121st AVN Association Volume Number 6 Issue Number 3 Date 20 November 2013
From The Editor’s Desk
Thanksgiving is upon us, and we are awaiting to see what the winter holds in store. We hope that each of you will be able to spend the holidays surrounded by family and friends, and with happy memories of our absent companions. I recall Thanksgiving 1966 at Soc Trang. The mess hall fixed us a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings. The next year, I was flying on Thanksgiving Day and had a cold C Ration for lunch and another one for dinner (the Army quit using C Rations and started using MREs in the mid-1980s. I am not sure that it was an improvement). Thanksgivings since that time have been much more enjoyable, but I will never forget the spirit of brotherhood that we shared then.
We are still savoring the events of our last reunion, at Ft. Worth, Texas and also of the mini-reunion that was held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. These reunions have been a huge boost to our morale, and a lot of healing has taken place because of them. If you have not attended one, I urge you to give it a try. Our next reunion will be in Branson, Missouri. This is a drivable location for most of the US, and there is a lot to do and see there. The wives will find much to entertain them while the men swap war stories and refresh those bonds that we formed in the days of our youth.
Although we have located and maintain contact with more than 530 veterans of our unit a large percentage have, unfortunately, decided to date to not become members of the Association. I know there are many reasons for that but it is my sincere hope that more of you will make an effort to become a member, whether annual or LIFE, and support the goals of our Association and its members. It is also very important that the annual members respond to the yearly renewal letters and continue their membership. The Association, like all enterprises, for profit or no profit, require funding to provide the services we feel are important to the veterans and their families. As the contact list continues to grow just the cost of mailings alone increases as well. Without the necessary financial support the efforts of so many for so long will go for naught. The necessary paperwork for becoming a member is available on the Association web site at: www.121avn.org, in the Association portion of the main menu and the Membership Application of the sub menu. Easy to fill out and the information includes dues amount and where to mail the application and payment. If you require a hard copy for any reason, please feel free to contact me at: Tigerlead67@aol.com or call on the land line at: (305)235-7762. I will respond in short order to your requests.
I am pleased to announce that Rick and Linda Weimar are now part of the Membership Committee and both have already done yeoman service in locating and contacting our long lost brothers. It is not the easiest task to locate people nearly fifty years after their service at Da Nang or Soc Trang. Please assist them in way you can to pursue their efforts at locating our folks.
On another note, our webmaster, Dave Misselhorn, is turning over the primary operation of the Association web site to his wife, Kelly, who is already at her post and ensuring proactive operation of the site. Dave has been our webmaster from the start, wrote and engineered the site, and made tremendous effort on our behalf. He will continue in the role of technical assistant to Kelly.
From your historian:
Now that the summer is over, it’s time to report to you my summer activities accomplished at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Silver Springs Maryland. I made 13 trips to NARA this summer to search the First Aviation Brigade general orders. This was the second summer I have done this and I accomplished looking through 27 boxes which contained general orders mostly for awards in all the units in the 1st Aviation Brigade. I wish I could have found an easy way to isolate the 121st/80th Trans awards, but the fact is it required an order for order search (talk about repetitive motion)! General orders were created as they were received from the units. Each year the order number started from one and went as high as the numbers required for the end of the year. Let me review for you how I approached these orders. As I have told you in previous messages, I made no attempt to collect orders without citations. So that would exclude air medals, Army Commendation Medals, Bronze Stars for meritorious service and Purple Hearts. Air Medals for valor, Army Commendation Medals for valor, Bronze Stars for valor were included in my collection as well as Distinguished Flying Crosses and Silver Stars. Naturally there were exceptions. So if an award had a citation I attempted to collect it. As for storing awards in the archive, I used the date the activity occurred rather than the publish date of the order. Frequently, awards that were given for an event in one year were published in the following year. In addition, the counts that I will list next represent the individuals who received the awards since frequently multiple individuals are shown on one award.
Last year I stopped recording awards when I was partially through 1968. This past summer I completed 1968 with 86 additional awards; 1969 showed 72 awards; and 1970 showed 134 awards. The summer’s activity resulted in 292 awards. However, I only made it halfway through 1970, so next year I will have to finish 1970 then go back to 1962 through 1965. You will notice there are some awards in the archive for the early years. Those awards are the ones which individuals have given me. I have not yet researched the various headquarters that issued awards in the early years; there were many.
