In the Garden of Eden: A Tribute… and thanks

~ Forewords ~
Several years ago on a reunion trip with several of my cohorts from the rice paddies, the boys went out for lunch, while I stayed behind at the hotel in Newport, California to make some notes and write a bit of remembrance. The three of us had spoken for several years about collaborating on a book about our time together over ‘there’ – but I began to realize that both of the guys were bullshit artists, and really had no desire to follow through, and so I decided to write a preface – to what I hope would become my story about the twenty-one months I spent in the Far East – VietNam. What came out of that several hours of peace, can be read HERE. I would highly recommend that you read it before you continue… but – at your discretion…

As for now – we pick up where we left off… ~ Jeffrey Bennett, Publisher and Veteran

… and so my journey with the 498th Dust Off Company began. Within days I volunteered along with Dave Banks as a crew-member of one of the most elite Med Evac Units in-country. Reading books years later I was surprised at the reverence paid by other groups of our type to our group.

“Volunteered? What the hell for Bennett? Didn’t you know that you were putting your life in the line of fire?” Well – I guess that I was too naive to have given that a second thought, but I recall that while stationed in Germany, I had had an opportunity to participate in a one day mission n a helicopter (for flight pay) – and fell in love with this form of flying. Of course – the circumstances were considerably different – or so I was to discover.

Dust Off units were a bit unlike traditional Med Evac (ME) units. ME’s typically would retrieve American military and support members – including allied troops – who had been wounded in action – and transport them to medical aide stations or hospitals. Dust Off units would pick up any wounded individual – including enemy combatants (captured) to render the same services. Under the guidance of Col. Robert Scott – we did our duty and did it proudly.

Among the first people I met upon landing at Lane Army Heliport, was a guy who claimed that he was from Chicago, so because I was from that area – he figured that we had much in common and would become good friends. We got along – for awhile – but eventually were at each others throats – because frankly – Keezer was the kind of imbecile who could get people killed. Actually – Roy was from Peoria – and that ain’t Chicago. Nope – Brother Banks was the guy that I would tie to. I wish that I knew where he is today…

Faces flash before me to this day, but names escape me, but a few – ‘Frenchie’ Lemieux, and Tom Fernow, Dunlap and the Brutha’s down by the fire-barrel, Dumont and the other boys from Pennsylvania, and that ignorant black-land farm boy from MIssouri who had been raised to believe that ‘colored folk‘ went blind when the sun went down. These are the few who come to mind at this late hour. Maybe it’s time to pull out the slide show once more…

Oh yes, I nearly forgot – two of the main reasons for this post – Raymond Schacht, who was not only the best man at my wedding some 47 years ago, but has been my accountant and legal council for about 40 years. And of course, our bartender – the ice-man – Leonard Kizirian who found us quite by accident nearly ten years ago, because of a piece I had written, correcting major errors regarding the death of one of our pilots… but that is a story for another chapter.

Raymond (Smoove) and I have gotten together nearly every year since 1970. Leonard began to join us about six years ago year for the past six years (although I was forced to pass on the reunion in 2017) for a week or so. Why do we get together? Not much remembering our experiences in-country – but to celebrate our lives, eat well and just kick back – and sometimes, just soak up the sun and watch the laps of the water on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean – knowing – that so many miles across that ocean – is where our journey began. In the back of mind is always Christopher Lucci and that damned piece of chicken.

I guess, that in may respects, we have been among the lucky ones, or were we???

Morton Dean, CBS News, January 1971

Late during the week of September 25, 2017, two pieces of information came across my desk; one was a critique of the PBS – Ken Burns documentary, The Vietnam War written by Terry Garlock. The eighteen hours series has I am sure been watched by many, and purportedly includes interviews with many of our brothers who served in that action as well, but has subsequently been panned by a good number of other Veterans, who claim that the series serves an entirely different agenda – not truly through the eyes of those of us who lived it.

The second item which crossed my desk – was something fleeting – something that just flashed before my eyes, but something I was meant to see – another documentary…

I have watched the original film of the broadcast by CBS News’ Morton Dean in January of 1971 – one year after I left. I have subsequently gone to You Tube to watch a badly worn out version of that original film. Apparently someone at PBS felt the need to air this one-hour documentary during the same month as that of the Burns series. Thank you – whoever you are – for what I saw last Friday evening elicited many emotions from deep within me – and I smiled, and I cried…

Needless to say, what you about to watch is OUR story – not just mine and Raymond’s and Leonard’s – but a warm, tense (at some times) and loving story of ALL of us who share a bond, which no one who had not “been there” could ever understand. THIS is our story – the story of the Viet Nam veteran.

Welcome home to all of my brother’s and sisters who served.

And to Morton Dean and Greg Cooke (Dean’s original cameraman in Vietnam) – you truly are one of us. Thank you for remembering.

