"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, July 31, 2014

DRUGS and The American Soldier in Vietnam

Lawrence "War Hippy" Blouir

by Lawrence "WarHippy" Blouir

I don't imagine this article will help me win any popularity contests with my fellow Vietnam Veterans.

However, since I am a Vietnam Vet, I've never had any aspirations of being popular anyway.  My big struggle was just simply feeling accepted. 

I've noticed that the history of the Nam Vet doesn't say much about drug use.  I have to think it's because we're not proud that some of us used drugs to cope with the insanity of that war.

I'm sure some of my Brothers will say drugs were not tolerated -- they just got guys killed.  I have to think those that said it must have rotated out of the Nam before I arrived, or they are simply in denial of the problem, or maybe they used alcohol to cope instead.  

Whatever their story is, this isn't about THEM.  This is about ME and the Brothers all around me, from Saigon up to the DMZ;  from 1969 until December 1971, when the military forced me to leave Vietnam on a Medevac Bird with the label, "Drug Returnee From Vietnam" attached. 

The Army had a policy that was never publicized, for obvious reasons. If you had a dirty drug test, and they had started surprise drug tests, you were sent to detox, then returned to your unit. 

If you were on an extension, (which I was), you were first sent to detox.  Then you were immediately shipped back to the states.  You had no chance to get your personal effects, and even worse, no chance to say goodbye to the guys you were closer to than family, the guys you knew you'd step in front of an AK round to save. You almost have to be a war vet to understand the bad psychological effects that caused in a person.

The Army Rule:  If you were caught on a drug test and on an extended tour, you must have extended because you were addicted to drugs.  You were immediately sent home. (This was not publicized, because you know how many guys would have used it to their advantage).

My reason for being on an extended tour:  

My first extension leave, I REALLY loved flying and I extended for a spot as a door gunner on a slick. During my leave, I decided that I was gonna keep extending, and I was NEVER gonna come back to this country full of hateful, ungrateful, asswipes -- this country I used to call "home". 

At that time, I hadn't even been introduced to what was called "coke".  Not all of us were there for drugs. I had discovered that you can get used to HELL, if you're forced to stay there long enough. 

I got back to the Nam, and the Battalion Surgeon at 1/9 Cavalry told me I was crazy and he turned down my extension transfer.

Some time after that, one of the guys I smoked pot with, asked if I wanted to do some "coke".  I heard what a good buzz cocaine gave you even before I went to Vietnam, so I said, "Sure, let's do it". It took all my bad feelings away, temporarily, so I kept doing it. 

By the time I found out it wasn't cocaine, I was already feeling the need for it, if I went too long without it. Yeah, this dumb kid started his heroin addiction without even knowing what it was. By then, I didn't care what it was called. I only knew it helped me deal with the Nam, and that's all I cared about.

At this point, I'm sure some self righteous grunts will jump in and say, "We never allowed any drug use out in the bush -- that shit got brothers killed!"  Right on, good for you.  You must have been in-country before me. 

The thing about engineers is, we went out into the bush when the line companies needed to have us there, so I partied with a lot of grunts. I carried a gram vial of "coke".  I can't even count how many line company grunts I partied with that carried a prescription bottle full of "coke", because resupply was less frequent.

By now, you're probably wondering if I spent the rest of my life as a heroin addict.. Well, I spent my first nine months home, a heroin addict on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio. 

We never used heroin intravenously in Vietnam.  There, it was pure and cheap and we smoked, or snorted, it. Back home, it was cut so bad and so expensive, you had to shoot it. 

I got so sick of that lifestyle and after nine months I knew I had to do something.  So, I picked up and moved all the way to LA California, where I'd been raised. Away from the suppliers, I was able to pick myself up, and continue trying to fit back into a society that I had to hide my past from.

This is my story.  It in no way reflects on the honor of my Brothers, who may or may not have chosen drugs as a way to remain sane in an insane environment. Unless you humped a click in our boots, you have no right to judge us anyway. 

Enjoy your Freedom.

Lawrence "WarHippy" Blouir
MOS 63B20 Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic
1st Cavalry Division (AIRMOBILE)
8th Engineer Battalion
1st Air Cavalry Division
24th Duster Battalion
24th Corp Artillery
23rd MP Co.
23rd Infantry Division
Vietnam ’69, ’70, ‘71
The First Team

Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal

Other Articles by Lawrence (WarHippy) Blouir:

“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, July 30, 2014

Bringing Brother Home: by Ronnie Ray Jenkins

Charles "Chuckie" Jenkins
He left in February, and by early June,  he was dead.  June 10, 1965 to be exact, sometime after midnight Vietnam time. 

But it was the next day near Clear Creek when a knock came to the front door. It wasn’t the Army; it was his pregnant wife that I saw from my hiding place behind my Mother’s yellow sundress. 

I never saw my brother’s wife cry before, but as she stood framed in the doorway with the bright light of summer behind her, she sobbed.

It was all so confusing for an eight-year old to witness such a thing. Scary too. It was the first time I ever heard such mournful wailing, and when she passed a telegram to my mother it increased two-fold. The telegram stated my brother, a Green Beret, was missing in action.

What’s that mean, Mom? Is he lost? He was just here a few months ago. He came upstairs, Mom, and sat on the edge of each of our beds taking turns telling us to be good kids and to listen to you and Dad. 

