Craig Latham, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Latham of Hay Avenue, has just returned from a year's duty in Vietnam. While there, he was stationed at Phu Bai, where he served as an Army news correspondent in the public information division.
He recalled an incident he wrote about concerning the men getting soft drinks and beer as often as possible. "The drinks are brought by helicopter and they try to keep them as cold as possible." Craig volunteered. "One of the fellows could never find a can opener and, by the time he did, the drink was usually warm.
So, he wrote to two of the top breweries and asked them for a can opener. One of them sent 10,000, and the other one, 7,000. He wrote and thanked each of them and mentioned to the one that sent 7,000, that the other brewery had outdone them. They promptly sent 10,000 more. Then the guy had 27,000 can openers, which of course he didn't really need.
He put up a sign telling the other fellows to "help themselves". As it turned out, the next time the soft drinks and beer were delivered, the fellow had forgotten to keep one of the openers for himself and he still didn't have one."
Craig's articles appeared in The Stars and Stripes as well as his Division's newspaper, which was put out every two weeks and consisted of six pages. "Naturally, the material is censored before it is published," Craig pointed out.
He feels the men in the field at Vietnam have a good morale and they laugh at the students back here who are always demonstrating against the war. They don't really let it bother them. "Drugs are probably the worst problem over there. Marijuana grows right along the road. Thefts are another problem. The youngsters steal from the soldiers something awful, then, of course, the guys can buy the same things back from the black market for a lot more than it's worth." Craig said.
The temperature was about 95 degrees the evening he left and he didn't seem to mind the heat as much as the rain, noting it had rained for five straight months while he was there. The rain didn't last all day, but during those five months there there were one or two showers daily, which caused flooding.
|Bob Hope in Vietnam|
When asked if the boys became involved with the civilians, Craig said, "Yes." He particularly emphasized the fact that the guys aid the orphanages and contribute to them. They also asked their folks to send them things for the children.
Craig is a 1968 graduate of Coshocton High School and attended Kent State University for one year, before volunteering for the military. In February, 1970, he was inducted and took his basic training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, followed by a course in journalism and photography at Indianapolis, Indiana.
Following his discharge, which is due in February of 1972, he feels he would like to stay in newspaper work, especially now that he has the training for it and enjoys it. His actual start with newspapers came about some years ago when he was a Tribune carrier boy.
His family was elated to have him home and actually rolled out the red carpet and had signs decorating their home to let him know just how glad they were. Craig has two sisters, Bonnie and Mary, who live at home. His mother and dad are both employed by Shaw-Barton. And, of course, there is a girl in his life, Jeanne Zolar, who is a student at Kent State with three more terms between her and gradation.
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale