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News Letter April 2008
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    "The Monthly Diamondhead"
April 2008
Editor-Reporter-Chief Cook-Web Slave-
Ron Leonard
 918-429-0252
E- mail: webmaster@25thaviation.org

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” —Winston Churchill
Index
You can use the index section links or scroll as usual to access the different areas.






 Company Stuff:

For the Little Bears this month we found Thomas Bowers , Donald Doty, Joseph Gaboury to LB roster (died May 1974), Patrick M. Piggot  (Died 2006), Presnall Richard D (Died 14 Sept 1996).Arthur I Sunday (Died 17 Oct 2000) Jerry Hoff, Richard Hogue,Sebastian Solis, Stephen Bodie, William Summerell, Bobby Stutson, Rene Vasquez, Larry Parrish, Anthony Piggot, Charles Talbert, Brian Bates, David  Barbaretta (All  EM from 1970) .

For Diamondhead we found Mike Garrity , Arthur "Frenchie" Brazeau , Loyd Reeves (Died 24 Dec 2006),Frank W Huskey SP-5 (Died 26 April 2004), Thomas L.“Bubba” Reese (Died  30 April 2006).

For HHD we found no one this month

 We do have some disturbing facts though. I have been tracking deaths, and causes of our long lost friends. Most of our deaths have been caused by cancer of various kinds, to include Leukemia. More than 25% of us are already dead since we returned from Vietnam. Sobering isn't it.



    "The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power
  To tell just when the hands will stop At late or early hour.
  Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.
  Place no faith in time, for the clock may soon be still."

 .Reunions:

TROPIC LIGHTNING AVIATION ASSOCIATION
El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel
110 Lexington Ave
San Antonio, Texas 78205
24 March, 2008

Dear Fellow Warriors, Families and Friends,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

   As the saying goes, "it is time to pull pitch" and get serious about planning and coordinating the forthcoming reunion in San Antonio, Texas.  The dates we, elected officers and I, have selected are 14 to 16 November 2008.  The dates are close to those we discussed at our previous reunion; however, we did want to provide a little time between the national elections on 4 November and our reunion.  The reunion is only eight months away so we must move ahead!

   We have selected the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel which is a full-service, convention type hotel with many amenities and it overlooks the San Antonio River.  For those who have been in San Antonio know that the riverwalk area is unique and a wonderful setting for events like the one we are planning.  In any case, please reserve the dates and begin to make plans to attend for what we believe will be another great time to renew friendships and to make new friends.

   As we did in 2006, we want to invite all who were assigned to units of the 25th Aviation Battalion in Viet Nam as well as their families and friends to include families of our fallen comrades.  It was extra special to have family members of those we lost or may have died since the war ended.  So, we ask that you please help us reach out to those who you feel might be interested in attending and make them feel welcome to attend our reunion.  All attendees are expected to be a member of the Association.

  If you are not a member, please send your membership dues ($25.00) to our Treasurer, Andy Asberry.  His address is 4513 W. FM 917, Godley, Texas 76044.   There will be no other fees collected except by Military Reunion Planners, we are letting them set up the reunion this year.

   Additional information will be posted on the website, if needed.  However, the name of our group which you should refer to when making reservations is "The 25th Tropic Lightning Division Reunion also referred to as T25."   The toll free number to make reservations is (866) 293-1842 or (888)465-4329 Holliday Inn Worldwide or via email: reservations@tropicanohotel.com.  Also, additional reservation information to include phone numbers is contained in one of the enclosures.  So, please make your reservations as soon as you can because the hotel is holding rooms until they sell out or September 26, 2008, whichever comes first.  Early reservations will help the hotel and us in making final Standard;preparations.

   For those flying into San Antonio Airport, a shuttle is available to take you to the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel and back to the airport.  The cost is $14.00 one-way and $24.00 round-trip.  Ask for San Antonio Transportation (SAT) shuttle service after securing your baggage.

   We are working with Charlie Rogers who lives in San Antonio and believe that together we will develop a fun-filled agenda.  If you have any suggestions regarding activities/events that you think we could enjoy together then please share the information with us. We are open to suggestions and would appreciate hearing from you.

   We look forward to seeing you all in November!  In the meantime, please check out the website: http://25thaviation.org that Ron Leonard keeps updated to include posting newsletters.  Information about the reunion is posted on the website, so, check it on occasion for any changes that may occur.  And, please pass along the information about the reunion to others and provide us any feedback that you feel will be helpful.  Much needs to be done prior to and during the reunion.  Your assistance would be appreciated and remember to bring along pictures and memorabilia to share with other attendees.  Thanks in advance for your support!!    
   Three enclosures with vital information are included with this letter - look them over carefully!
Included are the reunion activities.  Also, please fill out the reservation form and check the events you may want to attend.  Mail the reservation form with payment to Military Reunion Planners at the address provided on the form.  Thanks for making reservations sooner rather than later!

All the best in 2008!

Standard;Sincerely,


Larry Kerr                                            
Association President                         
310 E. Maplewood Ave                        
Walsh, Colorado 81090                      
719-324-5113        
Bert L. Rice
Vice President
1217 Hillcrest Road
 Odenton, Maryland 21113-2005
410-672-0186     



If You plan on coming let me know ASAP if you can so I can figure out how big a block of rooms we are going to need, how many meals we will need, etc etc....It's a planning thing:)

Tentative Attendees so far

Oscar Garza
Ben Crabtree and wife
Jess Forester and son Jeff
Andy Carr and wife
Joe Finch and wife
Larry Muntz and wife
Ben Brint
Marlin Price
Dennis Pickett
Larry Kerr
George Pendleton and wife
Gary Paris and wife
Dale Gueller
Huey Weston and wife
Ron Hall
Jim Canon and wife
Bob Seger
Ron Skamanish and wife
Andy Asberry and wife
Rob Amiot
Chet Atkins
Ron Leonard
Candyce Thomas
George Smith
Bert Rice
Bobby Connell and wife
Jon Mitchell
Gary Thompkins and wife
Dave Henard and wife
LTC Frank Tate Modern Day 25th

Dan Lentz
Charlie Rodgers and daughters



Sept 2008 1st week Annual Alaska Fishing Trip

The first week of Sept there is an open invite to come to Alaska Fishing. If you want to attend you will only be out a plane ticket fishing license, and chipping in to the grub and beer funds. (Unless you motor home it or motel it) We have a cabin, camping gear up here for a bunch, do bring your own sleeping bag and a camera.

We are planning on a base camp on the Kenai River in Sterling Alaska The guides will give us one day on the river pro bono, and I am setting up a two-day float trip down the Swanson River (free). It's a pretty easy float with few portages. But is loaded with trout and Silver Salmon that time of year. It is also Moose season, so hopefully one will have my name on it along the way<G>. There will also be lots of other wildlife, like bears, both black and brown, and a wolf or two, maybe a grizzly or two, grouse, ducks, Trumpeter Swans....it should be a fun trip. I am working on one-day (reduced rate) offshore fishing trip from Seward with Saltwater Safaris as I write this, so it will make a full week of fun and adventure. I hope to see you here; I assure you it will be a trip of a lifetime.
Pictures from this year

 Notifications:

I have been under the weather for the past months or so due to these stupid medications the VA says I need. Since the cure seems to be worse than the disease, I think I shall stop taking them and feel like a human again instead of a Zombie.

Bare with me for a while and I should get back to normal......Normal? thats almost laughable:)

I will also be heading back north soon, to Gods Country.

Ron

I went up toAlaska in January to photograph the Tustamena 200 sled dog race and was joking around with the Stewardess, and as we landed in Salt Lake I think the jet hit on the right wheel, then the left, then bounced all over the place, so through the Stewardess I sent a message to the pilot about how proud I was he got the damned thing on the ground in a completely reusable state.

She did and as I was deplaning the Pilot stopped me..it was none other than Bob Giaconne a Diamondhead pilot..so we had a laugh about it. whats the odds of that happening again:).

Ron

Hi Guys:

Several of us have old 8 MM movies laying around that need to be converted to DVD, so why not have Maxwell Joy do it. He is one of us lives in Maine and will do us all right. Here is his web page.

http://web.mac.com/storyteller4/storyteller/About_Me.html

Are you like me and have a life time of SLIDES, V.H.S. tapes and maybe a few PICTURES or so. Oh yes. don,t forget those OLD FILM MOVIES. Find it difficult to get the old movie projector or slide projector out or they do not work? Finding those pictures can be fun at times to look at? If this is you? Then you need the STORYTELLER. I can place all of your media on a D.V.D. or V.H.S. tape with titles, text, and chapter markers, so you just click and go to your wedding, kids or that trip to Disney. You can watch your D.V.D. on your COMPUTER or your T.V.