Where’s Vietnam, Mom? I thought he was in North Carolina, Mom. Remember for my class project, I chose North Carolina to write to their tourism bureau to find out about their state?  Mom?  (I only thought those words; there was too much commotion now).

That night we had a lot of visitors. I climbed up on a chair and watched the television. My Dad watched it too, I liked Chiller Theater, but Dad kept trying to find the news. Two stations were the only choices, and I never saw my Dad change the channels back and forth so much. 

I got to stay up late, and even when I was getting fidgety, they didn’t yell at me. My Mom’s eyes sure look red. Dad’s face looks blank, and empty. There were six other kids in the house, but I didn’t know where they were, they were so quiet. Things were never quiet around here.

When the last visitor left, and the television signed off to nothing but white specks on blackness, I went upstairs to bed. I could hear my parents in muffled serious voices, but could make out very little. They rarely talked in such quiet tones. So, I lay on my back with my hands folded behind my head and stared up toward the black ceiling.

Missing. Action. Vietnam. What did it all mean anyway?

My brother knew these woods like nobody did, I thought. He probably was camping, or hiding from the other guys. He did that a lot of times with us kids. He was good at it. I wished I could walk as quiet as he did. You couldn’t hear his boots in the leaves. 

He’d jump out and scare his buddies for sure. That’s what he did to us, and we’d all let out a startled squeal, and take off running back to the safety of the big yard, or house. But, none of us could come close to outrunning him. I doubt anyone could catch him over there. He’d just run and run, and if he had too, he’d climb right up in a tree too. He wasn’t afraid of being in any tall trees; he’d go right to the top. He even jumped out of planes. I don’t like being up high.

The covers feel soft, and I pull them over my eyes to make my darkness even darker. I fell asleep wondering if it was as black there in that place called Vietnam, and if they had katydids. I knew they had monkeys, because awhile back he sent home a picture of him with two of them clutching onto him. He even wrote on the back that they looked like the twins when we were little. Mom laughed, see, I have a twin sister. Good night.

Morning light through the window sure can make a blanket hot. I kicked them off, and noticed all four beds in the room were empty. I walked on my knees on the soft bed and positioned myself at that window. There were cars parked along the road outside the house and people milling around in the yard with their heads down.

A dark green car with a star on the side of it turned around in the middle of the road and I squinted from my perch and watched it leave.

Chuckie's Headstone
We rarely have this much company. That looks like Uncle Paul down there. Hey, there’s my older sister and her husband.  They live far away, and we don’t get to see them much at all.

Why are all these people hugging Mom like that?

I know.  I know.  I know ... I bet the Army guys are bringing my brother home.

Ronnie Ray Jenkins

About the Author

Ronnie Ray Jenkins is the author of The Flowers of Reminiscence, The Flynn City Egg Man Series, Pickletwit, and hundreds of award winning short stories. 

His series, Son of Trout is a consistent Number One Best Seller on Amazon Kindle. 

He has appeared as a featured author on Huffington Post, CBC Radio, and his blog, Ronnie Ray Jenkins--A Writer's Life is read by thousands.

Visit Ronnie's Blog

“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, July 28, 2014

The Traveling Wall: by CJ Heck

Vets and Motorcycles at The Moving Wall

Several years ago, when I was still living in New Hampshire, I drove to Goffstown, the next town over, where The Vietnam Traveling Wall was being displayed.

I didn't know it at the time, but it was a day that would change my life.

There were literally hundreds of Vietnam vets there that day.  

In the parking lot, their motorcycles were lined up like dominoes.  It was an awesome sight.    

I knew it would be hard, but I thought because it was a much smaller version of The Wall in DC, and not 'the real thing', that it would be okay -- that I would be okay.

I had gone prepared to find Doug's name. I wanted to silently talk with him and leave a few personal things, photos, and some poems I had written.  

What I was not prepared for were the emotions that overwhelmed me as I approached The Moving Wall. It was devastating and it brought me to my knees. 

I had buried my grief and feelings for so long that I was totally unprepared for the emotional breakdown. All I wanted to do was run and bury everything inside again, but I couldn't even stand, only sob like I had never done before -- great gut-wrenching sobs that tore me apart inside.

If it hadn't been for the help and support of the Vietnam veterans there, I never would have stayed, never would have found Doug's name on The Wall, but most importantly, I never would have seen that I was part of something huge, something so much bigger than I had ever imagined. 

The Moving Wall
All those years, I had felt alone.  That one day changed my life. 

I was hurting, but I saw so much more hurt and pain in their eyes and as they shared their stories and their grief, I realized for the very first time, I was not alone. 

Vietnam, unlike any war of the past, nearly destroyed a whole generation of young, not only during the war, but for those who returned home, and those of us who were left behind, waiting, hoping, praying. 

I've come to realize that through silence, Agent Orange, the VA, and the government, the Vietnam War is still destroying our generation. 

I made a promise that day at The Moving Wall.  In my heart, I vowed I would do everything I could for the rest of my life to try and repay the selfless gift I was given by those Vietnam veterans. 

Through Memoirs From Nam, I created a safe and healing place for you to tell your stories, share your feelings, and voice your opinions -- both the good and the not-so-good -- through writing.

