"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More From David

Dear Cathy,
I would be pleased to share our correspondence. Vietnam Veterans have always had my highest regard and your work is a wonderful tribute.

My grandmother used to love to tell us stories of her upbringing in Coshocton and her wonderful family. If memory serves me right, she spoke of Doug's brother Denny as well. I believe that Douglas and Denny had a grandfather named Eugene (my grandmothers brother). We used to call him Uncle Gene. He was a pilot in WWII and flew seaplanes from a aircraft carrier. When I was a small boy his favorite story to tell me was how he once flew under the Brooklyn Bridge when training for the war.

It would be so nice to meet someday. After thinking about Douglas all these years, it would be an honor to share memories with you.

I'm especially proud of Douglas and all those who served with him in Vietnam. I'm sure that your efforts are so greatly appreciated by those who were there.

Thank you so much for your warm reply. More than ever, I'm so pleased to carry on Doug's legacy.



Dear David,
Thank you so much for your kind words about Memoirs.  I'm so happy that it's bringing family members together, amazingly, some who weren't even aware of one another!  I'm sure you will be hearing from Denny.  He wrote to me after reading our correspondence here on Memoirs ... in Denny's words: 

"Wow, what a neat letter. I don't know if I have ever met David and I am not really sure who his parents are .. .I guess we will never really know how many lives Doug personally touched.
Love, Denny"

Thank you, too, for your warm words about veterans.  That's why Memoirs From Nam is so important to me -- and I hope to all veterans, not only those who served in Vietnam, but other wars, as well.  It's become a healing place to read about the experiences of friends, share feelings of loss, and guilt, and also a place for sharing the universal pride and honor of serving our country.   I sincerely hope that veterans, their families and friends who visit Memoirs can come away feeling that they aren't alone and America does appreciate their sacrifice.  It's humbling, David.  It really is.

I've given some thought to writing a book called, "Memoirs From Nam", using the blog posts -- when Doug was KIA in 1969, the Kempf family set up a scholarship fund in Doug's name for our high school, Coshocton High School.  One of my brothers, Chip Parrish, was a proud recipient of the scholarship several years after it's inception.  

If I do write the book, I will donate all proceeds to the Douglas S. Kempf Scholarship Fund.  

We will meet one day, you and I.  We have memories to share and we can create some new ones, too.
Respect and love,


Dear Denny,

The world gets smaller and smaller. It's wonderful! Denny, think back, you have to know David. Is the Gene he talks about Kenny's dad?


Yes, Gene is Kenny's father. Della was oldest, then Gib (dad), William, then Gene. Gene owned and operated Kempf Electric Company on Main Street for years. It was between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Della had two kids,William and Nancy. They lived in Milwalkee. Her kids were several years older than Terry, Doug and me. Nancy was married to Augie Pabst for a while, divorced, and I'm not sure to whom she remarried. So, unfortunately, I really don't remember David at all.


hmmmm ... maybe we should do something about that (smiling) ... do I possibly hear whispers of a family reunion?

“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

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 19, 2011

David Blank

Dear Mrs. Heck,

My name is David Blank and I live in West Des Moines, Iowa.  I am 51 years old and I am a relative of Douglas S. Kempf, U.S. Army.

My grandmother was Della Kempf and her brother was Douglas' grandfather.  Growing up as a boy I heard stories of Douglas and of how he bravely gave his life in Vietnam.  Although we never met, I've thought of Douglas often.  We even share the same birthdate, July 12th.  I did have the opportunity to spend time with Douglas's grandfather when I was a small boy and I still have fond memories of how nice a man he was.  I'm sure Douglas felt much the same.

I've visited Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. several times, and just this morning I took my 17 year son to see the traveling memorial as it passed through our town.  During these visits, I've made sure to make an etching of Douglas' name.  I've also shared Douglas's story with my two sons.

Our visit this morning to the memorial inspired my wife to Google Douglas' name ... not sure why I didn't think of doing that before now.  That is how I came across your email address.  I think in part because of Douglas, I've read a great number of first person books on Vietnam. I've always had a great interest in understanding the experience of the men who fought there.

I hope this email finds you well.  I just wanted to let you know that after all these years, there are still others out there keeping Douglas' memory and legacy alive.

Best Regards,

David Blank


Hello David,

What a wonderful surprise, hearing from you. Your letter touched me very deeply.  How I wish I could meet you in person. I keep in touch with Doug's brother, Denny, and many of our nieces and nephews and their children. It's so comforting, knowing that Doug's memory will live on, through all of us.  I still miss him terribly and I know I always will.

I would consider it an honor if you would allow me to post your letter on "Memoirs From Nam".  I began writing Memoirs in Doug's memory to help others, but it's been such a personal blessing.  It's helped me more than I ever thought possible.  I know Doug's family would love reading your letter, as will the many veterans who often visit and contribute.

Please keep in touch. I thank you most sincerely for taking the time to write to me -- I'm so very proud to know you.
With warmest regards and love,

“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

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 17, 2011

9-11 Revisited

Dear CJ,
I hope this email finds you and your family well and enjoying the summer. We are having cool mornings and warm afternoons. I love this time of year.

As we prepared for the memorial services planned around our country for the 9-11-01 tragedy, we talked a lot in my family and among friends and the community about the impact it had on us as a nation. There has been a real awakening among those who have not served in the military. They now have such respect and honor for all those who served and for what they do and have done to protect us as a nation.

I have talked to a lot of veterans lately about their service and what has happened over the years. The one thing that I am most proud of, is that all of them say the same thing: "We were proud to serve. If my country needs me I will fight again to protect us. This, coming from those who were 80-90 years old, makes me proud to be an American.

I only hope all those who try to belittle and degrade what our military does will realize if not for all of us, they wouldn't be able to do half of what they do without the fear of retribution or physical harm.

To all who perished on 9-1-01, I pray for their families and for them personally. They are with our Lord and Savior and we know they are at peace.

Sgt Bob Butcher
US Army 1968-1971
Vietnam vet 54th ord co. Long Bien
The Bman

“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
Bookmark and Share