825 – Vietnamese immigration comparison exposes hypocrisy

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This episode will deal with immigration to the USA. Currently there is much consternation afoot throughout the nation and in other parts of the world that was kicked off by an order from President Trump. The dastardly thing he did was carry out a campaign promise. Specifically he put into effect a six week temporary hold on immigration from seven countries former President Obama declared as most likely to spawn terrorists intent upon harming this country and its citizens.

That action has put opposition politicians (primarily Democrats) in a tizzy. It even brought the minority Senate leader Senator Schumer to tears and caused George Soros to loose his professional protestors to do their havoc raising activities.

Dealing with refugees is an important function of government. It is eye opening to examine how previous refugee crises after crises have been handled. Unfortunately for the naysayers in the current refugee maelstrom, history is proving them to be nothing more than a bunch of pathetic hypocrites.

There was an observation about refugees in The PowerLine blog titled: The left’s view of refugees, then and now posted by Paul Mirengoff. He took a look at the rush of refugees after the Vietnam War. Mirengoff pointed out in his post that some of the same players engaging in the vituperation of Trump’s immigration policy were singing a totally different tune when it came to Vietnamese refugees.

Governor Jerry Brown of California and Joe Biden of foot in the mouth fame were a part of the left wing objection to letting in Vietnamese trying to escape Communist tyranny in their home country. Apparently they were unhappy about letting in the Vietnamese people who had the audacity to fight against the saintly “Uncle Ho Chi Minh” and his murderous cohorts.

In the current refugee crises the same pack of jackals who railed against accepting Vietnamese refugees are all in favor of admitting hordes of refugees from the middle east that contain those who want to do harm to Americans and our way of life. I don’t recall every hearing Vietnamese refugees making the same threats.

Listen to the podcast and you decide. Your comments are welcome.

824 – Vietnam Vet Lawrence Ashton honored in Fayetteville

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Lawrence Ashton, a Vietnam War veteran, salutes a Marine as he receives a welcome home pin Saturday. A paver in his honor was placed in front of the Iron Mike statute at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.

In the two previous episodes of this podcast the stories of two fallen heroes of Vietnam were featured. The stories had to do with the families of the veterans who did not come home finding “closure.” One was about Gerald Woods who flew with the Comancheros of the 101st Airborne Division. He died on a mission to extract a CNN team in Laos. He remained were not recovered so the family was never able to close the book on their loss until something wonderful happened that brought them closure (see what that was in episode 822).

The other story was about an Air Force pilot, Robert Russell Barnett, who died on a bombing mission in Laos. As with Woods his remains could not be recovered at the time due to terrain and hostile people in the area. Much to the family’s relief after many years of searching enough of his remains were recovered that enabled them to have a burial ceremony for their loved one lost in war.

In this episode a living Vietnam Veteran will be highlighted. His name is Lawrence Ashton. He not only is still living but he is still married to the same woman who bore him seven children. Last Saturday, his wife and all seven children sprung a surprise on him at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum on Bragg Boulevard in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The event was covered in a story in The Fayetteville Observer titled: Vietnam War veteran honored at Airborne & Special Operations Museum By Steve DeVane Staff writer (devanes@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3572).

DeVane tells how the family brought Ashton who is a Vietnam Veteran that served both in the US Marine Corps and the US Army to the museum for a visit without telling him he would be honored in a special ceremony. He was surprised to discover a paver stone bearing his name was being dedicated. It made his day. Get the whole story in the podcast episode.

If you know a special veteran you would like to honor, an excellent way to do that is with a paver stone dedication at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville. CLICK HERE to discover how that can be done.

823 – Texas family finds closure for a death in Vietnam

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Debra Coffey, displaying her father’s medals and other items from his service in the Air Force, is thrilled that military officials never stopped looking for her father’s remains after he was shot down in 1966 in Laos. Coffey and her family hope to have a funeral service in April, 51 years after her father’s death in the line of duty.

Robert Russell “Bear” Barnett, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Robert Russell “Bear” Barnett was killed in a bombing run over Laos in 1966.

In this episode we will look at another story of closure for the family of a fallen hero in the Vietnam War. The story comes from The Waco Tribune titled: Family finds finality 50 years after father died in Vietnam War by Tommy Witherspoon twitherspoon@wacotrib.com. In the story Witherspoon tells about how the family of Robert Russell “Bear” Barnett found closure. Barnett was a captain in the US Air Force flying bombing missions out of DaNang when his B-57 was shot down on April 7, 1966. The Air Force at the time concluded him as presumed dead, missing in action, body not recovered.