Who Am I? American MedEvac – Dust Off

~ the Author ~
A veteran of Viet Nam, student of history (both American and film), Jeffrey Bennett has been broadcasting for over two decades as host of various radio-satellite and internet based programs and has been considered the voice of reason on the alternative media – providing a unique and distinctive broadcast style, including topics such as your Financial, Physical, and Spiritual well-being, education, news, Federal and local legislative issues, which will affect our future, political satire (with a twist), and editorial commentary on current events through the teaching of history. Through The Book Shelf, Bennett has published numerous books on American History – TRUE history – not re-worked, altered history. The Book Shelf has also published books for unknown authors, whose dedication to truth – stands alone.

Jeffrey is the founder and CEO of Kettle Moraine, Ltd. Publications, which is the host and developer of numerous websites, including the Metropolis Café, Dr. Kelley’s Victory Over Cancer, The Book Shelf, Kettle Moraine Precious Metals and The Federal Observer – a daily on-line publication, which co-authored and spear-headed a petition, which ultimately caused new legislation to be signed by President Bush within 450 days of the events that rocked our world on September 11, 2001. In addition, Kettle Moraine, Ltd., continues to produce Life, Liberty & All That Jazz, a daily broadcast for The Micro Effect Network.

7 thoughts on “In the Garden of Eden: A Tribute… and thanks

  1. John Slagle

    Good morning, and thank you Jeff as always for your efforts in war and peace. I’ve been very fortunate to have known and worked with some of the finest combat veterans of Vietnam in the U.S. Border Patrol dating to our academy class in 1972. Many of my classmates were wounded in action and airlifted and treated by Medical Evac units of the U.S. Army who risked their lives constantly underfire to extract the W.I.A.s.

    From honorably discharged Soldiers and Marine grunts to Navy , U.S. Airforce pilots, rescued by Medical Evac units, to those who served tours of duty without injuries, our class was one of the first government agencies with preference hiring for Vietnam veterans , when many civilian businesses refused to hire former servicemen. Strange times, but in the years that followed 1972, Academy classes always were top heavy with Nam veterans who the USDOJ found could accomplish any mission required stateside from remote outposts, armed encounters with drug smugglers to any task including early Sky Marshal duties aboard civilian passenger aircraft to prevent sky-jacking in Florida.

    In 30 years service, ten of my original classmates were killed on duty, gun fights to sector aircraft patrol crashes and listed on our honor rolls. The list could go on including Vietnam veterans who were not in law enforcement but severely wounded in action who are alive today because of the efforts of Helicopter Evac units similar to yours. John Alstad, a Marine Lt. forward Observer, WIA in both legs by NVA attacks prior to the Tet was rescued, and after return stateside as a gifted Metal worker and Construction expert designed and built a tribute to all veterans in a memorial park at Shelby, Montana that flies a giant U.S. Flag 24 and 7 which is a state landmark.

    The Medical Helicopter Evac crewmen and pilots are very special people whose live saving missions saved countless lives in Vietnam and are not forgotten. The story needs to be told.

    Reply
    1. The Publisher Post author

      Thank you John. For reasons that only you and I would know – when I finally completed this post at well after 2:00 a.m. this morning – I instinctively knew that you would post the first commentary on this memoir this morning. Thank you for your service to this nation and its people as well.

      Reply
    2. Terrance M. McCann

      John:

      Well said !

      I recall an incident at Red Beach, Camp J. K. Books. We had precious little time to load a
      CH-46. While loading cases of C-Rats, the skipper grabbed my shoulder and yelled, ” Off Load “. A case of C Rats weighs 25 pounds. Time was precious. I started to lift 3 boxes for deposit into the Helo. The Major piloting the CH-46 garbbed my shoulder again and yelled, ” keep loading “. The C-Rats were deposited. The Helo took off and was en route for re supply and casuality pick up.

      Reply
  2. Jackie Juntti

    When I read or hear of The Viet Nam *war* my mind goes to a former brother-in-law and a cousin – both served in Viet Nam. Both came back – broken men.
    The cousin came back and became deeply involved in the hippy drug culture. The former brother-in-law came back emotionally and mentally broken – used alcohol to try to deal with his 24/7 nightmares. He had been the most gentle and mild boy before leaving our soil. My husband (his brother) brought him to our home for awhile to give him some solid ground and also had him come to work in our engineering and land development firm. This way we could help him all day and night. But he soon found ways to get back to the boozing and he moved back up to the Everett, WA area where he could bounce in and out of his mothers house. She tried to get him admitted to the VA but for some reason that never seemed to happen or help. One day my husband said he had to go to Everett – something was wrong. As he was about to pull up into the driveway of his mothers place he stopped at the foot of the road and got out – he hears a sound and he went checking to see what it was. After pushing brush and weeds aside he found his brother with both wrists slit and he was bleeding to death. He was rushed to the hospital and finally the VA kept him for a few days. (I have little to NO use for the VA) After he got out he roamed around town for a bit and on his birthday he rented a shabby hotel room on the waterfront… put the end of a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Another family member later met one of the policemen who first arrived and he told her what that scene was like – splattered all over the walls and the room.
    The lifelong (and life SHORT) damage that the Viet Nam *war* did to Americans is far deeper than most can imagine. I can only imagine what goes thru the minds of those who were there and did come back alive.

