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Old 03-14-2008, 12:29 PM
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Chaplain Larry Haworth

Here's my article for our 11th Armored Cav vets paper, Thunder Run. I thought you might like to peruse it:

PARADES

“Everybody loves a parade!” That may be a cliché, but that’s because it’s true. Check Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or check the Rose Parade where hundreds of thousands crowd the parade route to watch those beautiful (and expensive) floats go by. Millions more watch it on the tube, me included. When I was a teen-ager (I have a long memory) a bunch of us went over to Pasadena for the Rose Parade. We stayed out all night cruising and having a good time (of course, we were causing no trouble - what were you thinking?) We even knew one of the princesses on a float. What joy! We knew a princess - and she knew us.

When I was a kid parades were especially great. The popular circus parades were before my time - they were in my dad’s time. When I was six or eight years old during World War II, the best parades were soldiers going off to war. They looked so proud- straight and tall, marching in formation, rifles across their shoulders, flags flying! Young as I was I still easily remember how patriotic we were and how fine the soldiers looked as they paraded by. I don’t remember if they had marching bands. I do remember how great the soldiers looked and how impressed I was as a boy.

Fast forward to the early 1980s. I was the Community Chaplain in Schweinfurt, Germany. Duty was tough and life was demanding. We had most of the 3d Infantry Division in Schweinfurt with its battalions of infantry, armor, and artillery plus the armored cavalry squadron. Those were the days of patrolling the East German border where we had the sector out of Coburg. The border’s gone now, but in those days it was the Iron Curtain frontier of freedom and we knew it. There was the normal amount of griping and problems, but morale was good. It was the period following Viet Nam so morale was a lot better than in those days, which you might remember. One thing I remember clearly is the unit parades. Yes, the parades. Soldiers worked all day in fatigues, of course. Having a combat mission far forward meant long hours and hard work. Pride was there but it wasn’t thought much about, except for the commanders and first sergeants who wanted to keep their unit’s pride strong and morale high. Whenever we had a change of command ceremony or official parade with a pass in review, I could see clearly that every trooper, dressed and sweating in his class A uniform, was proud to be a soldier in the United States Army. You may not have thought of it that way at the time but I hope you agree now. Parades brought out the best and finest in the troops. Each one looked strong and fine, he was on display for what he was - a professional fighting man committed to the cause of freedom anywhere his country called him. Life in the Army may or may not have been so great in it’s daily routine. But line up the soldier in his class A dress uniform with hundreds of his buddies, and what he feels is pride. Pride in himself, his buddies, his country, and what they stand for. Now we have many more women in uniform. The same applies. That’s what I believe. That’s what I saw.

Now back up a few years, between WWII and the 1980s to the period of the Viet Nam War. Everything was different then. I joined the Army as a chaplain in 1966 and retired in 1992. I’m of the Viet Nam era and proud of it. If I had it to do over, I would. The Viet Nam soldier may have gotten a bad rap, but we know it for what it was, a bad rap. We had a tough assignment - fight a war where the government wouldn’t claim victory and a media that wouldn‘t tell it like it was. We’ve talked about this before. What we’ll talk about here is the public parades as in “Welcome Home.” That’s the subject of this conversation. Or, should I say, “What parades?” I don’t recall any. Do you? What I do remember is soldiers being drafted or volunteering because they were going to be drafted, or volunteering because it was, for them, the right thing to do. Most soldiers, even in those days, were truly patriotic. For that war, most were trained, then immediately shipped off to Viet Nam. They (you?) fought, did what they were supposed to do, did it well (regardless of what some would say), then came home - alone. No parades, no bands, no welcoming committees, no official thanks, no nothing. Nothing good or positive, that is. Too bad. Yes, that was too bad. Too bad for the country, too bad for history, too bad for all who love a parade.

