Your Letters – SPRING 2015
“Thank God for Norwich”
I hope you have received many fine comments about your last Norwich Record. It was well done, as they all are, and I can’t speak for the other alumni, but I find it such a good way to “stay tuned” to my proud Norwich. I will never forget the moment I arrived in Vietnam and I reported in to my boss, a full colonel. Without knowing a thing about me he opened my field 201 file and the first thing he said was, “Thank God for Norwich.” He was a West Point infantry colonel that had led an infantry unit as a first lieutenant in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. He surely made my day, and I have never forgotten his words.
Victor Kim ‘60
A Big Thumbs-Up
My Norwich Record arrived yesterday and I was especially interested in the emphasis on the Vietnam era. As I scanned through it last night, I spotted Dewey Martin ‘67’s plane-crash story in the “In Their Own Words” section. I remember him sharing that experience with me many, many years ago. However, it wasn’t until 15 years after my return from Vietnam that I went to lunch on Veterans Day with several other Viet vets and we actually shared some of our experiences. It is great to see folks are now starting to recognize the sacrifices and human tolls of that era.
Whoever made the call at Norwich to publish this issue, please give them a big thumbs-up. So many of these stories have lain dormant for 40+ years; it’s time folks hear from individuals that actually experienced the traumas of this particular conflict.
Bruce Moulton ‘67
Dripping Springs, Texas
Thanks for the Tip
I really enjoyed the latest edition, featuring stories about classmates Billy Bonk ‘66 and Howie Lewis ‘66. My wife and I mostly corresponded by reel-to-reel tape during my tour in RVN (Dec. ‘67– Dec. ‘68), and few, if any, letters remain. But a couple of years ago I wrote a series of short stories about the weirder things that happened to me while in country and compiled them into a small book. I really wrote the book for my kids and grandkids to give them some perspective on what I did during that period in time. I did not write it to distribute beyond the family; however, in your intro to the issue you mention the NU Archives, and I will consider sending a copy there. Thanks for the tip…and the nudge.
David Quincy ‘66
South Orleans, Massachusetts
P.S. I think in your sign-off you meant to write, “You’re ‘number one’ with us” as in “Numba one, chung wi” (“You are the best, lieutenant”) instead of “numba ten” (bad). At least that’s how I remember it being used. Either way, we RVN vets know what you meant and appreciate the sentiment.
I want to commend your staff on a “WOW” job on this issue! I did not serve in Vietnam, but have a lot of empathy and appreciation for the ones that did. Keep up the good work. You make me proud to be an NU graduate.
Charlie Brox ‘57
Punta Gorda, Florida
As a Vietnam vet, I very much appreciate the focus the winter issue brought to our service and our sacrifice, but I physically winced at the faux pas you committed in “Spinning the Record.” I refer to your attempt to employ lingo we used to communicate while in country to describe the level of esteem you hold for those who served. Of course, you meant to say “number 1.” Considering that the difference between “number 1” and “number 10” is clearly explained in the P.S. on page 31, your mistake is unfortunate. Nonetheless, you brought back mostly good memories of the days when I was called “dai uy.”
Donald Day ‘64
Your Vietnam issue of the Norwich Record is super. It lets everyone who reads it know how it was. I served during the Korean Conflict. Most of my involvement was top-secret. We were considered expendable. All my orders were temporary-assignment. My three snipers and I made it through 20+ missions. My motto was “No bullet holes or body bags.” I attempted to find out if any records were kept. I received a big “NO!” Again, well done on Vietnam.
John Merian ‘52
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
This issue is memorable due to the Vietnam War inclusion. There is not much play or any education about this war except in a few chosen locations. If there was one thing that most mid-’60s to early ‘70s NU cadets paid attention to regularly, it was the war, the draft, and finally, their lottery number.
As we continue to grow the Vietnam War Foundation & Museum (Ruckersville, Va.), I welcome anyone with Vietnam War memorabilia to contact me. Privately operated and funded, it is the only museum dedicated 100% to the Vietnam War. Our goal is to give the layman an education in what it was like to get your draft notice, go through basic training, and then shortly after AIT, to be transported to Southeast Asia for a tour of duty in a war zone. The museum is hands-on: We invite everyone to touch, climb on, and operate the controls of our vehicles, examine artifacts from the war, and handle objects that were supplied to our armed forces. Please visit our website, www.vietnamwarfoundation.org, for further information.
Skip Degan ‘71
WNUB Never Censored
Regarding the winter 2015 Record article “The Flagpole Incident,” on page 20 the author implies that campus radio station WNUB may have been censored. Certainly during my tenure as station manager in 1969 I can attest that the administration NEVER commented about the content of what we broadcast, which included two edgy editorials I aired. To the contrary, the University was so cooperative they even authorized and paid for me to have a private phone in my dorm room so I could better manage the radio station. The only complaint I remember receiving from our faculty advisor one morning centered on the suspicion that our late-night radio announcer forgot to flush after using the restroom on the fourth floor of Jackman, which we shared with General Hamlett and other senior administrators.
Walter Legan ‘70
More on Tan Son Nhut
I received the Vietnam Issue of the Norwich Record today and noticed “From the Archives” on page 1 showing the Norwich officers at Tan Son Nhut and the comment about the bombing in 1975. There is another Norwich connection regarding those last days of the fall of Saigon. My future wife, Que Luong Stoddard, was working at Tan Son Nhut when the bombing by the North Vietnamese began. She was not allowed to leave the base by the South Vietnamese MPs, so she had no choice but to await her fate. Luckily, a coworker was able to arrange for their escape by a South Vietnamese Air Force Helicopter. In the early morning hours of April 29, 1975, they left Tan Son Nhut and landed on one of the waiting aircraft carriers of the Operation Frequent Wind Task Force authorized by President Ford to rescue as many refugees as possible. She left her country with only the clothes on her back, one shoe, and her airport ID. After being processed at Guam she flew to Camp Pendleton California where she lived in a tent city. A few months later she was sponsored by the sister of my Norwich classmate Ron Brackett. We have been married 39 years now and have two great daughters. Que has visited Norwich for my reunions and especially enjoyed our recent 50th reunion.
Que’s siblings were not so lucky. Her sister was jailed for trying to escape, and my brother-in-law, a South Vietnamese Air Force Captain, spent many years in a communist “re-education” camp. Her brother and cousins escaped by boat in 1980 and lived in a UN refugee camp in Malaysia for several years. We were eventually able to sponsor Que’s cousins and, years later, Que’s sister and her husband. Thirty years later they are all productive American citizens, owning their homes and operating businesses. It was a privilege to see them rise up from nothing and see what they and their children have become. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have been born in the USA. After all, but for the grace of God, it could have been me.
Willis Stoddard ‘64
A Heartfelt Thank You
As a proud member of the Class of 1966, I was impressed with the entire content of the winter 2015 Norwich Record. This issue was extremely well done.
I have always had the greatest respect for all my classmates and especially so for all the NU Vietnam veterans. To be honest with you, the Vietnam personal stories and insights were emotionally captivating and meaningful. For over four decades, when I have been in private conversations regarding our University’s history, I have always stressed the importance of Norwich’s military role in our country’s history. Your recent Norwich Record makes my point.
To all my classmates and fellow alumni, all I can say is a heartfelt, “Thank you for your service.”
Ray Bouchard ‘66