While my main concentration was on awards this past summer, I am still looking for unit orders, photographs, letters, and stories-anything that you think would contribute to understanding our unit during its time in Vietnam. The size of the archive is now quite large and now I have discovered how to reduce the size of scanned items, so my next project will be to reduce the size of printed files. As usual I will bring the archive to the reunion this year. If you review the awards and do not see yours but have a copy I will be glad to add them to the archive. As I went through each box, I noted an inventory had been accomplished and several orders were listed as missing.
Officers of the Association
We have recently added three members to the board of Trustees. Phil Olson, Richard Weimar and George Muccianti have agreed to be active participants on the board, and will join in to keep the 121 AVN Association a smooth running organization. We thank them for accepting this position of trust and welcome them to the board.
Sadly, we have lost one of our original Trustees. Norm Laumeyer died after a lengthy illness.
2014 Reunion Announcement
During the annual membership meeting in May this year, the members voted to hold our 2014 reunion in Branson, Missouri. Our Chairman, John Kennedy appointed Don Powell and John Schmied to be the Reunion Committee, to make all the necessary arrangements. Immediately after we left Fort Worth, work began for the next reunion. After going through an extensive “Request for Proposals” process, with the assistance of the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau, we have selected a hotel/resort with great facilities to accommodate our reunion at a reasonable cost.
We have contracted with the Welk Resort in Branson for the weekend of June 12 – 15, 2014. Full information packets with registration forms, hotel information and travel suggestions will be mailed mid – January. Shortly after that, everyone will be receiving brochures on the activities in the Branson area from the Branson Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you decide to make a family vacation out of the trip to Branson and the Lakes area of the Ozarks, all the information will be at your fingertips. We are hoping for a grand event so join us for the enjoyment of reuniting with old friends and the exciting entertainment and hospitality of the Branson area.
Mark your calendar for June 12-15, 2014 for our reunion in Branson, Missouri.
Don Powell and John Schmied,
2014 Reunion Committee
A mini reunion was held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this summer. Rick and Linda Weimar organized it, and they did a bang-up job. There was good attendance, with one member driving all the way from Los Angeles, California to attend. Jeanie and I were only able to attend one afternoon, but the camaraderie was in full swing and we hope to see, and actively participate in many more such get-togethers.
Linda Weimar writes: “Everyone that we talked to after the reunion had a very good time, and hope to do another one in the near future at another location.”
We have lost some more good people Jerry L. Guthrie passed away on 29 June 2013. He was with the unit in 1966-67.
Norm Laumeyer pass away on 13 August 2013. Not only was Norm a respected part of the Tiger Team in Viet Nam, he was one of the trustees and was the original administrator of our scholarship program. He was in a wheel chair and on Oxygen in 2012 but still attended our reunion at Ft. Rucker for one last visit with true friends.
Dan Davies passed away September 5, 2013. Our records do not indicate when he was with the unit, and he was not a member of the Association, but he was one of us in those trying times.
We also lost Chuck Drone. Chuck was with the unit in 1967-68. This loss was very hard for me personally, as we were quite close. I gave him OJT on being a Huey crewchief when he started flying, we bunked next to each other and shared more than a few adventures. He also had the coolest nose art that I ever saw on a Huey. He was at the Ft. Worth reunion, the first time that we had seen each other since 1968. I look forward to hoisting a drink with him at Fiddler’s Green.
Daughter needs information about her father
This request was received from Rebecca McFaul:
My dad, Donald Ray McFaul was part of the 121st AVN Helicopter Company in Vietnam 1961-63
I think. Please let me know if you knew him, or have any photos of him during that time.
We have received many requests over the years for a Viking platoon T-Shirt. We have ordered T-Shirts with the Viking logo on the back, similar to the shirts worn by some of the Vikings at recent reunions. They should be available for purchase about the same time this Gazette is mailed. We have only ordered a minimum quantity of these shirts in various sizes since the exact demand for these shirts is unknown. A reorder will be possible if there is enough interest.
Watch the web site http://121avn.org – PX tab for the arrival of the shirts.
