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War-Stories' PointMaNewsletter
ONLINE EDITION 3: October November December, 2008

War-Stories continues to grow in numbers of stories and membership. Unique visitors to War-Stories this quarter to date are: 3,276,833.

New features are being added and a military collectibles store is nearly ready to open. TheMilitaryCorner.com will instantly become one of the largest online 24/7 military store honoring all veterans, active duty military, retirees, family, friends, and first-responders. The public is Welcome--No ID required--but make no mistake the focus remains on veterans and current members of US Forces. Featuring quality military gifts and collectibles for U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, highlighting items from all US wars--at incredible low prices! Discover rare unit pins from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Watch for the grand opening soon!


An opportunity to tell our Veterans' side of the Vietnam War continues, as inquiries are received from teachers and professors concerning teaching what really happened in the Vietnam War. Several require their students to visit War-Stories.com and read our stories and write about it in an essay. Extra credit is given if they can contact the author with follow up questions.

Don Poss


Letters to the Editor / Emails from the Front:

From: Marilyn K. Lynch,
Subject: Stories posted at War Stories

Dear Mr. Poss,

I am writing to you to make sure that this site is the right format for your venue. I will gladly donate money to your cause after I hear from you. I am a high school teacher at West Haven High School, West Haven, CT go to: https://www.hmm-364.org/mannion-d.html

Today, Cpl. Dennis Mannion, a Vietnam Veteran Marine, came and spoke to our classes. I have never seen the students so moved and absorbed with a presentation. Life changing experience for these kids! Dennis created a slide show and his presentation is phenomenal. It really educated the students about this war and the truth about what it is like to be a veteran of a war. He is a retired English teacher and his presentation certainly showed how talented he is at presenting and educating students to the reality of Vietnam.

I showed Mr. Mannion a picture of a German Shepard we had (the family dog, Ringo). Ringo was a brilliant, beautiful dog but was too protective of the family and bit neighbors. He was so intelligent and wonderful. My dad decided to send him to the Navy (he was a WW II Navy Vet) Apparently he went to Lackland.

I also have a letter SN Stephen D. Thompson sent my dad from Nam. It is a wonderful thing that I will always cherish. I did ask Mr. Mannion if I should correspond (after all these years) with SN Stephen D. Thompson. I did some research and I believe SN Thomspon is 61 years old and lives in Augusta, Georgia. I called the number associated with his name, address. The person that picked up the phone was I believe his wife. She said he spent 9 months in the hospital because his truck was blown up. He now drives trucks and golf carts. I mentioned sending a letter and she was quite abrupt when I mentioned that. I have pictures of Ringo with my sisters and I that are so precious, when Ringo was a pup.

Dennis Mannion encouraged me to forward a letter. You have so much experience. In fact, I have gotten letters from former Nam K-9 handlers that state that "Mr. Thompson is so lucky to have touched base with the roots of his brother", meaning the K-9. You have so much experience. What do you think? I have some beautiful pictures of Ringo that I would like to send him to and a copy of the letter he sent to my dad.

Thanks for your time. God bless,
Marilyn K. Lynch
Guilford, Connecticut
Memorial Rose request -- Bob Davis,

My name is Bob Davis I am the son of Douglas O. Davis I would like to request a rose placed beside my fathers name, from my sister Linda and I. Bob Davis
[Bob's request was for War-Stories to place a Rose by his father's name at our Memorial pages. Anyone can request a Rose, Flag, or unit patch/icon placement.]