 Letters:

To the RVN vets of the 25th Aviation Assoc

I served in Cu Chi with the 125th Signal 1966-67..several of us are trying write a history of the Army MARS radio station at Cu Chi..the place you could go near the 12th Evac to make phone calls to the states..looking for anyone who used the radios located in the Quonset Hut with all the antennas to call home.... I would like to add any 1st person accounts we can find to our book...the station operated from 1966 to 1970..I know I ran calls for people from the 25th aviation including the Unit commander who as I recall was from Kentucky I also believe he was killed in 1967..I would appreciate any info anyone may have thanks

 Mike Reagan
NI7T
Quincy CA
http://www.ni7t.com
ni7t@ni7t.com

Ron,
Sorry,i wrote in the wrong year,yes I took the boat ride,on the Gordon,when I read the history of the departure from Hawaii, just blew me away,to find my name in the roster for 1966 sp/4 Michael F.Garrity,followed up by the photo album w/Pat Shea and the Mafia Queen,I'm the guy that defaced that fine aircraft w/that terrible Nose Art,also did a lot of little bears holding the lighting bolts,(which looked like a teddy bear w/a popscicle stick,also the first version of Anny fanny) also carved the 25th Aviation Battalion logo into a teakwood timber above the main entrance of the E.M. club,needless to say I didn't quit my main job,as a spare hand for many interesting details, have made contact w/Pat Shea and Andre Saxby

 thanks again, for the website
have shared this sight,with my seven off springs,and grandkids
 Mike Garrity


Dear Mr. Leonard:

My name is Hoi B. Tran, a former fighter pilot of the South Vietnamese Air Force. I am 73 years of age and retired. At the request of my eldest son and my grand children, I have created an independent, not for profit website as a depository of honest accounts of the Vietnam War collected from Vietnamese and Americans who actually fought in that war. Additionally, I am gathering as much as I possibly could, serious writings, unbiased and well documented researches regarding the war in Vietnam as well as Standard;declassified information pertaining to U.S. policy toward the war and secret political negotiations between the U.S., Hanoi and Red China to end the conflict at the expense of the South Vietnamese.
This has been my attempt to rectify the biased, distorted reports of the war by our slanted mainstream media in concert with blatant lies by the North Vietnamese communist propaganda machine claiming their military victory over the U.S and the Armed Forces of South Vietnam. As a naturalized American, I am also promoting support for our troops who are currently fighting the war on terror to defend our nation and our freedom and, supporting the brave human rights fighters in Vietnam.  For more information, please visit my Vietamericanvets.com site below.
While navigating the internet, I ran across your awesome Website. There are many excellent articles and documents in Vietnam War Statistics and Facts I would love to post on my site for additional dissemination to the public. This letter is to request your permission for reprint some articles currently posted on your site. Of course, I will credit the source on the byline accordingly:
Reprint with permission of 25th Aviation Battalion. And I would also link your great site on Vietamericanvets.com.  

Thank you for your time and your help.

Sincerely,

Hoi B. Tran
(562) 802-5901
Founder & Administrator
http://www.vietamericanvets.com


Hi Ron

Need your Snail mail address.

 I was with B Trp, 3 Quarter Cav, 25th Div at Cu Chi arriving in country Jan 8, 1967. .

 I pissed off my CO and he threatened to find a way to bust me ( I was a Scout and an E-6) so I said I'd like permission to find myself a new home and he granted it. I went to the A Co, 25th Avn. Orderly Room and spoke to the 1st Sgt requesting to speak with the CO after telling the top soldier what it was about. Top went in and spoke to the CO and then sent me in to see the CO, who was a Major and he hired me on as door gunner plat. sgt., after which I returned to the Cav long enough to sign out and pick-up my stuff. As a Little Bear, I set up a target range using concrete filled 55 gal. drums in or near the edge of the Hobo Woods. Two pilots were assigned to lift (sling) the barrels to their range positions. When we tried to lift the load, the bird wasn't strong enough and lights and sirens were going off. The crew chief and gunner were left off and I was shown how to unhook the sling and then we tried to get the load airborn again. We ended up lifting only three barrels at the first time and, when we got to the positioning site, the bird was lighting up and screaming again as it tried to hover. I had a headset on and heard the pilots saying to each other how it was a bitch to have to do the job with such a sick old bird. I was unarmed and the bird had been stripped of it weapons to get the lift to sling the load, but, when I heard the pilots, I figured the damn thing would crash going back to Cu Chi and figured I would rather take my chances walking home rather than crash and burn, so when I got out to unhook, I told the piolts I was going to stay behind while they went back for the next load and I would be positioning the drums where I wanted them.

 I heard one pilot say to the other something like "God, he's got balls'.

 I couldn't bring myself to tell them I thought they had more balls than me, because I figured, if they didn't make it to Cu Chi and back and if I didn't make it walking out at least my body would probably be recognizable whereas if they went down, they would probably be crispy critters and God would have to sort out the ashes cause nobody else would be able to. I was only with Little Bears about 3 weeks and then got transferred by Div. Pers. to A Co, 1st Bn, 5th Mech. Inf., but remained in contact with a lot of the Little Bears enlisted guys and an a 5 day stand down got help from the armorer to rebuild a D Model M-60 for my personnel use and on every stand down I used to go over and get 15 hundred cans of straight tracer ammo for the 6 M-^0s I had in my riffle platoon.

When I went on R&R in late Nov, 67, I went to the Bears for a ride to Ton Son Nut. I had bought me a 8mm movie camera to commemorate the R&R to Thailand. I recently had my 8mm movies converted to DVD by on outfit in KC, Ks. and a copy of the Bear furnished trip to Saigon is one of them. I didn't know the film converters would put their choice of music or their advertisements in it, but maybe you can edit the "crap" out of it (and you can get rid of the Bankok parts too, except maybe some others went there too). I think you will like the bear, unit area, birds, and scenes from the air to Ton Son Nut.

Oh yea, about the Bear, the evening of my first day in unit I was shown the bear and one of the guys let him out in the billets. He smelled a salami in a guys Vietnamese foot locker, which he shredded to get to the sausage. another (lower rank) new guy had to put him back in his cage. The guy picked him up and carried him to his cage with the bears back to the guy's chest and the guy's arms around the bears chest with the bears legs dangling. The guy with me (as we followed along behind) said "Now, watch this".

The cage door was standing open and as the carrier started to enter the cage, the bear threw all four legs out and locked them both from entering. After some struggling and several failed attempts, another guy told the carrier, after freeing the bear again from the entrance, to turn around and enter backwards, which he did finally getting the bear in the cage. It was really funny and great to see the poor carrier's struggle.

 In mid Dec, 67, I extended and went home on thirty day leave and returned to Cu Chi with a 1 pound jar and a 5 pound jar of honey for the bear. I made the mistake of giving him the big one first. He wouldn't let me get it away from him until he finished it. That jug was a good 12 to 14 inches tall and his muzzle wouldn't fit in the opening, but his tongue went to the bottom and curling went back up arround the bottom of the jug's mouth. He stripped the jug clean. Anyway my email is jswarts@terraworld.net, send me your US Mail address and I'll send you a copy of the Little Bears film DVD.

Jim Swartz


Hi Ron:

I just took a look at your web site.
Why don't you also include the Pathfinders as a part of the 25th Aviation?
True, we were not a company under the 25th Aviation, but we provided very valuable service to the Battalion, the 25th Division and to the total war effort.
We flew the night hawk missions and manned the miniguns.
We, created, prepared and flew the MADS missions.
We created, prepared and flew the flame bath missions from Cu Chi and Tay Ninh.
We provided forward air traffic control.
We manned the Nui Ba Dien base and provided 24/7 air traffic control for all helicopters who landed on the mountain top. (As you may remember, it was not unusual for the winds to be coming from a different direction for each of the helipads all at the same time.)
We were the initial reaction force to secure downed aircraft.
We did almost all the rigging for payloads picked up by the Diamondeads and Little Bears.
We also worked closely with the Muleskinners on many operations.
We were assigned to HHC.
Yes, I am proud of the Pathfinders. I was the Commander during 1969.
Frederick G. Irtz, II

(I thought I had, HHC covers everyone attached to it)


Military Camaraderie

        We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few  experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

 These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people  suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing.

 Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the "job" and merely being allowed to leave "active" duty.

 So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your  heart you never forget for one moment that "Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God," and you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

 Civilian Friends vs.. Veteran Friends

 CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation     you were having the last time you met.

 CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have cried with you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.

 CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will kick the crowds' ass that left you behind.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are for life.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever  dream of...

 CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you've had  enough.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, "You  better drink the rest of that before you spill it!!" Then carry you home safely and put you to bed...

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will talk crap to the person who talks crap about you.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will knock them the hell out OF THEM..... for using your name in vain.

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve ? is  someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including my life."

 From one Veteran to another, it's an honor to be in your Company.

 Thank you

AN OPEN LETTER TO ANYONE WHO SERVED IN VIETNAM


Dear Hero,

I was in my twenties during the Vietnam era. I was a single mother and, I'm sad to say, I was probably one of the most self-centered people on the planet. To be perfectly honestcI didn't care one way or the other about the war. All I cared about was me\how I looked, what I wore, and where I was going. I worked and I played. I was never politically involved in anything, but I allowed my opinions to be formed by the media. It happened without my ever being aware. I listened to the protest songs and I watch the  six o'clock news and I listened to all the people who were talking. After awhile, I began to repeat their words and, if you were to ask me, I'd have told you I was against the war. It was very popular. Everyone was doing it, and we never saw what it was doing to our men. All we were shown was what they were doing to the people of Vietnam.

My brother joined the Navy and then he was sent to Vietnam. When he came home, I repeated the words to him. It surprised me at how angry he became. I hurt him very deeply and there were years of separation not only of miles, but also of character. I didn't understand.

In fact, I didn't understand anything until one day I opened my newspaper and saw the anguished face of a Vietnam veteran. The picture was taken at the opening of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. His countenance revealed the terrible burden of his soul. As I looked at his picture and his tears, I finally understood a tiny portion of what you had given for us and what we had done to you. I understood that I had been manipulated, but I also knew that I had failed to think for myself. It was like waking up out of a nightmare, except that the nightmare was real. I didn't know what to do.

One day about three years ago, I went to a member of the church I attended at that time, because he had served in Vietnam. I asked him if he had been in Vietnam, and he got a look on his face and said, "Yes." Then, I took his hand, looked him square in the face, and said, "Thank you for going." His jaw dropped, he got an amazed look on his face, and then he said, "No one has ever said that to me." He hugged me and I could see that he was about to get tears in his eyes. It gave me an idea, because there is much more that needs to be said. How do we put into wordscall the regret of so many years? I don't know, but when I have an opportunity, I takecso here goes.

Have you been to Vietnam? If so, I have something I want to say to you,Thank you for going! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please forgive me for my insensitivity. I don't know how I could have been so blind, but I was. When I woke up, you were wounded and the damage was done, and I don't know how to fix it. I will never stop regretting my actions, and I will never let it happen again.

