Dale Dye and Mike Stokey at RVN cemetery. Photo by John Riedy
by Dale Dye
Day Four of The Great Ghost Chase gives me a case of the staggering willies even before the bus rolls out of Danang headed north on Vietnamese Highway 1. Our course runs through the once-infamous Hai Van Pass that meanders as it climbs toward the far north. Then – somewhere up around 1500 feet – it twists into a series of radical switchbacks. And it’s up there where the road contorts like Lawrence Welk’s old accordion (okay…google it…he used to be a popular polka music guy on early American TV) right up around that point is where the North Vietnamese Army used to ambush truck convoys from the jungle-covered high ground above the Hai Van Pass. The convoys were called Roughriders with machine gun-festooned gun trucks rolling at front and rear of the cargo haulers. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents hitchhiking rides up to infantry units in areas like Phu Bai, Hue, Quang Tri and other killing fields closer to the DMZ hated the Roughriders. Granted riding a Roughrider was easier than humping hills but those heavy machine guns doing recon-by-fire played hell with nap time.
Our bus has no machine guns but there is a bad-ass dragon amulet swinging from the rear view mirror, so we figure it’s OK to relax. And when that happens war stories come bubbling up like swamp gas. Nobody wants to talk about the blood and guts stuff. Or if they do nobody is going to listen very long. That’s the kind of thing that makes you wheeze, gag and moan with night-sweats. Better to focus on the funny stuff…like the tine you were stranded with a broken down six-by overnight at the Hai Van Pass with only a .45 pistol and a bent tire iron to fight off hordes of marauding enemy. Yeah…well, maybe it wasn’t hordes. Maybe it was a couple of rock apes that scared the hell out of you and refused to retreat despite firing off every round of your pistol ammo and then grabbing the tire-iron from the panicky driver to do close-quarters battle with mountain specters. I’ve heard it all before, so it’s easy to tune out and contemplate some of the mysteries that confront us on this return to Vietnam after a half-decade of swearing we’d never return to the Land of the Lotus Eaters, The Nam where we all first learned to embrace the suck. Click here to read more ›
1st Division ISO Snuffies:(l-r) Eric Grimm, Richard Lavers, Robert Bayer, Michael Stokey, Frank Wiley, Dale Dye. (Or as Julia Dye knows them, Rafter Man, Rick, Ding, The ARVN, Lurch, and Daddy D.A.). Not shown is Steve Berntson. Photo by John Riedy.
(Ed. Note: Dale Dye and other CC “Snuffys” returned to Vietnam this week. This is Dale’s first installment):
An emergency room physician circulated among the survivors. His diagnosis was quick and easy: Terminal culture shock. If the moment had been some jangled parsec in the psychedelic sixties he’d have called it a bad acid trip, but the Doc knew where and when he was even if the shocked Veterans kept claiming if couldn’t be Vietnam, the war-ravaged turbulent country they’d left behind nearly 50 years before.
It started the moment they began to unwind from 17 hours jammed inside a turbo-jet tin can that roared out of Los Angeles, through Hong Kong and into Danang, headquarters of their old 1st Marine Division where most of them served as Combat Correspondents in the bloody gut of the Vietnam War at various times ranging from 1965 to 1970. Giving them the bored bureaucrat stare at passport control were guys in familiar olive-green uniforms festooned with red collar tabs. The last place most of them had been so close to uniforms like that was up on the Demilitarized Zone—at places like Con Thien, The Rockpile, and Khe Sanh. Back then the uniformed Vietnamese were carrying AK-47s rather than rubber immigration stamps.
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Jack Paxton, Executive Director speaks with Mike McNamara on his podcast show.
If you read the January Leatherneck (and you should have) there was a piece on AllMarineRadio which was fascinating. You watch/listen on your computer/iPad/i/phone/tablet, et al. I contacted Mike McNamara thinking he would be an interesting addition to our San Diego conference as he lives in the area. He will join us if he can. Meantime, he set up an interview with me. We did the first of two parts Feb. 7 and will do another segment next Tuesday, Feb. 14. If you are interested, there are several ways to tune in. Mac is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and his shows are quite interesting.
• Listen to the broadcast live at www.allmarineradio.com from your computer or mobile device, Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST (7 a.m. and 11 a.m. PST).
• Visit www.allmarineradio.com anytime and click on the “Podcasts” link on the banner at the top of the page. Each hour-long segment is archived and can be listened to at your convenience.
• Visit iTunes or Google Play, search “All Marine Radio” and download content to your mobile device.
• Download the “Tune In” mobile application, available on both iOS and Android devices, and search “All Marine Radio.”