It's time we educate the public.  We need to tell the truth about the Vietnam War, you the veterans, and everything our generation endured and had to bury, because no one wanted to listen or be supportive.

Once again, I send my thanks to all of you for your support and for sharing your stories, your thoughts, and your memories -- your truth.

And one day, I will make it to The Wall in DC.  This time, I will know I am not alone. 

My warmest regards and respect,
Your friend,

Thank you for your service, and Welcome Home.

“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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Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Shau Ripcord: by Gary Jacobson

A Shau Valley at Daybreak
A Shau Valley is what comes to mind when you think of dark, imposing jungle. 

The beautiful A Shau Valley with leech infested streams, jungle cliffs, meager animal trails covered with rotted tree roots, 60-degree slopes, 140 varieties of poisonous snakes, the most unusual insects in the world, and jungle so dense at the bottom of the ridge lines that you could not see more than a few feet in front of you.

Perhaps because it was so inaccessible, this was "key terrain" for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), and one of the North's major supply lines into the South for much of the war. Nicknamed “Ah Shit Valley,” this was the setting for some of the war's bloodiest operations.

Ripcord was a Firebase that the 101st Airborne attempted to establish near the end of the war, in a bold offensive planned to destroy NVA supply bases in the mountains overlooking the A Shau Valley.

Fought during the American withdrawal from Vietnam, the Battle for Ripcord turned out to be the last multi-battalion, high-casualty engagement between infantry units of the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese Army.

Ripcord was the biggest single battle of 1970, and an engagement even more costly to the division than the infamous Hamburger Hill action of 1969.

The NVA, by taking the fight to Ripcord before the 101st could launch its offensive, were able not only to disrupt the planned offensive, but to inflict heavy casualties on the rifle companies operating around Ripcord.

NVA mortarmen inflicted heavy casualties among the artillery batteries positioned atop the firebase, and enemy anti-aircraft crews played havoc with medevac and resupply helicopters.

The 101st finally withdrew, and B-52’s bombed Ripcord into oblivion.

Creek in A Shau Valley

A Shau Valley

Death walks this shadowed alley
Where the rain never stops
In rustic tangled wood
Nigh impenetrable
Dense obstructive green
Concealing well the malignant
Virulent rebel
Malevolent NVA
Warriors in the jungled screen
Sprayed with toxins obscene
Leach infested streams
101st Airborne
Enveloped by the valley
For hostiles...

Men look to kill men
Enmeshed in hate
Murderously filled with it
Boys from both sides secreting furies
To poisonously harm
Boys on the other side
Conducting half-blind
Clashes contending for the right
To life
Snarled by evil
Fierce nose to nose
So quickly lost
In the darkning wild lair
Setting the knotty jungle snare
Initiating each other into hell.
Battling for the A Shau throne

Twisted forest whipcord
Is the rain never going to stop?
Obsessed generals,
In pitched battle for control
Vying for one last victory
One last gasp
Last chance for glory in this war
To hone their skills
In the Nam’s last dance
Before the war is through
To themselves console
Before withdrawal
Before Vietnamization.

Obsessed generals,
Playing God, by God!
Pumping technology
Into gnarled greenwood
Seeking an edge they thought
They’d win
A grunt’s life catapult
Flung into the fray
In the midst of infantry foes
With Charley
Slugging it out toe to toe...
Filling the road
On the pathway to hell...
“Whatcha gonna do,
Send me to Nam?”
If we only knew
Life there in Hell
Known as the A Shau
Was dependant on the gun
Under a blistering sun...
Blistering our innocence...

Look to skies supernal
For rescue by the eternal...
But find no relief infernal
As in multifaceted battalions
Sneakin' and peekin',
The latest in a series
Of Long
In verdant jungle dark
Many men lay slaughtered
Thrown at each other
Torn from sacred life
Unto sanctified death
Down in the valley
Mid matted corkscrew
With a considerable body of troops...
Not ours
Where life could vanish
In a twinkling...

Is the rain ever going to stop?
Patrolling the dark A Shau
Slip and slide up one hill
Skim down the other side
In fevered breath
Fated death
Ah shit...
Fresh prints in the muddy track
Everyone on edge
Sniff the air for waiting ambush
Could this be the day we die?
Is the rain ever going to stop?

Is the rain ever going to stop?
Running in rivulets red
Everywhere endless
Pop, pop, pop,
Pesky VietCong
Fire a couple rounds and di di
Harassment maddening
Taut jawed
Barbed wire lips...
Clash and dash
Get adrenalin roaring
Then bring it back down
No one around
Blends with the shadows
Until the next turn in the trail
Waiting for “show time...”

Secure another LZ
On the highground
Nestled in rocks on the ridgeline
Before fast closing dark
Just another wet miserable day
As a grunt
A groundpounder
My God...a shortimer...
Listening to cricket rhythms
Hearing something small
Moving in underbrush
Harsh alarm of a monkey
Nightbirds singing low
Trembling rage still eats at me
Under the surface below...