    Reply
  3. Mark

    The history of PTSD is the history of mankind not the history of the Vietnam War: This brief article is a good educational overview:

    https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/history-of-ptsd-vets.asp

    However, there are two books that document two unique perspectives on the Vietnam War and the American Vietnam Veteran:

    Stolen Valor: https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Valor-Vietnam-Generation-History/dp/096670360X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506882171&sr=1-1&keywords=stolen+valor

    On Killing: https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506882276&sr=1-1&keywords=On+Killing

    I’m a Nam Vet, former Grunt, scars on two limbs – medivaced twice, walking wounded once. In about 30 or so fire fights, most at night and some at point blank range.

    We are all different and we all process different levels of trauma differently, but with most its the level of severity…and the frequency and how close the killing and the gore was. But no matter who you are you will never be the same. God did not make us to do what we do to one another in any war. And war is the history of mankind and will be until the Prince of Peace returns.

    I had a uncle who was part of the Band of Brothers WW2 experience…I loved him. We did a lot of talking when I came home and we both had similar combat trauma after effects our whole lives. Except I was treated with disrespect and actually shunned by some in the liberal northeast town I returned to. One boyhood former friend (turned out he was active in the anti war movement while I was gone) actually got in my face in a neighborhood bar and verbally spit the standard rote vicious insults at me and all Vietnam Veterans. It almost cost him his life. No one in my home town (especially him after he recovered) every said another disparaging word to me ever again…some just glared, but kept their taunts and disrespect to themselves.

    If you read both the above books you will get a well documented understanding of the Vietnam War and more importantly the American Vietnam Veteran not presented in the Burns/PBS taint and tilt to the American Left.

    The VA has been wonderful to me. After Nam I had an apprenticeship and then collage supplemented by them – by the country that thanked me through the GI bill for answering the call (I enlisted) with these greatly appreciated benefits. I bought three houses with nothing down through the VA. To date my healthcare has been fantastic. The VA has saved my Korean War Veteran Father-In Laws life twice (cancer and out of control blood pressure).

    God Bless America!

    Reply
  4. John Slagle

    Mark and Jackie, I always appreciate your comments on any issue that are from the heart. We did have many veterans who had severe PSTD after returning home, and problems in a ‘hippie’ society.
    From coast to coast the ‘love in” generation hated the military, this nation , supported Communism and welcomed G.I.s in class A uniforms at airports with protests, curses and proudly “spit” on the faces of soldiers. The anger and hate displayed stateside was beyond belief.

    One of the many combat veterans who was in the early U.S. Border Patrol classes was Lee Morgan, a discharged member of the 101st Airborne Division in Phu Bai. MOS long range recon, LRRP who was wounded in action and received the Bronze Star. Lee was another vet who appreciated Medical Evac units. He stated that ” Any sane soldier knows that the taking of human life is no celebration. Although it is a necessary evil of war, the effort to justify it is a catalyst for daily battles in your mind.
    Some eventually lose these battles and themselves in their struggle to cope with the weight of the Beast. If you ever must take a life, it will rightfully haunt you until you meet your maker “.

    Lee , a retired Special Agent U.S. Customs wrote an outstanding book The Reaper’s Line, Life and Death on the Mexican Border copyright 2006 which I plan to ship to Jeff at the federal observer.
    Along with Vietnam combat experience, the book also covers 31 years in very turbulent times in Southern Arizona when firefights were commonplace in the drug wars.

    Lee mentioned it his book, according to Matthew 13:39, “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the Beast, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.”

    Reply
  5. Neal

    My dad suffered from PTSD before it was called PTSD. He would have days when memories would flood back, haunting him, and inevitably he’d break out the Old Crow and put on Victory at Sea. We knew to steer clear of him when he was, as my mom would say, in one of his ‘moods.’

    He never talked much about his experiences in the Navy during WW II and the Korean Conflict, but when he did, the stories were the stuff that would leave my young mind lying awake at night afraid of the nightmares that would come if I allowed myself to drift off to sleep.

    I served 13 yrs in the Air Farce, (no pun intended) and fortunately never had to suffer the horrors of war or combat. But I salute those who did. Even as a non combatant vet, I think that there is a brotherhood that civilians simply cannot comprehend.

    The military taught me discipline in a period of my life in which I had little of it, and it opened my eyes to parts to the world that I would never have gotten the chance to see had I not enlisted. I think that lends those who have similar experiences a certain perspective that civilians lack, and it is a shame that more do not truly appreciate that perspective and the valuable resource they have if they’d only stop to listen to our vets.

    Reply

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