Letters From You
These are some of the letters that are very special to me, from you. They are what keep me going.
November 22, 2013
Subject: KENNETH R LEACH
FIRST OFF I WANTED YOU TO KNOW THAT SENATOR JOHN McCain HAD KENNETHS RECORDS CHANGED TO KENNETH
DIED IN SERVICE AS A RESULT OF COMBAT ACTION..
MR. HORRELL YOU SAID YOU COULDN'T FIND THE NAMES OF THE OTHERS. THEY WERE: AC O2 BP VARGAS (HE WAS THE ONE FLYING AT THE TIME)
AND HE SURVIVED, G E4 ED HANSEN (HE SURVIVED), AND CE SSG WILLIAMS GAYLE EDWARD KIA )HE RECEIVED A MEDDLE AND PROMOTION AFTERWARDS WHERE MY KENNETH RECEIVED NOTHING.
I REMEMBER YOU MR. PLUIMER SAYING IN YOUR EYES HE WAS A HERO AND WHAT HE DID AND MR. LEONARD YOU SAID THERE WAS A BIG DEAL AFTERWARDS ABOUT THE CRASH.
WELL I ORDERED A COPY OF FULL REPORT AND FINALLY GOT MY COURAGE UP TO READ IT. THEY TALK ABOUT KENNETH LIKE HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING. THAT HE WASN'T BURNED AT ALL AND HIS BODY WAS FOUND AWAY FROM THE CRASH.
THE DEATH CERTIFICATE I GOT SAID HE DIED FROM A MISSILE WOUND TO THE HEAD AND THEN WENT DOWN CRASHED AND BURNED.
THERE IS A NEW DEATH CERTIFICATE THAT STATES NON HOSTILE HE HAD NO WOUNDS TO THE HEAD ETC.
SOMETHING ABOUT PAY CERTIFICATE NONE. WHAT EVER THAT MEANS.
I WANT TO THANK YOU 3 FOR WRITING TO ME AND SHARING WITH ME I NEVER DOUBTED OR STOPPED BELIEVING IN HIM EVEN NOW BUT YOUR WORDS HELPED A LOT. THANK YOU FROM BOTTOM OF MY HEART AND HIS 3 DAUGHTERS LAURIE ANN, TAMI JO AND MARY KAY SEND THEIR PRAYERS AND THANK YOU TOO.
PAMELA K LEACH
November 18, 2012
I was enjoying your web site on Veterans Day looking back on my past and history of the 25th Aviation battalion. I was a member of Headquarters Company from 1970 to 1971. My name is Ron Roberts. During that time I worked in the communication group for Headquarters Company. I helped maintain the radio and land line communications for the battalion. During that period I was the one that kept “Clipper Control” and the Pathfinder Tower on the air and also helped maintained the field phone system.
I noticed in that you were collecting letters of commendation to post on the web site. Attached is a copy of my letter of commendation. I also have three Bronze Stars but none with a “v”.
As for my history - Before I was drafted in Aug. 1969, I was working at a company called Mason Electric and was going to college to obtain my degree in Electronic Engineering. At Mason worked in the engineering test lab. At that time one of the programs I was working on was performing environmental testing on control grips for Bell Helicopter. I wasn't truly aware of their function until came to Vietnam. It was one of the versions of the Bell 205 series cyclic controls (Bell UH-1). Upon my return from Vietnam I went back to work for Mason and back to college. I obtained my BSEE form Cal Poly, Pomona in 1975. After 45 years I am still at Mason Electric, now Esterline Mason. The majority of our products are aircraft cockpit controls, both commercial and military. Mason does have a web site if you are interested.
I do have a box of photographs, orders and other documents that I have saved that cover the time I was in the 25th Aviation Battalion (1970 – 1971). I will share them with you when I locate the box.
My tour of duty I Vietnam wasn’t over when the 25th Aviation returned to Hawaii. I completed my tour of duty with the D Trp. ¾ Air Cav. at Lai Kae as an avionics repairman, lucky to survive that tour. Attached is the only photo of me I could quickly find of me during my tour. I am standing next to one of D Trp. ¾ Air Cav. Cobra Gunships on the Flight line at Long Binh.
Again thank you for maintaining the web site. I enjoyed the journey back in time.
Sept 28, 2012
To the Little Bears etc
My name is Robert Park and I was with A Co, 2/27 Wolfhounds in 1966. I joined the unit in December, 1965 and was shipped to Vietnam in January, 1966. I was sent back to the Real World right after Thanksgiving, 1966.
While in Vietnam I always tried to say things like, Thanks for the ride or Nice seeing you guys again as kind of a flip response when we got off. Of course sometimes in a hot LZ there wasnt time to say anything. I remember when the Dustoff brought me back during Attleboro, I commented on the smooth ride, but the Stewardess needed a shave, of course I was already doped up for pain so I might have that a little wrong.
I guess what I would really like to say to you personally is Thank You! Thank you for covering our asses when we were going in, and thank you for covering our asses when we were coming out. Thank you for keeping us supplied when we were in short supply, and MAYBE a thank you for the C rations. I have no doubt in my mind that there would be more names on The Wall if you had not been there.
Jan 10, 2011
Good Morning Ron!
Hope this finds you well. Things in the south are sort of rainy and cool. My wife thinks we should move farther south.
Was thinking of you and everyone lately. My second tour in Viet Nam, I "procured" a DoD Escape and Evasion map. Don't know how much good it would have been, it's scale was 1 over the World. Went from China to south of Viet Nam on one side. For whatever reason, I held on to it.
Recently in connection with some work I have been working with the Library of Congress on possible research projects, I was talking to the Director of the Geography and Map Division when I mentioned my map. Turns out it is rather unique, it is printed on latex and they do not have a latex map. I am going up to DC with my wife and donating the map to them. We plan to visit the Wall and then to Arlington with a good friend whose husband is buried there. Should be an interesting and emotional Veteran's Day weekend.
So, thinking about maps and such got me wandering back in time. I went to Google Earth and discovered that the old AO does not look anything like it did over 40 years ago. I had to go to the maps that you have posted on the web site in order to get oriented. (Many, many thanks for your work by the way.) The Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng runways are still discernable. If I didn't know where Cu Chi was, I would never have found it. Appears to be a modern industrial complex. I have an idea where the runway was, looks like a road now. There is a huge resevoir north of Dau Tieng. Would never have figured that. Numerous new canals that have changed the landscape. North of Nui Ba Dien looks like urban sprawl, Viet Nam version. It use to be a free fire area except for the French Fort (couldn't locate it with any certainty) and Katum-think I found the arifield. Got to remembering things like names we gave places. Like Dodge City. Seems there was always a gunfight there at high noon.
Oh well, enough rambling. Thanks again for your hard work. I know it has helped me and so many others.
Oct 30 2010
My name is Chad Hackenberg. My father was Randall Hackenberg he served in the 25th B.Co. 67 to 68. He was a door gunner. Spec 4. He passed away in 1991 and I was too young to really know what went on there. He did not talk about it much probably because I was too young and he didnt really like to talk about it. When my grandmother recently passed I found close to 1 hundred letters he sent to her. He didnt talk much about what was going on there in the letters but I learned a lot about what kind of a young man he was and it interested me greatly. I know he recieved the air medal, the army commendation medal and the DFC. It makes me think somebody would have remembered him. I would like to speak to anyone that knew him. He was a loud personality and a loyal friend. He would have been well liked. I am also looking for a picture of Gen. Westmorland pinning the DFC on him in the field. I have tried the archives but it is very confusing. Any help with that would be greatly appreciated. He was not one to flash his medals and talk about what he did over there. He was proud of it at the time but once he left he was pretty bitter. I think what he didnt realize before his death was how important his story and legacy is to his family. Our family has a rich military tradition and I would like to put him in his rightful place in that tradition.
Thank you for posting this email. It never occurred to me that the ground pounders thought of Hueys like that. Always being on the other end of “Huey coming in” I used to thank God that I wasn’t knee deep in a rice paddy or shoving rounds into a 105 at Soui Da or beyond. My little world with the transmission behind me, my chicken board under my seat and my M60 in front of me was the safest place in Viet Nam in my mind.....and that says a lot about the confidence I had as an 18 year old PFC in the “older” guys flying the thing. Those older guys were often 22 year old wobbly one’s right out of Ft. Rucker.
I’m attaching a photo of me taken early in 1967 at Cu Chi. I was a brand-new PFC and still had my basic training fatigue uniforms and had just achieved my heart’s desire to be be a crew chief and fly.
Crew chief of Little Bear 629 from Jan 1967 to December 1967.
Oct 4 2010
My name is Robert McCormick and I am the son of Bobby G. McCormick, who was a "Little Bear" of Company A in the 25th Aviation Battalion. Let me first thank you for your hard work on the informative website. The information I have found there has been informative and helpful.
My dad came home from Vietnam with intestinal cancer. He died a young man, only 37 years old, in 1975. He wouldn't tell us much but was adamant that his illness was caused by his repeated exposure to Agent Orange. Predictably, the VA disagreed and our family has been involved in one appeal after another for these many years to no resolve. My father was embittered toward the VA before his death and that is one reason why I am writing you today.
Dad is listed as being awarded the Air Medal with V device on your website. My mother also has a small newspaper clipping that says the same thing. Dad had become so angry toward the Army and the VA that he never "put in" for the medal, as my mother says. I have made a shadow box that contains his burial flag and all his other medals and would like to add this one to his shrine. How would I go about finding the letter of commendation for this decoration? Any information you can provide would be helpful. We are also unaware of the circumstances surrounding the award. Dad only told me once about riding on the outside of a helicopter to make room for injured soldiers while under fire. I was only around 8 years old at the time so I don't remember much of it.
Thank you again for providing such a great and informative website, and thank you in advance for any information you can provide, and for your service to America.
Forsyth, MO 65653
My name is Leah Heskett (formerly Leah Nadeau). Back in 2004 I was a part of the "A Piece of My Heart" CAPA production, and i played Martha O'Neil. I was cleaning out some space and going through old files, and found an old e-mail that you had sent me. Its been (obviously) quite some time since we last spoke, and at the risk of you not remembering me at all, I was just hoping to touch base with you and see how you have been, as you made such an impact on my life. I hope that this finds you in good health and spirits. I also hope to hear from you soon, and catch up on time passed.
Leah (Nadeau) Heskett
First and foremost, from my wife and I, our best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year. The same to all of my fellow Diamondheads, Little Bears and Lobos.
This past week I had to go to Fort Eustis for a court-martial. Having been called by the defense, the first day left me with quit a bit of free time. I wandered over to the Transportation Corps Museum (if you are in the Norfolk, VA area, a worthwhile stop). In walking through the aviation exhibit it dawned on me. I was qualified in or had flown half of the aircraft on display. Are we that old?
Earlier this summer I was working at the Georgia Aquarium (I volunteer there, that's what old people do) as a "greeter" (I am normally in the Water Quality Lab). We try to keep down the number of maps we give out to one per group-a goal. I can normally size people up fairly quickly and have a "line" I use. A couple, my age came in. I handed the map to the lady and said "I am sorry, we only give maps to women, since men don't need them." The gentleman looked at me and said "Helicopter pilots don't need maps." I stuck out my hand and said "Diamondhead 21." He stuck out his and replied with his call sign. (I regret I don't remember it.) We quickly recounted tours, flight school, etc. He had also flown guns and we had a good, albeit, short conversation. A while later he came up and asked if he could go out and come back in. I explained the procedure and he said thanks. Shortly he came back in. He extended his hand and said this is for you. I reached out and he dropped two objects in my hand. I exclaimed "Nails!" (My co-worker felt that I was completely nuts at this time.) He had handed me two flechettes. I had not seen any since 68-69. He said he had obtained some and only shared them with people who knew and appreciated what they were and meant-a lot of saved lives. I thanked him and he went on his way. A really neat and unique experience with a place of honor on my shelf of memories.
Oh well, enough contemplations on the past. Shoulder surgery next week and the grandchildren for Christmas. I will really feel my age.
I just want to say thank you for the website and the especially the pictures. I visit the site quite often to spend a few minutes with my stepdad(Frank Bashor).
He passed while I was in Iraq. Anyway, Thank you!
This site is indeed a monument to your phenomenal dedication. I am a recent reader, past member of the 25th Avn Bn (Little Bears,
67-68) and one who is in awe at what you have accomplished for and with our brothers and sisters.
You have been at it a long time...please let me know if you still accept material and donations.
With sincere gratitude,
There's not much I can say about who was with us then. My injury erased some of my memory from those days. I can't remember names or places. Few pieces
come back now and again, but it's all misplaced. It's to have you there to help me out.
As I was crusin thru your wonderful web site (remind me to send money if the VA ever pays) I noticed the info you had on Beck (I always called him Morris- he always called me boss) from the time he got his AC orders until I was busted by Heneveld for flying in formation, he was my wingman. He transferred in from the 9th division -an experienced Cobra pilot and he made AC in about a week. The guy was crazy but he was probably the best wingman I ever had, although Dave Watson was really good too. SOB nearly shot me down a couple of times, providing covering fire as i overflew the target (not supposed to do that, but what the hell). Oh, by the way he was on my wing in formation, when I was busted by Heneveld. I was the fire team leader, so it was my fuckup - and it was a fuckup. But Morris was an unusally good pilot, he only watched me and if I'd have into the ground so would he. That was my last flight in a Cobra, you know I really loved that aircraft it was a part of me, except for one ride as a pilot - with Morris (AC and FTL) and he scared the shit outa me. So I moved on - the battalion commander made Heveveld give me back my AC orders, but no Cobras. He made me fly Charley's - which might have been a promotion, instead of a demotion, at any rate I'm pretty sure that cost me a Bronze Star (what the hell). Anyway Beck and I stayed fast friends (brothers) until he got the hots for that Donut Dolly and he spent ALL of his time with her ( later I came to understand why, she was a terrific person and seemed to understand how crazy we all were. For a while there I thought maybe Beck was gonna marry her. But he left nam without her or me and I never got to see him again except in flashbacks.After I'd been home about a year I wrote Morris a letter, suggesting we get back together. About two weeks later a got a letter from his dad (excuse me I'm crying) Morris was flying back to New York from Mexico one night in bad weather and he flew into a mountain in Tennesse. He sent me an article out of a local paper that detailed Morris's death. I was having my own problems by then but it felt like some one just ripped out a part of my soul. I loved Morris Beck and i still do.