I hate the quiet time
Too much time
For thinking
For fearing
Rivulets of sweat merging
With tears from my eyes
Trying to discern
The deadly sounds....
Again adrenalin pumping...
Be absolutely quiet
In this life or death moment...
Can anyone hear
My primal scream?
Is the rain never going to stop?
Napalm blossom
Good morning Vietnam!
Another routine morning
Check for leeches
Dislodge other crawlies
Tend your jungle rot
No such thing as dry
Clear booby traps
And trips
Check claymores
See if they've been turned
By those practical jokers
Tricky VietCong

Try to calm
Stark fear stifling
Set jangled nerves
To survive another day
Saddle up that heavy pack
Loaded with lots of things
That go boom...
Clean the mud off your rifle
Y’wanta make it home?
It’s going to be a long
Long day
Expecting the enemy to open up
On every rise
At every bend in the trail
To bring on the hurt
Make boiling blood pump...
Another adrenalin dump...

Still we make the turn
Take each forsaken step
Past trembling bush
Over muddied ground
Past silent sound
God only knows why...
Or how...
Each minute dragging by
Seems like a year...
Playing hide and seek with the Cong
The stakes in this game
So high....

Heroic grunts
Negotiating hell and shadow.
Good men
Brave men
Beloved men
Lost in obsidian thoughts
Slowly dying as former companions
Omnipresent jungle closing in
Chilling hot
Sweet and sour
Surrounded within...
In this bamboo wood
You can't find the Vietcong
Unless he wants to find us.
Napalm will ferret him out...
I’d rather be in Hell
Can’t be any hotter than this
But perhaps we’re already there
Knocking at the southern gates...
Look at the FNG
How long is this one gonna last?
Oh how fragile
These men of war...

As NVA assaulted
Sloping mountaintop
Left no choice but to bail
Out of the fiasco
Now as we left
That blood soaked ground
Picked up by the Huey’s
Wearied unto death...

Turn out the lights
The parties over...
Look out your six
Charley hates to see you go...
Wave goodbye
It’s closing time...
As gunships blast surrounding hills
Watch Uncle Sam’s parting gift
Given by high-flying B52’s
Leaving nothing for the enemy
Bombing Ripcord into extinction
Napalming it
Like it never was...

Gary Jacobson

Gary Jacobson
Combat Infantryman
1st platoon
B Co 2nd/7th 1st Air Cavalry
Vietnam '66 - '67

“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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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saving Tears: by Doyle Watters

Weary Looks in our Eyes ...

Saving Tears

We brothers gathered in silence with weary looks in our eyes.
So many years had passed, still our reflections remained painful.
Comfort of mind, there's no such thing, until self is accepted.
We looked like anyone else, I guess, from the outside looking in.
We talked rice paddies, jungles, and bombs that fell on Hill 875.
Been a long time, we'd been saving tears, for this mournful cry.

Logic was set aside to chase the unknown without knowledge.
Imagination had held us captive, as we've pondered the whys.
Years stole our memories, but dared not to touch our scars.
Nightmares kidnapped sleep, laughing at the anguish it caused.
Post traumatic stress disorder we've all been deeply affected.
Been a long time, we'd been saving tears, for this mournful cry.

My health is slipping quickly someone said, mine too the reply.
They sprayed us with chemicals, sent us home to rot and die.
Drunken nobodies, without jobs some were labeled and scorned.
A black granite wall built to jog the silence of a past which slept.
It dances to the rhythm of motion, in the darkest of midnights.
Been a long time, we'd been saving tears, for this mournful cry.

From mother earth we were all slung, into uncertainties of life.
Lost at the controls of society, we search for what lies beyond.
Hoping those young lives, that gave their all, we'll see again.
Our intentions to go, and return whole, but none of us did.
Yet, youth allowed us to solidify an everlasting brotherhood.
Been a long time, we'd been saving tears, for this mournful cry.

CSM Doyle Watters 
Vietnam Veteran
US Army Retired

Other Articles by Doyle Watters

“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

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Remembering Comrades: by Michael Lansford

Remembering Comrades
I made a promise to always remember everyone from the day I left. It was a promise I made 45 years ago. It's a promise I've kept.

I need to say thanks to all the comrades I spent time with in country and I would like to remember as many comrades by name as I possibly can. I owe them that.

So, this is for all we lost, those who survived, moved on, or never left, both physically and mentally.

Here's to the KIA's, MIA's, Officers, NCO's, Docs, medics, and nurses. Our lives are, and will forevermore be, changed by the events we endured, saw, lived, etc.  You helped to make it possible that we lived on.

Thanks to Lt. Tangel, Lt. Art Deverill, and Commander Roger Dent (a great leader).

Thanks to SSGT Becker, who taught me how to read the jungle and survive. He had already been there six years and vowed to stay until the end. He did. We lost him in the last bunch out in '75, after a 12-year tour, I'm told. He loved what he did and took care of his boys.

To my medic, Rodriguez. Thanks for always being out front for us and saving as many lives as you could. We owe you eternally.

For Big Dan, every time we were on perimeter it always was raining. I never forgot.

Bill Sullivan, remembered because we went to Austrailia together. There's more, but you know.

Ted Zimmerman, who promised to have enough kids for a football team. I hope you did.

Thanks to Steve Graebner, The California Kid.

A thank you to Jim Kizziah, who always talked about getting home to his wife and back in the coal mines. It's the only thing he ever wanted to do.