I am pleased to announce that Kathryn Roys, (granddaughter of Phil and Sharon Olson) was awarded $1000.00 scholarship assistance from the Association’s Academic Financial Assistance Program. Ms. Roys is a biology major at Rhodes College in Memphis Tennessee. Her short term goal is to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician and her long term ambition is to become a Physician’s Assistant.
We established this financial assistance program in 2009 with the sole intent to help the descendants of association members pay for their education or training. Participation by applicants has been very low. The plainly written instructions and an application form can be downloaded from our web site (www.121avn.org). I urge you to help us get this information down to your second and third, or maybe even fourth generation of descendants. Start now talking with them hyping this opportunity up. It is not too early to get them started to thinking about it.
As a point of interest for applicants wishing to apply for financial assistance in 2014, a few minor changes have been made to the instructions and application forms documents as shown on the 121AVN web site. The most important change is that the date for receipt of the application by the Financial Assistance Chairman (FAC) has been moved to 30 June. These forms can be downloaded from the website, or send requests for forms to:
7908 Cooper Creek Road
Columbus GA 31909
New Book by a Tiger
Daniel T. Eismann served in Vietnam from May 1968 through April 1970. For about 18 months of that time, he was a crew chief in the Viking gunship platoon. In the book, he uses combat experiences, primarily his own, to illustrate principles that are applicable to both the secular and the spiritual war in which all of us are engaged. While we do not have space for a full review of his book, he has provided some excerpts from it which I will repeat here:
“During my second year in Vietnam, the Army usually only provided me one meal a day (a box of C-rations) on the days I flew. We took off before the mess hall was open to serve breakfast and usually returned after it had served supper and was closed for the day. If I wanted a second meal, I had to go the enlisted men’s club and order what was passed off as a hamburger and French fries…. One morning, just as we were getting up, we had a mortar attack. Everyone else ran to the bunkers for safety. I ran to the mess hall. When I arrived, there was no line. I just walked right in. The cooks were gone, so I could serve myself. I had just the right amount of scrambled eggs, three strips of bacon instead of two, and I did not drown my pancake in syrup. I had no problem finding a place to sit. The room was empty. I selected a table in the middle of the mess hall, sat down, and had a nice, quiet, leisurely breakfast, followed by a cup of coffee. By the time I was done, the mortar attack was over, so I slipped out and returned to my barracks. That was the best meal I had in Vietnam!”
Apparently, sometimes that afternoon nap in the back of the helicopter was a real good idea. Daniel writes:
“….. I had just lain over sideways and closed my eyes, when I heard a loud noise and felt shards of Plexiglas hitting me. I immediately sat upright, and the first thing I saw was a large bullet hole in the window of my door. A .50 caliber round had come through the window and passed through the wall behind where my head had been less than two seconds earlier when I was sitting upright. Had I not lain down, that round would have hit me right in the Adam’s apple. It would literally have blown my head off. I pondered that event for a little while. Before then, being killed was an abstract possibility. Now, I realized that as long as I was flying in gunships there was a substantial risk that I would be killed. Perhaps what was most disconcerting was that the bullet came without any warning. It was literally like a bolt out of the blue. We were not even in a place where we were expecting enemy fire. There was absolutely nothing I could have done in my own ability to keep from being killed. I realized that I could be doing everything perfectly, and on any given day I could be killed by one bullet coming out of nowhere. I remember thinking that death could come even from someone firing a single-shot .22 (a small-caliber rifle that is often a youth’s first firearm). I concluded that I could either worry about dying and get ulcers, or simply choose not to worry about it. I chose the latter course. I simply accepted the fact that I had a good possibility of being killed, and did not worry about it. In a sense, I considered myself already dead. I accepted the fact of my death. Once you have accepted your death as a fact, you no longer fear it.”
Daniel’s book may be obtained from Amazon.com either as hard copy or kindle.
Autographed copies are available from the author for $18.89 shipped to your door (please indicate to whom the book should be autographed).
He can be contacted at:
Desert Sage Press LLC
2432 E. Ashbrook Court
Eagle, Idaho 83616
Letters to the editor should be sent to:
1155 Union Road
Greeneville, Tn. 37745 Tiger129ts@aol.com
Your Board of Trustees is:
John Kennedy, Chairman Donald Jackson, Vice Chairman
John Schmied, Secretary Dave Cunningham, Treasurer and Membership firstname.lastname@example.orgTigerlead67@aol.com