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November/December 2022 -   -  


During my annual speaking engagements to middle and high school students in the Chicago area, I always explain that no one can tell them what it was like to be in the Vietnam War. It all depended on when you were there, where you were stationed, and what your duties and responsibilities were. The only thing anyone can tell you is what it was like for them in Vietnam.

This was brought home to me in the last two issues of Letters exchanges about hooch girls. When I was not sleeping in the jungle, we had hooches on FSB Snuffy in Phuoc Long Province along the Cambodian border.

No hooch girls for us, just an air mattress if we were lucky — and two guys to each hooch. But at least we were out of the rain.

Alan E. Krause
via email


WOW! According to a couple of previous letters, it sounds like some of my comrades had hooch girls cleaning their barracks.

Are you kidding me? Keep this a secret because some of us boonie boys didn’t have that in the jungle, and we might feel we have missed something. I suppose you also had hot chow and not C rations?

Dale Ronning
via email


I read the email from the veteran who didn’t like the term “hooch girl” for a woman who cleaned our hooch, washed our clothes, and kept an eye on our hooch while we were gone.

This was in 1967-68, and there were six of us in the Air Force who ran the airstrip while on an Army post 65 miles northwest of Saigon, Tay Ninh Base Camp. These hooch girls got two dollars a week from each of us, and they were happy to get it.

Marv Saletta
via email


The articles on Vietnam returns (“Getting Closure” and “Sent to War, Returning for Peace”) in the Sept./Oct. issue were very enjoyable. I wanted to mention another foundation that funds and fully sponsors return trips for veterans, The Greatest Generation Foundation, at tggf.org.

I am on their waiting list with a group I’ve organized of Air Force veterans. It’s a Thai journey, not Vietnam, as that was my duty back in the day. The trip is completely funded by donations. Some readers might like to sign up, as the trips mentioned in the VVA articles hovered around $4,000 each.

I also related to the Honor Flight story. I had the opportunity as a member of Chapter 879 to attend an Honor Flight on Sept. 21 with the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. It delivered far beyond anything that I’d imagined. Every one of the volunteers was courteous and helpful.

Upwards of a hundred of us toured the monuments and memorials. Since my wife is a nurse, I also made sure that I visited the Vietnam Women’s Memorial sculpture dedicated to nurses who served in Vietnam.

I made rubbings of three names from the Vietnam Wall. Two were former squadron commanders from my years at the Academy — Major Jack Espenshied and Major Ward K. Dodge, and the third was one classmate of mine from 1969, Craig Paul.

I felt deeply moved by the “mail call” on board our return flight — a surprise to all of us — when we received a beautiful plaque and “one-day active duty” certificate from Eastern Iowa Honor Flight and touching letters from nearly 20 students in grade schools and a high school. It brought tears to my eyes.

Most unforgettable, though, were the welcoming gatherings at Dulles and Cedar Rapids Airports. At Dulles, a dozen or so airport security staff and employees welcomed us to D.C., and a much larger group welcomed us home at Cedar Rapids airport.

I felt stunned after our return flight as we walked through wave after wave of citizens holding banners and balloons, and simply saying, “Thank you for your service. Welcome home.”

John JC Miller
via email


I read with interest of the experiences of veterans returning to Vietnam. I was able to go back in 2015, along with my wife, daughter, and her spouse. I left in 1970 after serving at An Hoa with the 5th Marines and in Da Nang at the Naval Hospital.

We landed in Hanoi. Our tour company was a local establishment that arranged every stop during our three-week stay. We wanted to see sites I remembered and to experience Vietnamese culture. We toured Hanoi extensively and then went to Sapaa in the north, spent three days on Ha Long Bay, and then went to Hue City. The old imperial compound was an amazing experience as we saw the the incredible restoration work that has left almost no trace of the fierce fighting that occurred there.

We then drove to Da Nang over the Hai Van Pass. There are no traces of the U.S. presence, but old French fortifications are still there. In Da Nang we toured the city and found the site of the orphanage where I adopted my daughter in 1969. We also were able to find the airstrip at An Hoa; and that is about all that remains of that huge base.

We had dinner with an NVA vet in Hanoi and had a wonderful and interesting exchange. All in all, the trip was well worth it, and I gained a new perspective on our enemy of so many years ago.

Monte MacConnell
Spokane, Wash.


I appreciated your twin articles on returning to Vietnam. I don’t think y’all have heard of the Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project: It was the brainchild of Freddy Champagne.

Champagne negotiated with the Vietnamese throughout 1987-88; and we undertook the first joint physical (Vietnamese and American) reconstruction project in 1989. There was first a sense of distrust between the authorities. After all, we were the first Americans anyone had seen since 1975.

We were confined to our “hotel” — more akin to a compound — and trucked to our job site, a medical clinic, and immediately trucked back to our hotel. Gradually, we gained their trust, and eventually we had the run of the city without restraint.

My wife, Janet, had the idea of joining the last team, Team 29, before the project drew to a close. And so, in 2014, we headed back to Vietnam for ten days. We went to Hue City, and the site of my old operations area with the Combined Action Program. Ahh, the memories; some of them good, some, of course, not so good.

Michael E. Peterson
Eugene, Oregon


In his letter in the September/October issue, Dick Brooks echoes my complaint about the VA denying benefits after an application has been submitted, and rejected for justifiable compensation.

Keep applying, Dick. My Veterans Service Officer and I have applied several times for the same disability, and still are waiting for a decision, even as in our eyes compensation is inevitable since Agent Orange exposure is the reason for the disability.

Your local VSO and you should not stop applying because of an initial rejection. Best of luck to you.

John Wax
via email


Reading the letters in the September/October issue, a theme became apparent.

I was in the same boat with the veterans disgruntled by the way they were being abused by the VA with claims. I had been trying to get compensation for over 25 years of fruitless submittals.

By 2006, my wounds had caught up to me at 59 years old. I started my VA claims filings in earnest using VSOs locally. Rejection after rejection followed for the next 11 years. When I submitted for a TBI claim in 2015, I was rejected again. But I sent an appeal forward. I couldn’t find a VSO to do any follow up for me and I languished.

A friend put me onto a lawyer who specializes in VA and SSI claims. I called him in early April 2021. He sent me a form to allow his firm to have access to my records. There was no money up front and the firm would get 20 percent of whatever they collected on my behalf. And the VA sent the firm the money directly.

I went from 20 percent in 2008 to 100 percent in 2021. Today, The VA is now required by law to assist in all of my listed disabilities. The law firm was awesome. They were very fast, very efficient, and put a good amount of money into my savings account.

Austin D. Nixon


I was rather surprised to see Robert L. Cobb’s letter and photo in The VVA Veteran. I appreciate his pride in his military service and training.

From his photo and his text, he served in the U.S. Army. However, the correct term for Army recruit training is, and was throughout the Vietnam War, Basic Combat Training, and was and still is usually referred to as simply “basic,” never “boot camp.” Only recruit training in the Navy and Marine Corps is traditionally referred to as “boot camp.”

Homer Hodge
Fairfax, Virginia


The Parliamentarian’s report in the last issue caught my interest.

My first question is whether “a quorum shall be the members present” is appropriate and legal?

Secondly, is there a quorum requirement for a board meeting? Another organization I belong to has five elected officers and fourteen committee chairs who are also considered part of the board. Presently, a quorum is members present, which would allow one person to pass motions if he or she desired. Your report got me to thinking that there should be a stated number.

Thank you for making me think about this!

Howland Davis
via email




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