For Donny, who wanted to go back to school at LSU along with his wife.

They were all men to be remembered and thanked. Without them and many others, I wouldn't be here today. They were heroes, all of them.

For Danny McGrady, whose letter from home to me saved my life -- he taught me timing is everything,

To Michael Allen Hawk, Disharry, Eddie Miles, Ted Zimmerman, Phil, Short Round, Walt, Chris, Ron Devarry, Dave Pounders, Jim Young, Steve Graebner, Stratton, SSGT Gibbs, Michael West, Hawkins, Richard Gagne, Castle, and many more names that I can't remember.  Thank you, and please forgive me, because I will never forget you, names or no names.

CJ, thanks for posting my comrades remembered. Without them I wouldn't be here. I barely knew the guy on the right in the picture, as he was a FNG, known as a "Shake & Bake", an NCO fresh in from the world. He still had to prove himself to the guys after I left. I can't remember his name, but no one ever knows new guys -- unwritten law, until they put in their time. 

I'm not sure how many made it home, after I left.  One of the guys wrote and told me the next fire base they went to was overrun and nearly everyone was KIA.  He didn't say who, but he did say he was shot up pretty bad and on the hospital ship HOPE out in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

I've never heard a word from anyone since. Maybe it's better that I never knew.  My guilt level would have gone up, thinking if I had been there, maybe more would have survived. I'll never know -- more of that 'right time-right place-thing', yet one more time, but every day was like that just the same.  Like I said earlier, all we knew was, when we saw the sun come up, we knew we had lived another day.

We will forever be connected and remembered. Some we lost, some survived to go on with life, not realizing that Vietnam would never really leave us. Our war will never end.

Sin Lio I say, "Sorry about that." I will always remember what we were told from the beginning: to take care of ALL our equipment, because it was made by the lowest bidder. (That even applied to us).

I truly wonder about all my comrades, how those that made it home managed. I wonder how their lives have changed, or how they made a difference, if any.

For those we lost, you have our undying gratitude for dues paid in full, debt's we can never repay. We that survived only moved down to another lonely LZ, Fire Base, Trail. Valley, Hill. The never-ending saga of a Vietnam Vet.

Please don't judge us too harshly. We did our best and never, ever backed away from anything. We accomplished every mission we were handed, no matter what the cost, or hardships we dealt with.

In the end, all we have is each other, and our memories, both good and bad, that we reflect on, all of which we must deal with in our own ways. There is no wrong in the way we handle our feelings. They're ours and ours alone. We earned that right.

Whatever we do in life, we will always be drawn to that time and place in our lives. There's no way around it. We just handle things from a different perspective now. It was different there, more than the world will ever know or understand.

So, to all Veterans, past, present, and (sadly) future: You have my undying gratitude for all you did and are doing. No one can ever take that away from you. This is still America and she's worth fighting for.

God Bless and keep you all, wherever you may be ...

“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

Do you have an opinion, or a comment, you would like to share about this post? Click on the comment button.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paths Less Travelled: by Hon K. Lee

Paths Less Travelled of a Scholar Warrior (Spy) Teacher Healer

304 Pages
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Buy at Amazon

About the Book:

Hon K. Lee, a scrawny kid in an immigrant family, gets bullied so often he yearns to be like the Kung Fu heroes he sees in the movies. 

He becomes a Marine to prove himself, but the futility of war makes him wonder what it would take to achieve peace. 

He joins the CIA, only to see his career threatened in an ordeal that makes him reevaluate his life purpose, leading him to chase his dream to study Chinese medicine. Along the way, he apprentices with top martial arts masters, and helps open a school to pass on what he’s learned. 

In this straightforward, often humorous memoir, Lee narrates his adventures from the streets of Chinatown to the battlefields of Vietnam, and from the corridors of CIA headquarters to the acupuncture clinics of Shanghai. 

While his journey seems to take divergent paths, those familiar with stories about the knights of ancient China will recognize he’s travelling a singular path – a four-fold one of Scholar Warrior Teacher Healer ... with Spy thrown in.

***All proceeds from the sale of my book will go to charities that benefit wounded warriors and their families.

Buy at Amazon


“Hon Lee takes us on a journey that is both fascinating and inspiring. A good
read!” – Lieutenant General Ron Christmas, USMC (Retired) 
“An authentic and fascinating memoir from the melting pot, affirming that
anything is possible in America for those with the courage to take the paths less
travelled.” – Jack Downing, former CIA Deputy Director for Operations 
“I strongly urge anyone whose dreams feel under threat or whose confidence is
weakened by the challenges of life and happiness, to consume his story and drink
some of the warrior spirit that we all need.”  – Stephan Berwick, Founder, True Tai Chi™ 
"This is contemporary American history at its finest ...Well written. Enlightening.” – Ernest Spencer, former commander of D company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment; author of Welcome to Vietnam Macho Man: Reflections of a Khe Sanh Vet 
and gripping, Hon’s memoir will keep you on the edge of your seat.” 
– Bill Reddy, L.Ac, Dipl.Ac, Director of the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium, President Emeritus of the Acupuncture Society of Virginia

Hon K. Lee, Author
About the Author:

Hon K. Lee, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, was an artillery forward observer and platoon commander in Vietnam. 