Huh? Too bad for all who love a parade? That‘s right. Viet Nam soldiers didn’t have parade one. None. Nada. Nul. But it doesn’t stop there. “What?,” you say. “Explain yourself, chaplain.” OK. Recall that I retired in 1992. Desert Shield and Desert Storm were fought in 1990, give or take a few months. Parades, parades, parades. And bands and parties and welcoming committees and government thanks and lots of credit for a job well done - all the things the Viet Nam soldier didn’t have. But everybody still loves a parade. That‘s right. Consider this: the extravagance of Desert Storm parades were largely because our country was trying to make up for the rotten reception they gave their Viet Nam warriors. I’ve talked about this before so won’t repeat much. But hear this, those parades were for our kids. Which is what Desert Storm troopers were - our kids. In my opinion, the parades were really a way of celebrating all vets, of celebrating what our military is all about, anyway. Besides, our kids deserved those parades.

Now our grandkids are coming home. They get parades too. Be happy! They aren’t getting credit in the media for all they‘re doing, but Americans are happy for them anyway. When they stand in full dress formation, when they march in review, when they march in the Rose Parade or their hometown parade, it’s a great sight. It makes us proud to be an American. It makes us proud to be a soldier. It makes us proud to be a vet. Right? Right.

I’m reminded of another parade a long time ago. It’s recorded in the Bible. Here’s the write-up: “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:6-11, NIV) (A week later Jesus was illegitimately tried, condemned, crucified, buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, all to provide eternal life and purpose for whoever would accept it).

It’s easy to see that people love parades, from the “parade” we call the Triumphal Entry in the Bible to the Rose Parade with soldiers passing in review.

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth -
176 Rainbow Drive, #7627
Livingston, Texas 77399
LEHaworth@aol.com
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:38 PM
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Re: Chaplain Larry Haworth

YOU ARE IMPORTANT

How often do you call somewhere and, instead of a live human voice answering, you get that all-too-familiar, “Please hold, your call is important to us”? I get it too often. I’ll admit, though, that I’d rather hear a recorded voice than just a busy signal. And, I do hope that the recorded voice is speaking for the human and that my call really is important to them. But I sometimes wonder.

Please take these written words as coming from the heart of a real person, namely me, when I say, “you truly are important.” We live in an age of synthetic voices, recorded messages, canned speeches, superficial come-ons, and awful sales pitches. It seems that, no matter where we go, what we do, or what channel we surf, someone is there saying how important we are. Trouble is, it’s not always so clear whether we are important to them because we are intrinsically important to them or whether they just want to get something from us. How much junk mail do you receive? How much spam clogs up your email? You know you’re important to the senders of this unwanted stuff. You also know that you’re important only because they want something from you, mostly money. Not that they are or are not worthy organizations or people, but they may or may not even know you. You are important, not for yourself, but for what they want from you.

On the other hand, as I already said, you truly are important. Like, when you call a friend and get their answering machine. They aren’t home at the time and the answering machine says to leave a message and they’ll call you back. Then, a while later, they actually do call you back. That makes you feel important to them, doesn’t it? Of course, it does. That’s because when you’re important enough to your friend that he or she goes to the trouble to return your call, you are reassured that you are important enough for them to take the time and effort to call you just as they were important enough to you to make the call to begin with. My wife and I recently moved into a retirement community where we knew absolutely no one. However, everybody who lives here is retired military, the kind who are usually easy to meet. We quickly became friends with our neighbors. They began calling us whenever they would be away to just let us know what was going on with them. They were interested in what was happening with us too. We were important to them and we felt it. They were important to us, for sure. Within days of moving to a new home we’d gained new friends! How can you beat that?

I assure you that you are just as important as our new neighbors or as we or as anyone else. Think about it. Your importance isn’t dependent on how you feel about it. I remember some years ago when I was in a real funk. I was going through a hard time and I really felt down and very unimportant to anyone, except maybe to my immediate family and they were clear across the country. Then, a friend, who I’ll never forget, said to me, “Larry, if you knew how others feel about you, you wouldn’t feel that way about yourself.” That was well over thirty years ago. I assure you that the same applies to you. You are important. You are important in and of yourself. You are important just because you’re you. You’re also important because someone loves you. You are important because you have something worthwhile to someone else, whether near or far. It may be great or it may be small. You may be overwhelmingly talented or you may be normal like most of us. But you are important. You may or you may not feel it, but you are.

