Adams Yes, Arnett No
You tainted an otherwise nice piece on the work of Eddie Adams in the August issue by including Peter Arnett’s comments. Arnett has an anti-America agenda. Your pages are filled with people and stories of honor, why diminish them?
Cherokee Paul McDonald
U.S. Army, II Corps, 1968
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
UH-34D Dog: A Marine’s Best Friend
In the article “High Tech vs. Low Tech” in the October issue, a huge piece of Marine aviation was omitted. The article mentions the Marines flying the CH-34 Choctaw, but they actually flew the UH-34D Seahorse. The most obvious difference is the Choctaw exhaust stacks exit below the airframe and the Seahorse stacks stick out the port side. The Sikorsky UH-34D (Dog) was a major contributor to Marine helicopter operations from 1962 until 1969.
Concerning reliability of the UH-34D, the article mentions the single, front-mounted engine, the high cockpit and the aircraft being made of magnesium. Yes, it had one engine, but it had nine cylinders and sometimes you didn’t need them all. This was the same engine as in the B-17 Flying Fortress. The high cockpit was a problem but when you have pilots with brass ones, it works. The magnesium airframe was illustrated by the large, gray piles of ash marked with rotor blades scattered around I Corps. Sometimes they burn.
There are many stories of those old workhorses getting home on a blade and a prayer, which explains why their former crews look back on them with such reverence.
How The Wall Moves
I read with deep interest the interview with Duery Felton (October 2009). I have been to The Wall quite often and have seen many of the offerings that have been left there by friends and loved ones of those whose names are chiseled in the black granite. I have been to the Smithsonian American History Museum’s exhibit that displays many of the offerings that were left at the memorial. I also own a wonderful book, Offerings from The Wall, that catalogs a large number of the very emotionally charged items and stories.
I did not know that there was one person who actually is a curator of this remarkable and deeply meaningful collection. My eyes misted over several times as I read his words and some of his stories. God bless Duery Felton!
3rd Marine Div., 1968-69
New Hope, Pa.
I’ve been a subscriber to Vietnam magazine for several years now, and numerous articles have been written about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I have visited The Wall several times during the Memorial Day weekend, first while stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., and then after my retirement, going there by motorcycle with the Run For The Wall group, from my home in Nebraska. One of the most memorable visits came prior to my retirement in 2001 when I decided to visit the memorial on Christmas Eve. I was not ready for the flood of emotions that nearly overpowered me.
As I walked into the depression that The Wall occupies, I felt an overwhelming eerie feeling come over me. On that overcast, cold winter afternoon, it was as if voices were coming from the black stone. I stopped to listen, and only heard a faint, low moan. It was either the wind, or the combined voices telling me, also a Vietnam veteran, that everything was OK, because they never gave up their vigil, either.
As a long-time subscriber, the October 2009 issue of Vietnam magazine was one of the best ever. The interview with Duery Felton, curator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, and the memoir “Duty and Honor” were moving. I like the new Homefront section, too.
Leave No POW Behind
I read the review of Until the Last Man Comes Home in the October issue, and I have a real issue with the book and its stance on POWs in general. While the book gives a small history of the prisoner of war issue, it does not give the complete facts. I’m tired of the government covering this up. I think the only way we will know for sure is to go back covertly and see for ourselves.
I sure would like some answers—and not about searching dig sites. What ever happened to “We leave no man behind”?
Westmoreland’s Mission Impossible
I had to read “Why Westmoreland Was Right” (April 2009) about three times to try and figure out what the author was trying to convey—what General William Westmoreland had “right” in planning and fighting the Vietnam War. Actually I’m still not sure what the author thinks Westmoreland was right about.
In my opinion, General Westmoreland was handed a mission impossible. He was expected to hold off the enemy until the South Vietnamese forces could be trained and equipped to fight the war themselves. His strategy was to establish a system of fortified bases all across South Vietnam to allow the infantry to conduct patrols to find, fix and destroy the enemy. The problem was, his war was confined to South Vietnam and the enemy was not, plus Westmoreland never transitioned the army of South Vietnam into the conflict.
The lesson of the Vietnam War was that if you are going to fight a war and put American lives and prestige on the line, then pull out all the stops and fight to win. Is that simple or what? Have we learned that lesson? Evidently we have not because we are allowing the same thing to happen in Afghanistan. Go all out or get out. The military machine is good, it can do the job but it doesn’t need its hands tied behind its back.
John J. Mackel Jr.
Originally published in the December 2009 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here.