120 VVN – Melvin Page – Vietnam Vet Extraordinaire – Interview Part I

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Melvin Page at Camp Zama, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

Melvin Page shown here at the military hospital at Camp Zama, Japan in October, 1968 after his rehabilitation from wounds he received in Vietnam. Three days after this photo was taken he had his infamous encounter with anti-war protesters at the San Francisco air port which resulted in his arrest by MP’s.

In the previous episode (#119) I shared the story of Melvin Page, a Vietnam Veteran who was able to get his high school diploma almost 50 years after he was drafted out of high school and sent straight to Vietnam.

I did a little more checking on Mr. Page and was treated to one of the most fantastic stories ever to come out of the Vietnam War, Fortunately I was able to secure an interview with Melvin and was overwhelmed with the power of his dramatic story of how he survived numerous encounters with death.

His story was too big for one episode so his interview was divided into two parts. In this episode he tells how he was drafted off the farm in East Tennessee and sent to Vietnam where he was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry(Wolfhounds) of the “Tropic Lightning” 25th Infantry Division. He talks about his unit and the jobs he was assigned. He tells about his surprise when his stern drill instructor from basic training was assigned to his platoon and how their relationship developed from one of dislike to a strong lifelong friendship.

This episode will set you up for the following one where he will finish the most fantastic story you have probably ever heard.

119 VVN – Melvin Page, Vietnam Vet Gets Diploma 40 Years Later

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Melvin Page, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

: Melvin Page earns his diploma more than 40 years after he should have walked at graduation.

In this episode we are recognizing another Vietnam Veteran, Melvin Page, who had done something noteworthy. He has earned his high school diploma after a forty year delay. Melvin is a retired letter carrier in Roane County, Tennessee. His story was on the website: wbir.com. It was written by Aaron Wright who provided a little insight about this Vietnam Veteran who stepped forward when his country called and served admirably in a war that afforded him little recognition and respect. He was seriously wounded in battle and then battled Agent Orange illnesses in later years yet today he can outrun those half his age.

Melvin took advantage of a new program in Tennessee to help veterans of previous wars including Vietnam take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. He encourages all veterans to get the education they may have missed as a result of their military service. The link below will tell you more about the program.

http://www.tn.gov/veteran/state_benifits/vet_diplomas.shtml

118 VVN – John Hosier Tells and Shows A Vietnam Story

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John Hosier, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

John Hosier, Jr., an Army Airborne Vietnam War veteran displays a small portion of the memoribilia he collected during his time in the service, or has been given since he began his traveling “Through The Eyes” history exhibit. Curt Nettinga/Hot Springs Star

In this episode we are going to share the story of a remarkable Vietnam Veteran, John Hosier. He served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a long range recon specialist. After he was wounded he returned to the country and served as a combat photographer. He retired after twenty years service then earned a PHD from the University of Hawaii which led him back to Vietnam to work on several beneficial projects to help the Vietnamese People.

These days he lives in Michigan and devotes much time to traveling around the country and sharing his “Through the Eyes” on the Vietnam war Exhibit. Everywhere he goes with his display the response is tremendous ranging from laughter to tears.

If you get the opportunity and you are a Vietnam Veteran you should go and see it.

This story in this episode came from The Ludington Daily News by Brian Mulherin – Daily News Staff Writer.

117 VVN – Australian Vietnam Vet Stan Whitford Finds Healing

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Stan Whitford, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

Stan Whitford lays a wreath at the Ararat War Memorial.

This episode will feature a story about a brave Australian Vietnam Veteran Stan Whitford.

Australian Vietnam Veteran Stan Whitford recently spoke at the Vietnam Veterans’ Remembrance Day in Ararat which is a town near Melbourne, Australia. He told the story of his Vietnam experiences and the impact it has had on his life after his military service.

In the interview he made these statements:

“Not many of us can do very much to alleviate the pain which some of our veterans feel to this day.

“All we can do is honor the memory of those who paid with their lives and support those who suffer with their health and peace of mind.”

“But to thank someone with just words, for having sacrificed their lives, hardly seems sufficient, does it? Few things cause us to question the meaning and value of life more than the prospect of death itself. Every death defying veteran would testify to that.”

Whitford also stated one of the most helpful things for him was to revisit Vietnam which he has done several times.

His story comes from the Ararafat Advertiser in Ararafat, Australia.

116 VVN – Montagnards – How and Why They Aided The Americans in Vietnam

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Montegards, Mack Payne, vietnam veteran news

Montagnard village — Typical longhouses in the village.

One of our best friends in the Vietnam War was a group of people who get little recognition or respect. They are the Montagnards who lived in the mountains of Vietnam and provided much help to the US Special Forces. The French named these prehistoric-like people “Montagnard,” which meant mountain-dweller. They were a group of 20 to 28 tribes of ethnic minorities which looked like Polynesian people and spoke a language similar to Polynesian and were actually Degar people. They lived in Vietnam as early as the 8th century long before the Chinese Oriental Vietnamese arrived on the scene and the two population groups never really learned how to get along with each other.