This site is indeed a monument to your phenomenal dedication. I am a recent reader, past member of the 25th Avn Bn (Little Bears, 67-68) and one who is in awe at what you have accomplished for and with our brothers and sisters. You have been at it a long time...please let me know if you still accept material and donations.
With sincere gratitude,
Ron, the talk we gave to the War History study class went great. Thought we'd have trouble getting through an hour, but ran out of time.
The teacher allowed ( informed us) to tell the students like it was both from our point and how the media and etc told about the war. Much of the information we
shared with then came from your site. There were several things that I had not know as well as the teacher.
Over all, a good start. We have been invited back for her next Tri-mister class coming up in a few weeks. We left her with tears in her eyes and a warm handshake from all the students.
My name is Hugh Crumpton, I was a little bear crewchief in 69 & 70. I really enjoy the site and all the memories that come with seeing it. After I came home I did my best to forget everything that we went through and to rejoin society, and as you know it was a rough road.
In the past few years I have been trying to collect my thoughts and memories, however, the ravages of age have dimmed the memory cells in my brain. Your web site helps to make things more clear in my mind as I remember my youth as a wild and crazy guy riding around in a Huey 50' off the ground.
Thanks for you website and keep up the good work.
I made a donation today by way of Pay Pal , not much but I 'm sure every little bit helps.
I am putting together a scrapbook with a few odd photos and mementos , and am in need of a Little Bear pocket patch or any other mementos that are available to complete my collection. Is there one available through the PX, if so I would like to make a purchase.
614 W. Azeele St., Suite B
Tampa, FL 33606
My name is Denis McDonough. I served with the 1/5 Mech in Cu Chi. On 4/26/67 while on foot in the Boi Loi woods, myself and two other Bobcats were wounded by a Chinese claymore. We were dusted off and brought to the 12th Evac. I would like to thank all the pilots and crews of the choppers. I always wondered if I could find crew who came and got us that day. IM enclosing the account for 4/26/67 from our website,which I will also enclose. Our first KIA was Jerry Osborne who was a shot gunner and was KIA on 4/1/65
Co.B 67 Secretary And Membership chairman
5th Inf Chapter
PS: Thank You !
I just wanted to write and say thanks for your site. I served as an OH-58D Crew Chief with A Co. 1-25 AVN in Hawaii, deploying to Thailand for Cobra Gold in 2003 and in Iraq with A Co. and C Co. and it is real nice to see your site and be able to connect a little bit with the history of the BN. I consider the 25th to be the highlight of my
Army career so far. In case you are interested in the recent history, the unit received the Meritorious Unit Citation for its actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, breaking 25,000 combat flight hours in country during our year. If you are curious to know more about what is happening today let me know, I would be glad to share.
Anyhow, thanks again for giving this generation of Soldier some history on this great unit!
SGT Neil Anderson, USA
Fort Huachuca, AZ
I read with interest the item about the restoration of the Cobra gunship in Tampa. The article brought a tear to my eye and a big smile to my face. As a former combat infantryman with the 25TH Infantry Division ( III Corps ) in Vietnam and Cambodia 1969 and 1970 I can attest to the beautiful sight the Cobra always imparts to this former grunt's heart and his fellow 11 Bravos. The other day my good friend and Vietnam brother grunt ( He was with the 1ST Air Cav 1969-1970 Vietnam-Cambodia III Corps) were just talking about our remembrance of the Cobra gunships in Vietnam. They were our big protectors from the air that looked over us and took care of us guys on the ground in many many tough combat situations. I have a picture of my self standing next to a Cobra gunship at Tay Nihn Base camp in 1969 or 1970 needless to say I am all smiles. I also have a picture of a Cobra gunship firing closely around our postion when our infantry company was in a battle on Black Virgin Mountain ( Nui Ba Den ) in Tay Nihn Province, Vietnam in March of 1970. An NVA gunner made the stupid decision to fire an RPG rocket at the Cobra. I vividly remember the Cobra's response to that action by the enemy soldier. A free ride to the promised land for the NVA and his buddies.
Ron, keep up the good work as webmaster for your efforts are greatly appreciated by many Vietnam Veterans whom your might never know or realize you brought a smile to their faces.
Thanks Once Again,
Richard B. Loy 11 Bravo Vietnam-Cambodia 25th Infantry Division 1969-1970
Where the heck are you or can you keep track?
Remember some time back when we talking about my hearing issue and the 15
plus year battle I've had with the VA? You wrote a letter about our jobs,hearing protection and other members hearing problems.
Well, I had one last shot, a hearing with the VA appeals board. I could either go to D.C. or to Cleveland and do a video hearing with D.C.
In May, I went to Cleveland and with my AMVETS advisor, we had a video conference with Washington. But guess what, it wasn't the VA on the other end but a Federal Appears Judge. The Honorable P.M. Dilorenzo, Veterans Law Judge, Board of Veterans' Appeals. The judge was female.
This week I received a decision in the mail. I WON!!!!! She reviewed the years worth of data and reopened my case and granted it. I will find out shortly what I will get but my goal from the start was to get them to pay for my hearing aids. I will let you know what I find out.
I wanted to write you about this because it has to have some landmark status for others who have had the same battle with hearing. Apparently the Judge
feels different about cause than all of those Regional Office VA folks.
Hope this may help others.
Be good little buddy and stay on your mount, not under it.
2/14/66 was a bad day for the 25th ID. Along with the 1/5 Mech...the Wolfhounds also took a beating.
The 25th ID lost 17 men that day. I read your bio.....to this day. I can not give enough thanks to the medics, and the choppers that came in to get us. God know's how many names are not on the wall because of you guys. I can still remember the day I was Medivaced out of the Boi Loi woods. It was 4/26/67. Next reunion in Orlando, I will get to meet John Lenick. It will be 41 years, that we were wounded together. Thank you for your service and a great job on running your web site.........
Denis McDonough Co.B 1/5 mech 67
Dear Mr. Leonard,
My name is Traci Massey. My dad, David M. Sellman is a Vietnam Vet. On Memorial Day my dad came to my house, we got on the internet and started looking around for anything we could find on his battalion while he was in Vietnam. Imagine our surprise after googling his name we came upon your article, "The Ambush at Ap Nhi" In your story my dad is mentioned along with William Seay's. The tears we cried that day as my dad realized that someone had remembered his actions that day. The tears i cried as I realized just what my dad had gone through while he was there. My dad has never been one to talk much about the time he spent in Vietnam. We were wondering where you got the information from for your story, as we have continued to look for more. My dad was with the 62nd transportation battalion. I believe he was stationed in Long Binh(sp?) I was hoping you could point us in the right direction as to where all we could look to find more info.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you so much for your site.
It put tears in my eyes to think there is someone like you out there that does so much to help. I jest got a call from Marc Chamberlain 'D.A.V. rep. and he advised that he has never seen so much information come in on a first time claim. I was not home, he was on the answer machine, but he sounded quit surprised. I want you to know I will be making a donation to your site as soon as I get organized here. I jest found out I need a knee operation and will be out of work for 8 to 10 weeks, will miss Williamsburg, sad. But jest as soon as possible I will make that.
Thank you Brother
Yes I did.
Thank you very much for your assistance in this search. My dad has been making great progress since this whole claim idea was brough to light. At first he was against it...he just did his job and came home. But he has been thinking a great deal about lots of different things in his life, and he has come to realize that when he came home from Vietnam, he was a changed person. No matter how much he wanted to ignore that fact...he has finally realized it. He has even begun to share some of his realiztions with relatives he has never opened up to before. Just last weekend he gave a copy of a very personal letter describing how he feels Vietnam has impacted him and those around him to a couple of his in-laws. He said that he just wanted people to know why he always avoids the gatherings and hopefully they'll understand that he's not going outside all the time because he does not enjoy their company...he goes outside because when the noise gets too loud he begins to revert back to the jungle and becomes very jittery and uncomfortable. Seeing him come out of his little shell a bit has been great! I'm sure you understand all too well. Thanks again for you assistance and I look forward to additions to this site in the future.
Keep in touch,
let me tell you where we are at.........we won........the last stress letter I sent in on 31 January put it over the top. The VA approved the case without going to the appeal. They granted 50% and that, coupled with my 40%, came to 70%.
If you can stand some more info let me fill you in on the rest of the story. It took 27 months for the VA to approve my claim. I asked them when I would get the back pay differance between the 40% and 70%. They told me that I wasn't authorized any backpay, because I was a military retiree........needless to say that did not sit well. All my challenges fell on deaf ears, then on 14 July it was ruled (because someone else had the same problem) that ALL military retired veterans drawing disibility over 50% had been "cheated" and the VA and the DFAS (retired pay) will have to compute the back pay for us.
Now for some more good news. Because the PTSD (50%) is combat related, and my hearing (20%) has been confirmed as combat related, they combine for a 60% special military retirement program . It is a complicated process, but essentially only mitary retirees who have a disibility over 40% can draw both there militiary retired pay and VA disilbity and then they can not get all their disibility unitl 2013. Those below 50% simply get a tax exemption in their retired pay. However, congress approved a plan by which those have direct combat disibility can draw an additional check from their retired service (my case Air Force) as long as the total between the VA and special pay does not exceed the VA total (told you it was complicated). Bottom line, I will be getting my entire military retired check and my 70% VA check.
I want to thank you and Bud for everything. I am going to send a letter to the VA on Bud's help and want to make a "contribution" to your Web site.......just send me instructions. I also would like to send a small personnal thank you to both of you. Addresses please..........
Major Richard Bentley
Thank you for responding to my e-mail. George had one full brother, Richard Grinnell who lives in Weimar, CA. He and George were very close (aka) Dick is 5 years older than George. Dick also was a pilot and has seen your web site. I am the next born, two years older than George. Two more sisters follow, Hilda Mary and Evelyn, two and four years younger that George, followed by the half-brother and half-sister whom you have heard from. George also had 5 step-sisters. He was loved and admired by all his large and extended family. I have read my younger half-sister's letter on your site. People all express their loss in different ways and her perceptions of the rest of George's family indicate to me she lacks that understanding. Both of our parents, as well as our entire family, were devastated by the loss of George.
I am pleased to hear of your planned Alaska Trip. George loved Alaska and especially fishing for grayling. He would be thrilled that you are going and would want you to catch some fish for him. George, Dick and I fished in the Chena River and its tributaries in Fairbanks, Alaska for grayling which is similar to trout. George was born in Ft. Yukon, but I wouldn't recommend going there now. It's a very small village on the Yukon River with large drug and alcohol problems. George left that village at about 5 yrs old and came to Berkeley, CA. Two years later we all moved back to Alaska but lived in Fairbanks for the next three years.
If you are interested in George's early life, There is a book easily found in Alaska or on Amazon.com written by our Mother, Evelyn B. Shore called Born on Snowshoes. It was originally published in 1956, but recently re published.
I do hope you have a wonderful trip to Alaska. Much of George's personality and character were a result of his love of the outdoors and understanding of nature. Living in the wilderness in his early life made him confident resourceful and capable.
Sincerely, June Grinnell
This is my regular email address. The 10th anniversary of my dad's passing is approaching and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have always wanted to connect with some of his friends from Vietnam. I hope that you can connect me with some of his friends so that I can know more about him than I was able to find out, being that I was so young when he passed. Thanks Ron for all that you have done for me and the other vets and their children.
Angela Dimaggio (DH Joe Dimaggios daughter)
ahdimaggio at yahoo.com
Thank you for making this website available to me. I have looked at just about every part of it and recognize so many of the names. Conger I believe was a pretty good friend of Roy's also if I am not mistaken.
I had no idea you were from Montana also. The world is so small when you really think about it.
Our son Troy Shawn Thomas is a Lt Col in the Air Force and is now stationed in Washington, DC with the Joint Staff. He and his wife Paula just had their first child March 21 - a beautiful little girl. Did you meet Troy in Denver when there was a pilots reunion I believe? He sure felt honored to be at that gathering and talk with so many people that knew his dad.
I see there is a mention of Worthington on one of the web pages. He had a terrible time with Roy's death and would write that he had to stay there until he died because it was his fault Roy was flying and that my husband and my son's dad were never going to come home. I felt so sorry for him and his mother would write to me and tell me how he was tormented over the incident and was going to keep volunteering until he died. She sent me a letter when he was killed and said he was finally at peace.
There was a company bell that he was trying to get to me but I never did get it
This "CONFLICT," which our government has labeled it, affected millions of people and I am not sure we will ever understand everything that happened. I was stunned at the things that Roy told me in Hawaii and how he begged me to never let our son cry because he had heard so many children cry as they lay next to their dead parents or were injured themselves.
There is a cross that all people affected by the loss of a loved one or watching the residual torment of a loved one when they returned home will have to bare through our lives and we can only hope to become better people for what we have been given to cope with. Sometimes, even after 37 years seems unbearable to deal with. It was 37 years ago this month, 10 May 1969 that Roy was killed and that anniversary never goes buy without a twinge of pain and the feel of that great loss.