His family was devastated by the news and their grief was compounded because there were no remains which prevented them from conducting a proper funeral and burial. After many years of grieving for their father, Barnett’s daughters, Debra Coffey, her sister, D’Lynn, and their mother, Betty Sue, heard from the Department of Defense in 2005. They were informed the location of the crash site was found. It was identified by a piece of the tail section of the B-57 Barnett was flying the day he died.

The family was excited about the news until they were informed many crash sites were being identified and it may take some time before excavation at Barnett’s crash site could begin. About one year later they were officially informed by the Department of Defense a body part was found that allowed positive identification of their father. It was a difficult task because the crash site was in a remote mountainous area with dense jungle vegetation. After a thorough search of the debris field from Barnett’s bomber that stretched for more than 300 yards.

In addition to Barnett’s body part the search team found his co-pilot’s dog tags, a Zippo lighter case, fabric from a boot and flight suits, parts of flotation devices, oxygen hoses and parachute remnants.

Robert Russell “Bear” Barnett’s are planning to have a memorial service for him on April 7, 2017, the 51st anniversary of the date of his death. They intend to bury his remains at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin if their application is approved.

822 – A Comanchero’s memory came home

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A customized limited-edition print by aviation artist Joe Kline depicts what Army Warrant Officer Gerald Woods’ last mission would have been like. Woods’ helicopter was shot down during an extraction mission Feb. 18, 1971 near the Vietnam-Laos border.(Photo: ANNA REED / Statesman Journal)

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Gerald Woods was drafted in the Army after graduating from McNary High School in 1968. He trained to be a helicopter pilot and served in A Company, 101st Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. (Photo: Special to the Statesman Journal)

In this episode we will be honoring the memory of a brave Vietnam Veteran who flew helicopters with A Company of the 101st Aviation Battalion in the 101st Airborne Division, The Comancheros. His name was Gerald Woods and he died on Feb. 18, 1971 near the A Shau Valley when his helicopter was shot down while in the process of extracting a Special Forces team in harm’s way. There was a story about him in The Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon titled: Salem man honors Vietnam pilot: ‘He’s not coming home, but his memory is’ that was submitted by Capi Lynn, a writer for the Statesman Journal.

In Lynn’s story she describes what happens as a result of the strong bonds members of helicopter units developed in Vietnam. Fred Thompson served in the same unit with Woods in Vietnam. One of his additional duties in the unit was that of graves registration officer. During his tour of duty he handled the affairs of nine members of his unit killed in combat. It was his job to help with closure for the families of the fallen. In Woods case that was a challenging task since his remains were never recovered after the crash.

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Yvonne Sanders holds a chalk drawing of her brother, Gerald Woods, who was killed Feb. 18, 1971 when his helicopter was shot down during the Vietnam War. (Photo: ANNA REED / Statesman Journal)

After the war Thompson settled down in Salem and became an insurance agent and never stopped trying to track down family members of his friend and fellow Comanchero Gerry Woods. Finally a clue emerged. In May 2015, Lynn wrote a column about a fallen Salem soldier who never came home from Vietnam. Thompson contacted Lynn and as a result located Woods’ sister, Yvonne Sanders, who lives in nearby Silverton, Oregon.

Thompson got in touch with Sanders and presented her and her family with a signed and customized limited-edition print by aviation artist Joe Kline. It shows a UH-1 Huey extracting a Special Forces team. The painting was customized to show the red diamond symbol of Woods’ unit and the tail number 15255 of the aircraft he was flying when he died.

Fred Thompson is a truly outstanding representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation especially for what he did to bring closure to the family of Gerald Woods.

821 – Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords

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Signed: Vietnam Peace Agreement. Photo: Wikimedia Commons | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Today is a noteworthy time for all Vietnam Veterans. Today is the 44th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords signed on January 27, 1973. They ended US involvement in the Vietnam War or as the Hindus call it the “American War.” In recent episodes of this podcast we have also looked at the genesis of large scale American military entanglement in Southeast Asia. That was both a and b versions of OPLAN 34 formulated in January of 1964. That infamous plan led to activities that resulted in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which gave President Johnson political cover to move forward with a major military intervention into the conflict against world communist domination being played out within the confines of a civil war in Vietnam.

Also featured on a recent episode of this podcast was the last battle of the Vietnam War that was called the Mayaguez Incident. It occurred in May of 1975 when the Khmer Rouge seized an American freighter en-route from Saigon to a port in Thailand. The captors took the ship to a island off the coast of Cambodia and arrested the crew. A detachment of Marines from Okinawa was sent to rescue the ship and its crew. They landed on the island of Koh Tang and engaged the hostiles. Thirteen brave Marines fell in the battle that ensued.

