THE LAST AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT
In the November/December issue, I saw William Thomas Hollenback listed in “Taps.” CDR Hollenback, who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, was the CO of the U.S.S. Cayuga (LST-1186), a tank-landing ship that deployed U.S. Marines from the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade out of Okinawa. On May 24, 1972, he commanded the LST with LVTs (Amphibious Tractors) in the last amphibious assault ever made, at a hostile beachhead near Hue against the NVA.
There was all kinds of firepower beginning at 4:00 a.m. Had the North Vietnamese Air Force not been pretty much destroyed, we would’ve been blown to hell that day. After the assault, we went back to Okinawa, offloaded our Marines, then we put on our whites for a change-of-command ceremony.
CDR Hollenback’s nickname among us draft-motivated sailors was “the War Monger.” But we never said it to his face. Seeing his name in “Taps” brought me back to 1972. Under CDR Hollenback the War Monger, everyone on the Cayuga got the Combat Action Ribbon.
Travis L. Spoonemore
El Paso, Texas
PRETTY DARN GOOD
I just finished reading our 30th anniversary book cover to cover--excellent, excellent, excellent. It was well worth the wait and hopefully when our members receive it and read it, they will realize that some of the financial decisions we made in the past two years were pretty darn good.
Joe Galloway is a good writer and I’ve enjoyed his work, but I question his statement in the Welcome Home book that today’s troops are “better educated” than Vietnam veterans were.
That may perhaps be narrowly true if you assume that today’s soldiers are mostly high school graduates, but Vietnam veterans included people such as myself, drafted with an undergraduate degree plus two years of graduate school. Then there was my buddy Milt, who was drafted after finishing his Ph.D. in chemistry.
What is true is that today’s soldiers have a more uniform background. However, I believe that Vietnam veterans were, because of conscription, more representative of American society. Today, an entire generation of kids has no military experience at all unless they sought it by volunteering.
I am writing to thank your organization for your generosity. My boyfriend is currently deployed to Afghanistan and was saddened by the fact that he would not be spending Christmas at home. VVA happened to send him a large care package today, for no reason other than your generous spirit.
The box contained food, thermals, gloves, and “expensive” socks. The socks were personally my favorite item since I know how picky he is about socks and how thrilled he was to receive good quality ones.
I want to thank your whole organization for bringing a smile to my loved one this time of year. Your selfless act did not just make his day better, but mine as well. It is a comfort to know something has brought him happiness.
Tara D. Clark
On December 31, my son and I made a holiday visit to my father’s gravesite at the Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg, Florida. We were greeted with deep ruts in the ground where his gravestone should have been and the entire area stripped of grave markers.
Although a worker told us that the VA now buries cremains at three feet, we do not remember my father’s urn being buried that deep back in 2000, and those ruts in the ground—apparently from heavy equipment which should never be used in a cemetery project—are at least one-and-a-half feet deep in some places. Cremation urns are not made to withstand any kind of pressure, especially after sitting in the wet ground for ten years. I fear what has happened to the urns after all that traffic has passed over them.
Additionally, all of the grave markers have been removed. The worker said that the stones will be relocated to their exact same positions. However, common sense dictates that there is no way that they are going to be replaced exactly over the urn that they came from. But there is no way that anyone will ever be able to prove differently.
The National Cemetery Administration attempted a similar project at this cemetery in the mid-’90s. It didn’t work then and I fail to see how it can work now. This is hallowed ground and our veterans deserve better. Visiting my father’s grave will never be the same because I will never have the confidence that his grave was untouched or that he will even be in the same location as his marker.
Edmund D. Livingston, Jr.
Pinellas Park, Florida
A KARLIN CLASSIC
Thank you for your excellent review of Wayne Karlin’s remarkable book, Wandering Souls. I have just finished reading the book, and, without a doubt, given its broad reach and emotional depth that provides insights from both sides, it is the finest memoir of the Vietnam War that I have ever read. It will stand the test of time and become a classic.
Wayne Karlin has made our understanding of the Vietnam War, and what we all went through, more complete through telling the powerful story of Hoang Ngoc Dam’s death and Homer Steedly’s redemption.
I was in the Marine Corps in Vietnam from July 1968 to March 1970, and often patrolled Chin Strap Mountain and the village of Nui Kim Son. Karlin mentions the Viet Cong hospital that was hidden in the caves of Chin Strap Mountain, the biggest of the Marble Mountain cluster. In August 1968, we took several squads into those caves after the SOG camp to our north was overrun. We knew that there was something deep down in those caves, but we never were completely sure what it was.
THROTTLING WHISTLE BLOWERS
My wife Judy was employed as a Supervisory Registered Nurse at the State Veterans Nursing Home in Aurora, Colorado. I was extremely proud of my wife’s work caring for debilitated and vulnerable, mostly elderly veterans. Then, Judy and other nurses became aware that some facility residents and patients were being subjected to physical and emotional abuse, mistreatment, and neglect. Judy reported what she witnessed, providing evidence and supporting documentation.
When facility authorities refused to address these concerns, Judy reported these matters to official State oversight authorities. Subsequent investigation substantiated Judy’s reported concerns and identified additional incidents of mistreatment and neglect. Yet, the only facility employee subjected to adverse action was Judy. She was confronted with false allegations and charges that resulted in termination of employment. She appealed the termination and a State hearing officer ruled that she was unjustly terminated. Yet she was never reinstated and action was never taken against those who retaliated.
Terrance P. O’Neill
Thank you so very much for the wonderful article about Clermont County, Ohio, Chapter 649 of Vietnam Veterans of America. They are so good to our community. It was nice reading about them. Great job.
Regina L. Herbolt
As a Service Rep, I’ve used the Locator in the past with fantastic results, winning quite a few appeals. In one case, the veteran used the Locator and had about ten responses in a week.
Keep up the fantastic work.