks to calm Vietnam after controversial remarks by president highlights a situation that has led to friction between the two east Asian nations. It was engendered by remarks made by the new South Korean president, Moon Jae-in. In a June 6, 2017 speech, Moon honored his country’s soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War, saying their contributions helped their country.

The remarks by the South Korean president deeply hurt the Vietnamese psyche, in other words they got their feelings hurt. Emotions ran so high Vietnam’s foreign ministry criticized this and requested the South Korean government not to make such hurtful statements.

Here is a little background on the situation. During the Vietnam War, South Korea sent more than 320,000 troops to serve in the War from 1964 to 1973. Only the U.S. sent more than South Korea. The South Koreans proved to be tough adversaries for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.

Apparently they were a little too tough. Historian Ku Su-jeong, a Korean himself, intimates South Korean troops massacred 9,000 Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War. That claim has never been acknowledged by the South Korean government.

Since the war, the two countries have kissed and made up. In 1992 they established diplomatic ties and began a trade relationship that has blossomed. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency reported that at the end of 2016 South Korea has invested $50 billion into the growing Vietnamese economy.

It is a sure bet the two countries will patch up their differences over innocent remarks made by the South Korean president during a speech honoring his military.

Listen to the whole story at episode 936 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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935 – Facts about VA official Jim Sampsel Agent Orange position

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U.S. Army armored personnel carrier (APC) spraying Agent Orange during the Vietnam War (WikiMedia Commons)

Welcome to episode 935 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast where the old nemesis of all Vietnam Veterans, Agent Orange will be featured. It seems Jim Sampsel, a lead analyst within the Department of Veterans Affairs’ compensation service, told a VA advisory committee in March 2017 that he believes much of the renewed attention to Agent Orange is the result of media “hype” and “hysteria.”

A story about Sampsel’s comments appeared in The Mint Press News titled: Veterans Affairs Official Downplays Agent Orange Risks, Questions Critics. The story was submitted Charles Ornstein. The VA issued the following about Sampsel’s statements: “The objective of a federal advisory committee is to have open and public discussion of the issues for which it is chartered from the experts who understand and bring their own unique perspectives. The March 2017 meetings were no exception and Mr. Sampsel’s comments did not fully or accurately reflect VA’s position concerning these issues.”

Rick Weidman, legislative director for Vietnam Veterans of America, met with VA Secretary David Shulkin last week and demanded that Sampsel and others in the Veterans Benefits Administration be replaced. Weidman added that he doesn’t expect Sampsel and other VA employees to necessarily be advocates “but we do expect them to be neutral and honest arbiters of science—and they are not.”

Sampsel presented the following points to the VA advisory committee:

  1. He believes Agent Orange contained “very, very small amounts” of dioxin, which was quickly destroyed by sunlight and the open air.
  2. His extreme skepticism of claims that veterans who served outside of Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange.
  3. Criticism of Board of Veterans Appeals Agent Orange decisions.
  4. Criticism of National Academy of Medicine nee Institute of Medicine.
  5. Support for Dr. Alvin Young an advocate for Agent Orange manufacturers.
  6. Belief that Agent Orange never went to the Philippines, Okinawa and Guam.

Sampsel sounds like a fox in the hen house.

The whole story in episode 935 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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934 – 10,000 visitors see Vietnam Memorial Wall in Swoyersville

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Jack Cleary touches the name of a friend that disappeared in Vietnam Carl Lamerson, at the Healing Wall in Swoyersville. Aimee Dilger, Times Leader

In this episode number 934 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast an amazing event that recently took place in Swoyersville, Pennsylvania will be featured. It was covered by a story in The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre titled: 10,000 visit Wall that Heals. It was submitted by staff writer Sarah Scinto.

The Wall that Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial, recently made a four day visit to Swoyersville. Tim Tate, director of outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund said about 10,000 people came to see the wall over the course of the weekend it spent in Swoyersville. This is notable because the population of Swoyersville is only 5,000.