After leaving active duty, he became a CIA clandestine operations officer, serving undercover in seven field assignments and in three of the Agency’s four directorates. 

Studying Chinese medicine after a 30 year CIA career, he is now a nationally certified and Virginia Medical Board licensed acupuncturist. 

When not practicing medicine, Lee practices martial arts, having co-founded a school that teaches kung fu, taijiquan and qigong. He’s married, has two daughters, and enjoys living and working in Northern Virginia.

“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, July 23, 2014

A Hot LZ: by Tony Chliek

A Hot LZ

Landing Zone:  From Wikipedia, the Free Online Encyclopedia
A Landing Zone or "LZ" is a military term for any area where aircraft land. 
In the American military, a landing zone is the actual point where aircraft land, (equivalent to the commonwealth landing point.) 
In commonwealth militaries, a landing zone is the cartographic, (numeric,) zone in which the landing is going to take place, (i.e. the valley.) 
Landing area is the area in which the landing is going to take place (i.e. the field where the aircraft are to land.) 
Landing point is the actual point on which aircraft are going to land (i.e. a point of the field.) Each aircraft has a different landing point. 
Landing areas are most commonly marked by coloured smoke. The standard procedure is for those at the landing area to pop smoke and say so over the radio. The pilot says when smoke is seen and what colour the smoke is. 
Those on the ground then respond with what colour the smoke should be. Smoke of a different colour can mean the landing area has been compromised, and the pilot usually has the authority to cancel a landing.

A hot landing zone, or Hot LZ, is the place you never want to hear you are going. Hot means the landing zone is occupied by the Vietcong or NVA, who will be shooting at you while you are landing, or when you land.

Late one afternoon, our company was on our way back to FSB Pershing after an uneventful day on patrol. Right outside the wire around Pershing, we were told to hold up. The officers and NCOs were called together and briefed about something. 

When they were finished talking, we were briefed. It seems that some North Vietnamese Army soldiers (NVA) (I forget how many) were spotted and we were being sent back out to go after them. One platoon would be sent in first and radio back with what we would be encountering. If they made contact the rest of us would be sent in.

Elephant Grass
They also told us that we would be landing in and area covered with elephant grass. I knew what that was and didn’t look forward to having to fight in that. (Here is what elephant grass looks like.) 

They told us to take a break and we would be resupplied before heading back out. 

We settled down and supplies were brought out to us from Pershing. Things like water, food, hand grenades, smoke grenades, claymores, a lot of extra ammo, even cigarettes. 

We received enough supplies for a day or two. I wondered why they were giving us so much, but the guys explained that this was normal for something like this, just in case we had to stay.

A lot of things ran through my mind while we waited to go, which I’ve long since forgotten, but one thing you can be sure of, I was scared and that everyone was scared.

They told me that being scared was normal even for the guys that had been through this before, but once things got started, I just needed to remember what I was trained to do and I would be okay.

I also remember thinking that this was it. That this was going to be the first time I would come face to face with the enemy in battle. I knew it was impossible to spend an entire year in Vietnam without this happening. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but that’s what I was here for. I pretty much accepted the fact I would be going into battle and busied myself with packing up the supplies.

It wasn’t long before the choppers came in and picked up the first platoon to go hit the LZ.  Luckily, we were not in the first group. 

After they took off, we gathered around the radio operator (RTO) to listen to what was going on. First they called in air strikes on the area to hopefully soften things up. When the air strikes were called off, the choppers were sent in with the troops. When they landed we heard exactly what we wanted to hear, “No resistance!” I remember feeling such a relief.

They patrolled the area for about a ½ hour or so, but found nothing. It looked like once the enemy knew they were spotted, they took off, or hid. 

One thing about the NVA and Vietcong, other than snipers, was they never fought unless you took them by surprise and they had no choice except to fight, or they were sure they had you outnumbered and out gunned. I guess this time it was the latter, which was just fine with me.

Landing in a Hot LZ

There was one time we actually landed in a Hot LZ. We were picked up one morning by choppers and flown to another area for our patrol. I should remind you I liked to sit on the floor right behind the pilot. Being in that spot always meant I was one of the first ones off the chopper when it touched down and one of the last ones on when it took off. What can I tell you?  I liked the view sitting there with my feet hanging out the door.

Choppers Circling
On our way in to the LZ, one of the choppers reported that they were taking on small arms fire and that the LZ would be hot. 

We were also told that since it was hot, the choppers wouldn’t be touching down, but hovering a couple of feet off the ground so they could take off quick. We would have to jump the rest of the way.

The choppers circled the LZ and the 

In a Rice Paddy Waiting
door gunners (M-60 machine gunners on each side of the chopper) fired into the LZ all the way down.

Once we got close to the ground, we hopped off the chopper and ran over to the berm surrounding the rice paddies, we got down and took cover.

We fired a few rounds for effect, but none was returned, which made me very happy.

One of the guys next to me asked me if I was okay.

“Yeah, why?”

“A round hit right between your legs just as you hit the ground.”

I was pumped with adrenaline so I had to actually stop for a second to see if I could feel if I’d been shot; nothing.

“No, I’m fine.”

“That was close, you're lucky.”


I don’t remember anything specific about the rest of the day, but as far as I’m concerned, that was enough for one day.