There was a story in The Hindu newspaper of Chennai, Madras, India titled: Drawing a truce that was submitted by Archana Subramanian and it gave the Hindu viewpoint of the peace accord and a review of the American War in Vietnam. It is quite interesting to look at the war and how it ended through the eyes of someone watching the conflict from a relatively close range yet they managed to avoid being sucked up into it.

820 – The Truth about the last battle of the Vietnam War

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During the last battle of the Vietnam War, three U.S. Marines disappeared: Marine Pvt. Danny Marshall, Marine Pvt. 1st Class Gary Hall and Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Hargrove. The military said they disobeyed orders and likely died in the firefight, but the brutal war that started with a lie may have ended with one as well.

Recently back in episode 816 of this podcast we talked about the event that led to the beginning of the War in Vietnam. The starting point for massive American involvement in that war can be pinned to OPLAN 34 that was cooked up back in January of 1964. That bright idea kicked off a chain of events that led to a military force of more than 500,000 serving in country and eventually to a black monument in Washington DC with the names of 58,000 + fallen heroes engraved upon it’s descending walls.

Some writers say the Vietnam War started and ended with a lie. It is agreed by many historians the last battle of the war was fought on Koh Tang Island off the coast of Cambodia. It occurred after the Khmer Rouge seized the Mayaguez, a US cargo ship. The Communists took the crew hostage and put them under arrest on shore. President Ford decided to send in the Marines from Okinawa to rescue the ship and its crew and thus began the last battle of the Vietnam War even though it was fought on an island off the coast of Cambodia.

Sadly the wars ends as it started, with a lie. A story from Newsweek.com titled: The Truth About the Lost Marines of the Vietnam War’s Last Battle that was submitted by Matthew M. Burke describes in detail about three Marines who participated in the action, Joseph Hargrove, Gary Hall and Danny Marshall, were left behind due to fog of war and were never recovered. Eventually they were declared KIA and joined the dozen or so Marines killed on the island as they fought for a captured ship and crew that had already been safely recovered by American forces.

It is a shame that Marines had to die on a “fool’s errand,” but it hurts even more when we discover the government apparently covered up its failure to get those three remaining brave Marines out of the battle. Their crime was they were providing cover fire as their fellow Marines got on the last helicopter that left without them.

Their story on the podcast will grip your heart.

819 – Vietnam Vet, James Frick to lift 200 tons for Fisher House

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A wounded veteran and his family pose outside the Fisher House in Tampa, Fla. Frick will attempt to lift 200 tons in two hours March 4 to raise money for the Fisher House.

James Frick is another outstanding representative of the great Vietnam Veteran Generation. He is a 66-year-old Army veteran and a 1972 West Point graduate. He is doing something noteworthy for the Fisher House Foundation. He lives in Tampa but there was a story about him and his project in The Fort Hood Herald website kdhnews.com Titled: Army vet to lift 200 tons to raise money for Fisher House that was submitted by  David A. Bryant of the Fort Hood Herald.

He plans to attempt to break a world weight lifting record on March 4, 2017. The purpose of his mission is to raise awareness and donations for the Fisher House Foundation. The primary goal of the Foundation is to make sure family members and loved ones of injured veterans undergoing treatment at VA hospitals can be by the side of the veteran during the recovery process. They do this by providing housing at no cost for injured veterans and their families. At the present time the Fisher House Foundation operates 71 guest homes nationally.

Frick said this about his motivation for the project: “As a civilian, from 2010 to 2012, I flew (often) to San Antonio or Washington, D.C. Every trip I saw wounded military personnel traveling to and from military and VA hospitals. It was heartbreaking to see so many young Americans missing limbs or suffering other forms of physical or mental injury.”

During his training in the military Frick said it was drilled into him that you never leave anyone behind. He feels that helping the Fisher House is an excellent to make sure wounded veterans are not left behind.

The Fisher House does wonderful things for our veterans. Everyone is encouraged to follow James Frick’s 200 ton lift record attempt. CLICK HERE for his 200 Tons For Veterans website. More importantly all are urged to make a contribution to the Fisher House Foundation. You can easily do it at his website.

 

818 – Marsh Carter lays out the essence of the Vietnam War

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Marsh Carter holding an enemy flag in Vietnam, a month before the Quang Nam raid.

Marsh Carter was a Vietnam Veteran who served two years in Vietnam and went on to excel in the financial industry as CEO of State Street Bank and Trust Company and later as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Group. He was a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point but he served his military duty in the US Marine Corps. He recently wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times titled: At Quang Nam, a Raid and a Reckoning. In that piece he described what it was like to serve in the infantry as they chased the opposing forces and participated in activities helping locals build a nation. He ends his piece by succinctly explaining the situation in Vietnam and why the Vietnamese of the North prevailed over the ones in the South.