Finally, let me remind you that you are important because God made you and He says you are important. You are not an accident. You were planned by God and you are loved by God. Whether you feel it or not, you are loved and you are important. If God said you are worthy and you are loved, then you are. Jesus said in Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penney? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” The Bible also says, in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son….” The world includes you and me. That’s how it is.

Indeed, you are important. So am I. Never forget that. OK? OK.

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth

San Antonio, TX 78239
LEHaworth@aol.com
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:22 AM
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Re: Chaplain Larry Haworth

SPENDING MONEY

These days money is prominent on our minds. The other day the subject of Vietnamese money came up. I have no idea why. I don’t even remember who I was talking to (maybe myself). It got me to realizing that I couldn’t remember what Vietnamese money was called. You might remember, but you’re probably younger than me and have a better memory. When I came home from Viet Nam I brought some of their money as a souvenir. Later I remembered what it’s called. It’s called piastres for the small and dong for the big denominations. It came in paper or coins, didn’t it? Maybe you brought some home, too.

I started thinking about how we spent money in those days in Viet Nam. Naturally, there was a lot of variety because different people were in different situations. Some troops were stationed at places like Long Binh or Da Nang where they had PXs and clubs where you could spend freely. Others were out in the bush where there wasn’t much to buy except maybe gadgets or rice bread from the village mama-sans or the “services” of the you-know-who girls that rode out on the back of the red Honda 50s to give you an opportunity to spend a quick five bucks. (Chaplains aren’t supposed to know about boom-boom, but what can I say?) Fortunately, it wasn’t every trooper who blew his bucks that way, but life was what it was and not something else. You know what I mean.

I just remembered MPC. You’ll recall that we had those US government issued wallet size certificates that substituted for American cash. They were called script in WWII. Is my memory serving me well? You decide. MPC meant Military Payment Certificate, right? I think the military didn’t want us to scatter green-backs around Southeast Asia so we had MPC which the Vietnamese people weren’t supposed to have. To make sure, the military would expire the MPC occasionally to make them harder to pass along to the Vietnamese people. If the people had MPCs they became worthless at the expiration date and they’d have to start all over getting more from the GIs. On the other hand, GIs could get some of their pay in piastres or dong and spend it that way. It must have worked OK because troopers always had whatever the mama-sans sold and the red Honda 50s kept coming, especially around pay-day.

That leads me to another American money substitute: C Rations. “Whaaat!,” you say? I say, “That’s right.” Cs were like money. Not exactly money, but something to barter with, which means to trade, in case you don’t recognize “barter.” If you’re cav, you’ll recall that we had mucho C Rations. If you’re a grunt, you won’t know this but you can take my word for it as I make it routine to tell the truth. Cav (armored cavalry) troopers usually had Cs by the case on board their tanks and ACavs. Also, on board their M548s, M578s, M88s and other assorted armored vehicles. I’ll remind you now, not that you forgot, that it was common for troopers to trade Cs that they didn’t want for things that they did want which the mama-sans, baby-sans and other sans had for sale. You traded C rations, especially ham and eggs, for rice bread or a mirror. I’m sure you remember because how could you forget?

Sometimes you could get to the rear to hit the PX (unless you, for some reason, were stuck in the bush without a break). PXs in those days had some wonderful bargains. I know because I took advantage from time to time. Two of the best bargains I’ve ever purchased in my life were in those PXs. Once I bought a great Seiko watch for $17.00. That’s right, seventeen buckaroos! That watch was great! I wore it for a couple of years and gave it to my brother. When I went back for my second tour I bought another Seiko. This time it cost me $47.00, a lot more money but it had an alarm. I wore that one for years. Have you priced a Seiko lately? The main huge bargain I took a pass on was Noritake china. I was a bachelor and thought I didn’t need fancy dishes. What a dumb thing to think. They were selling a service for eight (or was it twelve?) for less than $100.00. That’s one hundred dollars, green backs, American money, not dong or piastres. I’ve been sorry ever since for that financial blunder. Oh well, at least you know what I’m talking about. Whether or not you bought any bargains, like maybe a camera, I don’t know.

