"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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bill McCullough: Vietnam Vet Shares Story

CJ - 
My name is Bill McCullough. I read the story about Doug in the Coshocton Tribune. I've lived in Coshocton County most of my life. I don't think I ever met Doug, but he has been a part of my life for a long time.

After marrying Shiela Miller in May of 1967, I went in the army. By July of 1967, I was in Vietnam. By January 1, of 1968, I was with the 196th light infantry brigade d 4/31. I returned to the states on December 25, 1968. By September of 1969, I was back in Coshocton working at GE (General Electric) full time, Buckeye Mart part time, selling Amway, and building a home.

I'm sorry I don't remember Doug's funeral. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was probably trying to foget my time in Vietnam and trying to make my life normal. For years, I tried everything, good or bad, to help forget Vietnam. Shiela was always there for me, although not knowing what, if anything, she could do to help. We have one beautiful daughter who has turned out wonderful. I regret that I wasn't in the right state of mind and I couldn't be fully there for her as she grew up. Julie married her high school sweetheart, Chris Yaw. I understand Chris's dad, Paul Yaw, was a friend of Doug's and he escorted Doug home from Vietnam.

In the '80's, I was part of the group of Vietnam vets that started the VVA Chapter 159 in Coshocton. As a group, we tried to do things that would help Vietnam vets work through something we didn't understand. After becoming president of the Chapter, we decided we should erect a monument on the courthouse lawn to honor our brothers lost in Vietnam. We had a lot of help from the community to accomplish this. Marlene Shroyer Griffith and Robin Coffman also helped organize a welcome home parade for the Vietnam vets and then recognize and honor our lost Vietnam vet brothers.

I worked at GE until I retired in 2000, working most of the time on the night shift. Lots of overtime gave me an excuse to go through life in a blur. By 2008, life was catching up with me. By chance, I met up with Jessie Maple on County Road 10. I first met Jessie in Vietnam, after I got to d 4/31 196th lib. Jessie, like Doug and me, was also from Coshocton County.

Jessie had three months to go in country when I arrived. He taught me how to walk point, watch for booby traps, and how to stay alive. I owe him my life -- again, I owe him my life. In 2008, he took me to the Veterans Service Office in New Philadelphia which got me into a PTSD group.

Now we know what we know about PTSD and head trauma. We can't let today's veterans go forty years before they get help.

Bill McCullough 

“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

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Vietnam Vet Included in Book

Coshocton Tribune - October 29, 2012
Coshocton native, Doug Kempf, is remembered for his commitment to his country in a new book profiling those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

Kempf, 22, died Sept. 5, 1969, while serving as a U.S. Army medic in the Long Khanh province of South Vietnam. While tending to injured men in the field, Kempf was fatally wounded by a sniper’s bullet.

His name is one of thousands forever enshrined on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The memorial is celebrating its 30th anniversary. In recognition of the milestone, All They Left Behind" by Lisa Lark will be released Nov. 1, 2012.

The book features profiles on more than 60 soldiers and photos featuring about 300 men and women involved in the conflict. This includes Kempf, who has a section of the book a little more than two pages long.  Lark said Kempf’s story represents the type of courage and commitment you just don’t see anymore.

“The piece of the story that really struck me is how he wouldn’t take help from anyone else,” she said. “He could have stayed in college, people would have given him money to stay in college, but he wanted to do everything himself. He believed (serving) was his responsibility and he was going to do his duty.”

His profile includes photos of him in uniform and on his wedding day with his widow, CJ Heck. Doug’s brother, Dennis Kempf, and his cousin, Ron June, were interviewed for the book. Doug’s oldest brother, Terry Kempf, still lives in the Coshocton area, as do many nieces and nephews.

Heck, an author, lives in Florida now. She maintains a blog in Doug’s memory [Memoirs From Nam] that allows Vietnam veterans and family members to share their stories and memories of lost loved ones. Lark said Doug has one of the longer chapters in the book, because Heck lives to tell Doug’s story.