Only about 600,000 Montagnards survive today. When the American version of the Vietnam War started there were seven million of them in Vietnam. Unfortunately that seems to be the price people have to pay when they decide to throw their lot in with the Americans who seem to have the habit of forsaking their friends.

This story comes from Joyce Alpay, a writer for the Kokomo Perspective.

 

115 VVN – Can Vietnam Mend Fences With China

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Vietnamese and Chinese Tensions, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

Riot police officers keeps guard outside the damaged Shining company building in Vietnam’s southern Binh Duong province May 16, 2014.

In a recent episode (113) titled: Vietnam – Our New Friend?? The visit of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to Hanoi was highlighted. It seems the Vietnamese are opening up to the possibility of improved relations with the USA. This episode is a continuation of our look at the geo-political rumblings going on in southeast Asia where China is trying to hog up all the mineral resources in the South China Sea to the chagrin of its neighbors in Vietnam, The Philippines, Taiwan and Japan to name a few.

Suddenly it seems Vietnam wants to make nicey-nicey with the US to balance out the influence of China, the eight hundred pound gorilla on its northern border. Hope our leaders have sufficient moxie to handle the negotiations in this sensitive matter. It is a significant challenge involving relations with an enemy we did not beat after years of sacrifice in blood and fortune and the specter of challenging a new world power in China.

 

114 VVN – Vietnam War Entertainers

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The Vamps, Mack Payne, Vietnam Veteran News

The Vamps, Landing Zone Ross, November 1967. It was during this performance that the band was forced to leave the stage due to a Viet Cong mortar attack. Left to right: Julie Hibberd, Margaret Britt, Denise Cooper, Carol Middlemiss and Valerie Fallon.

In this episode we are going to look at some of the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War and that is the entertainers. I am not talking about the big time stars like Bob Hope or Phyllis Diller but rather the hundreds of unknown bands from such places as The Philippines, Australia and even the USA that roved around Vietnam to entertain the troops and provide a short diversion from the war.

I will tell the story of a group from Sydney, Australia called The Vamps. It was an all girl band led by a remarkable woman named Margaret Britt. She formed the band and ran it with a firm hand on its travels through the country.

All Vietnam Veterans should salute The Vamps and all the other entertainers who risked life and limb to bring us all a little much needed entertainment from home.

113 VVN – Vietnam – Our New Friend??

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General Dempsey, mack payne, vietnam veteran news

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty in Hanoi, Vietnam on Aug. 14. /Tran Van Minh/AP

Isn’t it interesting how time changes things? Recently General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, marched in review before a Vietnamese honor guard right beside Vietnam’s military chief, Gen. Do Ba Ky. A Vietnam Veteran might ask – what in the world is going on? The times are a-changing to quote bard of note. In this episode a story by Donald Kirk in the WorldTribune.com tells about how the US is now considering giving aid to Vietnam in its disputes with China over the ownership of mineral rich islands in the South China Sea. Now that would be an odd turn of events, it could easily happen in this crazy world we live in. Kirk uses this development to opine about the possibility of the same thing happening in Korea. The thought of this happening makes it clear that we live in an every changing world filled with some bad characters and we better stay strong and on our toes. If you would like to contact Donald Kirk, he can be reached at: kirkdon@yahoo.com

112 VVN – Baptist Missionaries Visit Vietnam

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Baptists Speak to Vietnamese Students, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

The Broken Arrow mission team met with students at New Life center where the gospel was shared openly.

In this episode we will look at a story by Jo-Ann Jennings, a writer for the Broken Arrow Ledger. She tells the story of a group of missionaries led by Pastor Scott Morie of Indian Springs Baptist Church who visited Vietnam. Vietnam Veterans remember the Vietnam of forty plus years ago and it is interesting to get a glimpse of the country today.

The Baptist visitors could not preach on street corners or hand out Bibles randomly but they could talk to students as cultural ambassadors. Morie said “We’re just planting seeds” that could someday produce fruit in that communist country that suppresses the peoples worship of Christianity.

The story was an interesting look at what is going in Vietnam today and the attitudes of the people there. Hope you enjoy the story.

 

111 VVN -The Plight of The Hmong People – Friends of The US in Vietnam War

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Hmong Refugee Camp, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Hmong refugees collect water at Huay Nam Khao village in Thailand’s northeastern province of Petchabun in 2007. Some 8,000 ethnic Hmong refugees, who claim to have fled persecution in Laos, will be sent back to their homeland.

In this episode I will look at a story about the plight of some of the Hmong people who supported the US in the Vietnam War. I warn you it is not a pleasant story. The Hmong were strong and loyal friends of the US when it was fighting the spread of communism in the Vietnam War. They were rewarded for their US associations with a wide range of persecutions including death. They are still to this day being accused of spying for the US.

This account tells the sad story of 24-year-old Pa Kou Vang who has been running all her life. She makes the fugitive, Dr. Richard Kimble’s TV series, look like a picnic. It is a shame more can’t be done to assist those who helped us when we needed their brave services in war.