A different angle about money in Viet Nam, was most GIs didn’t give it a whole lot of thought. Some did, of course. We had a great savings program that Uncle Sam was wise enough to provide. That was where we could put as much of our pay as we wanted into a savings account and they’d pay ten percent interest as long as we were in country. You have to admit, that was a pretty good investment, even for those days. I took advantage of it. I hope you did too. After all, where else were you going to put your pay, not that it was so much. I know some of you sent money home to help your family. That was more important, of course.

I also recall that many troopers didn’t really care much about whatever money they actually had. After all, no one knew what tomorrow would bring considering the circumstances. Once when I was at Quan Loi, our forward support base, I was in our helicopter pilots’ hootch. They were always friendly and let me sleep on someone’s cot whenever I came through overnight. Some of our pilots were playing their regular poker game and having a bit of relaxation. One hand got kinda out of control. The pot got so big that it made them nervous. It was really funny, at least I thought so, when they all decided to stop the hand and give everyone their cash back because the hand had gotten “out of hand.” There was just too much money in the pot. So they made everybody happy by starting over. They might not have put a lot of value on money over there in the circumstances, but they were still friends, wanted to remain friends after the game was over, and they weren’t stupid.

We all learned about life in Viet Nam where life was basic and money was not first priority. Surviving, looking out for buddies, remembering family at home, and taking care of hurting people, and such matters were more important. I won’t go on because you know. But I’ll point out that in the Holy Bible God has something to say about money too: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:1-2, 6-7)

Someday I’ll get out my old piastre, dong and MPC souvenir collection again. It brings back significant memories for me. Mostly memories about what’s really important. Does it for you?

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth
San Antonio, TX 78239
LEHaworth@aol.com
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:49 PM
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Thunder Run

Here's my 4th Quarter Thunder Run article for our 11th Armored Cav paper, in case you'd like to check it out. [Remember that I love the Air Force, having served in it way back in time. But it's fun to make fun anyway]
Larry


HOOTCHES, BARRACKS, AND CLUBS

In the old days when I was draft age, I joined the Air National Guard. I was going to college part-time and didn’t want the military getting in the way, especially not the Army! Then, President Kennedy called up the Air National Guard for the Berlin Crisis and there I was, on active duty anyway. In the Air Force!


So you say, “Why are you telling me this?” I’m telling you my little tale because when I get to my main story, I want you to understand that I like the Air Force just fine, having been there. After I joined the Army and went to Viet Nam, I saw what a huge difference there was between how the Army lived and how the Air Force lived.

“What’re you talking about, Chaplain,” you ask? Well, think about it. We, the Army and they, the Air Force, sometimes shared the same piece of real estate, like at Bien Hoa. For us it was our rear base camp. For them it was their main base. I clearly recall certain ways of how we lived. Like Air Force guys lived in barracks! I kid you not - wooden barracks in Viet Nam. On the Army side we had hootches or GP medium tents with wood floors. Our hootches were made largely from artillery ammo pallet wood someone had scarfed up (not to be confused with barfed up) from somewhere. Supply got tin for the roofs and concrete for the floors which was just fine. Those Air Force barracks weren’t scrounged wood, they were wood from the States cut for that very purpose – to make barracks. You probably won’t believe this: the Air Force called them dormitories. Hey! (or hay!). Am I playing mind games? Nope. It’s true. They called them dormitories – just like in college. And they were two story! Would you want to sleep on the second floor in one of those nice buildings? I don’t think so. When they got mortared, do you know what direction the shrapnel would fly? You’re right, up. Right into the second floor, through those fine wood walls, and into their beds. Want to live in an Air Force dormitory in the Nam? Thanks, but no thanks. Comfort only goes so far.