About Tony Chliek:

Tony Chliek
I was drafted into the United States Army on May 6, 1968 at the ripe old age of 19 years, 6 months and 2 days. 

Government policy at the time was to draft all men into the military at 19 ½ years of age if they hadn’t already joined, or had a deferment of some kind. 

I almost joined earlier that year, but backed out to take my chances with the draft. Well, that was it, I became the property of the United States Army.  

I graduated from AIT with the rank of PFC, issued my orders for Vietnam.

I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. After that week at Cu Chi, I was assigned to the 2nd platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 12 Infantry, 25th Infantry Division; B 2/12.

Read More of Tony's Stories

“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, July 21, 2014

My Vietnam Story: by Gary Jacobson

Gary Jacobson - Vietnam '66-'67

I am Gary Jacobson, The Vietnam Bard.  Some call me the Vietnam Poet Laureate. I'm also an author, Just a Walk in the Park, a poet, (My Thousand Yard Stare), and I am a Vietnam combat vet.

Forty years ago, I was sent by my rich uncle to work in his vineyards in a land all white and ready to harvest ~ hereinafter referred to as Vietnam.

I served with 1st platoon, B Co 2nd/7th 1st Air Cavalry '66 - '67, as a combat infantryman.  We called ourselves 'Grunts', operating out of LZ Betty near beautiful downtown Phan Thiet, Vietnam.

My unit was the same unit that was depicted in the Mel Gibson movie, "We Were Soldiers," only I came along one year later.

Vietnam changed all who served, indelibly and forever. I'm now on a 100% disability rating with an extra hole in my head, covered by a 3x4 inch plate.

Shrapnel the size of a quarter is currently embedded three inches into my brain.  This traumatic brain injury was compliments of a tripwire booby trap that triggered a grenade, that in turn detonated an artillery round ... and in the process, it completely ruined my whole day on April, 22, 1967, during a combat operation in the boonies near Phan Rang, Vietnam, April 28, ‘67.

My greatest motivating desire in writing about Vietnam was first, a cathartic one, to heal the demons of war within me where I'd stashed them so long ago.  Writing brought them out, so I could confront and deal with them face-to-face, looking them in the eye.

I know everyone is not the same, and everyone is not ready for this, but writing about Vietnam helped me heal.  

I have received so many letters from brothers-in-arms, like the one telling me, "Damn.  You tell it just as I feel it, but cannot express. You echo the words in my head that I can't get out. I didn't know anyone else thought the way I did." 

Many tell me my words are also healing to them, too.  Like the tough Marine tank sergeant who called and told me he was crying like a baby, because someone else understood, and he thanked me. 

I have also had several write, after viewing my site, saying they were able to talk about "The Nam" for the first time with their families. Before that, they had not been able to talk about what they had seen and experienced in Vietnam. 

They told me they pulled their entire family in front of the computer, went through my pictures and words to show them what Nam was like for them. What a humbling experience.  I write for them!

Parents, brothers, sisters, children of vets, write to thank me for helping them to know their loved one better. Now they understand why he acts the way he does, why he won’t talk, where he'd been and why he'd changed, what he'd experienced.  He would not, or could not, talk about it.  My writing helped them connect and feel closer to their veteran.  As a writer, that is always humbling. I write for them!

I write because I feel a great need to promote a better understanding about the realities of war in those that haven't the foggiest idea of what war is really all about. There is no glory in war! War isn't the clean and antiseptic fare we see in the movies.  War is a deep fear of lingering death in the mud and blood (ours and theirs) that stays and haunts soldiers  for the rest of their lives. 

A Vietnamese legend says, "All poets are full of silver threads that rise inside them as the moon grows large."  So, when I write, it is because these silver thread words are poking at me, and I must let them out. 

Gary Jacobson

Walk the Point of the Spear

by Gary Jacobson © 2013

Today I walk the point of the spear
First to hear
What’s lurking in shadowed dark
Waiting for you…
Just you
Walking the park.

On point
In this jive jungle joint,
I’m first to see… Lucky me
Who or what waits for me
Be he good time Charlie
To kill me… maybe just maim me.

Sniper in the tree
Can’t you see
Or Mr. Charles gift without warning sound
Booby tramp tamped in the ground
When it goes boom… somebody will die
Somebody will cry.

See his tripwire across the trail
Quick transport to hell
Oh well!
Somebody’s got to do it
Be first in line to meet the sh__
Uh, er, welcoming surprise.

Besides… be ye Sinner or Saint
How quaint
You don’t want to live forever,
Do you? You do!
Too bad, so sad…
No joy! Zin loi!

“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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Sunday, July 20, 2014

It Needs to Be Said: by Tom Peck

Hi, CJ, how're you doing?  

I hope I am creating some friction with my posts.  I think reality needs to be faced by those who condone, or dabble with idiocy.

Today's Issue:  Some people seem to feel that posting pictures in the Facebook group is inappropriate, when those pictures are controversial, or against some people's morals.  

There IS another side to this and they won't view it, no matter how anyone tries to explain it to them. 

I feel the pictures were willingly posed for, by those who posed for them, no matter what they looked like. They chose to pose as they did, in what they chose to wear, and they chose to to be seen, just as they were in the pictures.