Please understand that I am speaking for the general public also. We know we blew it and we don't know how to make it up to you. We wish we had been there for you when you came home from Vietnam because you were a hero and you deserved better. Inside of you there is a pain that will never completely go awaycand you know what? It's inside of us, too; because when we let you down, we hurt ourselves, too. We all know itcand we suffer guilt and we don't know what to do, so we cheer for our troops and write letters to "any soldier" and we hang out the yellow ribbons and fly the flag and we love America. We love you too, even if it doesn't feel like it to you. I know in my heart that, when we cheer wildly for our troops, part of the reason is trying to make up for Vietnam. And while it may work for us, it does nothing for you. We failed you. You didn't fail us, but we failed you and we lost our only chance to be grateful to you at the time when you needed and deserved it. We have disgraced ourselves and brought shame to our country. We did it and we need your forgiveness. Please say you will forgive us and please take your rightful place as heroes of our country. We have learned a terribly painful lesson at your expense and we don't know how to fix it.

From the heart,

Julie Weaver
237 East Gatewood Circle
Burleson, Texas 76028-8948
(817) 295-6287
julieweaver@juno.com


A scene you will probably never get to see This is the sunset at the North Pole
 with the moon at its closest point. You also see the sun below the moon. An
amazing photo and not one easily duplicated. You may want to pass it on to others.
 The Chinese have a saying: 'When someone shares with you something of value,
you have an obligation to share it with others.'

 History:

We have approached a very special point in time. There is a window open to us to tell our stories, to get our side of the story told. Every day this window gets smaller, as can be attested to by the number of our members that have left us since coming home. If you can all just take the time to sit down, and write that one good story, send it to me so I can record it. This way the historical events are not forgotten. Don't worry about it being perfect, I can fix it up for you.


 Medical and VA Issues:

Court Upholds Dismissal Of Agent-Orange Suits
By Chad Bray
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES


NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- A federal appeals court Friday upheld the dismissal of more than a dozen lawsuits brought against Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), Monsanto Co. (MON) and other chemical makers over the use of the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

The lawsuits include separate cases brought on behalf of veterans and their families and millions of Vietnamese allegedly injured by exposure to the chemical defoliant.

In the cases brought by the veterans, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a prior ruling by U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn in 2004 that the chemical companies could assert a government-contractor defense, which protects government contractors from state-tort liability under certain circumstances when they provide defective products to the government.

"The government made an express determination, based on the knowledge available to it at the time, that Agent Orange as then being manufactured posed no unacceptable hazard for the wartime uses for which it was intended, and that the product should continue to be manufactured and supplied to it," U.S. Circuit Judge Robert D. Sack wrote in one of three opinions in the cases.

A global settlement of Agent Orange claims by veterans was reached in 1984. About 291,000 class members filed claims prior to a 1994 cutoff date in the settlement.

At least two sets of plaintiffs in the veterans cases before the circuit were members of the original plaintiff class in the settlement whose injuries manifested themselves after the original opt-out period.

They filed class-action claims on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated veterans.

The three-judge appellate panel also affirmed a 2005 ruling by Judge Weinstein that the case on behalf of the Vietnamese failed to allege a violation of international law because Agent Orange was used to protect U.S. troops against ambush and not as a weapon against the native population and that their domestic tort-law claims were barred by the government-contractor defense.

"Although the herbicide campaign may have been controversial, the record before us supports the conclusion that Agent Orange was used as a defoliant and not as a poison designed for or targeting human populations," U.S. Circuit Judge Roger J. Miner wrote in another opinion.

Jonathan C. Moore, who represented the Vietnamese plaintiffs, said they disagree with the circuit's decision and plan to appeal.

"We think the decision by the 2nd Circuit today is wrong both morally and legally," Moore said. "It's our full intention to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Chris Huntley, a Dow spokesman, said the chemical company is pleased with the decision.

"We have said for a while that issues related to wartime activity in Vietnam should be addressed by the U.S. and Vietnamese governments," Huntley said. " Clearly, the court has agreed with our position."

Home from war, but no peace
By Kate Spinner


Almost three years after an explosion ripped apart his leg and killed his best friend in Fallujah, Iraq, war still stirred in Eric Hall's mind.

He tried to ignore it, tried to hold down a steady job and tried to act like nothing was wrong. But family members say a flashback to the terror of combat sent the 24-year-old former Marine fleeing from his aunt's Deep Creek home on Feb. 3.

He has not been seen since, despite a feverish search in Charlotte County by rescue crews last weekend and dozens of volunteers this week.

Veterans advocates say Hall's disappearance is a sad example of the nation's failure to meet the needs of soldiers returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.

The Department of Veterans Affairs vastly underestimated the number of PTSD patients the war would generate, according to a January report by the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The VA predicted 3,000 new cases in 2005. Instead, it saw 18,000, according to the new study.

The fallout: an alarming increase in veterans who have committed suicide, become homeless or disappeared.

For Hall, getting treatment for PTSD in his hometown of Jeffersonville, Ind., meant days off work, long waits and little benefit in return.

"In his heart, he didn't feel like anyone understood," said his mother, Becky Hall, who is staying with family in Deep Creek to coordinate the search for her son, who had recently relocated to Southwest Florida.

Military studies report that one-third of veterans from the current wars will return home with some sort of mental illness.

Advocates estimate that 1.5 million soldiers will fight in those wars, eventually bringing the total number of veterans in need of mental health care to 500,000.

Since the wars began, doctors have diagnosed mental health problems in 120,000 new veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder represents half of those cases, the VA reported.

Because of medical advances, more soldiers are surviving attacks that would have killed them in past wars, said Perry Jefferies, a founding member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

"We're saving lives at a seven times greater rate," Jefferies said, making a comparison with the Vietnam War.

The VA has not been able to adapt to that change fast enough, he said.

"The VA offers great treatment but the bars to entry are really high," Jefferies said. "It takes a long time to get in and it's really complicated."

From the time a veteran realizes he or she needs psychological counseling, it can take six months before help is available through the VA, he said.

But officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs say they provide sufficient care.

"The rumor is out there, about the VA suffering from a deluge, that the VA can't handle it," said Ira Katz, deputy chief for mental health in the VA's patient care services office. "The danger is people saying, 'What's the use?' and staying away from care."

He pointed to a surge in funding for veterans' mental health care as proof that help is and will continue to be available.

The VA's mental health budget went from $2 billion a year in 2001 to $3.5 billion this year. More increases are being considered for next year.

"They're expanding because there is a war on and we owe it to America's veterans," Katz said.

For Hall, however, the barriers to reaching treatment were hard to surmount and the system failed to meet his needs, Becky Hall said.

"The whole system is at fault," she said.

Once Eric Hall was discharged from the Marine Corps, he waited months before meeting with a doctor. Just getting an appointment was a feat.

"You can't call to make an appointment," Becky Hall said. "They send you a letter and tell you when to come. If people are trying to work or go to school, it's totally impossible to make it to every appointment that someone just sends you in the mail."

Becky Hall said her son was also apathetic about treatment because he feared that being labeled mentally ill would cost him his career. He wanted to work in law enforcement.

Numerous parents of veterans have aired complaints similar to Becky Hall's or have sued the VA after their children committed suicide.

Bobbie Hengy, the mother of a veteran who served with Eric Hall during his first tour in Afghanistan, has thought about suing, but for now focuses on keeping her 23-year-old son alive.

On Sunday, he tried to commit suicide for the second time, Hengy said in a telephone interview from her second home in Fernandina Beach.

Her son, Andrew Hengy, was trying to live on his own near family in Pennsylvania. Like Eric Hall, he is believed by family members to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Like Hall, he also has a leg injury. He was also found to have a brain injury, three years after it occurred.

"When these kids get hurt and they're sent back, they're not given the right treatment," Bobbie Hengy said. "They're thrown away like a piece of trash."

Two veterans advocacy groups have brought a class-action suit against the VA, contending that it is violating veterans' civil rights by delaying and denying treatment for PTSD.

The VA should have foreseen the flood of wounded soldiers with mental illness, said Bob Handy, chairman of Veterans United for Truth, a party to the class-action suit.

PTSD is not new. "In World War II it was called shell shock," Handy said.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is pushing for change in Congress. This week, organization members spoke to Capitol Hill lawmakers about providing face-to-face screening for mental illness for veterans, and expanding services.

Jefferies said four of their top six legislative priorities are related to mental health, because post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury -- caused by pressure from an intense explosion or blow to the head -- are the signature injuries of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Symptoms of PTSD include uncontrollable memories of horrific events, extreme alertness to perceived threats and a sense of emotional numbness.

Eric Hall saw an improvised explosive device decapitate his best friend and blow apart most of his own upper thigh three years ago.

He spent more than a year in and out of the hospital until his leg was sturdy enough for him to walk with a limp.

In the days before he disappeared, Hall had begun talking to himself and having trouble sleeping, said his cousin and housemate Chaz Kane, 25.

Kane said that when he asked Hall if anything was wrong, Hall replied by asking Kane if there was anything wrong with Kane.

He had become skilled at hiding his pain, Hall's mother said.

Experts said the stigma surrounding mental illness is shrinking, but remains strong among soldiers.

"One of the things America has learned through this war, I believe, is that very strong, very well-trained, very resilient people can still get post-traumatic stress disorder when they experience combat and enough stress," Katz said.

But, he said, "The soldiers, the servicemen and women, still feel the stigma."

Jefferies said advocates are working with the government's Ad Council to change the perception that mental illness is a weakness. The ads will specifically encourage veterans to seek help.

John Bradley, a veterans affairs consultant to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said the VA is geared toward older veterans, and the needs of younger veterans are new. He is working with the VA to help it adapt to therapies that focus on returning veterans to productive lives as citizens.

"The VA is not doing a bad job," Bradley said. "They are trying to adapt, and government doesn't adapt very well."

