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May/June 2024  -   -  

Still Searching

Reading “The Search Never Stops” by Dennis Howland brought to mind Air Force Maj. Martin J. Massucci of Royal Oak, Michigan, who has been missing since October 1, 1965. I wear his bracelet as a constant reminder of his sacrifice. Along with two fellow VVA members, I conduct a missing man table ceremony to honor these men. In my introduction, I share the stories of these missing heroes, explaining why we must keep their memories alive. The ceremony often moves attendees to tears.

It’s crucial that we keep these missing servicemembers in the public consciousness to help their families find closure. Wearing a POW/MIA bracelet allows me to contribute to this ongoing remembrance. May we one day bring them all home.

David Hoffman
via email

Deja Vu

I’m an Air Force Vietnam veteran and the cover of the March/April issue triggered a lot of memories. I was an EB-66 navigator-bombardier, and we used a probe and drogue air refueling system similar to the one shown on the cover. However, when I was in the Air Force most planes refueled using the flying boom system in which the boom operator on the KC-135 tanker aircraft would plug the refueling boom into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft.

In the photo on the cover, the dark black straight line going from the bottom right toward the middle of the page is the refueling probe from the aircraft seeking fuel. The white/tan circle around that black straight line is the refueling drogue being towed behind the aerial tanker aircraft. We used to call that “the basket.” The black line running down is the air refueling line from the KC-135 like the one shown on page 23.

It is refreshing to see one of the things from my tour of duty highlighted on the cover of The Veteran.

Thomas Mangan
Brockport, New York

She's Hardcore

Reflecting on the article of Dickey Chapelle, in high school during the early 60s there was a war correspondent who came to speak at our school. At the assembly, out walks Chapelle—a woman—not the hard-core G.I. I had envisioned. She threw an NLF flag on the floor, stomping on it, explaining it represented oppression, not freedom, as we have. It made an impression on me. She encouraged the girls to follow their dreams. She ended up photographing war. Unfortunately, she was killed in Vietnam in 1965 before I arrived 1966.

John Mersinger
via email

A 'D,' Not An 'A'

In the latest issue of The VVA Veteran, in the article “No Good Deed,” you have a photograph of a KC 135 refueling four aircraft. These aircraft are identified as F-5A Freedom Fighters. This is incorrect. The aircraft being refueled are most likely F-105D’s. F-5A’s only had drogue and probe type in-flight refueling capability and could not take on fuel from a boom.

Vic Craft
via email

Citizenship Through Service

In the January/February issue, Alan P. Alborn correctly points out that mandatory involuntary servitude is unconstitutional. My proposal would be that a course of military or selfless public service for young people would be absolutely voluntary.

The catch would be that only those who had served their nation in this manner would have earned the right to vote. Electoral decisions made by those who have already invested themselves in their country would bear the weight of the prudence and maturity that follows national service. Every young person would be completely free to decide whether to become a fully participating citizen of this great nation.

Imagine how much more reasonable and well-behaved our public life would be if voting were a franchise earned through conscious decisions by our young people.

Guy E. Miller
Greenville, North Carolina

Never Forgotten

The “Parting Shot” photo of nurses receiving Purple Hearts got my attention. I was serving with Capt. Eleanor Alexander at the 85th Evac. when she was killed Nov. 30, 1967. Also lost in that plane crash were Nurse Anesthetists Lt. Jerome Olmsted and Lt. Kenneth Shoemaker. RIP my old friends, you have never been forgotten.

Bob Engel
Geneva, Illinois

A Happy Veteran

When I left Vietnam on March 3, 1967, my mom had passed, and I came home on a plane full of happy veterans. I was the only one who wasn’t. Exactly 57 years later, thanks to the Honor Flight organization, I was on a plane full of happy veterans and I also was happy.

Craig Spotts
via email

Don't Forget The Coasties

G.W. Davis’ letter’s claim that the Air Force “is the only branch that didn’t find it necessary to draft during the Vietnam War” is incorrect; the Coast Guard also did not need to draft.

Noel Bell
Culver City, California

No Good Dead

At Danang Air Base in 1967 we loved to go to China Beach, where there was a little trailer with snacks and drinks. I found out the girl cashier’s birthday was coming up, and asked if she had any special gift in mind. After struggling with the language, I discovered she said she would do anything for a Zippo lighter. So, I bought a lighter, fuel, and flints and I presented it to her. When I inquired when we would have some time together, she said her grandma needed her that afternoon, but she was off the next day and would be at the beach to meet with me then.

When the next day came and the next one with no sign of her, reality sunk in that I had been had for a two-dollar Zippo. A few weeks later, I read in Stars and Stripes that Charlie was modifying Zippos with an explosive and leaving them on the trail for GIs to find. I feel bad about that to this day.

John Wax
via email

Cherished Memories

The Zippo lighter article and comments brought back memories of another cherished item that many Navy veterans may still have. I served on the U.S.S. Reeves in 1972-73. I still have my ship belt buckle from the time I served.

The Reeves was decommissioned, put into the Mothball Fleet and was used as a movie prop for the remake of Pearl Harbor. You can see the “24” on the hull during the strafing runs in the movie.

Proud to have served.

Michael E. Lalancette
via email

Buckley & Nixon

I always enjoy the historical perspective of the “50 Years Ago” column, but I noticed a small but substantive typographical error in need of correction in the March 19 entry in the last issue. It says that N.Y. Republican Senator James Buckley, “a Nixon supporter,” urged the president “to serve as an extraordinary act of statesmanship and courage.”

Buckley, though, went on to say that “act” should be “Richard Nixon’s own voluntary resignation as President of the United States.”

Joe Rotella
via email

Fantastic Flight

After reading the recent letter from Rick Weldon, I wanted to share my experience with a similar organization called Forever Young Veterans.

I waited a number of years on the Honor Flight list in Lake County, Florida. When my opportunity arrived in 2019, Covid restrictions prevented me from making the one-day flight. Then I’d discovered Forever Young Veterans and I made my first trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It made quite an impression on me.

In Washington, I made a number of friends, one of whom one was a POW, Air Force pilot Ken Wells, who was shot down over North Vietnam.

Joseph Corlito
via email

Women Vietnam Veterans

First and foremost, I’d like to present this portrait of Dickey Chapelle to honor female veterans, who have been featured in the magazine. I’ve finally had time to do the black-and-white photo you ran in the magazine in color pencil and gel ink among the art projects I’ve had on my plate.


I must confess I had no idea that America would ever honor women veterans, but I became inspired to do this portrait. So, let me say to the women who served, “Ladies, thank you for your service.”

I have four adult daughters. My youngest has elected to join the ranks. She asked for my advice. My reply was that she apply for commissioned-officer status. She just informed me she passed the officers’ exam. No matter what career or vocation my daughters choose, I will support them.

As you can tell, I am incarcerated. I’ve been that way for approximately forty years. I am not the angry, confused, and disenfranchised young man of years past.

Mark Stanley-Bey
San Quentin Rehabilitation Center, California




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