Carter served as a company commander with Company C, First Battalion, First Regiment, First Marine Division. He begins his piece by describing the daily life of a Marine infantry company as it carried out its responsibility of securing a ten square mile area in Quang Nam Province. The primary mission was to locate and destroy VC and NVA units but they were also tasked with other ancillary jobs such as providing medical care to villagers and backing up the local Vietnamese militia, police and regular military forces.

He described one particular mission that cost his unit five dead and thirty two wounded and failed in its objective. In was a raid on the village of Ban Lanh. Papers found on a dead VC courier indicated there would be a meeting of 100 VC leaders. Carter moved in on the village area with a force of 176 Marines on twelve helicopters to capture and or eliminate the VC leaders. The enemy was ready for them but despite that, the Marines fought their way into the village where the meeting was supposed to be taking place only to find all the leaders had managed to escape into the countryside.

After the raid Carter took a little time to think strategically and came up with this conclusion: “We could defeat the guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army units. But it was also apparent that not enough was being done by the government of South Vietnam to remove the causes of the insurgency or the conditions that had driven so many Vietnamese to want to live under Communism.”

817 – Laos – A Great Place to Have a War

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A UXO Laos (Unexploded Ordinance Laos) team carry trip wire to detonate a mortar shell and other UXO’s in a field at Sam Syae village near Phonsavan, Xieng Khuang province, northern Laos, Thursday 11 September 2003. The area was a major theatre in the 1964-1973 secret war between the US and Hmong against the Pathet Lao and Vietnamese Communists. On average, a planeload of bombs was dropped every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for nine years. Up to 30% of the bombs did not explode. Photo: EPA/BARBARA WALTON

In this episode we will take a look at a new book that lays out the story of how the CIA ran a “secret war” in Laos and in the process became a more prominent and permanent member of the US foreign policy apparatus, and ushered in the destruction of a neutral country. The book is titled: A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. It was authored by Joshua Kurlantzick and released by Simon & Schuster. An interview with the author about his book appeared on the Southeast Asia Globe website and was titled: New book exposes inner workings of the US’ ‘secret war’ in Laos.

The article begins with a few opening comments about the book and then gets into a few questions to the author about the book. Kurlantzick based his book on information and insights he received from a slew of interviews he conducted with former CIA personnel. He also relied heavily on recently declassified documents relating to the secret war in Laos. All this shines new light on this forgotten war and the CIA mission known as Operation Momentum. Currently Kurlantzick is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In the Southeast Asia Globe article questions were asked about the following aspects of the book and the situation in Laos back during the Vietnam War Era and today:

  1. The motivation for investigating the origins of the CIA in Laos and writing the book along with the most interesting things discovered in the process.
  2. Background about the four major characters in the book and how they were accessed.
  3. The scope of the secret war in Laos and how it played a role in the war in Vietnam .
  4. How the CIA’s actions in the secret war in Laos changed its role to this day in the “shadow wars” the United States is engaging in across the world.
  5. The status of Laos today.

Kurlantzick’s answers to those inquiries are in this podcast episode.

It is highly recommended you read a copy of A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA to get a better understanding of one of the more disturbing chapters of our history.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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816 – OPLAN 34 – America’s invitation to the Vietnam War

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If someone asked you to pin down to the day when the Vietnam War started this podcast episode will provide you with the answer to that question. Most times when you ask someone the question, when did the Vietnam War start, you get rather fuzzy answers. Some will say 1966 when we began to send over large numbers of military personnel. Others with say it started with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or when the French were defeated at Bien Den Phu. Some will go back to World War II and say it started with Ho Chi Minh fighting as our ally against the Japanese who had occupied the former French Colony.

It is not widely known that during World War II, Ho Chi Minh was closely allied with the US fighting against the Japanese. The relationship was so favorable the US promised Ho he could be the leader of an independent Vietnam after the war. Ho was so impressed with the Americans he used wording from the US Declaration when he declared to the world he intended to be leading an independent Vietnam. When the WW II ended things appeared to be on schedule for Ho and the new country until the French returned demanding their old colony of Indo-China be returned to French colony status.

Unfortunately for Ho Chi Minh we decided to side with the French in the matter in return for their support against the USSR in Europe. This led to fighting in the area until 1979 when the smaller Vietnam bloodied the nose of its northern neighbor Communist China.

The US became involved in the area when it decided to throw its weight behind the new country of South Vietnam. That involvement eventually led to a conflagration in Vietnam that led to a memorial monument in Washington DC with more than 53,000 American names etched on its face.

John Reichley wrote a piece for the Leavenworth Times that sheds light on the subject of when the war started for this country. He tells how on January 22, 1964 Operational Plan (OPLAN) 34 was approved. That led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and that led to a memorial with 58,286 names of fallen Americans.