The Mail Bag
by Jim Strickland

NOTE: Letters in my mailbag are reprinted just as they come to me. Spelling and grammar are left as is and only small corrections are made to improve readability, ensure anonymity or delete expletives that may offend some readers. This is not legal advice. You should always seek the advice of an attorney who is qualified in Veterans' law before you make any decisions about your own benefits.

Jim;

I have tried to refile my claim with the VA and tried to get help through the DAV but have gotten nowhere and I am hoping that you can point me in the right direction. I am a OIF veteran with 20% disability for a couple of ruptured disks in my back. I would like to note that I had a Disc-o-gram done last year that showed that there where two disks in my back messed up. I am seeing my doctor on Tuesday and will get a copy of those results. The doctor I am seeing is having me get another MRI done to try and see what is wrong with it. I believe that it is this second disk that has caused the most problems for me because it has caused therapies such as cortisone injections not work.

This problem with my back has caused tremendous pain and although I am able to work and be functional overall it has severely impacted my life. It has limited the jobs I can take and made it to where I can not do much more then work which I do have to miss from time to time. This injury was a result from activities while I was in the military and during my PCS transfer back home. I am not asking for complete disability, however because of this injury I will be in a bad situation if I loose my job and have to find one that will accommodate me.

Also note that I usually put down that my injury was caused in 2006 although most doctors have agreed that my injury was present before that and it was aggravated at that time, during my PCS move. I would like to increase my percentage but I do not know what to do. I thought this would be an easy task but it has proven to be harder then I thought. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I really can not tell you how great full I am for your advice and direction. Thank you.

Reply;

You should go ahead and file for an increase. It isn't hard to do for yourself if you're willing to spend some time researching and writing. I like the DIY method because nobody cares about your claim like you do. As you proceed, there will be frustrations, denials, errant responses from VA and you'll wonder if they have any idea just what the hell they're doing. They don't!

This also may take as long as a year or two before it's done the way you want it. The VA is a mess. All that you can do is practice the patience of a saint along with the tenacity of a junkyard dog. If they deny, appeal. And then appeal again.

Below is an example of how to begin...Start drafting your letter in your word processor. I advise that you try to craft it to look as much like the VA format as you can. Be sure to note your reference (C-File, SSN) numbers at the beginning.

I recommend a formal business letter structure using a maximum of courtesy, no BIG FONTS or colors. Do it in the same style that they write in. Describe in your letter to them just what you've described to me. Don't try to get too fancy with legalese, keep it brief and honest. The verbiage below is an example of how I like to address these issues to VBA.

***********************************

DATE
VARO ADDRESS

REFERENCE: YOUR NAME
C-FILE # YYYYYYYYYY

Dear Sir/Madame:

Please accept this document as my claim for disability benefits as outlined below.

In my records you will note that I have certain service connected conditions that have been variously rated over time. Today I claim that my condition has worsened and that I am more disabled as follows:

I suffer pain each day that markedly interferes with my routine activities of daily living. I am unable to walk any distance at all without significant pain. I am totally unable to ascend more than a single flight of stairs. I can not walk a distance of more than 100 feet on flat ground because of pain. I am unable to carry any load (groceries, etc.). I am unable to sleep at night because of pain. I suffer daytime somnolence because of my interrupted sleep. I am fatigued each day because of the chronic nature of my pain. My job and my family life have suffered due to my chronic fatigue that is a result of this painful condition.

Due to the increased severity of the above listed conditions I believe that I am entitled to an overall combined disability rating of at least 70%. I will appreciate your consideration and your prompt and favorable adjudication.

Respectfully submitted,

YOUR NAME
ADDRESS, etc.
**************************************************************

As you develop this letter, using your own words, add any facts that are relevant at short bullet points. The more the better as long as they are strictly about the condition. It doesn't help to talk of unfair treatment, financial needs, family problems or whatever. List any and all side effects of medicines you take.

Now I'm going to toss in a few links so you can see the verbiage of a VA disability claim as well as the structure of ratings. I doubt you'll have any problems interpreting the hierarchical structure that VA uses as it goes from HEADER to PARAGRAPH to SECTION and SUBHEADER and so on. It's all pretty logical once you're used to it. Use as much of the verbiage as you think fits. I don't usually want to include huge chunks of the rules...they already know that stuff.

Here are a few links...do a little homework and studying to see how your claim fits.

This is a sort of overall administrative direction...
http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=1b0
c269b510d3157fbf8f8801bc9b3dc&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title38/38cfr3_main_02.tpl

Here you'll find a lot that directly applies to your conditions...4.45 The joints., 4.46 Accurate measurement., 4.59 Painful motion., etc.
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_04/38cfr4_04.html

Worksheets C&P examiners should follow...
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/exams/index.htm

This is the M21. It's the Bible used by raters to practically apply the rules to you. Look through for your situations and see where you fit.
http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/M21_1MR.html
If you'll use the above and do a good initial letter to VA, half your task is accomplished. They'll get back to you soon with the usual notifications and scheduling of C & P exams. In the meantime, it's to your advantage to schedule treatments for any and all conditions that you can to polish up your medical records. Get your painful back evaluated as often as possible. The more records, the better.

You should also request that VA copy you your entire file so you may look that over for mistakes or things they've missed. I strongly recommend that you use registered mail, return receipt requested for all communications. I never use a fax machine, never make phone calls or hand deliver stuff. Registered mail provides the best record of delivery.

There you have it. This stuff isn't rocket surgery and there's no big mystery to it. A bright guy with a word processor can do this better for himself than anyone else. I'll be here for questions as you have them.

Standard;Jim;

"You Da Man".

I love your columns. Just over a year ago, I applied for SCD after being out of the Air Force for 15 years. I was awarded 50% (several issues) and have a reconsideration claim for several of the awards that were SC, but 0% compensable. Question: I had a Highly Selective Vagotomy, as a result of Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD). After the surgery, I was hospitalized for difficulties with swallowing, as this is a common occurence after a Vagotomy surgery. I had an esophagus dilation, etc. while in, and my rating decision (20%) for Dumping Sydrome, post Vagotomy, reflects me being hospitalized for swallowing difficulties, post vagotomy. Anyway, I've continued from time to time having difficulties swallowing breads, pastas, etc. I was also granted 10% for tender abdominal scar due to the surgery. Question: Can I file a secondary claim for swallowing difficulties due to vagotomy surgery and have you ever heard of this type of problem? Please advise.


Reply;

Thanks for your kind words sir. It's good to hear that some of my ramblings may have helped. You've had some rough surgery and procedures. I'm a former 91D20, a surgical tech and I've assisted on a lot of stuff like that you've endured. Man, the dilation alone is more than most folks could stand! Those esophageal bougies are instruments designed for CIA torture! I think I'd rather be waterboarded! Yes, you can file for post-operative issues that are secondary to the primary claim. The VA refers to these as "residuals" that are left over after surgery or treatment procedures. Other common residuals are things like leaking after prostate surgery, shortness of breath after lung surgery and so on.

Here are links to the rules & regs that cover some of this.

http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_04/38cfr4_04.html

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/12feb2004
1500/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/julqtr/38cfr4.114.htm

When a distinct symptom or syndrome isn't directly addressed here the VA allows and encourages a substitution to something that is close. I've tried to group the stuff below in a pattern that makes some sense...the 1st link is the big page, the 2nd takes you to a sub category and then the paragraphs are taken from there. Poke around in all of that to find the verbiage that fits your experience. When you file for an increase try to use their language but don't just copy and paste the regulation. Use their lingo in your more personal description of your own issues. They already have a copy of the rules, they aren't impressed with guys who just throw it all in for them. While you were hospitalized and during your recovery period it's likely that you should have/could have been temporarily rated as 100% disabled. If that didn't happen, you may want to consider a plea to have that done retroactively. It ain't exactly a cakewalk to achieve that but it is sometimes done. There you go...good luck. If you have questions as you proceed, don't hesitate to ask.
Jim;

I received a prescription from the VA for ciprofloxacin a antibiotic, and when I got the local paper the Mijer store's here listed this as a drug that they would give to anyone free, also I know it is one of the drugs that wall mart will sell you for only $4.00 now as the va charges $8.50 to veterans for copay and a $16.00 office call. could you check and see if the VA is charging for a drug that the veterans could get for free???
Reply;

You're probably correct. Like most insurers, the VA pays a negotiated rate for all supplies that it dispenses. Then for some veterans, there is a set co-pay that is decided by their priority group assignment. If you are in a priority group that calls for a co-pay of $8.50 for any and all prescriptions, the fact that a civilian store is selling it for less won't affect your co-pay. The other side of that coin protects you from sudden increases in pricing. If a drug manufacturer raises the price that VA must pay for a given drug, your co-pay doesn't rise with it. Wal Mart sent a shock wave through the industry when they set a $4.00 price for many prescription drugs. They had a reason for doing that though...it wasn't out of the goodness of their hearts. They know that any customer who comes to a Wal Mart store for a prescription will buy other things while they're there. They can even sell the drug below their cost (known as a gloss-leaderh) and make up the difference while you shop for other things. Once you're in the habit of being a Wal Mart shopper, they've got you for almost all your shopping. For a smart shopper this is a real bonus. If you have an $8.50 co-pay on a medicine you can get cheaper elsewhere, ask the doc to write a prescription so you can go outside the VA. If the medicine is less expensive through VA, go for it. With a little studying, you benefit even more!
Jim;

My C&P Examiner scared me so bad, I farted. The examiner, a female, went down the list of my service connected disabilities, and ask if they hurt and how they impacted my ability to work. I focused on the PTSD and the chronic bronchitis, about the affect of it on my health, how the medications were affecting me with dizziness and tremors, and the PTSD and all that it entails, and that I'm not sleeping and when I do, it's for a short time and then I'm groggy and act like I'm hung over due to the meds. She checked my breathing, my reflexes and my ears. She startled me when she told me I could get my socks back on I farted. It was just a short noise maker, but none the less, I couldn't help it. Glad it didn't stink.