“As far as Doug is concerned, I think it’s important to know there was more than just a medic there. As a lieutenant told me, ‘Doug Kempf was our mama. He heard all our problems,’” Heck said. “In his time off, he would go into town and nurse children who were there. Maybe they had lice, or had fallen or had gotten shrapnel. He was always helping someone.”

Heck said she’s never been to the real memorial in Washington, D.C., but she has visited the traveling memorial wall and has seen Doug’s name inscribed there.

“It’s very haunting, but very cleansing as well,” she said. “As you reach out to that marble wall, it’s like a hand reaching back at you. It’s a mirror image. It’s almost like you’re reaching out to touch a name, but they’re reaching out to touch you.”

Lark is a high school teacher in Dearborn, Mich. She said the city lost 23 soldiers in the Vietnam War and every year a Memorial Day ceremony is conducted to honor them. After the ceremony in 2010, she said a student asked to write a letter to the family of one of the men. She managed to find a few of the families that still live in the area.

After contacting the families, Lark said recording their stories seemed like a natural progression and the book project grew from there. She said she used the war memorial’s website to locate family members who left messages in remembrance of loved ones.

“I was just very struck by these young men,” Lark said. “Once you see their pictures, it’s hard not to want to know who they were.”

A portion of proceeds from book sales will go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for the Education Center at the Wall targeted for groundbreaking in November. Lark said the center will feature profiles, photos and memorabilia collected by the park service left at the wall by visitors.

“As time passes, we’re beginning to lose those first person connections. The people that knew the men and women on the wall. Their friends, spouses and children. We have a responsibility to future generations to teach them that these are not just names on a wall, these are people,” she said.

tribune.com; 740-295-3417
Twitter: @llhayhurst

“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

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Red Jeep

by C David Ramsey

 Late one afternoon, several of us were sitting in the shade of our hanger at DaNang. It was between pay periods and we were broke. If any of us had any money, we all would have been down in the city sipping some half cold beer, but broke we were, so we just sat around and talked.

I remember someone saying, “If I was home, I know what I would be doing; I'd be driving around in my uncle's red 1957 Chevy picking up girls.”

We were all silent, thinking about the beautiful life we had left back in the states. Then all of sudden, John Olinic said, “I got an idea; let’s paint the Colonel’s jeep red.” We all agreed Olinic had lost his mind.

I told John we would all be busted and locked up for life if we did that. John said, “No, we can get another jeep, paint it red, and give it to the Col.”  John Olinic was like Corporal Klinger on M.A.S.H.  He knew where to get anything anyone needed -- for a small price, or a cold beer. Soon we all jumped on board, sharing ideas for Col. Curtis' new red jeep. General Motors would have been proud of our design effort.

The next day, we went to the ARVN motor transport section on the other side of DaNang. We made up some story about a four star Vietnamese General from Saigon coming up and we were sent to get a good running jeep from their compound. I can’t describe how suspicious they looked, but as soon as we mentioned General Westmoreland, they were all too happy to help.

 We also told them it would be sent back to Saigon, so don’t expect to get it back. Again we were given that look. We then told the Vietnamese officer to write down his name because we would give it to the General so he would be sure to get a commendation. Soon he was all too happy in selecting a nice American Jeep for the Four Star General from Saigon. That nice man even filled the gas tank for us.

When we arrived back at the hanger, we had to hide the jeep in a secure work area. Every night about ten of us would gather and start sanding. Soon the jeep was ready to paint -- and paint we did.  We found some red vinyl somewhere down in DaNang, so we took out the seats to be upholstered. We then glued a nice white CO HMM-162 to proudly tell everyone this Red Jeep belonged to Col. Curtis. We broke down the wheels and tires and painted the rims a nice silver. The green canvas was also replaced with a nice red cover.
Downtown, we found some chrome air horns. It didn’t take us long to remove them from the owner's truck. We placed a tank in the back of the jeep with an air line up to the horns and a pull string so the Col. could blow his horn anytime he wanted. There it was, we had defiled everything the Marine Corp had established with that red jeep, and it was beautiful.