King Rat - Bunker Bonkers, by Den Cook, USAF; Rats, I Lost My Helmet - 1968

As a member of the 377th Combat Security Police at Tan Son Nhut, Viet Nam, I was assigned a sandbag bunker, guarding the transient ammo dump. It was very boring, working all night with nothing to see, and no one to talk to. Like any good SP, I improvised ... Target practice on rats seemed like a good idea--what could go wrong? C-rations was the bait, and a helmet the home-defense Search and Destroy weapon of choice.
      I set out a can beans-and-wieners, and waited in the dark for the commie-hoard to attempt penetration of my bunker. Moon light filtered in through the bunker's firing slit, and soon, there were beady little commie eyes scurrying toward the green can on the dirt floor. WHAMM-O! Got that little sucker--you might say I beaned him with my helmet! [Obviously, I had been in-country too long, and was overdue an R&R]
      Hey--that was fun ... think I'll do it again. But I had not planned for the KIA-RAT having called for reinforcements. And before long, there were Viet Cong rats ... and NVA rats ... all determined to Chow-oi in my bunker--but I was not afraid. You rats want my C-rats, huh? Well
... take that! WHAMM-O. In no time, I had C-rat cans flying at rats in a blizzard of cans worse than a shovel of gravel in a laundromat drier! Noise discipline was ZERO. War? What War? CSC--Command and Security Control--was calling for a status check every 20 seconds! Ahhh . . . A-Okay... Marine M60 machineguns were swiveling in my direction for two-clicks, claymores were redirected, and Puff the Magic Dragon was dropping flares faster than cops at a train vs. 18-wheeler gas-tanker accident! And I was not afraid!
      The battle raged with give and take, and I was in a take-no-prisoners mood. There were many misses and a few close hits. Soon, it became apparent that rats don't play fair--they don't like being squished into a C-rat can full of dead rats. WHAM-oo ... I missed one big hairy varmint--and another sandbag bled sand like a dike with a basketball hole in it. Hey ...I think he stole my helmet! Gemmie back my helmet! I was slipping and sliding on goo that would shame Texas-Roadkill (mammoths) in comparison.
      With flashlight in hand, I shifted to Plan-B ... Search and Helmet Rescue. Impossible! How could those little suckers hide a helmet inside an 8 foot square sandbagged bunker? No luck, I just couldn't find my helmet.
      Then it happened! The rats' reinforcements arrived: The night commander was making his rounds, checking posts. Maybe, if I'm good and do my best job, he'll never even notice I'm not wearing my helmet!!?? So I gave a good loud post challenge: "Hallll-tttt, who goes there?" (as if the whole dang world didn't know) We exchanged passwords (I wondered if I still had my magic Captain Zoom decoder ring). Everything's working according to my plan--the dummy doesn't even notice my bare head--heh-heh. He asks, "How are you tonight?" I reply (lie), "Doing just fine, Sir," but think what I wished I had the wavos to say: I love sitting in the middle of nothing but blackness for endless hours, without a helmet, surrounded by a mound of dead stinking rats and beans and wieners ... yea, I'm doin' just fine).
      The Tech Sergeant with him is reading my mind and thought-projecting his opinion into my brain (today I recognize him as a member of the Borg who was determined to assimilate me). Obviously, he has noticed I part my hair on both sides. After the L-T has finished his questions which I have sort of satisfactorily answered: Air Force? Ahh ... I love the Air Force, Sir ... Vietnam? ... I love Vietnam, Sir. Third Post Security Instruction is ... aha ... (is this a trick question?) He nods, and started toward the next post, satisfied that he had stumped the dimwitted Airman. I relaxed a little. My thoughts began to drift toward Plan-C ... where can I find another helmet? I wondered where I could steal a Plan-C sledgehammer? Oh well, at least I won't get my butt kicked by the L-T tonight. And then my heart jumps into my throat as I heard: "COOK, WHERE THE @!%$&^! IS YOUR HELMET???!!!"
      Now, I was afraid. There's two things you never leave home without, and one of them is your helmet. The grinning TSgt had obviously ratted on me. It was not a pretty sight as I tried to explain about the Godzilla rats and my valiant defense of government property (me), the C-rations, and the Droppler Effect (whatever) when a helmet is propelled at a certain trajectory and bounces when gooing a rat. What do'ya mean YOU LOST A @(!*$% HELMET inside a bunker!?!?! L-T was not buying my creative (lie) unique (a bigger lie) story ... so I puked up a new version of the approximate truth (a sort of lie containing the beginnings of truth and a full blown confession). Sarge was impressed that he had righted a great wrong (enlisted man once again conning a duffus butter-ball Lieutenant).
      Okay. So what...I lost the battle to a bunch of rats (Dobermans in training for the film Alien)! So what if the bunker rats won this one---there'll be other battles ... I've just begun to fight ... and---I've got a new helmet!


All Baby Die

Vietnam, Honai-section was the Ke Sat Orphanage
Biên Hòa 1969-1970

by Paul Kaser

© 2002


I could smell the stench long before I reached the nursery. It was the stench of urine, excrement, and disease, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw there -- a bare room with the floor littered with scabby, naked infants. This was the "inner sanctum" of the Honai orphanage near Biên Hòa AB. Few Americans ever saw it--certainly no visiting stateside reporters.

We all know "Baby-Killer!" was the name war protesters snarled at returning vets whether they were Security Policemen, chaplains, pilots, corpsmen, or just dazed and weary grunts. The death of babies in Vietnam, was a situation little known to back-home civilians who thought watching the evening news made them experts on all that was going on over there.