Reply;

Thanks for sharing your C & P exam experience. I'd recommend that you wait a month and then request a copy of the examination report. If your examiner didn't make note of your brief gastrointestinal condition, you may have grounds for an appeal if you're ever denied. (I can't make this stuff up!)

Thousands of veterans lose health benefits because of paperwork errors

Standard;Correcting mistakes in discharge documents can be a bureaucratic nightmare
By Lou Michel NEWS STAFF REPORTER


Christopher M. Simmance helped keep the peace as an American soldier in the Middle East, but when he returned home and later suffered a breakdown, he was turned away from the VA hospital because the government didn’t acknowledge his overseas duty.

Dana Cushing as a Marine served two tours of duty in Iraq and a third in east Africa, but when she returned home, she found herself labeled a “conscientious objector” and also was denied medical care by the government.

Simmance is one local veteran among roughly 2,000 across the country trying to get corrected incomplete or inadequate discharge papers. Cushing only recently got hers corrected after trying for a year. The result is that many now face a bureaucratic nightmare that prevents them from getting the health benefits they are entitled to receive.
 
The Army alone has a backlog of 1,890 veterans seeking corrections on their discharge papers, and some have been waiting for three years, accord- ing to the U.S. Department of Defense. Many other veterans probably have faulty discharge papers but don’t know it because they have not sought benefits.

Efforts are being made to speed up the corrections on faulty discharge papers, Army officials said.

But it can’t come quick enough for Simmance, the City of Tonawanda Army veteran who ended up broke and homeless late last year after he suffered service-related psychological problems and was unable to get help because of his faulty discharge paper.

“I lived on my parents’ couch for a couple months, but it was a cramped living space and I couldn’t stay there. I went to the Little Portion Friary and then to the City Mission,” said Simmance, who finally found permanent lodging in a subsidized apartment a few weeks ago.

The 31-year-old entered a free fall in 2006, when he started experiencing service-related mental illness. He lost a $65,000-a-year job, his apartment and his truck while living in Seattle.

When he returned home to Buffalo Niagara and sought help from the local Veterans Affairs office, he said he was told his discharge papers were not in order and he was ineligible for help. Simmance said he was turned down twice for treatment at the VA’s Batavia residential facility for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The kicker is, I have my official U.S. military passport with all the stamps of the countries I was in overseas, and the Batavia hospital didn’t even want to look at it,” he said. “I served in the Middle East in 2001 with an international peacekeeping force and saw combat.”

He says he continues to wait for a corrected version of his discharge papers — a wait that started seven months ago and shows no sign of ending soon.

Issue called disgraceful

Simmance’s story highlights the struggles of other local veterans who have had difficulty receiving medical and disability benefits from the VA.

Upset over the clerical errors veterans face after serving overseas, often in combat situations, several veterans advocates and public officials met recently at Rep. Louise Slaughter’s office in Niagara Falls to discuss clearing up the backlog.

“It is absolutely unacceptable and, frankly, disgraceful that any veteran would be delayed or denied the benefits they earned after putting their life on the line in service to our country,” said Slaughter, DFairport. “Veterans must be shown nothing less than the same commitment that they showed to us.”

Errors are occurring more frequently on discharge papers, known as DD214 forms, because the work is often farmed out to civilians, according to Patrick W. Welch, director of Erie County’s Department of Veterans Services.

“In the olden days, it was usually military records personnel who were processing you out. They were active duty military people. They had a better feel for what you were entitled to and they would ask questions,” said Welch, a Vietnam veteran.

Civilians who never served in the armed forces, he said, are more likely to make mistakes.

“So as they’re looking through records, they do not properly interpret service,” said Welch, who has worked as an advocate for years and has assisted many vets in correcting their discharge papers.

“The other part of it is that, when they are processing you out, the person leaving just wants to get his paperwork and get out and may not notice errors,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t know of any veteran whose DD214 form is 100 percent accurate.”

Military officials, contacted by The Buffalo News, said those leaving the armed forces should carefully check their records because they are in the best position to know if the papers are complete and accurate.

“That’s not true. This is your very first DD214, so how do you know what to look for? On top of that, you don’t know what the code numbers stand for. Unless you work with those codes daily, you don’t know what they mean,” said Ronal R. Bassham, a veterans advocate for United Auto Workers Region 9.

But the Defense Department says it is the service member’s responsibility to make sure everything is in order.

“It’s important to note that the soldier is responsible for reviewing the DD214 and ensuring it is accurate before he/she signs. The soldier is his/her own best defense against DD214 errors,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington of the Defense Department.

The errors often aren’t noticed until weeks or months and sometimes even years later, according to advocates.

And the consequences can be devastating.

Veterans suffer

When a veteran later seeks benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a worker looks over the discharge paper listing campaign ribbons, Purple Hearts, notations of overseas service and other evidence the veteran experienced combat or served in a war zone, Welch said.

Without that paper or with an incomplete or faulty discharge paper, he said, “you’re denied services.”

Joseph P. Shydlinski, commander of the Disabled Veterans organization in Kenmore, is also very familiar with the problems caused by inaccurate discharge papers.

“Vets have to go back to the Department of Defense, and half the time the department doesn’t want to listen and there is a hell of a backlog,” said Shydlinski, another Vietnam veteran. “Sometimes the vets get lucky and get it fixed in a day or two, other times it can take months. In the meantime, the veterans are suffering because they are not being properly treated at the VAs.”

That’s what happened to Cushing, the former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq and a third with an antiterrorism unit in east Africa.

Cushing is a Canadian by birth who enlisted in the Marines to gain U.S. citizenship more quickly.

Home and savings lost

But when she left the service and began suffering health problems related to her military duty, she was denied benefits because of clerical errors on her discharge papers. She ended up living in her car last summer before getting enough money to pay for an inexpensive apartment on Buffalo’s West Side.

Despite her combat service and military citations, she left the Marines with discharge papers that listed her as a “conscientious objector.” She didn’t see the mistake because it was in a code she said she did not recognize.

“We basically hand the American government a blank check with a value of up to our life,” she said.

“In my case,” Cushing added, “the value of that check is I’ll never walk unassisted again, I have wicked PTSD, asthma that will kill me quicker than smoking, radiation exposure from depleted uranium. I’m being watched for skin cancer and soft tissue cancer and I have chronic intestinal problems.”

She was finally able to get her discharge papers amended after 50 weeks, a shorter wait, Cushing noted, than most.

But in the meantime, she burned through her life savings, $20,000, ran up $7,000 in copayment medical bills that the VA refuses to reimburse, and lost her home early last year.

She says she still can’t get over the bureaucracy and how it ends up harming veterans.

Another woman who shares Cushing’s opinion is Tracy Kinn, a New York State veteran counselor highly regarded among several local veterans.

Kinn said she does not believe military employees maliciously make errors in the discharge papers. Instead, she blames it on a lack of knowledge.

“It’s pure ignorance in training, staffing and rushing them along. There are so many veterans and there aren’t enough people to take care of their needs,” Kinn said.

Like other veteran advocates, Kinn says it is not uncommon for her to catch errors in discharge papers.

“It’s crazy. How do you leave something off like a citation [medal]? I sent in a correction last June for notation of a Purple Heart on discharge papers, and we’re waiting for the correction to come through,” Kinn said.

Without a combat medal, she added, the onus is on the veteran to prove he or she suffers from post-traumatic stress from military-related service in order to get medical help or disability benefits.

Veterans, she added, may not have directly participated in a battle, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that does not preclude them from witnessing and experiencing wartime horrors.

Legislation mulled

To help veterans work through the bureaucracy, State Sen. George D. Maziarz, who attended the Niagara Falls meeting, said legislation that would require county veterans services workers to review amended discharge forms might help speed up the process.

“Maybe we should look at legislation that would require county veteran services officers to at least offer the ability to come in and review a veteran’s documents,” the Newfane Republican said. “A review by an expert may avoid delays in getting benefits that are rightfully due.”

The organizer of the Niagara Falls meeting, Robert Saunderson, said its purpose was to draw attention to the problems veterans are facing with faulty discharge papers.

“We’re trying to raise awareness in a unified advocacy,” said Saunderson, a Town of Niagara resident and volunteer with the Iraq War Veterans Organization headquartered in California.

A follow-up meeting is set for early April to determine if improvements have occurred. The meeting will include advocates and local VA officials.


lmichel@buffnews.com


Widow says 'I feel more at peace now'
Vietnam vet's illness linked to combat; Grimes died in 1988
By WENDY ISOM
wisom@jacksonsun.com
• March 31, 2008

Almost 20 years after his death, the Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized that an area Army veteran had a valid claim to service-related disability benefits.

"I wish he could've been alive to have it," said Virginia Grimes, the widow of veteran Andrew Grimes. She will receive a service-connected death benefit compensation in light of this recognition.

Her husband, a Gibson County native, fought in Vietnam and Cambodia and had began filing paperwork with the Veterans Administration in 1987 to get benefits after he became ill. He died at age 40 on Dec. 5, 1988, after The American Legion Magazine had featured him in a story about Vietnam veterans' filing for disability.

Grimes said her husband always believed his declining health and a rare lymphoma cancer were results of his exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during combat in the jungles of Cambodia in 1970.

"He was in infantry. They all walked in on the ground right after it was sprayed," she said.

On his death bed, he asked his wife to continue fighting for the recognition. "He said, 'Do not give up on this.'"

"I feel like I have fulfilled what he wanted. I feel more at peace now. This is something he wanted me to have," said Grimes, who lives in Jackson.
She filed several times on behalf of her husband over the past two decades. With each new filing, new evidence was required.

"The years was just passing by. ... I had been denied so many times," she said. Response letters to her filings in the past said "what you have sent is not sufficient enough."

Finally, last year Grimes looked at all the paperwork she had and found something she had not sent in before. It was her husband's autopsy report along with an article off the Internet about the type of cancer he had.