The event in that Pennsylvania town is representative of a wave of appreciation and recognition for Vietnam Veterans that is sweeping the country. A new day is dawning for this nation where it is beginning to see its Vietnam Veterans as the true heroes they really are. Our nation is also beginning to see and appreciate fully what the Vietnam Veteran Generation has given to its country and that those veterans can never be fully be repaid for their service to their country in that challenging War and how they were treated when they came home.

Robert Chase of Bowman’s Creek, a Vietnam veteran who visited the wall said: “It’s a lot different from when I came home.” Chase was looking for the name of the medic who had stitched up one of Chase’s fingers just weeks before he was killed. “Right after he took the stitches out he was riding in a jeep and ran into an anti-tank mine,” Chase said.

It is recommended that the next time one of the Vietnam Memorial Wall replicas come to a town nearby you make it a priority to visit the Wall and pay your respects to the 58,315 Americans who gave their lives for their country in Vietnam.

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933 – Mountain bike champion Rebecca Rusch goes after father’s crash site in Laos

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Rebecca Rusch, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Mountain bike champion Rebecca Rusch

In this episode number 933 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast the issue of lost loved ones will be covered. Air Force Captain Stephen Rusch was an F-4 pilot in Vietnam and he was shot down over Laos in mid 1971. His remains lay undiscovered until 2007. He had three daughters when he died. Rebecca, the youngest recently did something so notable, the beverage company, Red Bull made a documentary movies of the project.

Rebecca is a mountain bike champion. She had ridden in Southeast Asia in the past but when he fathers remains were discovered she decided to undertake a bike ride down the entire 1200 mile length of the Ho Chi Minh Trail with the intention of visiting her father’s crash site along the way. The Red Bull movie is titled Blood Road. Two stories about the movie will be highlighted in this episode.

They are ‘Blood Road’ Deals With Grief on Ho Chi Minh Trail from the Red Bull website and ‘Blood Road’ is a mountain bike excursion along the Ho Chi Minh Trail from the Grind TV website and was submitted by Robert Pursell.

Rebecca’s trip down the Trail was definitely a “grind.”  She traveled with Vietnamese competitive biking champion Huyen Nguyen to assist her in meeting the challenges of negotiating through the dense jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Much of the Trail has not been used for many years and this made it even more difficult because many times the team had to hack their way through jungles and make their way across streams and rivers with no bridges.

The Team completed the trip and visited the crash site despite encountering such  hazards as bad water, snakes, wild animals and aggressive insects the peril of unexploded ordnance from the war are killing people to this day. The fact that people of the region are still dying from bombs from the Vietnam War caused Rebecca to become a proponent and supporter of the Mines Advisory Group.

CLICK HERE for more information about the movie Blood Road.

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932 – DeWitt County, Texas Vietnam Veterans at work

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Veterans of America Chapter #1029, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

$4000 lighted sign erected by the DeWitt County Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #1029 at the Cuero Park knoll off U.S. Highway 87.

Episode 932 of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News will feature the special work being done by a Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 1029 in Yorktown, Texas. A story about that VVA chapter and the work they are doing appeared in the Cuero Record website titled: Reminder of the Cost of Freedom. It was submitted by Robert Proctor.

Chapter treasurer, Ken Buenger, was quoted in the article as he recounted what they were doing to honor Vietnam Veterans in Dewitt County. He told about the most noticeable project just completed. It was a $4,000 lighted sign erected at the Cuero Park knoll off U.S. Highway 87 which says “Freedom Isn’t Free.” The purpose of the sign is to both honor Vietnam Veterans and remind its citizens that freedom is earned on a continuing basis.

According to Buenger, funding for the sign came from their annual Memorial Day  gun raffle. The 2017 raffle was highly successful and in addition to making the sign a reality it enabled the chapter to award five $1,000 scholarships to graduating DeWitt County high school seniors in Cuero, Yoakum, Yorktown, Nordheim and Runge.

Another item on the agenda of this active VVA chapter is discussions about allowing Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans to join their group because those veterans do not have an organization of their own.