This opened the post up to comments of humor, as well as to an interpretation that some found degrading. 

We all have our opinions, but let's put the comments into their proper perspective. Women have been judging men for centuries. Men have been judging women for centuries.  That will never end, because neither men, nor women, will ever be satisfied.

I feel our comments are a way of healing and finding a way to take the first steps out of isolation and seclusion, for some.

I feel humor is medicinal and we're not actually judging people, per se. The women, themselves, were purposely posing in sexy (or outrageous) outfits, knowing they would get all kinds of feedback, whether good, or bad. If you saw the pictures, then you know what I am talking about. 

People, we need to face reality and quit ass-u-me-ing about things. Those pictures that were posted recently were deliberately posed for.  No one forced those ladies to wear, (or not wear), clothes -- or in the case of the four over-sized ladies, no one told. or forced them, to wear the bikinis. They purposely chose to wear them and they knew what they were doing (I think).

Call me Sexist, Feminist, Chauvinist ... whatever.  I may be almost 66, but I still admire beauty.  I'm married, but it doesn't mean I'm unfaithful. 

These people, (the complainers), need to get a life.  Maybe the life they live is boring, mundane, or maybe they're stuck on worrying about everybody else's life, because they can't fix their own.  

Morality pops up when you can't fix your own marriage, because you're too busy fixing everybody else's. Or when you don't know how to jump start your marriage and make it fun, alluring, mysterious, sensual, and interesting again. 

Men let themselves go. Women let themselves go.  Suddenly, things are no longer sexual. I think that's what this is all about -- imposing one's morals, or beliefs, onto others they don't understand, or even want to understand.

Our comments in the group are all in fun and comradely. I feel those that don't like it have options:  look, don't look, or use the on/off switch.  

Let us communicate.  Let us heal.  Let us bond. We've earned the right.  We've sacrificed a lot for that right. We've all bled for that right and I for one have sacrificed 22-plus years for that right.

Those that sacrifice nothing have misguided views. They preach the past, but contribute nothing to the present. 

WE THE PEOPLE no longer means we the people in Washington. Words solve nothing, when you haven't sacrificed anything to learn from those words. We of the past are not humbled by the ignorance of the present, but we are shaking our heads in utter amazement.

Those of us who have sacrificed so much to protect The Right to Freedom wonder how long any of us will have it.  View me as you will, but history repeats itself way too many times at our -- at your -- expense ...

Tom Peck
USMC Vietnam
January-August '69
WIA 28 July "69

“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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Saturday, July 19, 2014

PTSD? Vets and Dogs Team Up

Can Veterans and Dogs Team Up To Help Each Other?

Please consider joining in a study of dog adoption for Veterans with PTSD, a collaborative project of the VA and the San Antonio Humane Society.

What is the Goal of the Study?

Many Veterans with PTSD have told us how much they have been helped by having a dog.  

We are interested in examining the potential benefits for Veterans with PTSD of adopting a pet dog from the San Antonio Humane Society.  

Our project, "A Study of Dog Adoption in Veterans with Postraumatic Stress Disorder," is funded by the Rehabilitation Research and Development Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Being in the study is entirely voluntary.  You are free not to participate and may withdraw from the study at any time.

Who is Eligible for the Study?
Veterans with PTSD who have had a dog previously, but have not had a pet in the past 12 months. There are also other requirements, which the staff of the study will be glad to discuss with you.
I would love a home
What Does the Study Consist of?
Half the Veterans will be randomly assigned, like the flipping of a coin, to adopt a dog immediately, while the other half will adopt a dog after three months. The adoption fee will be waived. 
Veterans will select the dog of their choice (some restrictions apply, such as animal ages and breeds), and participate in eight weeks of obedience training at no charge
There will be five visits to the Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital over the course of six months, each lasting 1-2 hours, 3 scheduled home visits, and 2 veterinary clinic visits, as well as brief phone calls between the visits. 
Veterans will be responsible for the costs of caring for their pet, except for veterinary care, which will be provided free of charge.
Will I be Paid for My Time?
Yes.  Veterans can receive up to $490 for completing the 6-month study.  Payments will be made regularly as parts of the study are completed.

I need someone to love
Will being in the Study Affect the Treatments I receive for my PTSD?
Not at all.  Veterans will continue to receive whatever treatments their mental health provider feels are most appropriate for their PTSD.
What are the Risks of the Study?
The chief risks are fatigue, or inconvenience, veterans might experience from participating in the study visits.
What Are The Benefits?
Veterans who participate may experience a decrease in their PTSD symptoms and an improvement in their quality of life. 
 Although we cannot guarantee any benefits, all participants will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping the many other Veterans with this disorder while giving a home to a homeless animal.
Am I Required to Participate?
No.  Being in the study is entirely voluntary.  You are free not to participate and may withdraw from the study at any time.
Aren't I adorable?
How Do I Learn More About the Study?
Please call:

Dr. Ana Allegretti
Study Coordinator
(210) 617-5300, Ext. 16079

Contributed to Memoirs From Nam By:
Tony Lobello
Public Affairs Officer
District 20, Texas VFW

***Thank you, Tony!  This is such a worthwhile study and I am proud to do what I can to get the word out there. ~a big hug, CJ

“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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