There is a really strong unity among the people that were in Vietnam. There is a guy that works in my building at the Air Force Academy and is he ever an advocate of POW-MIA, anything, any club, any group, that he can be involved in that has to do with Vietnam. Sometimes he just comes into my office and talks -- rambles really -- about a far away day and thought -- and then he moves on.
Speaking of rambling -- that is what I have done way too much of so I am going to sign off!!!
Have a great rest of your week.
(Roy Thomas Wife)
Thank you so much for the pictures . You are a wonderful and interesting man . God has blessed so many by keeping you on this earth. You have helped me understand my fathers PTSD far more than a therapist nor a graduate class. Again Thank You for your wonderful and caring insight! I hope to talk with you sometime soon in the future.
Ron, thanks for running the pics of the NCO and Soldier of the year ceremony on the page. You continue to do all of Diamond Head a great service. We have commissioned a new print commenorating the accomplishments of Diamond Head past and present. I think you will like it. I plan on sending one to you when they come in as a token of appreciation for all you do. This is an extremely limited edition print and there will be no rerun. I hope you like it.
Col Frank Tate ,Commanding
2/25th Aviation Regiment
March 5 2006
I've got to thank you for all your work that you have put into the 25th web site. I think it's quite amazing.
When we talked on the telephone I felt like my Jesus Nut got loose. I was fascinated how fast things can happen and I appreciate your help and compassion. The next evening Driscoll called and we had a great talk. The next Tuesday Chris Kavanaugh called and we had a great time on the telephone. I think I will go visit Driscoll. I find this all very emotional but I'll be O.K. when I tighten my Jesus Nut properly. Thank you again and I'll be in touch.
Vini “Block” Connor
P.S. Thank you big time for the Disc.
My name is Christopher A. Hoffert, Sgt, A Co 2-25 Avn, 25th Infantry Division. I recently stumbled onto your webpage in search of the history of my company and I must say that the information provided was quite detailed and informative. I am a soldier and aviator first and a filmmaker second and currently I am constructing a DVD of our company from training that was accomplished on the Big Island of Hawaii. Part of that DVD will have a unit history montage of gathered information pertaining solely to that of the history of A Co 2-25 "Blackjacks" formerly "Little Bears" and I would like permission to use a lot of the information provided on your website for the contents of that montage.
Information I would like to use include photos, histories, and personal quotes. If you agree to let me use the information from your website I will give all credit for that information solely to the website and to the persons whom you would see nescessary to give credit too. Also if I am allowed to use your material names which are sited for credit along with your website homepage will be stampdated with in the credits of the project and also listed under the information sub-directory of the DVD. I appreciate your response and wait patiently.
SGT Christopher A. Hoffert
Blackhawk Crewchief and CEO of Aviation Pictures
This is Mark Hiroshima, Little Bear '67/'68. Thank you for this Christmas card. It truly touched my heart and soul.
It's hero's such as you who wave the Red, White and Blue.
It's soldiers like me who thank you so much for not forgetting the old and the new.
Your web site and insight lovingly shared with us all,
Has made each of us stand proud and tall.
I, who for so long, was isolated and alone,
Now have comrades and brothers to help carry me along.
Not much can be said for the E-card you sent,
Not much can be said for all it has meant.
Merry Christmas and have a super New Year!
thanks so much for having the website. A friend who served with the 3/4 cav sent me an email telling me to check it out, for info about questions I had
concerning PTSD. I got a load of info from your site and sure appreciate your efforts. I have suffered with many issues for over 37 yrs and always
thought it was just me, now I know there was a reason for my problems.
I am putting in a claim with the VA. Hope they can help. Again, thanks for your efforts and I assure you I will return and check things out.
Hi! My name is Erica Clark. I am in 5th grade and like to study facts on interesting subjects. Last year I entered a contest to write a thank you
letter to a soldier in Iraq. I was really lucky to win. This year the subject is on what I think about the Vietnam and Iraq experiences. I really
don't know much about the Vietnam war because it happened before I was born.
Thank you for all of your help.
P.S. my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I thank u for the important work you do. I am a student (in France), I am dealing with all what is related to the Afro-American and Hispanic ( Chicanos )
participation in the Vietnam War. Can you send me some links, statistics and further information on the participation of these two ethnic groups.
Thank you very much in advance.
M. RIHANI A.
It is saddening to see that anti-Vietnam War attitudes in Britain, which never fought in this war, are even worse than in America. Even right-wing
commentators over here are hostile to the war, as well as the grinding hatred you get from former sixties radicals towards the war and America in
general. The image we tend to have of Vietnam are stoned conscripts who don't want to be there, led by incompetent and often brutal officers
( Platoon, Apocalypse Now, etc.) Little that we hear on our media about the war portrays the truth and the usual bull we get here is America deserved
to lose, or the American forces were too stoned, incompetent or useless to beat off a highly skilled enemy which enjoyed the support of the South
After reading your website, and recalling a fairly honest magazine over here in the eighties called Nam, which used a veteran as a consultant, I honestly
believe the war in Vietnam has been totally distorted by the left( and even the Right in Britain) for decades. While we all accept war is hell, and 48,000
men lost their lives, the draft dodgers, " peace" campaigners and anti- Americans of all shades have had their own way for too long. Your website has
presented a totally honest, realistic view of the war which showed that, far from losing the war, by 1972 allied forces had driven back the NVA and forced
Hanoi to the negotiating table. If the liberals in Congress didn't have their way and America was allowed to supply and fund the ARVN, then I very much
doubt the North would have invaded the South in April 1975. After all, if, as the liberals believed, communism was so popular in Vietnam, then how come
hundreds of thousands fled in boats to the West after the South fell.
Then there is the myth that Americans were totally opposed to the war and the young in particular refused to fight and became drugged up hippies. Actually,
even after Khe Sahn and Tet, around fifty per cent of the population supported the war and most Americans favoured President Nixon's peace with honour
approach which entailed a gradual pull out rather than running away from the war, which would have seen the South rapidly defeated by the North. Although
it is true the usual suspects on the university campuses dodged the war, the vast majority of young men who were drafted did their duty and the army was
never short of men during the war. As for the hippy thing, like any youth cult, it was fairly small and most American teenagers in the sixties did not drop out
and take LSD. Indeed, away from the west coast, hippies were generally despised even among the young. When I look at the anti- war brigade, the same
groups of people crop up: students with draft deferments from comfrotable homes, middle class intellectuals, dropouts, left wingers and the usual crop of
film stars and rock musicians who opposed the war as it was fashionable and might further their career. ( Mind you, I have always found Bob Dylan's music
to have all the appeal of listening to a dying cat.)
Reading your website should be essential for anyone, particularly in Europe, who has been fed decades of myths about Vietnam and the men who fought
there. I totally respect anyone who has served their country: when I was younger, my ambition was to join the Royal Air Force, but was sadly rejected on
medical grounds and has served in a war. Don, this website is one of the best I've seen .
Glenn Aylett, England.
Your email brought some tears -- of relief and knowing that you have aloha for someone you don't even know. People say that "aloha" has the generic
meaning of love - but it's much more than that and I see it in just this quick note of yours. Mahalo.
Now it seems, with your help and the help of your friend, I'll have the correct document for my husband's claim and you'll be 59-0!
I WILL give him your best. He's been blown away by people like you and Connie who don't know us from Adam but who are right there and so helpful.
I would appreciate it if you could send a Word file for the "Vietnam War Statistics and Facts." As I mentioned to you before,
I think that you do a terrific job with all of the information that publish on your web page.
I served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968 with "B" Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Artillery; and I have been teaching a course to undergraduates
about the Vietnam War. I've used some of your statistics with them.
After all these years, I am also trying to complete a Ph. D. in sociology with my dissertation being the last requirement that I need to
complete. It will center on the Vietnam War in one form or another, but I haven't decided on a final approach. Thanks again for all your
My Dear Friends and Comrades in arms,
Forgive me for not E-mailing each of you upon receiving your very special E-mails to me at first.
There were and are a number of interpersonal reasons as to why I did not; least of which is my skill with a computer.
I believe most of your may have read the E-mail my daughter, Cynthia, had sent. I have the most incredibly perfect wife and three grown children with families of their own. This is another story.
My daughter, Cynthia, was making a photo album for my last birthday April 19th. Prior to this day and over the past several months she would ask me questions concerning my military service and judiciously about my Viet-nam experience. One question Cynthia did ask me was the name of the company with whom I served 'in country'.
After giving her the information she began to search the internet just to see what she might discover to add to my photo album. Somehow she came across Ron's web site concerning the '25th Aviation Battalion". Ron was gracious to forward his web site for Cynthia to view.
Cindy and Trish, my wife, discussed if this was a good idea for me to see this web site. Both agreed that it might be beneficial. After several days of trying Trish finally 'insisted' and sat me down in front of the computer so Cindy could guide me to the web site.
At this point I hadn't a clue that such a web site existed nor about the E-mails from you all.
The instant I hit enter as 'ordered by my daughter' and the "25th's" web site came up I was speechless, dumbfounded and over whelmed. I was very hesitant to open each page as Cynthia directed.
At this point tears started streaming down my cheeks and I could not talk for my voice which I did not want Cindy to hear. At the other end of the cell phone I could hear Cindy crying for me. This is when she told me about all your E-mails sent to her.
She asked me if it was OK to forward your E-mails to me. Before I said yes we had a very long emotion filled talk as to why I should receive them.
Upon receiving and reading each of your E-mails my heart was truly touched. Thank You!!!!!
I have been under the care of several Psychiatrist, doctors and social workers. However, I am fine. I have always believed with a high IQ, pre-Viet-nam religious background and analytical mental skills I could take care of myself- apparently not so.
After discussing the above events with my VA social worker I sat myself down and analyzed the tangible reasons for not wanting to E-mail each of you.
I was afraid some or all of you might ask me about my past; and I somehow failed in every aspect of my life. I was afraid that I did not do as well career wise as you all and the embarrassment I would feel if we were to meet. I was afraid I may have done something less than a good officer, gentleman and soldier should or could have done; and in so doing may have caused someone irreparable harm to one of your friends 'in country' and so on.
Over the decades in my isolation I have often feared a fellow solider with whom I served would one day recognize me and be disappointed in me as I have been with myself for over 35+ years, a true life time.
I know I am not alone and after visiting various VA clinics and hospitals I see so many soldiers still trying to make it back to 'base camp'.
Thanks to my wife and daughter's insistence of sitting down and opening Ron's web site and reading each of your E-mails I now honestly believe I have been flying solo in the wrong headings to my base camp to closure and comradeship, if permissible.
After heading and course changes for so long; it is difficult to hear that faint but audible voice call out "make a heading correction of 180 degrees; and welcome brother to base camp and home."
I truly would like to see each of you. If not I again thank you from the bottom of my heart and I wish you the very best.
I have heard this statement only a few times my first was in 1999 and its echos still touches my soul and so I say to each of you "WELCOME HOME, BROTHERS!!
God Bless You All!!
P.O. Box 1157
2974 Ruby Court
Dear Mr. Leonard,
My name is Cynthia Ochner. My father is Mark Hiroshima and he flew as a Little Bear 67-68. I am putting together scrapbook of sorts for him and I would like to include the information you have included on this Vietnam Statistics/Facts page. Do you think you could send it to me? I would appreciate it. Thank you for all the time you put into this site. My Dad is just starting to talk about Vietnam. I didn't even know that he was an officer until a few year ago. I am so proud of him and all who served with him...I hope some day all Vietnam Vets will know how truly grateful we are for all they have been through.
Thank you again.
Yes I was there (FSB Burt). We arrived the next morning to relieve the 3/22nd INF, and took over their positions. The place was a bad mess.... Frankly, their fighting and bunker positions, and their fields of fire, were lacking. Many of the bunkers were up against the woods, with no field of fire at all or just several feet. I remember the burnt out APC and that truck, and all the dead bodies. We stayed about two weeks at Burt, then returned to Katum. A bit haunting to see the place again.
The night of Jan 1st, and well past mid-night (12:00 AM, Jan 2nd), we were on alert by the airstrip at Katum waiting to be flow in to re-enforce Burt's troops. Two choppers got tangle up or collided on the airstrip, near either the fuel or ammo dump, and were in flames. We didn't make it out; I think because it was too dangerous to bring in the choppers to take us out. It was tense moments, thinking we were going to make an aerial assault in the dark while the base was being attacked and over run by a regiment of VC. Sent more than chills down my spine.
Thanks for the video, you’re a wealth of information. From all that you've got at your website, I have been able to put together a chronology of Manchus time in Nam (1966-70)--dates, operations, day-to-day troop movements, etc. There are still lots of gaps, but I've been able to pick up other bits and pieces of info from here and there. I appreciate your site and efforts immensely. It has allowed our Association to have a written record of our history and deeds in Vietnam.
Stay in touch...always enjoy hearing from you.
A-4/9, 2nd Pltn.
I was there early May 'til June, Friday the 13th. i was the copilot on the Divarty emergency resupply to FSB Washington that night it was almost completely overrun. after bringing back several body bags and pucking my guts out on the tarmack we went to p/u the 7 AP wounded near FSB Devons on 101 and got hit by 3 RPGs and had to be evacted also! The good news is we all lived to see the next sunrise but Charlie took a whooping thanks to that couarages AP Sgt who I don't know his name but hoped he got a Medal of Honor!
The 'nighthawk' or 'hornet' pilot that pulled us out; I recommended for the Silver Star. The Nurse that saved my life a second time in the Chu Chi field hospital before I was Medivaced was later killed when a 122 rocket hit the hut! 'I gave some blood; some gave all they had!' The rest of the story is still difficult to talk or write about. Hard to to relate part and not all as it is all related. I was there a short time and it seems like an eternity of effort; yet others are far less fortunate! By the way hi - glad to know you made it back!