"If I had not agreed to the autopsy, I never would've gotten it," she said. That was apparently the new evidence that turned everything around.
In early March, she received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Nashville stating that it had granted her claim related to the service-connected death of her husband. The letter was dated Feb. 28 and signed by Jerry Mitchell, manager of the Veterans Service center.

"I was shocked when I got the letter. ... When I opened it and read (it), I cried."

Grimes hopes her experience will give hope to others.

"Anybody that is filing that is sincere, just don't give up," she said.
She had enlisted the help of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to file for service-connected widow's compensation. Also, "the Veterans Affairs office in Jackson was so nice to me."

Last April, her husband was among 77 veterans honored posthumously during the ninth annual "In Memory Day" for their non-combat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by the Vietnam War.

That recognition, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, was for veterans who were not eligible to have their names listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Visit jacksonsun.com and share your thoughts.



 News:

A new dispatch with interesting photos awaits here Color of War.

My book, Moment of Truth in Iraq is printed and just now arriving to the publisher. Your advance signed-copy can ship immediately if you purchase here Moment of Truth in Iraq. Copies will hit bookshelves on 23 April.

I am still in Iraq but plan to land in El Paso on roughly 8 April to see the 2-7 Cav redeployment ceremony. Few people know that a single battalion of American troops held down the fort in Mosul for a full year. I am coming all the way back from Iraq to see the 2-7 Cav award ceremony. Outstanding soldiers.

V/r,

Michael Yon
Mosul, Iraq



Legislators from Mexican State Angry at Influx of...Mexicans!


Can you believe the nerve of these people? Nine state legislators from the Mexican state of Sonora traveled to Tucson to complain about Arizona's new employer crackdown on illegals from Mexico. It seems many Mexican illegals are now returning to their hometowns and the officials in the Sonora state government are ticked:

A delegation of nine state legislators from Sonora was in Tucson on Tuesday to say Arizona's new employer sanctions law will have a devastating effect on the Mexican state.

At a news conference, the legislators said Sonora - Arizona's southern neighbor, made up of mostly small towns - cannot handle the demand for housing, jobs and schools it will face as illegal Mexican workers here return to their hometowns without jobs or money.

The law, which took effect Jan.1, punishes employers who knowingly hire individuals who don't have valid legal documents to work in the United States. Penalties include suspension or loss of a business license.

They're pissed off because their own citizens are returning to their hometowns, placing a huge burden on their state government. This lady has some serious balls:

They want to tell them how the law will affect Mexican families on both sides of the border "How can they pass a law like this?" asked Mexican Rep. Leticia Amparano Gamez, who represents Nogales.

"There is not one person living in Sonora who does not have a friend or relative working in Arizona," she said in Spanish.

"Mexico is not prepared for this, for the tremendous problems" it will face as more and more Mexicans working in Arizona and sending money to their families return to hometowns in Sonora without jobs, she said.

"We are one family, socially and economically," she said of the people of Sonora and Arizona.

Wrong. The United States is a sovereign nation and its states and its citizens are not responsible for the welfare of Mexico's citizens. It's time for the Mexican government to stop parasitically feeding off of the United States and start taking care of its own citizens.

wizbangblog.com/content/2008/01/20/legislators-from-mexican-state-angry-at-influx-ofmexicans.php

 Woman Earns Silver Star in Afghanistan
|  March 10, 2008
CAMP SALERNO, Afghanistan - A 19-year-old Army medic from Texas is set to become the first woman in Afghanistan -- and only the second female Soldier since World War II -- to receive the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for valor.

Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown saved the lives of fellow Soldiers after a roadside bomb tore through a convoy of Humvees in the eastern Paktia province in April 2007, the military said.

After the explosion, which wounded five Soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through enemy gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away, the military said.

"I did not really think about anything except for getting the guys to a safer location and getting them taken care of and ge tting them out of there," Brown told The Associated Press during a March 8 interview at a U.S. base in the eastern province of Khost.

Brown, of Lake Jackson, Texas, is scheduled to receive the Silver Star later this month. She was part of a four-vehicle convoy patrolling near Jani Kheil in the eastern province of Paktia on April 25, 2007, when a bomb struck one of the Humvees.

"We stopped the convoy. I opened up my door and grabbed my aid bag," Brown said.

She started running toward the burning vehicle as insurgents opened fire. All five wounded Soldiers had scrambled out.

"I assessed the patients to see how bad they were. We tried to move them to a safer location because we were still receiving incoming fire," Brown said.
Pentagon policy prohibits women from serving in front-line combat roles - in the infantry, armor or artillery, for example. But the nature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with no real front lines, has seen women Soldiers take part in clos e-quarters combat more than previous conflicts.

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, of Nashville, Tenn., received the Silver Star in 2005 for gallantry during an insurgent ambush on a convoy in Iraq. Two men from her unit, the 617th Military Police Company of Richmond, Ky., also received the Silver Star for their roles in the same action.

Four Army nurses in World War II were the first women to receive the Silver Star, though three nurses serving in World War I were awarded the medal posthumously last year, according to the Army's Web site.

Brown, of the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, said ammunition going off inside the burning Humvee was sending shrapnel in all directions. She said they were sitting in a dangerous spot.

"So we dragged them for 100 or 200 meters, got them away from the Humvee a little bit," she said. "I was in a kind of a robot-mode, did not think about much but getting the guys taken care of."

For Brown, who knew all five woun ded Soldiers, it became a race to get them all to a safer location. Eventually, they moved the wounded some 500 yards away and treated them on site before putting them on a helicopter for evacuation.

"I did not really have time to be scared," Brown said. "Running back to the vehicle, I was nervous (since) I did not know how badly the guys were injured. That was scary."

The military said Brown's "bravery, unselfish actions and medical aid rendered under fire saved the lives of her comrades and represents the finest traditions of heroism in combat."




THE 545 PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR AMERICA'S WOES

BY CHARLEY REESE - a journalist for 49 years

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don't write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don't set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen [minus Dr. Ron Paul], one president and nine Supreme Court justices 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cottonpicking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a SPEAKER, who stood up and criticized G.W. Bush ALONE for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

REPLACE THE SCOUNDRELS

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted by present facts of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can't think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in IRAQ, it's because they want them in IRAQ.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation" or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the People who are their bosses provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees. We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess.  


 Gun Control in Montana
 TRUE STORY

 Shotgun and Preteen vs. Illegal Alien Home Invaders Butte, Montana,  November 5, 2007

Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, probably believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11 year old Patricia Harrington after her father had left their two-story home. It seems the two crooks never learned two things: they were in Montana and Patricia had been a  clay shooting champion since she was nine.
 Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. She quickly ran to her father's room and grabbed his 12 gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun.

 Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor only to be the first to catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old's knee crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen and genitals.
When Garza ran to the foot of the stairs, he took a blast to the left shoulder and staggered out into the street where he bled to death before medical help could arrive.

 It was found out later that Resindez was armed with a stolen 45 caliber handgun he took from another home invasion robbery. That victim, 50-year-old David Burien, was not so lucky. He died from stab wounds to the chest.
 Wonder why good stuff like this never makes NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, or ABC news....

 Now that is Gun Control
 Thought for the day:

 Calling an illegal alien an 'undocumented immigrant' is like calling a drug  dealer an 'unlicensed pharmacist'

Is Winter Soldier 2008 Another Snow Job?
by Terry L. Garlock

I'll admit for starters I did not attend the gathering last week in Silver Springs, MD titled Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan \ Eyewitness  Accounts of the Occupations. This was an event for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to rail against the war and testify to American racism and atrocities. I donft even know what happened at those meetings but I will raise a warning flag nonetheless.

I hope you think instead of letting  yourself feel when you hear news reports from Winter Soldier 2008, and study what really happened at the first Winter Soldier event in Detroit in 1971. Ifve always wondered if Detroit was chosen for its proximity to Canada where many draft-dodgers fled, but I donft know.

That gathering in early 1971, funded by Jane Fonda and organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), was planned as a forum for anti-war veterans to speak out against the war. It sounds so credible on the surface, actual veterans of a war taking a stand against it. The problem was VVAW was a group of radicals, just a tiny percentage of Vietnam Veterans, deperate enough in their anti-war zeal that they voted in a November 1971 Kansas City meeting whether to undertake assasinations of southern US Senators who supported the war, specifically Sen. John Tower (R-TX), Sen. John Stennis (D-MS), and Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC). John Kerry was one of the VVAW officers who voted gnoh and the motion to assassinate these senators was defeated.

But what about the 1971 Winter Soldier testimony? One after another, men told stories of rape, murder and other atrocities in Vietnam. Some of their testimony was filmed.

Shortly thereafter, In April 1971 John Kerry, VVAW officer and leader at Winter Soldier, appeared before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator Fulbright, who was desperately searching for leverage to end the Vietnam war. Kerry told the Senate Committee some fantastic lies, and his words took the nation by storm:

". . . several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. They . . . had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam . . . "

Kerry went on to tell the Committee that the South Vietnamese people didnft care whether they lived under democracy or Communism, that America was gmore guilty than any other bodyh of violations of Geneva Conventions, that America had created a egeneration of monstersh in its own troops and that he was ashamed of his service in Vietnam.

We who served in Vietnam in combat know what Kerry said was preposterous, a pack of egregious lies engineered to further an anti-war agenda. But the news media, and the American public, weary of the war and primed to believe the worst, lapped it up like starved puppies without realizing they had devoured a masterful piece of political theater.

What about all that testimony?

Ordered by the Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, US Army Criminal Investigations Division and the US Navy investigated to identify and follow up on atrocity claims, as did independent reporters. All but one case was closed as unsubstantiated, demonstrably untrue, or for lack of evidence. Just as interesting to me, and perhaps feeding my curiosity about proximity to Canada, many of those who testified at Winter Soldier were found to have never been in combat, or never been to Vietnam or never even been in the military. Some real Vietnam veterans discovered their name had been used by an imposter.