Now to the paint. Whaaat? Yes, the paint. Do you remember what colors we had for painting our hootches? You’re right – gray, white, red, and black. That was it – we were hard-core Army. Well, what about those wooden barracks/dormitories? That was a different matter. They had all sorts of pastel colors – beige, blue, green (not OD!), yellow and some more that I don’t recall (I don’t think pink). That was just for their doors, real doors. Our doors were planks of wood that sort of covered the space. Ours were painted gray, except we were cav so some were painted red and white. Cool. Oops, I just thought of something – sometimes we hung those plastic strips in the inside to keep out flies. We bought them from the mama-sans. Remember?

Then came the hardware. Huh? You know – the gadgets that made the doors close. Oh, yeah. My recall isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but I still remember that a few of our hootches had a spring to close the doors. I think it was probably officers and NCOs that had springs. Most of us had a more practical door closer – old inner tubes cut into strips, then nailed with one end to the door and the other end to the door frame. Presto! – door closer. Our doors banged shut. No matter, it wasn’t the same bang as in the field which you know about. On the Air Force side, at least at Bien Hoa, those two story dormitories not only were painted pretty colors, but they had real hardware. “You’re puttin’ me on, Chaplain,” you say. “No, I’m not,” I reply. Real hardware – brass door knobs, brass hinges and whatever else the Air Force guys needed, just like at home. No matter to us; just kind of strange, what with being in a war and all.

There’s something else that goes along about living in the rear - the clubs! I vaguely recall the Army side having a tent where guys could go for a cold one or to sit and relax. That is, if you could get to the rear. The Air Force side had a real club – a place where Air Force guys could go relax after a hard day’s work. It was a place where the pilots could go let off steam after flying missions over North Viet Nam or supporting us in the bush when Victor Charlie was giving us some trouble. Their club was in an actual building, not just a make-shift place to stick a few tables and a keg or two. Their club was also a place where our troopers sometimes went to unwind - I said, unwind. You know what I mean when I say unwind. I doubt if Army guys were invited which didn’t much matter. They went anyway. The Air Force guys didn’t always cotton to Army guys coming out of the bush and making a mess of their club. Hey (or hay!), our guys, fresh from the bush, needed to unwind too! This they did by duking it out with the Air Force guys, only with fists and fun instead of firefights and fear.

Speaking of the club, our Army guys really got a bang out of watching the Air Force guys in their club when air raid sirens went off. An incoming round would land a mile up the runway and flyguys would high-tail it for the bunkers. I guess they thought the war had arrived. Our guys would just sit and laugh – the rounds weren’t in their laps, so what’s the problem? Depended on what you were used to. I wasn’t there, but I think the Army guys finished off a few cold ones while the Air Force guys were splitting for their bunkers.

Remarkable, isn’t it, how our needs got met – a place to crash, a place to relax and such. I learned a whole lot about what I really needed in my life and what I didn’t. I think you’re the same when you think about it, which you’re doing right now since I mentioned it. It’s like what Jesus had to say about taking care of whoever believes in him. He said, “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! And don’t worry about food –what to eat and drink. Don’t worry whether God will provide it for you. These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” (Luke 12:27-31 NLT).

This quote from the Bible speaks for itself. I don’t always remember it too well, especially when I start wanting pastel paint and brass hardware when inner tube strips and gray paint will do just fine. Do you get my point? My point is that God takes care of me. Even sometimes when it’s just the basics which is all I really need. He’ll do the same for you. Comprende?

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth

San Antonio, TX 78239
LEHaworth@aol.com
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Old 10-26-2010, 07:39 AM
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The OLD is passed...FORGET IT!!!!!

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Therefore if any person is in Christ he is a new creation the old has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:57 AM
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My husband was in Army tanks in Nam. Was in that same CAV Unit for a time.
I agree, no fanfare when he came home from the war, couldn't even wear his uniform in public.