Ron has done a great job in putting this all together and a little @ a time it is brought me relief when I hear 'HIS FOUND ANOTHER LITTLE BEAR' and the list keeps growing and we know more made it back than got their name on the "WALL" Praise the LORD'
I had the pleasure of finally getting time to go through most of the 25th Avn Bn web site. It is truely an amazing site! As I was there and on countless missions good and not so good. I would really like to see you put in for and get some kind of Freedom award as you have helped so many of us get help and to bring us together again along with all the help you are doing with the troops in the middle east. ( Something like Bob Hope got ) You are one fantastic person!
Now that I said what I wanted to say. I surfed through the pilots picture section of the "Diamondheads" section and noticed in The Pilots 9, there is a group picture. You asked for names of the four others in the pic. I don't know if you have this info but will tell you who they are anyway. Left front pilots seat- 1LT Ed Behne, I believe in Rt seat is Capt Pouch. I am in front Rick Muenz next to the 60 and Maurice Arvon sitting on the front of the skid. We had just gotten our Viet Nam Cross of Gallentry medals for supporting a ground attack against your guys and friendlies. I wish I could remember the date that happened ( would you know? ) as I would like to read any after actions reports on it. I believe a lot of Silver Stars were also awarded as that night as I recall it was like in pure hell for the time it tokk if that makes any sense? ( I will write you later and describe to the best of my knowledge of what happened on that mission )
Now the request, if it's possible ( And you have done the impossible ) Do you have a copy of that group photo that you can E-MAIL ME? I had one but cannot for GODS sake find it. I would like to make a wall paper for my computer. I tried making one from the web site but will now work. Hope this letter finds you in the best!
LELE MAKOU NO NA PUALI
I am over here in Afghanistan attached (temporarily) to the 25th as their SWO. I'm from Fort Wainwright but am happy to be here with the 25th. These folks are great. I've been at this job 21 years and ready to retire at home in Fairbanks area. I have 11 days left here in country and am heading home.
I really wanted to thank you for the halibut and salmon. That is a touch of home that really really warmed my heart. My wife and fishing partner have been sending me smoked caribou, moose and reds from time to time. I pass it around and the whole group in the TOC is hopeless smoked meat and salmon addicts. Your gift was perfect.
I have several Copper river reds left in my freezer and requested that as my first meal home. If you ever need the donation of some reds or bou meat let me know. I will be glad to throw it in my smoker and send it to you so you can forward it to the troops or it will give me an excuse to run down to Anchorage and drop it off.
I really love the idea of sending smoked stuff to the troops. Keep up the great moral boosting work.
Ron Bock, MSgt, USAF
NCOIC Combat Weather Tea
Fort Wainwright AK
Sorry I didn't reply earlier but I don't check email every day. I couldn't open your attachment .... kept causing an "error" of some sort but I am curious to hear what you know.
The mission as I remember was part of an on going operation called "Project Delta" which was the prelude to and the recon for "Lam Son 719", the Laotian invasion. On that day the plan was to insert a large force of ARVN on a hill top near the Laotian border . The plan was to prep an adjoining hill top with artillery CS gas while "smokies" laid down cover for us to insert on the hill without the gas.
Some one f**cked up and arty prepped the wrong hill. None of us had gasmasks and we were going into the LZ at least 3 abreast.... no one could see and it is a testimony to the skill of the pilots and crew that more of us did not die in that cloud of gas. All the while this is going on the "smokies" were doing their job weaving the smoke under us as we flew in and out of the LZ. I think that we flew in from the east and coming out did a u turn and exited back the way we came. As we were coming out we crossed over the smokies as they were flying north to south weaving, one behind the other. I heard my CE yell "NO SHIT" and looked to the rear and saw the lead Smokie going nose first into the trees the trailing ship looked like it went nose up almost in a flare and rolled to the right and into the trees. I it was obviously a mid air but I don't know who was trailing who... but the following ship struck the tail rotor of the lead ship. It is my opinion that the CS gas and the tactical confusion that day were the direct cause of the mid air. I do not recall any significant enemy fire that day although it certainly was a possibility .
That day and others have haunted me for more than 30 years and when I think that the Gov't turned their backs on those guys It upsets me to no end.
Frank Hernandez and Bill Weiss were my friends and they as well as Mr. Worthington and Mr. Kirk deserve to have the truth told about what happened to them and the Gov't needs to stop the lies and delays and tell the truth..... I was not the only one that survived that day and we all can remember.
I hope I have helped you in some way and would like to hear what you know. You can call me at:
Home 727 734 1122
Cell 727 504 8067
Thanks, and again my apologies for the delay.
Dear Mr. Leonard,
My name is Howard W. Moore. I served with the 25th 1969-1970, Cu Chi and Tay Ninh. I have ridden in your "Birds" many times, and since I am writing 30 years later, safely. I am scheduled to be a quest speaker at the University of Illinois-Springfield, and the Lincolnland Community Collage, (Springfield) this spring semester. I would like to use, with your permission, some of your material in those classes, and would gladly give you and your organization, credit.
Thanks in advance,
I’m with you. I think this is the “real Marty”. I tried reaching him yesterday, but no answer. Wish I could report otherwise. Just wanted to thank you for the info. I’ll let you know if and when I reach him. Thanks for all the joy and comfort you bring to so many.
Peace on Earth,
Dear Mr. Leonard,
In regard to your note on the Vietnam and War Statistics Facts Web Page <"http://25thaviation.org/id275.htm- I am using this information for my studies on generational trends and specifically during the Vietnam War Era. I do not need the web page in Word Document-Form; however, I sincerely appreciate the effort that you have put into the website and wanted to thank you for the information.
Hello my name is Michael Shouse. I am studying in the seminary for the Roman Catholic Priesthood. I just wanted you to know that I always have had a great love for the men who fought for our country in Vietnam. You were treated with some disrespect when you returned home, but after 30 years this truly is your day. I will remember you and your men today when I offer up my morning prayer to our God. You and your men are forever a noble band of brothers. And you will always be in my prayers.
Your Friend Always,
For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Thanks for sending this to me. Do you have Todd Frye's e mail, or if I respond does this just go to him? Could you forward it to him? I was pretty down tonight and then I read what Todd had written. It is funny as I remember Cooley telling he about getting kicked out of the officers club and maybe that was the night. In the 30 years that I have known Cooley there have been many many 'Cooley stories' We had a memorial here in Cheney and then one down at my Dad's ranch in Petaluma California and on the 9th of October we are having another send off at Tybee Island Ga. We have had plenty of stories, believe me! and lots of beer to go with all the stories. So in reading Todd's mail it makes me feel pretty good tonight after all, It made me smile to know what a devil he was! Bo Hayner is coming to the memorial at Tybee and I can't wait to meet him as Cooley has mentioned his name several times over the last 30 years. I guess that is the Bo that Todd is talking about. Todd, thank you for making me smile tonight!
Mary Ann Cooley better known as MAC
Oh no, oh no…please not Jack. I spoke with him a few years ago, and it hurt a bit because he didn’t remember me. Jack was a good guy. One of the few I had searched for since getting out, just to say thanks for bringing me back alive, time after time. Jack Cooley (although he now goes by John. I think “Jack” is appropriate considering how much he invested in Jack Daniels) has a few notable entries in my memoirs. At the top of the list, his insistence, after a hairy mission, to join him at the Officers Club. He was already pretty hammered when he came to the crew chief hooch and ordered us to accompany him to get a drink at the O Club. Well we made it through the front door but that was about it. A Major said he didn’t recognize us and Jack stepped up to say we were with him. It just went down hill from there. It took three of us to pull Jack off this hysterical Major (probably from HQ) and drag him back to his hooch. When we got to Jacks place, Mr. Banner (I think) had a Donut Dolly on his lap and to say the least, it was real awkward. We invited Jack to finish off the night in the crew chief hooch, but Jack had just been kicked out of the O Club, and he wasn’t about to get kicked out of his own place. There was the obligatory yelling and pushing and somewhere in there, Jacks knees just gave out. With one of us on each arm and each leg, we dragged him out the door, figuring we could hide our good friend in our hooch until we were all cooled off a bit. In trying to get across one of the drainage ditches, the two guys holding Jacks arms jumped over the dip, without coordinating this maneuver with the guys holding his legs. We lost Jack mid leap, and he ended up head first in the ditch. Talk about your bad day. And of course, all this commotion is happening right outside the Commanding Officers quarters, who has been rousted from his sleep by the loud cursing and panicked conversations on how to get Jack out of there, pronto. Luckily, it was real dark, and someone had the good sense to tell the C.O. one of our “friends” had too much to drink, and we were just trying to get him to bed. The Old Man muttered a few indirect comments as he walked away, not bothering to identify our precious cargo. When Jack woke up the next morning, he grumbled about a terrible hang over, and shuffled off to take a shower. I will miss Jack dearly. When Jack and Bo were flying 440, the “Be-Bop” (as Captain Reynolds used to call it) was always cranked up loud on the headsets. I met many fine people on my tour, and Jack was one of the best. He will always fill an important part of my life. Although he would prefer that I not salute him, please know Jack, that I offer it from the heart, as a token of respect and admiration for a fallen brother. My condolences to the Family, who I’m sure miss him greatly.
We are both on the Diamondhead Crew Chief page leaning. against 440 somewhere in the boonies.
Ron because of your advise my friend down the street is now receiving 100% from the VA 70% plus unemployablilty and social security. He does not use a computer or he would thank you personally.
All the best,
Ron, you are more than welcome. With out you we would be a chopper with out rotor blades. If my wife is well enough next year I will try to make the trip in May.
I think this might be the best page ever created this site was a great idea and i love read ing the articles. I just wanted to tell you that
Hi, and God Bless all you pilots...
My name is Robert (Rusty-Dog) Weatherhead. I was in Nam from Jan 1969 to June 19, 1969. I owe my life to the men of your group during several fire fights and especially April 15th (Diamond III). Also on June 19 of 69 I lost my right leg do to a land mine.
I was picked up by a VERY courageous pilot on that afternoon along with another one in my squad that was wounded...
Is their any way on earth that I can find out the name of the pilot and crew members of the copper that picked me up and got my butt to the hospital in Cu Chi?
I want to meet this man or men, shake their hands and buy them a beer. It was 35 years ago today that all this transpired... I would not have two wonderful children, my high school bride, nor two fantastic granddaughters if it were not for this crew.
I was with the 25th div of course ... 2nd and 27th Wolfhounds. we were in the midst of being picked up in the late afternoon from a long days logger... the eagle flight was in sight when it all hit the fan for us... But they kept coming in and put themselves in harms way to save us.
If you can help I would be indebted to you..
Thank you so much.
Tel... Cell 508 259 1041
I live now in Jefferson Maine with my wife of 34 years and am retired from the Army and the VA...
RE-Sp4 James Hiemenz
I greatly appreciate all the research you have done regarding the incident in August 1969 that took my big brother's life. I had done a little investigation a few years ago when I stumbled accross the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot Association web site. Now it appears my Dad has connected through Signal Corps Vets Association after they reached out to connect with him based upon his service in the Signal Corps in WWII and the Korean War. This is some coincidence.
Jimmy and I were very close. Although he was 7 years older than me, he was the most important and most influential person to me in my family. Not that the others weren't important, however, my brother made a major impact on my life. In our neighborhood of Ormond Beach, Florida (Volusia is the wrong city in the report of his death, Volusia is the county), he was extremely well liked and often considered by my friends as the "big brother" to the whole neighborhood)
I am very interested in any and all infromation about his death. Moreover, I would be interested to hear from anyone who knew him while he was in Vietnam. I also wonder whatever happened to the two pearl handled 45s with the holster he had and I thought took with him to Vietnam. They were much like General George Patton's side arms he had in WWII. Just curious, as many of his things returned with him and these didn't. His best friend, who was in Vietnam at the same time, was allowed leave to attend his funeral and said the military obvious won't return weapons. Who might have these? I am not a gun enthusiast, but I always wondered as he was very fond of them and I would have liked to have them as a momento. Otherwise I do not own a gun.
George, In your message to Ron you used some abbreviations that I am not familiar with. We do this all too often in medicine. Could you decifer the following?
AC C&C PP
What kind of aircraft is a Nighthawk? Is it a modified Huey?
Could you pinpoint the crash site on a map of Vietnam for me, or come close? Where was my brother stationed at the time?
From his letters, I understood that he volunteered to go on these missions and that as a company clerk (like Radar on MASH), he could have kept his butt safe behind a desk if he so chose. I know this wouldn't have worked well for him as when I was very young and he was starting high school, we lived in Texas where he became quite a marksman. He loved adventure and I guess this is what he felt about the copter duty. He wrote to me about it shortly before his death and clearly knew the risks involved. The irony was that he was a Political Science major at the University of Florida before he enlisted, and had would write to me about his reservations that the average citizen of the Republic of Vietnam, knew litte about and did not understood "Democracy" as we were trying to help them obtain. He said in one of his last letters: "John, all the poor farmers know, is that if it isn't the NVA and Vietcong, it's us trampling over their fields. All they want it their farms back." He also questioned how a people who have not gone through the classical steps to the development of democracy like the Europeans, understand democracy as we knew it, and therefore how difficult our task was going to be in Vietnam. Whether he was right or wrong, interesting questions from someone so young, but also from someone who was jumping in to a helicopter for volunteer night duty.
Again, I appreciate all that you have all done in this research and would be interested in hearing more from anyone who knew about the incident or knew my brother while he was in Vietnam.
John W. Hiemenz, MD, FIDSA
Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Program
Medical College of Georgia
1120 15th Street BAA 5407
Augusta, Georgia 30912
I don't often get rattled, but this one rattled me... The first link below took me to the page and I read that the ship was brought down by a
57mmRPG... (some reports say a 4.2 mortar which would make some think friendly fire. I kept reading and this is the first time that I saw the
name of Jeffrey Elson.