The following Saturday, we asked Col. Curtis to meet the squadron down on the tarmac after breakfast. I don’t think any of our officers knew about our adventure.  If they had, they would have blown a fuse -- plus our heads off.

Then Saturday came.  Col. Curtis had just finished his morning talk as John Olinic started a slow drive up the tarmac.  Heads turned everywhere and I heard several say, “What in the Hell Is That?”

John parked the jeep beside the Col. and said, “Sir, on behalf of all the men in 162 we would like to present you with this gift.  Drive it proudly, Sir.”
The first thing the Col. said was, “You're kidding.” As he walked around the jeep, we could almost read his mind:  Should I admire all this work, or put everyone in front of a firing squad?

 John pointed out the horn and showed him how to blow it. The air tank and horn worked great.  When the Col. pulled the string, a beautiful two-note melody could be heard all over DaNang Airport.  John insisted on a test drive.  At first, the Col. was a little reluctant to get in, but he did, and as he started the red jeep, he turned and started laughing. We then knew our Colonel would be proud driving his red jeep around Danang.

I don’t know what happened to that jeep after we left Vietnam, but I'm pretty sure everywhere it went, it got the same response, “What In The Hell Is That?”

“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

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Doug Karr: Mesothelioma and Veterans

Many thanks to Doug Karr for the following article on Mesothelioma, an extremely deadly disease that unfortunately affects many of our nation's veterans and heroes. Sadly, People do not find out that they have mesothelioma until long after exposure to asbestos, sometimes over 20 years, and early detection is key.

Doug is a former Petty Officer Second Class for the United States Navy. He currently writes about veteran health for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Mesothelioma and Veterans - What mesothelioma needs to grow 

Mesothelioma risks among the 23 million vets currently living in the United States are high. Veterans serving in the navy who work in shipyards and facilities where asbestos is used face even higher risks of being diagnosed with one of the deadliest forms of cancer. New promising mesothelioma research could be critical in improving the survival rate.

Mesothelioma and the role of HMGB1

Mesothelioma doesn’t have to be a death sentence if it is detected in its earliest stages. Mesothelioma cells require HMGB1 to grow, researchers concluded. Under the direction of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, researchers learned more about the role a protein critical to the development of mesothelioma played in the progression of the disease. The role of the protein, HMGB1 (high-mobility group box 1), in the progression of mesothelioma is better understood as a result of the research.

Now scientists are one step closer to being able to detect the mesothelioma in its earlier stages. The highly resistant form of cancer is usually detected in its later stages and responds poorly to current treatments available. According to Cancer Research, the protein affects the progression and survival of mesothelioma cells. Using laboratory mice, antibodies were used to inhibit HMGB1, slowing the growth of mesothelioma cells in mice. This extended the survival rate of mice infected with the cancer. This could have an impact on the survival rate of mesothelioma patients, especially among high-risk populations like veterans.

What does this mean to vets?

Like all mesothelioma patients, veterans diagnosed with cancer have a survival rate of less than one year after diagnosis. One in four mesothelioma patients have served in the navy or in shipyards. This means that most who have served in this environment have reason to be screened for mesothelioma. Retired veterans who have been exposed to asbestos are more likely to notice mesothelioma symptoms decades after being initially exposed. Many veterans experience flu-like symptoms and never seek medical attention when they manifest. This means that retired veterans must be particularly vigilant in seeking medical treatment when minor, basic flu-like symptoms occur.

Since most veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma in advanced stages, the research is promising. It is still important, however, to be proactive in taking notice of any flu-like symptoms to improve chances of early detection.

“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

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

"We The People"

Thank you to the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, for making this exceptional video.  It had over 6 Million hits in just four days.

I believe the pendulum has finally begun to swing.  Let's keep it going.  Please click on the link and watch:   "We The People"

Many thanks to the great University of Oklahoma for such an outstanding job.

“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

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