Margee'
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:52 PM
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HIGHWAYS, ROADS, AND TRAILS
Mixing highways, roads, and trails in the same article makes sense. They have a lot in common. You’ll recollect that in Viet Nam it was often challenging to make some of them out on the maps. Reflect for a minute. What comes to mind when you think about trails over there? You probably visualize mud bog paths across rice paddies during the monsoons and deep dust ruts through the jungle in the dry season. Some things aren’t earth-shattering important, but they’re memorable anyway, because they were part of how we lived in Viet Nam.
Think about our mission when we were ordered to open QL14 from Loc Ninh to Bo Duc and Bu Dop. QL14 was an old French highway built along the Cambodian border. It didn’t look like a highway. It looked like a wide trail through the jungle with some pieces of old pavement tossed in. You were there, so you know What had happened was that in the old days before the Japanese invaded in WWII, it had been a two lane paved highway built by the French when they were the colonizers. Sometime after the French left, the commies from North Viet Nam mined the highway. I’m sure Ho Chi Minh told them to do it. So there were boucoup mines which no one took out because there was a war, thereby making it impossible to remove the mines or maintain the road. So the jungle took over. Then along came Americans, us, the Blackhorse Cavalry, some infantry, and some Rome plows. We opened the highway so the Vietnamese people could use it again. It went from looking like a trail to looking like a road. It still needed a lot of work to bring it up to par. But it had become an open road. That was QL14.
We’ve talked before about Thunder Run, which was QL13. It was the highway we ran back and forth on because it was the main road from Saigon to the Cambodian border area where we could fight the war. We preferred to fight the war there rather than around Saigon. The bad guys preferred to fight around Saigon.
I used to go to Saigon and Long Binh to visit our casualties in the hospitals. There we drove on an actual four lane, paved highway. I should say, my enlisted assistant drove the jeep and I rode. Driving was his job. Riding was my job until we got to the hospital. Then visiting the troops was my job, which I liked. I guess we were on Highway 1. It was the only paved four lane highway I ever saw in Viet Nam. I’m told it’s still there, only better now.
People have told me that Highway 1 was the main highway in Viet Nam. I think it ran from Saigon in the south to wherever in the north. It probably went into North Viet Nam. I don’t know, not having been there. I did ride along Highway 1 a time or two. That was in another jeep, which I borrowed from the regimental chaplain under the same conditions I described a minute ago. That part of Highway 1 went from Long Binh to Blackhorse base camp at Xuan Loc. That section of the highway was two lanes and paved. You realize that what we called a highway over there wasn’t always up to our standards here. That was probably because of mines, of which they had mucho, and bucks/$, which they didn’t.
The east-west road through War Zone C paralleled the Cambodian border from the Fish Hook to the Parrot’s Beak. It was called a highway on the map, as I recall. We were on it and it wasn’t what we would call a highway. It was a dirt road, well traveled. Am I wrong? I think you who were there will agree. It was as wide as a two lane Oklahoma country road, but it wasn’t paved and never had been. It was loose, deep, fine, powdery, packed dirt. I don’t mean dust. Dirt. Check what I used to say about eating dirt if you don’t know what I mean. I’m not complaining, I’m just making the point that there’s a difference between highways, roads, trails, and even paths. Just because a map called something a highway didn’t mean it was really a highway. But, hey, it’s their country. So we called it a highway and made everybody happy.
I’m not talking much about trail stories because we used helicopters where I did my first tour. My second tour with armored cav we didn’t use the narrow trails like the ground-pounders did. When we used trails our tanks and ACavs quickly turned them into roads anyway. You know how it was with tanks.
The first highway in Viet Nam I had any experience with was the highway going north-south in the Mekong Delta. It was an honest highway, by their standards. I think it started in Saigon. It came down from Can Tho to Soc Trang where we were and kept going to Bac Lieu and maybe even to Ca Mau. Ours was the southernmost American installation in all of Viet Nam. It was a little airfield built by the Japanese in WWII. I told you about this before. I don’t remember the number of the highway and I don’t have a map to check, maybe it was Highway 35. We couldn’t use it anyway, because the VC kept it mined. So I never rode on it. We went everywhere by air except we could drive jeeps into town near the airfield. Only convoys could drive on the highway. I believe they had minesweepers, which we didn’t. At least I hope they did. They were American soldiers too and they were hauling supplies and such around the Delta.
You troopers who were stationed up north have highway, road, and trail stories too. I hope you’ll tell them to someone. I mean the good stories stashed in your memories like I’m telling here. There are plenty of bad stories, but they’re for another time.
What with being a chaplain, I’ll mention one more road. Actually, it’s the most important. It’s nicknamed the Roman Road and it’s in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t call it the Roman Road. People do because it’s in the New Testament book of Romans and tells how to get from where you are now in this life to heaven in the life to come, like after you come to the end of your life’s trail and start eternity with God. That is, unless you go the other way which I don’t like to think about. So here’s the map of the Roman Road: “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV). / “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (6:23). / “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (5:8). / “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (10:9-10). This road is clear and open.
We rode those highways, roads, and trails. Sometimes they were clear and open and sometimes they weren’t. But they always went somewhere, hopefully where we needed to go. The Roman Road goes where we need to go. I’m on it. Are you?
God bless you. God loves you. So do I.
Chaplain Larry Haworth
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:39 PM
Sgt_Paul Sgt_Paul is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandmom View Post
My husband was in Army tanks in Nam. Was in that same CAV Unit for a time.
I agree, no fanfare when he came home from the war, couldn't even wear his uniform in public. Margee'
Margee, your short post reminded me of the time when I returned home from my tour in Viet Nam. I arrived home about 2:45am on a Friday morning much to my parents surprise, great relief and joy. We had flown with one stop in Japan from Okinawa to El Toro Marine Air Station and arrived about midnight. So, there were no crowds or protesters in site, only a row of taxi cabs to shuttle guys to LAX and the bus station. Another Marine from my home town was on our flight and we shared a cab ride to our homes - it cost each of us $23.00 which was a lot of money in 1970 but, it was better than spending a few hours at the Santa Ana bus station waiting for the next ride out.