We were checking for information regarding the son of a WWII Signal OCS graduate!! Jeff Elson was a Vietnam era Signal OCS graduate. I know his TAC officer.
It is a small sad world...sometimes.
Thank you so much for what you have provided.. His dad will be glad to have closure on this...
Richard A. Green
Major US Army Retired
Signal Corps OCS website
John Hart's Authorized OCS Website
Thank you so much for the quick response. Your website and the obvious care given to it really affected me today. After I sent the 2 notes, I saw the "Not Yet Found" section and have fought to keep from crying off and on since then.
I loved my Dad very much and I also know he was a very difficult man. One of my favorite things in life was to get him really laughing hard. It was a rare and beautiful thing. I appreciate the kind words you said about him.
When I was in Memphis in 1990 the Moving Wall came to town. I was on active duty then and had put in for leave the whole week it was in town. The CO said that anyone who was volunteering at the Wall could have no-cost TAD orders (Army called it TDY)... so I saved some leave and changed my life. I helped folks find the names and made tracings for them if they wanted me to. I happened to meet a Harley rider that week and went to DC with him the following May for the Rolling Thunder parade. We went to the Wall and it was astonishing to say the least. My Dad had two brothers and all 3 were career Army men. Bill was a West Point grad and George ("Zombie") was a Capt in EOD, finally got back to the States in Feb of 71 and died in a car accident that June. That was worse for Dad than the whole war experience I think. Anyway, though my family had no names on the Wall, Vietnam had cost our family a lot (as it did for all of our families). I was drawn to it again in 98 after Dad died. I had retired from the Navy by then and went to DC from Boston where I was in college to see a huge Van Gogh exhibit. That was a tougher visit to the Wall than the first.
I am so sorry that I will have to miss your reunion. Ironically my son and I will be in Wichita Falls the week before. His Spring Break is April 19-23. The goal is to get to Wichita Falls for April 19 and 20 because the 20th was Dad's birthday and I wanted Rick to see the general area where I grew up. (I guess you are familiar with Ft Wolters/ Mineral Wells (Dad called it Miserable Gulch). Rick, my Dad and I could pass for brother and sister if you look at photos taken at similar ages. It is freaky. He is 16 and about an inch or two shorter than my Dad was (so far - yikes) We live in Massachusetts, so any part of Texas is quite a haul. We love road trips though.
I wish we could have met some of you who were so crucial to that part of Dad's life. When I joined the Navy I knew I couldn't be a pilot because of my imperfect eyesight, but I came to love my chosen field of Air Traffic Control. I guess it was 91 when Dad and Marilyn came to visit us in Millignton, TN (just north of Memphis) and I brought them to the tower at the base. He said it was the first tower he had ever been in. I love aviation more than most women (straight ones anyway) and I really loved having that 'language' in common with him. Marilyn said that when she had just met Dad he really inspired her to want to be a good soldier also, so she tried to join, but was too old by then (28ish?) Anyway, I am sure it is no small coincidence that all 3 daughters spent many years in the military.
Wow. Sorry about all that. You ought to charge shrink's fees for the emails you receive. Here is the email you didn't get this afternoon. Please do let me know what other information you would like to have about my Dad and I will do whatever I can to get it. I just have to send this or I will keep talking all night.
Best of luck on a glorious reunion,
(Daughter of Capt. Reynolds B/Co 67-68)
Your info was very helpful and my classmates and instructor were astonished by the statistics i found on your website....I received a 98 on the speech......thank you and God Bless....Nicole Boofer
I loved the newsletter and what you wrote about A Piece Of My Heart. It made me cry all over again. This has been a very special show and something we will never forget. You are a part of that. By the way, I have been nominated for Teacher of the Year, (it was a surprise to me!) by a lengthy list of people, and the nomination letter that I saw had mentioned your help with the show. I'll have to get you a copy. It seems that life's patterns keep tying or looping together. Thank you for being a part of my life.
Also, I am posting your portion of the newsletter about Heart, on our call-board, for the kids to read. It will make them feel so good. I will see if I can get out to Texas in Nov. For the kids to do the show seems almost impossible with many of the seniors graduating and going off to college. I don't know that we could pull it off. The cast would be everywhere but centralized. But maybe I could come anyway, just to come. Maybe some of the kids still around might want to too, we'll see.
Also thank you for saying that you gained faith again in the youngsters of our time. I work really hard with these kids to make them see life from a different angle, to be compassionate and polite and giving. I think that they have lived up to my expectations, and I cherish the thought that you found in them, notable human beings that don't disparage the word "teenager".
Let me start of by letting you know what a captivating poem that was. Mrs. Mack posted this on the call- board at school, as I read it and I started to cry. You have effected our lives in more ways than you will ever know. I am so honored to get the chance to meet such a man as yourself. I was quite shocked when I found out that you were flying in from texas to see our show. What a proud and lively man you are, and your captivating stories filled our souls. Thank You for that, I have learned so much from you and Mrs. Mack. This show opened up a new viewpoint for me. We live life today worrying and complaining over the smallest things. We never really take the time to sit back, to live, and just enjoy life. All of these people risked their lives for what they believed in, to open up the doors of life as we know of it today. They are not just a statistical body count,they are people who served our country.
This show has shown me that. I wake up every morning, greatful, to have a loving family, and a beautiful house to live in. Things that everyone takes for granted. You dont really realize what all of these people leave behind to go to war, a loving family, friends, maybe a significant other. They leave everything behind to have the honor of serving our country. All of this that we learned about Vietnam, opened our eyes to everything going on today. These men and women who are going over seas for OUR freedom. Most of our american citizens dont even think about that on a regular basis,which is a shame! These soldiers deserve more respect than what we're showing them.
Thank You Ron for opening up my eyes, this show will always stay with me. This is something very hard for me to let go of. The cast, crew, and Mrs. Mack all have gone through something together that will never leave us. All the poems that we heard, letters that we wrote, and information that was learned could have never been taught to us in a textbook. Thank you again for everything that you have done! I hope to hear from you soon, and look forward to reading all of your stories online! :)
"Mary Jo Kincaid"
A Piece of My Heart 2004
First of all, my compliments on an excellent web page. I've visited many times.
I need to ask for your assistance. First of all, in order to verify my identity and credentials, I need to offer some names of (possibly) mutual acquintances. All of these folks can vouch for me and verify my occupation; Gary Roush, Historian of the Vietnam Helicopter pilots Association: email@example.com
Any of the officers or former officers of the Vietnam Helicopter Crewmembers Association including Charlie Raines, the Executive Director at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a Veterans Claims Examiner with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Chicago Regional Office. This note is being to you from my office so you have that e-mail address. The direct line telphone is 312 980 4373. Because this is Friday, I'm also going to give you my home email address: email@example.com
My primary responsibility is to conduct military history research as it relates to veterans claims. This is primarily in response to PTSD cklaims but I also conduct research on coold weather injuries (such as at the Chosin Resevoir or the Battle of the Bulge) and Agent Orange exposure.
The reason I'm writing to you is that I believe the 25th Aviation Association has copies of original 25th Infantry (and its units) documents. When ever I make a formal, written decision, I have to provide a copy of the document that I used to verify the event or incident. Because of the amount of material on your website and because most of it appears to have transcribed from the original documents, I am writing to ask for your assistance.
Please consider assisting me by providing copies of all the documents that you hold. I can receive them by mail or fax. I will be unable to pay you for your time and effort but in return, I will scan the documents, convert them to an Adobe Acrobat Reader file (.pdf) and send them back to you on a CD. This way, you would be able to display the original documents on your web page.
If you do not have access to a fax, I will locate the nearest VA facilty to your home or office amd make arrangements for you to use one of ours.
In the past, the VA has relied on the US Armed Services Center for Unit Record Research to conduct all of our military history reviews. This has resulted in a delay of veterans claims for up to eighteen months while we wait for a reply from USASCURR. In the past three years, I have be able to make accurate decisions in over 500 claims and resolve each of them within a two hour period. here in Chicago, I have reduced the average waiting time from 18 moths to less than 3 for a complete resolution.
My duties have recently been expanded to include the entire VA Central Area (12 states) and there is a potential that it will be expanded nation wide in the near future.
Your assistance will have a direct impact on processing claims for former members of the 25th Infantry Division for years to come.
James "Bud" Harton
US DVA Chicago
(formerly) Crew chief, 173rd AHC, Lai Khe "Robin Hoods"
This show was so special to my students and myself. We are all so grateful that you were able to come to Livonia and see it first hand. I believe that this production will rest in the hearts and souls of my students forever. I know that you coming to see it meant more than words can express.
You know, my most happy sign from the kids, is that they will never view war the same, they will never see soldiers as numbers, but as human beings, that they will always realize that when a war is raged, that people, men and women, are in the uniforms trying to serve our nation. So, my quest is done.
If I can teach kids to feel the boots of a soldier or a nurse, or to feel the threat of the enemy, I have done my job....If I can teach them honor, at such outrageous costs, I have done my job. I want my kids to realize that loyalty and obedience to the call of freedom, is what these men died for. Aside of political differences, young soldiers and nurses are our heros....they are there to defend, to help, to aid, to heal. I can never be thankful enough, as I believe my students can also never be.
Gail Mack, Director of PIECE OF MY HEART
Dear Ron -
I am so honored to have gotton the opportuinity to meet you. You have changed my life in ways you probably don't even know. In those few moments that I talked to you...you made me laugh and cry. You restored my faith in humanity. The poem you wrote makes me cry everytime that I read it. And in the past few hours...I have read it a lot. I'm glad that we touched you with our performance, but I promise you touched us more. You have been wonderful and I don't think that I will ever find the words to tell you how grateful I am for you. Thank you again Mr. Leonard.
Mr. Leonard ~
Thank you so much for everything. You have helped me and the rest of the cast (And ms. Mack) So much...I don't think you realize how much all of your information and web site has helped us to realize the effect of everything on everyone. You have helped us prepare for what I hope to be an absolutely amazing show. From the deepest of emotions to something so little as the costuming you have helped make this show as real as possible. Also, thank you for the last e-mail you wrote me...I didn't realize how close the was to going up (eeee..!!!) I really better get crackin' on this stuff!!! Again, Thank you, a million times. I cannot wait to meet you.
OH! Pack warm :) Its SUPER cold...and I live here!
Your poems are very moving. And your webmaster poem was fun, and so truthful!
I had rehearsals yesterday and today with my cast. I had them take turns reading aloud some of the poetry and letters from your website. They were so engaged, and the tears flowed. They learned so much emotionally. My first History lesson, was factual, about the war, timeline, places, geography, that sort of thing. This history lesson was about the impact and the emotions that Vietnam had on so many, beyond the soldiers themselves: spouses, parents, siblings and children. When they read some of the letters, my actors were choked up or sobbing. After we were done, they started to look at today's newpaper that plastered on the front page all of the boys from Michigan who have died in Iraq. My kids (actors) started to cry again, and said that before they would've picked up the paper and tossed it down, and now, they look at each face and realize it could be their brother. So I have taught a good lesson today. Behind all of the statistics were real, living human beings loved by many.
Oh, the play is based on A PIECE OF MY HEART by Keith Walker. He interviewed and got written stories by 26 women who served in Vietnam. It's hard to read (emotionally) but very good.
I'll keep you posted.
Your email touched me quite deeply because I couldn't help but think about where you were emotionally when I first had contact with you and how far you have come since. You were feeling guilty about surviving and didn't understand why you were still here and doubting your value. It is an honor to know you and I'm always amazed at how much you continue to give to others. In spite of your troubles and illnesses and the illnesses of your grandchildren, you have found the blessings in all that is around you! And Ron, never forget that you are a blessing to so many people - you are a gift that keeps on giving in spite of your own misgivings. Thank you for being a part of my life and so many others. My wish for you and your family this new year and every new year is health, happiness and continued blessings!
Your lovin' lil' sis,
Thank you for sending that on - I think. It's a lot to think about right now, it's a very heavy thing for the holidays.
Unlike Nancy, Emily and so many of the Donut Dollies, I don't think I've reached out to try to help Vietnam Veterans in any way like I should have.
I think your poem touched me so much because..................of the six months that I was stationed at Cu Chi, because we flew mostly with the 25th Aviation Btn, and because the Little Bears were my buds. And I fell in
love with a Diamondhead. Unfortunately, it was an unrequited love. I never figured it out. He was quiet, not particularly good looking, just a nice guy.... and when I linked over to your roster today, it broke my heart
to see "WO Beck-Deceased". Nothing more. I always thought he'd married the girl next door, had a bunch of kids, became a grandfather....... So, today has been quite a day. And I guess the last 34 years have been even harder for you.
So, thank you for bringing me to a moment of reality and making me realize that I now need to step forward and do my part to help, as I'm needed, as I'm able to do so. I will go out and look for the need.
Hello again Ron--
i will be forever indebted to you for all of the time that you have taken to supply me with info on how to
get in touch with anyone having info on JackieSanford. I was really touched with all that you have
gone through in and since leaving Vietnam. I feel that you are a survivor and are able to overcome all
obstacles. "The Other Things That We Carry" is a real masterpiece and I will keep a copy of it wherever i
On Cu Chi, I am sure that your old base is probably restricted but with the ever on-going easing of
relations with the Government of Vietnam, i wonder if your group couldn't arrange a tour. Our Ambassador
here, Charlie Ray, is a Vietnam Veteran. Prior to coming here (less than a year ago), he was the
Consulate General in Saigon and still has influential connections there. If you like, i can approach him,
and feel him out to see what he thinks about the possibility of a future visit to the Cu Chi Base by
you and your group.