— Jack Paxton, Executive Director
CC Bob McEwen on his way home
Thanks to CC Cid Atwood we learned that globetrotting Bob McEwen was hospitalized in Bangkok and had to be flown home in an aerial ambulance. We checked in with Bob’s daughter Megan Britt, and received the following info:
Hi Jack – Against my wishes, Dad and a friend were on their way to Myanmar to join a tour group for a river cruise. While on a layover in Bangkok on January 23rd , Dad’s blood pressure dropped to a dangerously low level and he was transported via ambulance to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital. After a few days in ICU his blood pressure was stabilized, but his blood oxygen levels were low and he was getting very confused and disoriented. He was kept in ICU while tests were run by a neurologist and pulmonologist. Although his mental condition was improved, they were unable to get his oxygen levels stable enough to declare him “fit to fly” commercially. An escort/rescue nurse was recommended and sent to accompany him home, but the airlines would not allow him to board due to the doctor’s report on his oxygen levels.
Finally, after 13 days in intensive care, the insurance carrier approved an air ambulance (Lear Jet 35A) to bring him home. The air ambulance arrived in Bangkok yesterday and he departed around 9:00 PM (EST). He is expected to arrive back in Atlanta Friday morning where he will be admitted to a local hospital for evaluation.
Thank you for your concern. I have been keeping Cynthia Atwood updated throughout this ordeal.
In a follow-on email Megan indicated that Bob had taken out trip insurance and that paid for the aerial ambulance, a Cessna Citation jet.
CC Dan Bisher (l), President of the Hillsdale County, MI Veterans Hall of Fame presented a Hall of Fame challenge coin to World War II P-38 pilot Monty Powers during a recent ceremony. (photo by Corey Murray, courtesy of the Hillsdale Daily News)
Virginia “Ginny” Kyser of Springfield, VA, passed away gently on January 30, 2017 at INOVA Fairfax Hospital after a short but courageous battle with cancer.
She was born Virginia Lee Detweiler in 1936 in Reading and spent her formative years in Easton. A devoted “Red Rover” and member of the Eastern Star, she graduated from Easton High School in 1954 and worked at the very first Crayola factory.She met the love of her life on a blind date in 1955 and shortly found herself engaged to that Marine Sergeant; Jim Kyser, marrying him in 1957.
She traveled the world with him, raised two children and later the family settled in Virginia. She and her love Jim traveled the world together on many adventures, but always followed their feet “home” where, to her final days, she was surrounded by her loving family and a vast network of amazing friends.
She left a smile on every person she ever met and was the personification of “an angel on earth.” She was preceded in death by her husband MGySgt Jim Kyser, USMC (Ret.) and is survived by her daughter, her son, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral Services will be held at 0930, Friday February 3rd at the Quantico Marine Chapel, in Virginia followed by internment at the Quantico National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at goo.gl/bwo6ED
Fred Garcia, Capt. Skye Martin and CC president Keith Oliver were among 75 presenters and attendees and I MEF’s second annual public affairs summit at Camp Pendleton January 25-26. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Keith assured USMCCCA Executive Director Paxton that he did not represent the association in sweatshirt and blue jeans when he gave his formal presentation the first day of the conclave.)
New York University’s Fred Garcia chats with I MEF deputy PAO Maj. Staci Reidinger following the final session of the MEF’s second annual Communications Summit.
CAMP PENDLETON — With sought-after strategy comms expert Helio “Fred” Garcia among the speakers, the First Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office convened its second annual Communications Summit at Camp Pendleton earlier this week.
MEF PAO Lt. Col. Chris Perrine credited his deputy, Maj. Staci Reidinger, with pushing the concept – a robust blend of academic and real world thought and discussion which included a variety of southern California military public affairs practitioners as well as Combat Camera representatives.
The inclusion of ComCam was no accident, according to Reidinger, who noted the MEF’s day-to-day teamwork approach with their imagery-gathering counterparts. A highlight of the sessions was HQMC’s Maj. Sean Hays’ briefing on the merger of the two occupational fields.
In addition to a lively pitch from Marine Corps social media guru, Sgt. Julia Dagostino and a strategic planning class offered by Reidinger and MEF PAO operations head, Capt. Rachel Nolan, the group also heard from CC national president Keith Oliver, who was invited to speak on PA and ComCam’s historical perspectives on behalf of the USMCCCA.
“If Norm Hatch’s and Bob Jordan’s and Dale Dye’s ears were itching, “ Keith said, “it’s because I used their names and war stories as examples in trying to explain ComCam’s and public affairs’ contributions during wars and crises over the past seven or eight decades.”
Oliver also freely cited current and deceased USMCCCA members Jack Lewis and Jack Paxton(Korea); Russ Thurman, Steve Stibbens and William Perkins (Vietnam); John East (Grenada); Eric Dent and Keith Milks (Afghanistan); Joe Sanders and Brett Beard (Iraq); and Neil Gillespie and Jerry O’Leary (WWII).