Maybe some of the atrocity stories had grains of truth; bad things happen in every war where passions run hot. But the whole of Winter Soldier was a fraud.

What's worse, John Kerry, who launched his political career with his testimony, knew these outlandish tales were a pack of lies.

Steve Pitkin, who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, stood before a crowd of Vietnam veterans in 2004 and, while his hands were shaking with his inner turmoil, he asked them to forgive him because he lied about atrocities at Winter Soldier in 1971. Pitkin was new to VVAW and had not figured out the radical organization it was. John Kerry recruited Pitkin to go to Winter Soldier
g. . . because youfre one of the few with combat experience, man . . . gand they rode together from Baltimore in a van.

On the ride Kerry pressed him to testify to atrocities in Vietnam while Pitkin told him several times, "But I didn't see any
atrocities in Vietnam!"

When they arrived, Kerry and several others pressed Pitkin further with arguments, "Don't you want to help end the war, man?"and "It's a long walk back to Baltimore!" Pitkin caved and agreed to testify. He tells how Kerry took him aside to coach him on what to say about rape, indiscriminate artillery fire on civilians, etc. Then Pitkin took his turn before the cameras to tell his "story."

This is just one small part of how myth became history of the Vietnam War, how the truth was lost. Thatfs a shame because the truth is not all that pretty and America could learn from it if we took the political blinders off. That war started with the noble purpose of stopping the spread of Communism and became screwed up to a fair-thee-well.

We had insane rules of engagement that tied the hands of US troops, borders we could not cross to chase an enemy whose sanctuary and supply line was across the border, bombing targets selected in the White House with a goal of not being provocative, the Pentagon rotated officers too quickly so they could get their combat experience ticket punched, and so on.

But American troops were not the bad guys in Vietnam. The truth is your fathers, husbands, uncles and sons fought in Vietnam with honor, skill and courage, they won every significant battle against a very tough enemy, and the US Congress gave away
the war after it had been micromanaged into a mess. The one group of people who deserved the nationfs gratitude were smeared by John Kerry and his anti-war zealots. America bought it hook, line and sinker.

In 2004 during the presidential campaign, a group of Vietnam POWs and Swift Boat crews tried to tell this story, but were always drowned out by the claims they were playing politics.

Some day when heads are cool, America will look back and recognize these were a most honorable group of men who gave a gfull measureh of service to their country. They deserved to be listened to with care but were dismissed as political hacks. For now,
the starving puppies in the American public are lapping up how gswiftboatingh is a pejorative term.

When the reports come out from Winter Soldier 2008, when you hear claims from Iraq Veterans Against the War of the terrible things American troops are doing, I hope you get past the feelings those reports will deliver to you, put on your thinking cap, be
skeptical and maybe read some quality newspapers over time trying to separate truth from fiction, fact from political theater.

It is possible this time reporters without an agenda, neither pro-war nor anti-war, will do their best to deliver a true account of the events and what they mean. Maybe this time America will give the benefit of the doubt to their own sons and daughters in uniform. But somehow I doubt it.
----------
Terry Garlock was a Cobra gunship
helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War.
tgarlock@mindspring.com



 War Stories

This Month in 1966
GENERAL WEYAND ARRIVES TO TAKE COMMAND
Maj, Gen. Fred, C. Weyand,
 commanding general, 25th
 Infantry "Tropic Lightning"
 Division.
  Maj Gen. Fred C. Weyand arrived in Vietnam this week to assume command of the divisionfs soldiers in the III Corps Tactical Zone.

  The general's arrival officially marks the completion of the divisionfs 6,000-mile move from Hawaii to Vietnam, although the 1st Bde. Task Force remains in the 50th State.

  General Weyand, who landed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base aboard a C-141 Starlifter, was welcomed to Vietnam by Brigadier General Richard J. Seitz, assistant deputy commanding general and chief of staff for the U. S. Army, Vietnam.

  General Weyand took command of the 25th in August 1964. Since the divisionfs 2d Bde arrived in January troops in III Corps have been under the interim command of Brig. Gen. Edward H. de Saussure, ADCIS.

  The gTropic Lightningh commander brought with him the members of his staff not already in Vietnam, including Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker, who had been here earlier to coordinate the arrival of the 3d Bde. at Pleiku.

  Accompanying General Weyand were Lt. Col. Duane W. Compton, 25th Division G-1 (personnel); Lt. Col. Truman E. Boudinot, the G-3 (operations); and Lt. Col.. Robert R. Hicks, the divisionfs G-5 (civic action).

  Lt. Col. James W Cannon, the division G-2 (inteiligence), and Maj. William E. Davis, 25th G-4 (logistics), preceded the General to Vietnam earlier this year.
  Elements of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam now include 2nd/14th Inf ; 1st and 2nd/27th Inf; 1st and 2nd/35th Inf; lst/69th Armor; 1/5th (Mech.); 3/4, Cav. 1/8th Arty; 2/9th Arty; 125th Sig. Bn. 65th. Engr. Bn, and support elements.
25th Aviation arrivs at Cu Chi

Col. Davis Greeted By 25th Avn. Bn.

   Lieutenant Colonel Edward P. Davis, formerly assigned to Strategy and Tactics Analysis Group, Bethesda, Md., arrived this week to assume command of 25th Aviation Battalion.

  Colonel Davis, a native of Lexington, Va., and a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, replaces Major George J. Young, who was acting as interim commander of the battalion.

  During his 17 years in the Army, Col. Davis has received the Army Occupation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Aviation Badge and the Parachutist dodge.

175th Aviation Company Arrives From Benning

  The 175th Aviation Company ("Little Bear") soon will become A Company, 25th Aviation Battalion. Commanded by Major Ernest Elliott, of Jacksonville, Fla., the 196-man company will begin airlifting division troops into battle next week.

  Twenty five volunteer gshot-gunnersh will provide protection for the UH-1 helicopters during heliborne operations.

  The 175th arrived at Cu Chi on April 12 from Ft. Benning, Ga., where they were trained for Vietnam airmobile maneuvers.

  The men of the battalionfs previous A Company are being relocated individually in other aviation elements.
 "C and C" Makes New Use of Hueys

  Helicopters have many uses on the Vietnam battlefield. They carry troops to combat assaults, evacuate the wounded, fly aerial resupply and furnish aerial observation.

  Now, however, there's a new twist added to aerial observation - the command and control helicopter. From this ship, especially rigged with air-to-ground radios, the unit commander can direct the movement of troops on the ground, communicate with all support units, plan and execute tactical moves and, most important, keep a second-by-second surveillance of the entire battle area.

  Early one morning recently, the command and control ? "C and C"- ship for operation Kahuku took off from the base camp of 2nd Brigade. Units of 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, and 69th Armor were moving to a wooded location about three miles east of the Cu Chi base camp area. They were planning to move around the woods and sweep back toward the headquarters in an operation expected to take about four hours.

  Commanding operation Kahuku was Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Greer of Gainesville, Fla, commander of 115th. He was seated on the left of the UH1D aircraft. Next to him, in contact with division artillery, was Captain John Scattergood of Westminster, Md., the first support coordinator from the 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery.

  Flying over the area at 2,500 feet, Col. Greer was able to watch the entire movement. As the ship constantly circled to the left, he directed the progress, closed holes between armored personnel carriers, and plotted the course of the vehicles on his map.

  At one point, seeing that a stream was blocking a mechanized platoon, he redirected an entire APC company, at the same time trapping nine Viet Cong.

  Then came the information turning operation Kahuku into a major effort. A Viet Cong responding to the eChieu hoif - open arms - program reported a company of 110 VC in the immediate area. The informer told ground troops that the company was equipped with three machine guns, nine Browning automatic rifles and one 60mm mortar.

  In addition, Col. Green received word that the VC had instructions to go into tunnels if they were overrun.

  And overrun them the "Tropic Lightning" soldiers did. Directing his APCfs to close off the area, the colonel ordered the men to go into the tunnels after the enemy.

  About two hours into the operation, the colonel called the brigade to request additional ground units. A company of Wolfhounds from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, was dispatched to aid in the tunnel search.

   Meanwhile, Capt. Scattergood was checking the colonelfs map against his own and directing artillery fire in front of the enemy. The plan, he related, was to trap the VC between the advancing infantry and the exploding artillery shells.

  The plan worked. Twelve weapons, including one East German 7.94mm machine gun, quantities of ammunition, rice and one 250-pound bomb were captured.
  The entire operation was directed from an airborne command post.. Said one officer, "This use of an airborne tactical operations center is new to the battlefield. And it's only right that it was developed in Vietnam."
COMBAT ASSAULT ? "Little Bear" Hueys from the 25th Inf. Div. drop troops
for a combat assault mission. Men of the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Wolfhounds charge
 from the helicopter to flush out the Viet Cong

This Month 1969

Wolfhounds, Arty, Gunships Kill 198
                DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

  PATROL BASE DIAMOND - Dawn's first light shows sweat, dirt and exhaustion engraved on their faces. Some try to sleep, others stare blankly into the distance. A few talk. A deep weariness prevails over the sweet smell of gunpowder.

  Four hours ago an estimated two battalions of North Vietnamese Regulars swept across the Cambodian border and hurled themselves at the Fire Brigade's 2nd Battalion 27th Infantry in this tiny patrol base on a dry open plain. The Wolfhounds fought for their lives and now it shows.

  The men of Alpha and Delta Companies killed 198 NVA regulars in a battle they will talk about for years and remember for a lifetime. Twenty five hours ago they dismantled Diamond II and moved it, gun, beam and sandbag to this new position, a job which would normally require three days.

  Working swiftly against time the entire battalion carved a defensive position which had to hold. The enemy had attacked on the first night in the previous position and would likely attack again here.

  At midnight Patrol Base Diamond III was ready. Guards were posted and the infantrymen tried to rest.