As you know, the Cu Chi tunnels are open as a tourist attraction, mainly for VN propaganda. I think that
attendance has dropped off over the years.
Anyway Ron, will close for this time. Take care of yourself. By the way, where are you physically
located?? As I mentioned before, do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything that I can assist you
with from here.
Kindest Regards-- Hank Yahl
U.S. Embassy Phenom Penh Cambodia
Thanks for the heads-up.
I worked most closely with the 1/5th Mech at Xuan Loc and Tay Ninh. You 25th Aviation helicopter drivers gave us rides, brought us food and bullets, and kept us safe while we were with you. Now, you write this great history.
You are one of the good guys.
Welcome home, Bro.
Comments: I am sorry I had to use the registration form for this but could not find a link to e-mail you directly. I am 31 so I was just being born when the last of our hero's were arriving home, well the ones that did come home, I still say a pray for the ones who were left behind. I wanted to tell you I think it is great what you are doing. I did not lose anyone in the war but feel very strongly about the men and woman who fought there. I have trouble stomaching the way you guys were treated when you came home. I run a small web site design company here in Scranton and want to volunteer anything you may need in terms of my time and skills. I know you have been running this site yourself and doing a great job. I just wanted you to know if you ever need anyone to give you a free hand I am here. Thank you for serving us, You fellow country men.
Thanks for sending me the link to the Newsletter, it was great reading about your trip and even better checking out the babes in the bikinis!! I am still working on copying all of the material you left with me and I will let you know when I am done and have shipped it back.
I sincerely enjoyed meeting everyone in the group and I want to thank you again for everything you guys did to pave the way for our current Army and the country as well. Your sacrifices and experiences are an inspiration to us as we prepare to head into combat.
Please keep in touch and let me know of anything I can do to help build upon what we were able to accomplish in Hawaii!
Cpt Ryan Purdy 2-25th Aviation
Just a note to say what a pleasure it was to see you in Hawaii. I enjoyed every minute and can't wait until the next reunion in TX!
Thank you for all your hard work and everything you did to make this a great trip. Everyone had a fantastic time and it all started with your web page.
The one thing the reporter asked me was, "what was the high point of the trip?" My answer was the mutual respect and fellowship we had between the Vietnam vets and the regular army. There sure was a lot of brother-hood and love for each. This was the best part of the trip. Once a "little bear" or "diamond head" always a "little bear" or "diamond head!" It was great being part of the 25th again! It was like returning home to he place we never had time to visit until now.
Keep up the good work and keep the faith! God bless,
Anyone at 25TH Aviation Battalion:
Thanks to u the former members, families and friends of HHC, Aco and Bco of the 25TH Aviation Battalion for the packages we recvd her a 2/8 INF Battalion. We greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and patriotic spirit you showed us. Keep up the good fight back at home keep us in your prayers.
repectfully SSG Zimmer, Master Gunner HHC 2/8 INF firstname.lastname@example.org
This site was my first visit today as one of my team members directed me to the site about some other report about our mission, as this is our anniversary date. I am the team leader of Team-21 LRP team that was rescued that night. While I find your AAR to be more accurate then our own, I feel that there is not enough credit given to aviation, PBR's, and there are some inaccuracies. I know Seawolf called me on the radio and informed us that it looked like a play ground of enemy movement moving toward our position. I asked for illumination and saw about six in my kill zone, initiated contact with claymores and A/W fire and took a round to my shoulder. The PBRs moved in and I mark our position with a strobe and hit the deck while they did grazing fire over the team with their twin 50 cal guns from three PBRs. Just prior to that one enemy threw a satchel charge at the team position and another round hit during the grazing fire; unknown if RPG or mortar round. We were tagged from the start of the mission and our S2 was aware of our plight. That is why the Navy was in the area, because they monitored our radio traffic and sent Seawolf out to confirm. We were staked out with bamboo poles painted white in front of our position earlier and had no place to move to since all of the other action was taking place and we were bogged down with quick sand type mud to our waist. We did not have a bobby trap or land mine in our position. The PBR crews were not suppose to leave their boats, however, they disobeyed orders and with the cover of Seawolf and Diamondhead managed to extract my team, as the report states we were decimated six out of eight were hit hard, two of my men died that night. I recall being last one loaded onto dustoff and was glad he had cover and the pilot waited for them to find/locate me. This is my first time to say Thanks to all that helped us out of a very tight jam and those men are the best. The record does not do the men justice/give enough credit to what took place that night.
The survivors of Team 21 and I thank you very much.
Joseph C. Little Team Leader T-21
Unit Director/President F/Co LRRP 25th ID
F/Co 75th Rangers
Don't know where the Hawaii tickets are coming from---but I thank you for your efforts in keeping the 25th ship afloat. This is just one of the many great things that you do on a seemingly daily basis. I for one realize most of what you're doing for us and really appreciate your efforts. I support you in any way that I can. By the way, was there any more discussion re our attaining tax exempt status? That would help in my opinion. Regards, Jim Watts
Here is a picture of my dad with my mother and I. It was taken in Tehran Iran, I was close to one year old. I would love for you to post it in the wall remembrances, maybe someone will see it and remember more about my dad. I am still in shock that Ben found me after all this time. This is a great thing you have started on line to remember everyone who served their country. I wished I knew about this years ago. I will be visiting the little bear site regularly now. thank you and everyone else who is helping me to better know the man I only knew as Dad.
Will Frye II
We all owe you. you are becoming a legend. I was talking with Mad Dog (Mestrata SPELLING?) I also flew with him in Little Bears, he is a dentist in Maryland and we were talking about all the good you do getting
people back together. Tim Horrell from Little Bears was saying the same thing. I talk with Brethen and Carnathan from Centaurs weekly now because of you.... and to top it off. the last name you sent Elvin Kelly , the Silver Star winner , a Little Bear gunner, lives in Quanna Texas and comes to Amarillo 3 times a week working for the railroad. He was just before my time but I have reached him and now he and I plan on frequent visits when he is in town. His motel is across the interstate from my office. Few people anywhere do as much good as you and we all talk about you. Just wanted to thank you again.
Tay Ninh and Cu Chi ATC.
I have just read your 3am musings, and other things that you have written about my brother. I want to thank you. It has given me a lot of insight, and not a few tears. Maybe it has given me a little of my brother back. I can't tell you how much it has meant to me.
George was more than a brother to me. My father died when I was five, and George became the closest thing that I had to a father figure. He was my half brother, we had different fathers. But he got along really well with my father, and I think he knew what my father would have wanted for me. George taught me how to hunt and fish, and he was the only person that I could trust and talk to. In a sense, he was the most important person in the world to me. He stood up for me and fought for me when no one else would. He taught me how to fight for myself and others. I think the most important thing to me was that he believed in me.
When he went to Vietnam, I was terrified for him. We wrote frequent letters back and forth. When I was feeling depressed I would take his letters out and read them, and I would begin to believe in myself again, because George believed in me. I was fifteen years old.
The last time he came home on leave, I begged him not to go back. I had a gut feeling that I would never see him again. I couldn't convince him, though. He had his reasons, even if I didn't understand them at the time. As time went on, I began to feel that I was wrong, that he really was coming home. Just a few days before they told us that he was dead, I got a letter from him. He was full of hope, and we had planned to take a long cross-country horseback trip when he got home. I couldn't wait to meet Rosa, his fiancee.
When the officers came to tell us that he wasn't coming home, I went nuts, and started screaming, not wanting to believe it. I don't remember a whole lot, because I guess my stress level just kept going up until a year later, I was diagnosed with a complete mental breakdown. I have large gaps in my memories of that time. I had tried to commit suicide because I believed that George's death was my fault, because I had not been able to convince him not to go back. I couldn't talk to anyone.
My mother had gotten into this religion, and was something of a fanatic. She took all of the things that had belonged to George and burned them because she believed that they were demon-possessed. I saw his medals one time, and I don't know what she did with them. Then, three years later, when I was 18, I left home to get married in Hawaii. I put my things in the rafters of the garage, including my letters. When I returned for them, all of the letters that I had gotten from my brother were missing out of my things. I have never been able to forgive my mother for that, although she denied it. For me, it was like losing him all over again.
I know so little about what happened to George. My mother said that a bunch of guys in another chopper were taking drugs and they flew into his his helicopter, and that it was a freak accident. Like I said, she wouldn't talk about it. I wasn't allowed to grieve, and I have never been able to come to terms with losing him. This sounds nuts, I know, but I still have dreams where he comes home, and that he had amnesia, and was somewhere in the jungles all this time..
All these years, I have felt that I was the only one who really cared about George. I know that I was the only one of the family who visited his grave until fairly recently, when Edward went there. But I used to go out to Woodland and just talk to George, and pick stray grasses from his gravestone. When I read all that you had to say about him, I just sat there and cried. It hadn't occurred to me before then that anyone else even really missed him, except for Edward. It meant a lot to me.
I think that one of the things that intensified the hurt was that I never got to tell George how proud I was of him. A fifteen-year old doesn't think of things like that until years later, I guess. I knew that my mom was derogatory of him because he killed people, but he was in a war, and he was doing his job. He was a hero, but we were never allowed to utter those words at home, to be openly proud of him. It wasn't right, what she did. There is no changing the past, and maybe I will never resolve my anger against my mother.
I have always wondered if I would ever be able to find out more of what was happening in George's world before he left it. He was so young, and yet he left such a massive hole in the lives of those of us who loved him. I have a son who is one year younger than George was when he died, and he is in the USMC. On July 3 he presented me with a grandson who looks just like my son. He is still in training, but I am reliving a lot of the fear that I knew when George left for Vietnam. But I am proud of my son, and I have made it a point to tell him.
My husband, Troy, was in Vietnam also, in the Navy. He told me to tell you "Welcome home."
I know that this is a long letter, and I appreciate your taking the time to read it. I have gotten a lot of feelings out, and maybe a healing process has started. I don't know. But anything that you can tell me about my brother will be appreciated more than you can know. I don't have a lot of faith in what my mother told me about what happened to him, for obvious reasons. If you could let me know, I would appreciate it a lot. I really do need to come to terms with this, and begin to heal. I don't think that George would want me to hurt this bad for this long. Thank you so much for the pictures of him in Vietnam. I had never seen them before, and had so little to remember him by.
Well, I will close for now. Thank You again.
Sincerely, Rosella Bunch
(George Grinnells sister)
I have just finished reading your excellent site. I was a Combat Medic in Vietnam assigned to the Combat Engineers, I read hundreds of sites concerning Agent Orange and I have found yours to be the most informative, detailed and well written site on the subject. Thank you for the information and keep up your excellent work!
Command Sergeants Major (Ret)
Dear Mr. Leonard,
I am a Danish Army SFC, with a great interest in wartime-history, with special interest in the Vietnam War.
I am very impressed with your great website dedicated to the 25th Aviation Battalion. I found a lot of useful and educative information's on the site. Its websites like yours that help people not to forget the Vietnam War, were so many young and brave Americans fought and died.
My name is Angela and I am the daughter of your brother and friend, Joseph DiMaggio. I have thoroughly enjoyed your website and could not believe that there were pictures of my father on there that I had never seen before.
We (my Aunt Josie and I) have been glued to it ever since. We would like to know when the reunion is and where it will be. Maybe we can attend.
Thank you very much for such a wonderful website. My family and I have really enjoyed it.
I just wanted to thank you for sending me Donald Cayer's e-mail address. I sent him one, and I just received one from him. He gave me more information about my brother that I did not know. I love the work you are doing. You have helped my family and I more then you will ever know. God Bless you.
A Little Bear Sister
Hope you remember me. I left this trail of emails to help. I'm the Kansas City Star reporter you helped locate friends and cemetery site of my childhood chum, who died in Vietnam.
This past summer I enjoyed a week in California meeting Frank Villanueva who was Chris Smith's friend at Cu Chi. Incredibly, he has for the past 15 years tended Chris' grave site. I also was able to find Chris' widow, who has since remarried. It was an emotional reunion with me, Frank and her family,none of whom had known the details of Chris' death. A touching moment was when the family hunted through some old pictures and found one that depicted Chris, Frank and two other Vietnam buddies. Frank was in tears.
I felt good I could help facilitate that reunion. Frank had for years wanted to connect with Chris' family. Strangely, he suffered guilt for years because his former wife had refused to attend Chris' funeral. He has
harbored a lot of pain. But I've found other vets who have also suffered, who are reaching out to piece together their lives, shattered by the Vietnam experience.
I am now trying to put together at least one _ depending on space _ article in our newspaper's magazine on what I found along the way while searching for my boyhood friend. I put the story off a little after suffering some
heart problems late this summer and fall. I'm fine now. And I want to include your efforts in the story. So I'll be in touch and calling you again. I just wanted to reintroduce myself and see what you have been doing.
Any other ideas or thoughts are always invited.
The theme pretty much remains the same: as people who went to Vietnam or stayed home get older, they are increasingly reaching out to other people either to find someone, close a gap in their life or tell their story, after
years of pushing that tumultous time to the background.
kansas city star
(We were the gunship support for the1/5th the day Chris Smith was killed 8 Feb 69 in the Ho Bo woods)
Thanks for the photo of my father and for helping me in this endeavor!! You have succeeded where I and others have failed for years. If you can. Please continue to check your contacts for any further information. As always, thank you for taking the time to help me.
CWO 160th Avaiation-Kandahar Afghanistan
(Capt Ferrell, his father was killed in Vietnam when Ralph was a tiny baby)
Hello Mr. Leonard,
My name is Peter Aoun; I am a Junior in High School in the International Baccalaureate program. I am writing, among other things, to thank you for all the effort you have put into this site; it is absolutely great! I have learned so much from it, and I can't tell you how much it has meant to me. I will be an Eagle Boy Scout within the next few months, and am committed to God and Country as you and your fellow veterans are. I think this is part of the reason I have been so affected by what your website contains.