“We received pledges of CC annual conference attendance and support from the Camp Pendleton-based shops,” Keith said, as well as from “Capt. Skye Martin’s Marines at 12th Marine Corps District and lst Lt. Karen Holliday’s at Twentynine Palms.”
2nd Lt. Holli Richmond coordinated the event and it was she who first made the call to CCHQ inviting association participation.
The USMCCCA Annual Conference & Training Symposium is set for August 21-24 2017 at the Crowne Plaza San Diego, Click here for room reservation. Marine Commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, has been invited to address the association as Awards Banquet speaker on Thursday night.
Navy Senior Chief Laura Penuelas of 3rd Fleet, Twentynine Palms deputy PAO Lauren Kurkimilis and I MEF’s Sgt. Paris Caper took advantage of the opportunity to “talk shop” at the MEF-hosted public affairs summit.
Pat and Jack Paxton, Fred and Donna Lash.
On The Road: Past USMCCCA President and current Conference Emcee Fred Lash (standing) and wife, Donna (r), were lunch guests of National USMCCCA Executive Director Jack Paxton (2nd from l) and his wife, Pat on Sunday in the Villages, FL. Fred and Donna, Springfield, VA were on the way to visit friends in Florida.
Newest member, Ray Adams (standing) and Keith Oliver , National President.
HOMETOWN BARBER IS NEWEST MEMBER — Ray Adams, a combat correspondent at Camp Lejeune and on Okinawa in the late 1980s, retired from the Corps after a successful line recruiter tour in 1998.
Now, he cuts hair in national president Keith Oliver‘s hometown of Eustis, Fla.
Ray well remembers working with PANCOs Ken Boss and Chuck Betz when he was enlisting Marines out of RS Manchester, N.H.; and he served with the likes of Norm Garrett, Marty Hopper, Gary Mosley and Norm Garrett during his public affairs tours.
He was the DPA for Best Feature Article in 1986.
As soon as he finished his haircut, Keith got Ray to cough up $35 and sign on the dotted line January 19, making the Manchester native one of the first new members of 2017. Welcome aboard!
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Annita Best, and her family at her retirement ceremony, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 30, 2016.
Colonel Annita Best, left, assistant deputy public affairs, Marine Corps Installations East, stands at the position of attention during her retirement ceremony, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 30, 2016. Best retired after 30 years of honorable and faithful service. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl Judith L. Harte)
Please join me in congratulating CC Col. Annita Lane Best on her retirement this week following 30 years of service. Elsewhere on FB news pages her ceremony at Camp Lejeune is pictured. Anita is a long-time member and strong supporter of the USMCCCA. We wish her well in retirement.
Col. John Glenn
America has lost one of its true heroes from a bygone era when space exploration was still considered a modern miracle. John Glenn passed December 8 at age 95. He was a highly decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot from World War Two and the Korean War and the first American to orbit the earth at a time when the Russians had already put Sputnik into orbit and we needed to save face.
I met John Glenn when he was running for president in the Democrat Party primary of 1984 on Tybee Island, Georgia near Savannah. He posed with a beauty queen because it was expected and Glenn, always duty bound, did what was necessary to show the world he was both dedicated, sincere and predictable. Someone who could and should be counted on to do the task at hand.
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Chuck Beveridge, ‘laissez les bons temps rouler!’
One of my personal heros, Chuck Beveridge, passed away just a day before the 241st birthday of his beloved Marine Corps last November at age 90.
At the time I met Chuck, Mike LaBonne, Sally Pritchett, Bill Rowe, Charley Rowe, Angie Peraza, Angel Arroyo, Daryl Bennett, Mike Waters, Mike Rosas and a host of other Jarheads were running the nationwide Toys For Tots campaign from the 4th Marine Division/Wing Headquarters office in the 9th Ward of the Crescent City. We were located right next to one of those levies that gave way during Katrina.
The city was dirty, violent, wildly adventurous, filled with tourist traps and local joints known only to Gods and Cajuns. Chuck fit right in.
He was a living legend to us youngsters back then since most of us never knew an Iwo Jima “graduate” and, while he was all that, Chuck was also self-effacing, gregarious, creative as hell, a businessman with a great sense of humor and his own man living by his own rules.
What did we know about the Old Corps? As it turned out, nothing. Chuck broke the mold of the by-the-book Marines running our lives back then. He wasn’t a ‘Nam vet and he wasn’t some pompous ass flaunting heroics of a bygone era, though he certainly could have been had he chosen that route. After all, we were impressionable kids without knowledge of the hell he went through on Iwo and other island hoping campaigns in the Pacific Theater.
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