  As the guard changed at 0300 movement was detected 800 meters to the southwest of the perimeter. The command post was notified and the first of nearly 2000 rounds of artillery was called in. Gunships from B Company, 25th Aviation Battalion were called in and the battle began .

  The mortars started at 0315. It was the most intense mortar attack that I have ever experienced, twice as bad as the attacks on Diamond I and Diamond II," said 1st Lieutenant James J. Sullivan, Chaton, N.J.

  Specialist Five Eino Honkala, Vancouver, Wash., reported: "The shells really rained in. It sounded like automatic mortar."

  Few were injured as an estimated 500 mortar shells exploded against the overhead cover constructed that afternoon. A lull fell on the battlefield. The NVA had lifted the mortar attack to allow their assault troops to move closer.

  Earlier that evening, three listening posts had been established, one to the west, one to the north, and one to the south. Wolfhounds at the western LP took advantage of the lull to break for the patrol base.

  They made it. The post to the east suffered several casualties, while the post to the north held, kept low, and had no injuries.

  Experienced troopers knew that the time had come to get out of their bunkers and fight from the prepared positions. "Getting out of that bunker," said Specialist Four Paul Gaither of Elkins, No. Carolina, "was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I kept remembering what could happen if I remained."
  The NVA regulars proved themselves creatures of habit as, true to form, they launched the second phase of the attack with a hail of RPG's and small arms fire. The NVA Battalion had moved forward under the mortar fire and were launching their deadly rockets from within 30 meters of the perimeter.

  Major Calvin Swenson, Diamond's Commander, from Wilson, No. Carolina, estimated that 400 RPG's struck around the base. Time after time positions took direct hits, but none were knocked out.

  The men, fighting outside their bunkers, kept the enemy from getting close enough to accurately fire their weapons. Each bunker had an M-60 machinegun, and many had 90mm recoilless rifles. The Wolfhounds knew how to use them.

  As the RPG's rained in, sapper squads closed on the perimeter's defensive wire armed with bangalore torpedoes and AK-47's in a desperate attempt to breech the line. Specialist Four William Baumgardner of Huntington, Pa., recalled: "They blew the wire to the front and right of my position. So we put a lot of fire in that direction. We were ready for them, and they never got inside."

  Flare ships and night lighting aircraft circled above illuminating the scene as dust and debris rose from rounds impacting on both sides.
  The beleaguered infantrymen were not alone here, last night. All the firepower the Tropic Lightning Division could call on was here in support. Artillery, gunships and air strikes broke the back of the advancing enemy as automatic weapons cut him down in front.

  As the fight continued, eight gunships circled overhead constantly spitting their fire onto the plain below. The Air Force came in with jet air strikes on the staging area used by the enemy.

  The two 105mm howitzers from C Battery, 1st Battalion Eighth Artillery fired an incredible 300 rounds and, during the height of the battle, lowered their tubes and fired point blank into the charging NVA.

Choppers Add Firepower, Light to Diamond Defense
By 1LT BERNARDINO VARGAS

  CU CHI - Seconds after the first enemy fire slammed into Patrol Base Diamond III, three-minute alert gunship crews of the 25th Aviation Battalion's Bravo Company were sprinting for their aircraft. Responding to the base's 3 a.m. call, the Diamondheads guided their Cobras through gathering overcast toward the action and were quickly directed in to the assistance of the embattled infantry.

  They found the scene of the action covered with low clouds and were forced to work down in the cauldron of fire that Patrol Base Diamond III had become. Swooping in by the light of flares flickering eerily on the low clouds, the Diamondheads scourged the attacking NVA with mini-gun and rocket fire. Under direction of the ground commanders, the gunships engaged the enemy right up to the edge of the perimeter.

  With the pressure on the infantry eased, the Diamondheads pounced on .51 caliber machine gun positions that had been trying to break up the helicopter attacks.
Eight were suppressed with rocket fire. Diamondhead fire teams alternated on station over Diamond III all through the attack. By 5:15 a.m. all the NVA who weren't on the ground were going some place else, and the firing died down. The gunships continued to orbit protectively over the base until 9 a.m.


 Humor

C-RATIONS... A LOVE STORY, (Now it could be MRE's)

I put this in Several years ago, and for the benefit of the new guys I feel it will be enjoyed as much now:)

Enjoy
Ron

I have to tell someone. Keeping it a secret all these years has taken its toll on my sanity. You're the only one I trust and hope you will understand. Don't judge me too harshly.

I was a Crew chief on UH1C's and had a contractual agreement with Uncle Sam. Not a difficult assignment, but it almost paid well. Their headquarters in D.C. had asked if I'd go look at some problems in a quiet little place called Cu Chi, VIETNAM. Wouldn't take long I was told. So, I booked passage on Air America and arrived late in March. It was a hot, dusty little town without one decent restaurant and no bar. So I picked up my blanket and looked for an empty embarkation box to sleep in. So that night, under the gaze of a floating flare and the gentle, rhythmic sound of M-60's, I slept.

I'm not certain when it was that I first realized I was in love with C-Rations. It must have been a gradual thing because I never did go through that knock me out of my socks phase. I just seemed to wake up one morning, opened the box and she was there. I knew. C knew. As if the master plan of the universe had placed us together. Together! ...but only for one of life's cruel short periods of time...

We both knew it was wrong. C came from a family of Flag Rank Officers, General Foods, and was older than me by 20 years. And me? I was just a kid from the south side of Memphis. Young and innocent. She was bright and shiny with the words PROPERTY OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT stamped on her full, smooth, rounded sides. Cold to the touch but, oh so warm when held tightly over a flame. Whereas I was just a piece of Army trash in a dirty flight suit and unpolished boots. But, each time I saw C I fell deeper into the spell of her charms. It couldn't be simple heartburn.

I'd heard what men said about her. How her Ham and Limas were untouchable. Her Spaghetti needed seasoning. The saltpeter they had forced her to be with when she was young. The tasteless rolls and green cigarettes. It didn't matter. None of it mattered. I wanted her. Once I found her I wanted to protect her. To keep her from all those John Waynes and K-Bars they had used to open her. They didn't understand her. They didn't know C as I knew C. I loved her.

We had to steal our moments together. First we saw each other twice a day. Gradually, we grasped for more and more time. Anytime. Just to be with each other. For as I drew nearer to C, I could feel the emotions start from deep within my gut. My feelings would often run from both ends while knowing this was true love. The highs and lows of our love flowed together like nothing I'd ever experienced before. All I wanted to do was be with C. To Hell with the rest of the world.
Then it happened. Someone whispered a rumor. I heard it first in the four-holer and later in the Green Garden Hose Shower Room. Nasty rumors which couldn't be true. They said C was going away. Her father had sent her an ultimatum. Either be on the 0600 Marlog or she was to be disinherited. She'd never be able to see her little brother roll of toilet paper again. Her teenage plastic spoon. Her aunt Fruit Cocktail. She had to choose between ME and her filthy rich, godforsaken family. Why did it have to come to this?

I tried all night to reach her on the field phone. Her new roommate, SPAM, didn't know where she was. I was frantic. I looked for her everywhere, but it was too late. She was gone. And with her went my heart and Kaeopectate. I was left with only the memories.

I'm older now and can afford to eat at almost any Burger King I want to. I no longer have a contract with U.S. Government. I still think about her though. The nights we spent together during the monsoons in our hardback tent; just the two of us, and eight of our closest friends. Whenever I reach for the Tabasco sauce I see C standing there with the moonlight glistening off her open top. The fragrance of her gravy still wisps through the air. She was so beautiful. And, for a while, she was mine.


In the nightmare I found myself nude in bed,

and I was looking at a mirror on the ceiling, and I discovered that I am a Negro, and I'm circumcised!
Quickly I jumped up, found my pants and looked in the pockets to find my driver license photo and it was that same color. Black.
I felt myself being very depressed, downcast, sitting in a chair. But it's a wheelchair!!
That means, of course, besides being black and Jewish, I'm also disabled!!!
I said to myself, aloud 'This is impossible. It's impossible that I should be black and Jewish and disabled.'
'It's the pure and holy truth', whispers someone from behind me. I turn around, and it's my Boyfriend. Just what I needed!!!
I am a homosexual, and on top of that with a Mexican boyfriend.
Oh, my God..... Black, Jewish, disabled, gay, with a Mexican boyfriend, drug addict, and HIV-positive!!!
Desperate, I begin to shout, cry, pull my hair, and OH, noooooo...I'm Bald!!!
The telephone rings. It's my brother. He is saying, 'Since mom and dad died the only thing you do is hang out, take drugs, and laze around all day doing nothing. Get a job you worthless piece of crap... Any job.'

Mom?... Dad?... Nooooooooo... Now I'm also an unemployed orphan!
I try to explain to my brother how hard it is to find a job when you are black, Jewish, disabled, gay with a Mexican boyfriend, are a drug addict, HIV-positive, bald, and an orphan. But he doesn't get it.

Frustrated, I hang up.
It's then I realize I only have one hand!!! With tears in my eyes I go to the window to look out. I see I live in a shanty-town full of cardboard and tin houses! There is trash everywhere.
Suddenly I feel a sharp pain near my pacemaker.... Pacemaker?
Besides being black, Jewish, disabled, a fairy with a Mexican boyfriend, a drug addict, HIV- positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, an invalid with one hand, and having a bad heart, I live in a crappy neighborhood.
At that very moment my boyfriend approaches and says to me, 'Sweetiepie, my love, my little black heartthrob, have you decided who are you going to vote for in the Primary? Hillary or Obama?
Say it isn't so!!! I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug addicted, Jewish queer on a Pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, oh dear God, please, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat!!!!!!!!!
Andy Asberry - Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice, in medicine and mechanics.






"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother."
-Wm Shakespeare-
   Well guys Until next month..keep a smile on your face and your skids out of the Trees?--Ron