Two years ago, I had an amazing experience when I was able to meet members of the Strategic Air Command who did reconnaissance work over the Soviet Union during the Cold War; I and my partners did a documentary that made it to the finals of California State History Day. The thing that influenced me more than anything about this unbelievable experience is that those men weren't much older than I am when they served our country. I know that is the case for Vietnam veterans also, and I am so so sorry that they were so dismissed when they returned home. Our government should be ashamed.
Again, thank you for everything you have done. Please keep updating your great website.
I can't say "Thank You" enough for all you've done for me & my family. I've received so many wonderful emails about my brother, Dean.
Ron, God has placed you in a wonderful position to help others and I'm so appreciative. We never understand why but we know it's what we are to do, keep up all the good work and support. You are a true "Angel" placed on this rough world to help people like me. I haven't cried this much in years, but they are happy tears. I've always known that my brother was special and had a heart of gold, and it's been reconfirmed over & over.
I'm looking forward to sharing everything with my mom, three older brothers, & my niece (Dean's daughter).
Thanks again for your dedication and very hard work.
God Bless You.
God does work in mysterious ways, which we can't understand and shouldn't question, although i do many times. I did get the info from my brother Larry, and yes please give my email address to anyone who knew my brother and would want to share there time & thoughts with me. I've wanted to contact people for years about my brother, Dean, but never knew where to start. I am very thankful God has brought you into the lives of the Harig family. I know what you do must be very stressful & painful at times but I for one will keep you in my prayers, because I know there are others out there that need your help too.
As I've said before thank you for all your help and please share my email address. Dean meant the world to me, and although he's in a better place with our dad, I still miss him.
My prayers to you:
( retyped from handwritten letter)
After so many years of e-mail, I never thought I would have to revert to the snail mail variety, even handwritten! Hower my cousins PC is UTS, so here goes with the clay tablet & scribe method.
Kathy and I are visiting my mom and other family in West Palm Beach and I thought the CD <Red Gum>might have a better chance of reaching you if I sent it from here. Red Gum, like us , is becoming a 'dinosauer' and this is the only CD still in production <Caught In The Act>. Some of the songs reflect Australian politics in the 1970's and a few of the colloquialisms might escape you (after 30 years in OZ, I can just about speak the lingo). If you want a translation I'll be glad to do so at the next reunion over a couple of beers.
Ron, the more I tap into the website and read your e-mails, the more I am amazed at the time and energy you are expending on behalf of all of us, as well as 'Nam Vets everywhere. You appear to be the focal point for all of the things the rest of us want or need to do but can't, because life seems to get in the way of living.
Without a doubt, you are at least 20% over max gross, and traveling in excess of VNE Don't ever burn out-We all need you! (by the way, I'm not-to use an Aussie expression-"Pissing in your Pocket") I'm really grateful you found me, and we had the opportunity to attend the reunion last April. Kathe and I are looking forward to the next one.
It's still hard to believe that an only child who is pushing 60 can have so many brothers, many of whom I had never met until this year. I'm not sure how much I can help from Sydney, but I want to be part of the drive to get more of us to the next reunion.
Take care,stay safe, and think of me still flying my ass off on bush fires in Australia this (southern)summer.
Please forgive the delay in writing, you've been on my mental "to do" list. Stan received his copy of the 25th's Flashes a couple of weeks ago & was VERY PLEASED & Proud! I've made some copies of the article so our daughter's could each have a copy and a few extra for other relatives. He even took it to work to let a couple of his co-workers read, which he doesn't do often.
How was the reunion? Did you get additional information you didn't have for your book? I sure wished we could have been there for many reasons, meeting you being 1 of them! John Senka & I e-mail & he mentioned recently that he sent "Mole City Survivor" T-shirts to 4 of the helicopter guys who helped them that night in Dec. He said he got their names from you, I wanted to know who there were too so John sent me a copy of your e-mail to him listing the guys.
Thanks again Ron, for caring enough and taking the time & energy to track everyone down & write a story that will preserve the history of the Mole City Battle on Dec. 22, 1968 forever, not only for the guys in your helicopter unit, but the guys on the ground that your air support made the difference between living and dieing for an entire unit and their families. You're a real jewell-a diamond!
Keep in Touch!
I just got back on line after problems with storm damage to my system. My son finally came home from college to get me up and running again. I did not make the reunion. Yes, I was at Mole City. I was a medic with C
company. If you've read John Senka's account of the battle, I was the young medic he spoke of in his article. I've written to John about that night and although we shared a lot, we also saw the night differently. I was one of the new replacements to the Manchu's after the November losses.
I agree that it was a long night. I never thought about other elements that were engaged until I read on the Net, the account of the helicopter pilots. It brought back a flood of emotions for me, realizing that we had so many other people giving their all so we could make it. I was aware of the flare ships and the jets because of the light and noise. I was intent on treating the wounded men under my care, that a lot of the night is a blur. I think that's the case because I was focused on the wounded.
After the grenade attack on the bunker I was in, I was wounded, I tried to get back into the bunker from the trench. The entrance was blocked, I yelled "Manchu" several times without getting an answer. I made my way back to the Commo bunker for our company. The radio operator and the Platoon Sgt. were there, both wounded slightly. I treated them and stayed there firing across the compound at green tracers. At one point I heard a sound that I had never heard before, and was told that it was our gunships firing rockets on the wire, trying to slow the enemy advance. I stayed there until daylight.
Then I was evacuated to an aid station, then to Saigon where I was operated on. Then to Japan (X-mas day '68). I spent 6 weeks there rehabilitating then was sent back to Viet Nam to complete my tour. Mole City has remained vivid in my memory all of these years. I am proud that we held the position and inflicted considerable damage on the enemy. I'm sorry for the 23 men who got killed there. I firmly believe that the only reason we held the position is because we had air cover all night. Against the odds we faced, even though we fought with uncommon valor, I don't think that would have been enough. If you haven't been thanked for your efforts that night, let me say it...thank you.
Like I said I really didn't think of the support we had until I read the article on the Web. Now I'll never be able to forget it. I'm trying to keep this e-mail short. If you want to contact me for any further info, my phone number
is: 717-361-0964. My address is: 459 N. Mt. Joy St. Elizabethtown, PA 17022. I'll help in any way I can.
You found information on my sweetheart! My dear 440 that brought me back alive, time after time. Some of those incident reports are very familiar and actually appear on the film I sent you. I believe the second
incident report (with 2 WIA) was when Captain Reynolds and his co-pilot both got splattered by shrapnel from a bullet that came through the instrument panel and went through the rear firewall, 10" to the right of my head. The report with the damage to the landing gear is also on the film. I actually saw the bullet (as it had slowed down, having gone through the landing gear) whiz past my nose.
You are amazing Ron. For me, this is major closure. I was really attached to that ship. Those that haven't flown will not understand.
Thank you so much.
I did find more footage to go along with the first film. Lots more faces and company area shots. I do need to edit it and get it on VHS, but your energy is contagious, so I'll get on it, and have it out to you soon.
Bless you Ron,
Thank you for all the hard work that you have put in to this site. I spoke with you today and was ,so happy to know that, someone is doing so much, so that we wont be forgotten. I was looking at little bear crewchiefs of 67, low and behold the picture of the guy refueling that huey is none other than me '' the unknown crewchief 67'' now that was a shocker. Well I am no longer unknown. Tthat picture is a picture taken sometimes in 1967 during my tour, and a very proud member of little bears,for my little tropical vacation.
I dont know who took that picture, but I want to thank him for doing so and thank you for posting it.
This whole thing makes me feel good ,and proud thanks again,
I find it hard to believe that someone out of history would remember me and try to find me after all these years. I've heard it done about buddies from the Big War(WWII) but not out of Nam. I more than forgot everything that ever happened about anyone except the life I lived personally. You know it was said that if you made a friend in Nam you were sure to loose him so don't make any. And I never thought I had. This is getting so bizarre.
It's obvious you like to play on the computer. You answered your e-mail right away. I too spend more time than I should(according to my wife) but it's the only thing I really do for myself.
Forgive me for not being too explicit about things right now. I' am a little busy with things around my barbershop show. Tomorrow night is going to be very much alive and I will be there enjoying myself and singing up a storm, so I will get back to you on Sunday. Have a little patience...I mean after thirty years!
This is going to be interesting.
Later, I promise, Bob
Many thanks for your obvious hard work in keeping up with thangs including the after action report of the latest reunion. I never dreamed that Jim Kelly's and my actions one day in a hay field in Daleville Al. would become such a rewarding THANG!!!!! As you may or may not know, one day exactly seven years ago this coming Friday, Jim Kelly and I met per chance at a Army Aviation Credit Union sale in Daleville. We agreed at that time to attempt a reunion of Little Bears and set a goal to have it within a year. Paul Smith, Jack Schultz and Jim Dayton were recruited to assist as they were a few of the only "locals" known to either of us. Needless to say, hundreds of hours were spent on the phone,on the computer, etc, establishing contact with Bears. The rest is history--Jim Kelly was defacto president for the first reunion in Pensacola, and I was elected to be the president for the second reunion at Ft. Rucker. Each successive reunion has grown about 50% over the last one..Let's all endeavor to succeed in doing this until all "our" troops are accounted for! Gen. Weyand was invited to the first two reunions--each time he responded with an encouraging letter, but declined attendance because his wife has alzhiners disease and he elected to remain in Hawaii with her. Keep up the good work. I have a Bear story if you'd like to hear it.
Best Regards, Jim Watts
I finally had a chance this morning to do some e-mail. Reading the reunion newsletter reminded me again that I am blessed to be a member of a group of real men who are patriots and heroes. Ernie gave me the bug to fly again after letting me fly his plane on the way out and back from the Reunion. So, in addition to the normal catch-up items, I've been getting some instruction for my private fixed wing rating.
I enjoyed the reunion very much and was touched in all of the ways that have been mentioned by the others. I really appreciate all that you did for the reunion, for the web site, and for the work in finding so many
Diamondhead's. There is no way to thank you enough for everything. We will try at the next reunion. Now that I have started attending, it will be hard to get rid of me. You have helped me look forward to this new phase of my life in a way that I haven't so far. It is almost as good as being young again, but I notice that I am still slow -- in more ways than one.
It's me, Kevin Matheson, the crew chief! I just read the letter you wrote about "The Last Ride". Steve forwarded it to me as he has all your letters since our trip. I can honestly say, you broke a grown man into tears with that one. You and the Diamondhead's have no idea how honored I was to be a part of a reunion where there were so many heroes, interested in a bird in which I have fallen in love with. I want to personally thank you and all of the Diamondhead's for your service in Vietnam. I try to make it a point of shaking hands and voicing my gratitude every time I meet a veteran. Your service wasn't appreciated upon your return to our country like it should have been and I can't imagine anything that could take that pain away . . . but I want you to know that there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the sacrifices that were made in Vietnam. I, along with my crew, are very thankful that we could assist in a small part to help bring some closure to you and your brothers.
Steve and I have already started our discussion on which flight suit should get the patch. We have decided to place Poncho's hat in the Huey so that we can take the Diamondheads with us on any mission that 961 flies. If there's anything in the world I can help you or any of the Diamondheads with, don't hesitate to call. I am currently a Detective with our agency, but I'm hanging in there to be with 961 on a full time basis, until then, I'll continue to fly on my on time every chance I get.
Many thanks for being the catalyst in getting myself and so many others to the reunion in Charleston. Without your persistence in tracking us all down, we would still be out of touch with many old friends and
comrades. For me it was especially nice to bring my son to see "in the flesh" some of the folks he had only heard about over the years. He can relate especially well to the group being an Army Aviator in his own right
and a veteran of Desert Storm; Macedonia and Honduras tours.
I have several picture of 961 that I would be pleased to send along to the present operators of that old hunk of iron if you could give me an address. Proud to see she is still serving with pride!!
All the best;
Stu Gerald DH 03 '66-'67
Just wanted to let you know that I ment up with Andy Carr and his wife in Pennsylvania on Monday April 15th. We got a lot of our questions answered, which made up very happy. I want to thank you again for your web site. If it wouldn't have been for the message board on the wall site, Andy would have never found me
I hope some day to meet you and too thank you in person for all the hard work you do.,
God Bless you.
Donna (Stahl) Conner
It's Rita Adams writing, Stan's wife. First of all and I know Stan meant to also include in his e-mail to you, Thank You and the men you served with for supplying the support you did to these guys on the ground. Without that additional support, God only knows if there would be any of them for you to talk to.....
Stan & I have both taken a look at your website & it is very good. I thank God for guys like you & Willy who have undertaken such a huge task. I know while theraputic for you, you are also doing so much good for not only the guys who returned, but honoring those who did not. Having sites such as yours helps heal the pain for the family members left behind.
Thank you also for undertaking the story of Mole City, including your story and those behind the scenes, but expanding it to include the Manchu Men. Stan & I have been married almost 28 yrs. & this is the first time he's ever written anything down about that night. Ironically, recently a niece of another one of his friends who was killed in Nam (6/19/69), posted a "Looking For" message on the 25th's website, a Manchu read it, posted it on Willy's site & I saw it. (Stan doesn't check the sites, I have this interest), but I share with him anything I think he might be interested in. We both wrote Briana Bargmann (Gilbert Bargmann) back so are corresponding & we made copies of some things Stan had, including a picture from The Wall listing her Uncle Gilbert. His family is from North Dakota & I don't believe have visited DC. Gilbert's parents are getting quite elderly so hope it is comforting for them vs. upsetting.
