Category Archives: Viet Nam

Mass burial

I discovered something while cleaning out a cabinet this morning: A 2005 email from the late Ron Cima about our OCS reunion in San Antonio that year. He attended briefly enroute to somewhere else.

“I was very moved by my short time in San Antonio and very much appreciated having the time to talk with you and Tom [Ringwald, I think it was],” he wrote. “I regret I could not have stayed longer and spent more time with everyone else.”

He also mentioned a tip I gave him in line with his then MIA-hunting job at the Pentagon, on a mass burial of dead VC near my basecamp in 1969 on the southeast side of LZ Baldy, which was southwest of Da Nang. I had a  faded old photo of the dead in a pile but not the exact location.

“Your information about a mass burial is something I could potentially share with the Vietnamese,” Ron added. “Although they may not know what to do with it, our relationship with them is reciprocal and we try to give them what we can when we can. If and when you can come up with a more specific location, I’ll look for an opportunity to pass them the information.”

I wrote a short story about the encounter and the mass grave, collected in my book “Leaving The Alamo, Texas Stories After Vietnam,” but never had anything specific to share with Ron so our correspondence ended.

Veterans Parking

Pulled into Lowe’s the other morning to buy an extra ceiling fan to replace one that’s caving after about sixteen years of faithful service. Started down the parking aisle when I spotted two signs at two spots at the front.

“Veterans Parking Only,” they read, “Thank you for your service.” A waving American flag topped the signs.

Probably meant for new veterans of the Middle East, I thought, not old farts from Viet Nam like me. Still, I’m a genuine veteran, so I parked in one of the two empty spots. All set to whip out my VA card should it become necessary. It didn’t.

Thanks Lowe’s!

Of Swords and CIBs

JD Allen, over at Mouth of the Brazos, joined the Marines because he wanted a sword. The officers carry them in dress uniform. He wound up enlisted, instead. And by the time his enlistment was up, the sword didn’t seem so important after all.

Me, I wanted to avoid the draft. When I couldn’t I enlisted for Army OCS under a college op program they had then. By the time I got my lieutenant’s bars it was obvious I was going to Viet Nam. In which case all I wanted was a CIB (Combat Infantryman’s Badge: an ancient Long Rifle surrounded by a wreath).

I got it alright. But by the time I did it didn’t seem so important after all.

Stolen Valor

Via Instapundit

Another Blumenthal Ranger

Time was when every Vietnam vet was a baby killer. Then every Vietnam vet was a hero, simply for having served over there. Neither made much sense but reflected the ambivalence in which we were held. Mostly I remember people on the street looking away when I was in uniform. They would not meet my eyes.

Then came the wannabees: the Blumenthals and other liars, who wanted the hero label and the consequent general sympathy. And finally some vets got together and began policing these scumbags under the rubric of Stolen Valor.

Comes the latest in their ranks: Nathan Phillips, the aging old American Indian who insolently played the drum in the Catholic kids’ face and got raised to hero status by the Leftist media who wanted the kid strung up because he wore a Trump hat. Lynched, in other words.

Thanks to another Blumenthall Ranger.

Via Google and The Lid

UPDATE:  Time for Phillips to lawyer up.

Review: The Butterfly Rose

A new review of my novel The Butterfly Rose by Tom Werzyn in the Oct. 3, issue of the online VVA Veteran Magazine:

Rarely these days are readers granted an opportunity to enjoy an offering so well constructed and presented as Dick Stanley’s novel, The Butterfly Rose(Cavalry Scout Books, 252 pp. $13.08, paper; $.99, Kindle), a three-generation story of an American and a Vietnamese family’s involvement with each in Vietnam.

Stanley, a former journalist who served in the infantry in the Vietnam War, wordsmiths the English language to an almost lyrical presentation.

One example: “It is a valley of flowers but none is more beautiful than the silken, five petal roses that turn many colors in their brief lives, as ephemeral as butterflies fluttering on a green bush.”

The Butterfly Rose centers on a young, Confederate Army officer, Sean Constantine, a large man with a glowing mane of red hair and a beard to match. After participating in The battle of Manassas, he joins the French Foreign Legion. Through a series of events involving his brother, father, black servant, and a stay in Paris, Constantine is posted to a colonial French garrison in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

His love of roses, developed over the years of his Mississippi youth and his worldly travels, finds a like-minded individual in the 1860s in Vietnam: a village shaman, an old woman skilled in naturopathic and herbal medicines and remedies. She also is a conjurer who converses with the many gods and deities roaming the Vietnamese jungles.

Dick Stanley

Fast forward a century to a team of American advisers working with an [RF-PF] combat team in that same Central Highlands valley near Que Son. Neal Constantine, a red-headed grandson of Sean, is a member of that American team, working as a historian. He possesses his grandfathers’ 1860s diary and flower guide. And he meets the great granddaughter of the village healer, without knowing about the earlier family connection.

The story toggles back and forth between the centuries, chapter by chapter. Parallels are drawn, including the weather, expectations of higher commands, tactics, ideologies, as well as the relationship between the big, red-headed American and the old healer and their shared interest in the roses that populate the valley.

This novel artfully spans nations, generations, wars and people, and it ties all those strands together with a shared love of flowers and of the short gift we all share with each other—that of life.

Mr Boy graduates high school

Finally. Whew. Only takes three hours to hand out diplomas to his 500-odd classmates. What do you bet they screw it up and give the wrong diploma to some.

But no more dealings with the school system for me. I finally get to unsubscribe from their various emails. No more of their political b.s. Oh happy day! Mrs. Charm can watch from afar. She’s been out of their loop for a while.

He’s happy, too, and ready to go off to Texas A&M University in August. After he spends the night at the school. Huh? Yep that’s what they’re gonna do. Spend one last time in the old hoosegow. Me I’d want to be as far away from the place as possible.

UPDATE:  The school system took no chances with the diplomas and gave the graduates a card saying to pick up their diplomas June 6 in the school office.

MORE:  I wasn’t surprised to see the valedictorian was a girl or that she was Asian-American. I was a little bit surprised that she was Vietnamese.