Honai (SVN) was a town made up mostly of Catholic refugees from the North and was known for having almost as many churches as houses. All seemed to be hastily slapped .together in a jumble. The place had a desperate look and was always vulnerable to communist infiltration. No doubt among its few hundred anti-Communists there were many enemy agents.

One of the compounds in the Honai-section was the Ke Sat orphanage. Behind concertina wire gate and thick yellow walls several Vietnamese nuns cared for the lost children of the war--or tried to.

When assigned to the 3rd SPS, and on a second tour at Biên Hòa, I often visited the compound in off-duty hours with Med Cap teams and other Army and Air Force personnel able to get off base for civic-actions work, which helped break the monotony of on-base duty. Getting permission to go off base wasn't always easy, especially for those assigned to the 3rd SPS, as we were often on alert status, but a few did. Most CO's didn't figure an unsecured settlement of northern refugees was a great place for their troops to hang out in off-duty time. Nevertheless, in 1969, several NCO's, did manage to build a orphans' dormitory there.

.The problem at Ke Sat, like other war orphanages, was there were more kids coming in than could properly be taken care of, even with the help of USAF and Army medical personnel visiting weekly. Mothers who were ARVN widows would occasionally leave their babies (often, of mixed Vietnamese with GI fathers) with the nuns. And through the gates of Ke Sat there was a brisk business in abandoned babies, many of them wounded, all sick. The nuns took them all and worked heroically to protect them, while they themselves lived in considerable danger, given their location.

The sister who was my contact at the orphanage like to be called "Twiggy," (photo, left) a name some GI had given her a year earlier. After medicine and food for her children, the thing she wished most for was to be allowed to drive our jeep. She would hop in at a moment's notice, but we always managed to protect that bit of government property.

Twiggy's grimmer duty was to take-in babies and save those she could--which weren't .many. Priority went to the children who had survived infancy and might make it to adulthood. We'd look at those kids and wonder if they'd grow up to be war fodder as so many of their fathers had.

Twiggy took me into that stinking room, and watched for my reaction. Of course, she wanted Americans, those who might help, to see the suffering. There were about twenty babies lying on thin rags on the concrete floor, several in puddles of urine. Most of the babies had skin diseases as evidenced by white or red scabby patches. Their mucus-smeared faces were blank, eyes crusty with pus, and whimpering weakly. Americans who saw this kind of pathetic sight in Vietnam, could not have helped but contrast it with spotless maternity wards in hospitals back in "The World."

A couple of Vietnamese women were seeing to the needs of the babies, when possible, but the orphanage was filled with older children's conditions demanded care and attention. And most seemed to be suffering some combination of respiratory, skin, and eye diseases.

The next week when I visited Honai there were still ten of the babies in the nursery, with one or two crying more robustly. I had hoped they might survive, but realized it was chancy. Too many of the babies were too far gone when they had arrived, and a new crop of infants and babies lined up along one side of the room.

Without thinking, I asked Twiggy, "What happened to all the other babies from last week?" Though it must have seemed a stupid question to her, the nun reported patiently,
"Beau coup baby die."

The next few weeks were a High Threat of enemy action in the Biên Hòa area, and a lot of enemy movement was reported. The battle-hardened Đồng Nai Regiment of North Vietnam's Army was supposed to be gathering, and the Honai sector was strictly off-limits.

When we were able to return to the orphanage one Saturday morning, we were met at the gate by Sister Twiggy. She was smiling as usual through all the troubles. We delivered supplies, and told the sister yet again we couldn't let her drive the jeep. The USAF dentist with me began examining and treating the older children. As I walked through the compound, I neared the nursery and turned to look in, but Twiggy quickly blocked my way.

"You no look--no see," she warned, still smiling.

I had seen the orphanage over-crowed before and new the nuns were sensitive to room's appearance. "Many new kids this week?" I asked, as I stood near the doorway. The room was eerily quiet. Something was wrong. No crying or whimpering or anything.

She looked down and said in a low voice, "All baby die."

I have no idea if all the babies had died. It's hard to believe that twenty or thirty of them had all died in so short a time, but I knew that many had died, and more would die. And had seen the empty beds and cribs were children slept fitfully the day before. I knew that some of the kids would make it farther along the hard life that was a Vietnamese war orphan. And I knew that many would not. The Sisters' desperate need for help was all too real, and more than we could provide.

Decades later, it is the quiet room I hear in my dreams, and not the crying room of living children.


ONLINE EDITION 3: October November December, 2008