When I read your story, I can tell you are a very talented writer. Your descriptions using "human" terms for unhuman events is trully a talent. Stan does get the Vietnam Magazine so we will look with anticipation for the article. Do you know when it will be published? Will the men who've shared their experiences with you be able to proofread the entire article before submittion? I mention this because a yr. or so ago in Vet. Mag, there was an article about a helicopter pilot that amazingly we know! While we knew he was a Vet., lost a leg, he moved to the Fulton community several yrs. ago & is the administrator of our hospital (small world). The article had a picture of him so we knew it was the same Gerald Torba, so we called him & told him about the article. He was pretty blown away because no one had tried to contact him & evidently some of the info. was not correct.
In Stan's e-mail to you he mentions, Jose' Ruiz & Platoon Sgt. Leonard Simpson. He has not seen or heard from them since returning. However the other 2 guys, John Roche & Henry Hoffer we have. About 15 yrs. ago we reconnected with them, meeting in DC & since that time, send cards & have visited each other in our homes. We've got a great picture of the 3 of them in Nam & a similar picture of the 3 of them in DC, just FYI (don't know if you'll be doing any pictures). Plus we have another smaller one that I guess Stan must have taken because he's not in it, but Roche, Hoffer, Simpson & I believe Ruiz are (Company B) guys.
Your horse business sounds very interesting, my boss (female) use to teach riding @ a college, still has horses, rides in shows sometimes, etc. so I've learned some about them & all they require. I'll let you go, look forward to hearing back from you & thanks again for doing the story. PS Did you have a connection to make the story begin or did you just contact the Mag? I believe I'd read where they ask for stories for publication.
Rita and Stan Adams
I just read your entry and to me it`s like I was standing at the wall hearing your thoughts. I went to the wall about 7years ago and it is something I never got over and don`t think I ever will. All the names,names of men who were husbands, fathers brothers names of men who would never be fathers. That WALL just pulls at your heart till you think you can`t stand it anymore.It made me sick the way you MEN were treated during and after the war. I have always wanted to tell all you men THANK YOU
It is because of men like you that we all have the right to do and say what we want. This country could never pay you back for what you did.You are all just so special. Again forgive me for sending that mail, this webtv is all new to me and I hit the wrong button. I live in Fl. but I am no nut just a grateful American.
Thank you so very much.
Hey Ron..Just a note to thank you for the invite to the first ever reunion.I would like to talk more about this and was very surprised when I received the mail from you about it..I went to your web site and started to get flash backs,the main one was when I read the news paper clipping about the 25th and how many hours we flew.What hit home was when I read that The Battalion Sergeant Major William H Bennett was the man that accepted the award,tears came too my eyes cause this man was my Uncle.Yes we were stationed at Cu Chi together from 70 to 71 he was my rock.I have so many questions and people I want to check on maybe I'll be able to get some answers through your web site..From my Heart...thanks...
Then and now Sgt.L.B.Roscoe Jr.
I just read your piece on the Vietnam War. Well done. After verifying a few of the facts presented, primarily to ease my academic mind, I would like to use this piece in my history classes. Oh, by the way,
I teach both high school and college history classes.
May I use your article?
TSgt, USAF Retired
Ron, you truly are the "Man" Everyone I talk to or e-mail all have the same thing to say about your efforts, "I don't know what we would do without you". By the way the recent TV movie, Band of Brothers, stirred some
memories of my own in Vietnam with my own band of brothers. People who have never been there don't know what the term really means.
Mike Sloniker wrote:
Leonard's contribution is a major part of the 2001 CD ROM
I have compiled his data, added pictures, and am using him as an example of how one individual can find his units data by visiting the National Archives in Silver Springs Maryland.
His basic history of the 25th Inf Div, which is the start point is 23 pages long. I have added other pieces he has found into the data. The manner in which he has found the data allows me to quickly go to these websites 116th, 187th 242d D/3-4 Cav, and his unit, the 25th Avn Bn, to match data with Gary's information on the VHPA homepage.. This is an extensive piece.
The comment about sending data to the VHPA must mean what he has sent to Gary and I.
Additionally, he has traveled to DC to assist the local chapter with tours of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.
This guy is above the best.
Mike Law wrote:
Linda, sometimes I add a "P" record for someone I need to keep track of. Please add a new "P" record for Ron Leonard, 109 South Forrest Street, Apt 109, Ranson, WV 25438, 304-728-7012. In the combat unit area, put "Was a Crew Chief" "Webmaster 25th AVN BN" Recently I exchanged emails with him about some history details. HE HAS BEEN SENDING VERY, VERY IMPORTANT MATERIAL TO THE VHPA for a long time. He and I just chatted on the phone. He is an important friend to have and to keep for the VHPA. Cheers,
I just wanted to let you know how much help you have been to me. I have thought about the family of George Stahl since his death in a helicopter crash at the end of the Cu Chi runway May 20 1966. I have been actively trying to find his family and his grave site since the first Little Bear reunion almost five years ago.
I have had no luck at all until yesterday. I come to the 25th Avn. Bn. web site almost ever day. Yesterday I went back to the Little Bear Wall page and clicked on George's name. There was a memorial message listed there I had not seen before. It was from his sister Donna. I sent her an email last night telling her who I was and how much her brother ment to me. This morning she called me. It was great. We spent a tearful twenty minutes on the telephone talking about George and starting to make plans to get together around the time of the next Little Bear reunion in April.
Ron, you don't know how much this means to me. Just know that all your efforts are greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work.
Man, did you do a great job! Congratulations - it is the first time that I was able to convey what we used to do to my wife and children. keep up the good work. Let me know if I can be of assistance to you.
Sorry about that.
Good for Dorothy.
I took her out for dinner while I was in San Diego last week. What a really nice lady and a fun date too.
Her house is very nice and her new gateway computer is top of the line. I think she is enjoying the project as my mother is. They are both very sharp and mentally active senior citizens. They need constructive work to do in order to keep active alive and remain mentally competent. Both of them sense this project will keep them "well" for a while longer. In a very real sense you are an enormous blessing to two little old ladies who
really appreciate being able to help and make a meaningful contribution. Just one more thing to be happy about.
Thanks Ron, for all you are doing for all of us.
I must say, it was certainly a pleasure meeting you Memorial Day morning at the Wall. It means so much to
me to meet veterans like yourself, who are inspired to turn the War into something positive.
I spent some time looking through the web site you have put together. It is quite impressive. I plan to
develop the pictures I took of Grundman's name soon, along with others I took that weekend, and will try to
find a way to send them to you by email.
Just to be sure, I'd like to return to the Wall sometime this week to make a better shot of the name,
since it may have been too dark Monday. Although it will not officially be Memorial Day, I want to make
sure it's done right.
Thank you for choosing me to help you with your noble project, and thank you, Ron, for your heroism.
Ron (the BEST FRIEND a Bear or Diamond Head could Have)
My SSN is xxx-xx-xxx
Hope this helps identify me and thanks for fixing my name Don't feel bad about the memory, I got the same thing sometimes. I'll work on the pixs this weekend you will be surprized how the company areas changed.
Best of Luck
To all Diamondhead & Lil'Bear crews
My name is Brent Witherspoon, a 2 tour medic with the 159th Med.Detachement (HA) Jan 69 to Jan 70 & Nov 70 to Nov 71. On behalf of the pilots and crews of the 159th and all of their patients We would like to Thank all of you for a job well done and a special thanks for making it possible for us to evacuate thousands of patients from the Battlefield to the nearest hospital. Without your support this task would have been virtually impossible and played a decisive role in reducing the names on that "Wall"! We will always be in your debt!
medic 159th Med det (HA)
I don't know who you are but I must admit, I am fascinated by the time, expertise and caring that your web page exhibits. My name is John J. Mistretta and I was Little Bear 15 from 4mar69 to 4mar70. You have my
name and address listed on the roster. Feel free to add my email if feasible.
When I first saw how in depth the web site was I must admit that I wondered who would care. Not in a derogatory manner, but more along the lines of "who besides us?" But then it hit me that even if it's just us
that's more than enough. Then I saw the virtual wall and that alone is reason enough.
Thank you very much for your efforts.
You are doing a great job!!!! Of course my wife is not so happy about it, but... Speaking of which your wife's name must be Patience. Diamondheads, Little Bears, character after character, ever thought of calling the site The Zoo? That's kinda' what it was.
Anyone told you the story about the gunfight in the company area--between two officers? Or, the fire fight (literally fire--lighter fluid in glasses 'til we ran out then boots, empty fire extinguishers, and whatever else could be thrown) that battle raged until I was wounded by a boot to the eye which required stitches, at which time a truce was declared and we all marched (staggered) over to the hospital in our skivvies, where my eye brow was sewn up, despite repeated shouts for award of the Purple Heart none was forthcoming. Unbelievable but true.
Christmas Day, 1969 --
It was just another day in Cu Chi Base Camp. Moral was low and the ol' Christmas spirit was not to be seen or heard from. Roy Thomas and I had but 4 days left in country as we sat atop bunker #36, contemplating our situation. Then, sometime after dark, on Christmas night, a voice came from the sky, "Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!" Then we heard the song, "Jingle Bells" shooting down from a loudspeaker.
"What the heck is that?" Roy asked as he gazed up over the bunker line in disbelief . It was a helicopter. Some crazy fools from the 25th Aviation, no doubt. Finally! Some Christmas spirit!
I would like to send out a thanks to whomever pulled off that stunt. You made my Christmas!
(I was stationed with the 725th Maint. Batt. at the end of the airstrip.)
My heart ached when I read this and would really like to help. Did you write this or do you know who wrote this? Since I'm the child of someone who was killed in Vietnam, I would give anything to have my dad back and I'm sure this man's family would feel the same if he had not come home. It's certain that my life would be different if my dad was still here, but there's no way to know how it would be different. Thanks to you and the work you do for the Website and your friends, I'm finding some peace at last. I've been carrying some guilt feelings since my dad died because while he was in Viet Nam, I could never bring myself to write to him. In a tape recording he sent, he asked me why don't I write and to this day, it's still painful. You see - I knew he wasn't coming home. I knew when he got his orders, he wouldn't be coming home. Before he was shipped out and was home for a week, I knew that would be the last time I would see my dad. Getting in touch
with men like you and Joe and all the others who have responded about my dad, has made such a difference for me. What you have done for me is difficult to describe, but I don't feel so far away from him anymore, and through you're work on the website, I can go and see him anytime I want!
I can't thank you enough for your efforts, Ron. You are truly a gift to us all and I'm so happy I'm on of your recipients. Please don't ever forget how much you mean to so many folks. Keep up the great work!
Michelle Grundman Comerford
I'm happy to help especially since he just posted my dad's (Spook Grundman)picture on the virtual wall. I appreciate all the incredible work that has been done on the website - it's obviously a labor of love and respect. The few visits I made to the site were incredible for me especially the pictures of the bear "Spooky" and the Holiday Inn sign.
Thank you all for what you are doing and I hope to meet you at the reunion.
Michelle (Grundman) Comerford ;~)
My sister forwarded me your web regarding the 25th. I really appreciate all the information as I was only 9 when my father went to Nam and have never really understood everything that happened. The information about Vietnam in general, the area and the objectives have been helpful in setting to rest some questions that were so vague in my mind that I was unsure of what the questions were myself.
One of the letters forwarded to me was a memory one of my dad's buddies
had of him. He was in a village sitting at a fountain surrounded with Vietnamese children and he was smiling. I was entranced by the memory as the only picture I have he sent to me was of him and many children sitting in the helicopter "Ol' Patch". The boys were playing with the gear and my dad was smiling.
Again, my thanks for your web and all the kind words about my dad.
My husband received your postcard this weekend. Thank you for sending it. Charles was in Vietnam from October of 1965 to April 30, 1968. He was at Cu Chi when Major Houser was killed. The time and effort that you have accomplished from this website is amazing. It brought back many memories for Charles and we both took sometime to reflect where he had been many many years ago. Because of the healing that we "both" had to do when he got home I became a Veterans Benefits Counselor and I have dedicated my career in trying to be the best advocate possible for the veterans. The job is very demanding and at times very stressful but it is very fulfilling. Welcome home Ron and again thank you for your time and effort in trying to locate those who served with the 25th at Cu Chi.
I was checking your 25th aviation battalion site. Was wondering if you might remember in 1966 a group of choppers left Cu Chi and seven were shot down I was on the second one. We were trying to pick up the first chopper crew but the chopper I was on was shot down. Do you remember any or anything about the operation. They supported a company 4/23rd infantry mechanized at CuCHi. I'm trying to find some of the crews
of 7 choppers that were shut down that day. I need to thank them for getting us down after we were all hit we were under heavy fire but they did their job and put us on solid ground I know one of the pilots had received wounds but he put the chopper on the ground. I hope that you can help me out.we had to stay out all night because they could not come in and get us out. But they did bring a puff the Magic Dragon to help us out. We were low on ammunition so it was the best thing to help us through the night. It
was quite a site but a little scary when are Dragon had to leave we knew that all hell would break loose while they were grown. And did.
I want to thank you for putting your Web site. I wish there were more out there. I have tried to put Vietnam in the past but for some reason it keeps popping up there are some thank yous I need to do first.well they don't want this to go alone I want to thank you for what you did for the ground troops over their ...thank you thank you.
thank you for the link to Dan Nate and others. Foot, I've been awake for most of the last two nights thinking about missions, people and units from the Vietnam era. You are really an asset to the men who served in that timeframe.
I need to get to work as I haven't paid my way here at work since your e-mail.
Thank you, for what you are doing.
Yes there is a God and He is clever enough to use normal, flawed people like you and me to be his agents of good on Earth.
Perhaps you are getting a taste of what it is like to be an angel my friend.!?
Michelle Grundman Comeford knows you as the angel who let her know for certain
that her Dad's life had meaning.
I am tickled pink to see you being blessed for your good works.