Category Archives: Viet Nam

Viet pedicure

Hurrah, I discovered another Vietnamese pedicure/manicure spot not far from the mini-rancho. Beavering away as usual, charging significantly less than other places for the same service. Saving their money for greater things. Probably illegals. Very little English spoken but generally understood. Viva la Viet Nam!

Two tombstones

I’m going to buy a civilian tombstone for Russ, copying his father’s & mother’s, adding only Beloved Son and Russ’s birth and death dates. His father, Rev. F.M. Wheat’s stone has a quotation from Corinthians: “At home with the Lord.”

I’ll use that, too. I like its double-meaning, whatever was meant in the New Testament (I’m not a Christian), plus an Afterlife meaning as well.

Retired Colonel Art, who may not want his last name used, is leading the effort to get a military stone recognizing Russ’s service as a Vietnam combat infantry lieutenant platoon leader. Who was wounded in both legs, still wearing the scars when he transitioned at age 81. Hope you’re enjoying yourself, Russ.

Russ’s headstone

In Higgins, Texas, way up in the panhandle, Bar and I found that our old OCS friend Russ Wheat has only the funeral home’s plastic marker on his grave. So his classmates are working to get him a military headstone from the Veterans Administration. Stymied so far by a lack of his DD 214 separation document. The funeral home never got a copy nor had any idea Russ was a Vietnam combat veteran. The plot thickens. Stay tuned.

DD214 on iphone

I was keeping the paper copy in the car, until someone suggested photographing it for the phone. Probably best to keep it there to avoid losing it, though I have several copies. Mostly I use my VA card for discounts when asked but AT&T asked for the full 214. And it was worth it, shaving $70 from my monthly bill. Veteran bennies, such as parking spaces and discounts, are a new thing. Wasn’t so long ago being a veteran was no benefit at all.

Transition: Chuck Waldron

I was sorry to hear of my old Army friend Charles V. Waldron’s passing, but glad he was in hospice, as was my departed wife Mrs. Charm. I’m sure they took good care of him.

I knew Charles in basic, ait and OCS, plus as new platoon leaders in the Sixth Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Meade, Maryland, which included guarding President Nixon’s 1969 inauguration.  In Vietnam we shared advisory assignments but at opposite ends of the country.

We met again at the Fort Benning reunion in 2003 where we shared a room and I learned of his COPD problem. I’ll remember him as being smarter about volunteering than me, when he missed out on shoveling coal into barracks boilers at Benning waiting for OCS to start. He tried to talk me into going Airborne but to no avail and we missed that one together. Grief is hard, even after years of it, but it does get easier, I told his widow. So take good care, I suggested, and you’ll see him again in your dreams. 

And, as a well-wisher at his memorial page put it: He sees every tear and walks with you every step of the way. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Major Norman Vulinski Linnear

He was one of our tactical officers in Infantry OCS at Fort Benning—a black lieutenant, a rare thing in 1968. Several remember him fondly as someone who taught more than he harassed.

He later did two tours in Viet Nam, as a MACV adviser and later an infantry company commander in the 25th Infantry Division. He died in 1990 at age 51, and is buried at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Da 5 Bloods

I don’t have any use for Spike Lee’s politics, but I have liked some of his movies. She’s Gotta Have It, for instance, his first one, which was a comedy.

Da 5 Bloods, however, a drama of a return to Vietnam by four black combat veterans now in their sixties, pretty much left me cold. Not just because of the politics (the one Trump supporter is PTSD crazy and gets it in the end, presumably for his sin of voting the wrong way) but by the way the veterans on their return to the country decades after the conflict ended keep attracting angry Vietnamese who lost kin in the American war. Including at My Lai. What are the odds? Pretty high if you’ve got to bash America to keep your bona fides with your leftist Hollywood pals.

Strange anomalies abound: an infantry officer’s uniform supposedly standing in for their dead squad leader’s, who would have been an E-5 at best. Probably Lee didn’t care to get it right. Any old uniform would do for the immoral war. And the sound track. Ride of the Valkyries? It crescendos when there is gunfire, both in the past and the present. Cheap, I guess, being public domain.

None of the four actors are Denzel Washington handsome so it’s a little disconcerting when one meets his old Vietnamese lover (who hasn’t aged much) and discovers THEIR beautiful daughter.

Of course they went back to find the squad leader’s remains, which they do almost too easily—and millions of dollars in buried gold bars, which it seems every Vietnamese wants a piece of. Hence the gun battles to satisfy the Hollywood soul. They may be against guns for the rest of us but they never miss a chance to use one or more in their movies.

And Lee has to politic it up, race-wise, mainly by claiming blacks were disproportionately in combat as opposed to whites. You can take that claim however you like it. You certainly can Google some statistics to back it up, whether they’re true or not. But Lee doesn’t really seem interested in truth, in Da 5 Bloods.

After all the riots and looting led by anti-Jewish Black Lives Matter over felon armed robber George Floyd, Lee’ll probably win an Oscar. And laugh all the way to the bank.