Thirteen people from Dewitt County died in Vietnam and the VVA chapter 1029 are going to make sure they and their sacrifice for their country will not be forgotten.

The activities of VVA chapter 1029 offer a tremendous example to all other VVA chapters to follow. All are encouraged to follow their leadership in action.

If you are a Vietnam Veteran in Dewitt County or its nearby environs consider joining up. For more information about chapter 1029 , call Ken Buenger at 361-550-1860. Their mailing address is PO Box 424, Yorktown, TX 78164.

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931 – Air America alumni met in Bloomington, MN

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James Eli Shiffer • Star Tribune
Gary Gentz, 72, of Eustace, Texas, looked through photos from his time with Air America, the CIA-controlled airline used during the Vietnam War.

Air America will be the featured subject of episode 931 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast. The Air America operations were the most well known “secret” of the entire Vietnam War. A few alumni of this fabled CIA air service recently held a reunion/organization event in Bloomington, Minnesota. The event was covered in a story appearing in The Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota titled: Survivors of CIA’s clandestine airline gather to reminisce, organize. It was submitted by James Eli Shiffer of the Star Tribune.

In all about 75 former employees of Air America met to reminisce about their part in one of the strangest chapters in the Vietnam conflict. The official government line was that Air America was a private company performing aid work in Southeast and East Asia. Everyone in Vietnam including the village idiots knew it was a creation of the government, run by the CIA and what it was doing.

Fighting the Vietnam war was hampered by insane restrictions placed on the military. This situation engendered the need for “under the radar” assets to get certain jobs accomplished. Air America filled the bill for providing air transport in our country’s covert fight against Communism in Southeast Asia, Notably the Kingdom of Laos.

At its high point in the late 1960s Air America had 10,000 employees, 1,000 of which were Americans. 240 of its employees lost their lives during the thirty year history of the CIA owned company. The connection of Air America to government activities was never acknowledged officially.

Sadly the 380 surviving Air America workers who are U.S. citizens are out in the cold when it come to government benefits. The Director of National Intelligence rejected federal benefits for them, saying Air America workers were not government employees.

This is a slap in the face for these brave Americans who served their country in a dangerous situation.

Get the full story at episode 931 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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930 – Couple of Vietnam Vets write Escape from Saigon

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Michael Morris and Dick Pirozzolo, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Michael Morris (l) and Dick Pirozzolo in Saigon celebrating the 20th anniversary of the country being granted favored nation status by the United States.

In the episode, number 930, of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast a new book just put out by a couple of Vietnam Veterans will be featured. There was a story about the book titled “Escape from Saigon” and its two authors in The Savannah Morning News titled: Savannah man co-authors novel about Vietnam War. It was submitted by Dash Coleman (dash.coleman@savannahnow.com).

Michael Morris was an infantry soldier in the Army who served in 1967 and 1968 and was in country during the Tet Offensive. Dick Pirozzolo was an Air Force officer serving as a PIO at Saigon in 1970 and 1971. They hooked up with their writing talent when Pirozzolo was working public relations for a company Morris was writing about for a magazine.

In 2015 both gentlemen attended a ceremony in Saigon celebrating the 20th anniversary of the country being granted favored nation status by the United States. As a result of their visit to Vietnam they again began to discuss a joint effort of writing a book about the Vietnam War. Morris said “Vietnam is such a complicated subject that we could never really get our arms around it” so up until attendance at  the Saigon event nothing came of the idea.

After seeing the progress made in building a new city the idea finally clicked. They decided to write a book about the month during which the battle for Saigon took place. It took them just nine months to complete “Escape from Saigon.”

According to Morris the two did a lot of research with material from the State Department, the armed forces, historic documents and lots of personal interviews. He said the book goes through the harrowing month day by day. The novel follows several principal characters — Americans, North and South Vietnamese, military and civilian — as their individual paths rocket toward the inevitable.

Get more of this interesting story and a link to the book at episode 930 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.

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