A GOOD PLACE
I read the July/August issue, as all others, with joy. The
articles are real-time stories of where we are as a generation.
I believe we are in a good place. The article on Khe Sahn
from the Vietnamese perspective, as well as the book review
on the National Guard, and the story on Randy Wright returning
to Vietnam with his son, show various efforts on our part
to get whole.
I could not have read those articles or written
this without having returned to Vietnam myself. I was such
boy of twenty that my one-year tour almost destroyed me.
Thank God for people of good will.
I write this without ill will nor malicious intent toward
anyone, but I feel a statement made by a candidate for National
Board of Directors at Large in the May/June issue must be
addressed. Dan Stenvold is a fine man. I enjoyed reading
his articulate column about Convention Rules. I’m sure
his participation in many veterans’ organizations indicates
he is a worthy advocate for veterans’ interests.
He states: “I was wounded twice but turned down the
Purple Hearts as they were of the ‘John Kerry type,’ and
I would not have felt right accepting them.” Am I hearing
that there are two kinds of Purple Hearts? As a VVA member
for 23 years, and a Life Member for 17, I have never heard
of a “John Kerry Purple Heart.” Mr. Stenvold,
if you were wounded twice in combat, you deserve two Purple
Does this mean that veterans who proudly wear a Purple Heart
must question whether or not they were awarded valid, honestly
earned Purple Hearts? I am not a Purple Heart recipient,
but through my many years of active service in VVA, I’ve
met many Purple Heart recipients. Most are very humble and
say, “It was nothing.” But to me, it means quite
Are there two types of Purple Hearts or was this a
political jab at a former presidential candidate? This was
not a very bipartisan statement. In the same issue, VVA Government
Affairs Director Rick Weidman says that “VVA is bipartisan” and
is “an equal opportunity membership.” If VVA is to remain bipartisan
and an equal opportunity membership, we need to honor all of our Vietnam veteran
brothers and sisters who have earned this prestigious medal.
I’d like to let Mr. Stenvold know that there is only one Purple Heart,
not two, and offer my heartfelt thanks for his service to his country and Vietnam
Veterans of America.
Santa Rosa, California
DAN STENVOLD REPLIES
I was wounded once when I was 18 and once when I was 19.
Both were multiple small wounds from mortars. Neither time
did I need any stitches, nor was I dusted off, but both times
I was asked if I wanted a Purple Heart and my answer both
times was no.
In each incident several guys were wounded badly enough
that they were taken away by dust-off, and some never came
back to our unit. In my opinion, my Purple Hearts would have
been cheap because I was not hurt badly enough to deserve
them. This was my feeling when I was 18 and 19 and is my
feeling today when I’m
My reference to Kerry was not meant to be derogatory. I’m guessing he
got caught up in the “medals” part of the war and said yes in the
same instance when I said no. The people with him said some of his wounds never
needed a bandage.
I know where Gary Feikert is coming from, but to me a missing
limb gets a Purple Heart and the small cuts I had do not.
I’d like to thank everyone for a great convention and
I look forward to the Leadership Conference in South Carolina.
I’d also like to apologize
to several folks I talked to in Springfield. I gave them
a bad web site that I would like to correct. The correct
web site is www.ourtroopsonline.com I told them about a local
U.S. Navy veteran, Bob Williams, who has a great operation
going in Wesley Chapel, Florida, near Tampa Bay, where he
collects and ships tons of items to our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan,
Kyrgyzstan, and Qatar.
The new look of The VVA Veteran is excellent, very classy.
troubled that Marc Leepson’s “Arts of War” is
nowhere to be found in May/June 2007. I trust it was left
out for space considerations and that it’ll be back,
because Mr. Leepson’s arts column and his “Books
in Review” are among my favorite parts of the publication.
Always his evaluations are fair and his recommendations reliable.
I certainly hope that both of these superb regular features
appear in the next issue and every issue thereafter.
Editor’s note: “Arts of War” was
dropped from May/June due to a space crunch; it appears in
this issue on p. 47.
FROM A DING-A-LING
I had the pleasure of working with Wes Guidry at the Vietnam
Veterans of America Convention in Springfield, and it was
a sheer delight. I have worked professionally in show business
since I was twelve years old as an actress, singer, dancer,
producer, and director. I have worked with every star in
Hollywood and Europe from Oprah Winfrey to Dean Martin, from
Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, and have even performed for
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. In all that time I have never
worked with anyone as calm, cool, and collected under pressure
as Wes Guidry. He went way above the call of duty, and I
feel it was an honor and privilege to work with him. VVA
is extremely lucky to have such a talented producer.
A WELL-DONE JOB
Thanks for the outstanding “Jersey Guys” in the July/August issue
in Membership Notes, and the exceptional coverage of pertinent issues and events
in every issue.
Coordinating with Marc Leepson was a real pleasure. Our collective
efforts produced an article that I believe speaks to all
Vietnam veterans, AVVA members, and veterans from all campaigns,
as it provided much-deserved and often-overlooked credit
for the volunteer contributions veterans have provided—and
continued to provide—all of our troops.
All too often
people complain, but can’t seem to find the time to
You” and to provide feedback when a job is well done.
I did not want to miss the opportunity to compliment The
Veteran on the superb article and the timely and pertinent
information given to our membership in every issue.
D. Meheski, Jr.
Trenton, New Jersey