I slept a little late Saturday morning then went to visit with a couple of friends. Sunday morning came around and we were all getting ready for church. I had ironed my summer 'C' uniform and mounted my four new ribbons and made sure the crease running up the sleeve through my two stripes was perfectly centered. Dusted off my spit-shined shoes and went to the living room to wait for everyone else.

My younger brother said I looked a lot older than I did a year ago but, maybe it was just the uniform. When my mother came out, she looked at me in shock and said, "Oh, I really hoped you weren't going to wear your uniform to church..." All my years growing up, we had several service members wear their uniforms to church on Sunday. We were an Air Force town and some would be heading to the base for duty right after church. I said that they were the nicest clothes I had and I thought she would be proud. Besides, my civilian clothes I had no longer fit as they were a couple of inches too big... She went on to say, "well, there are some who don't like Viet Nam and they may not speak to you. And, I'll probably hear from the next week about why I let you wear that uniform in our church..."

Needless to say, I really didn't quite know how to respond but, decided I was going anyway and, in my uniform. I told my mother that if people didn't like it, that was just too bad because I wasn't wearing it to please them anyway! Mom's last comment was that she really wished I would change into something else. I offered to just stay home and she said there were a few people she called and told I was home that will want to see me anyway....

Church seemed to be quite 'normal' and a lot of people came up to me and said they were glad I was home and it was good to see me again. There were a very few who I knew well who made sure they didn't come anywhere near me and a couple who acted like I wasn't even there too. I didn't let it bother me and went on about being happy to be home. I also didn't go back to church while I was home and before I headed out to the east coast a month later.

It wasn't until several years later that I looked back and thought about that incident. I guess I missed most of the 'ugly' stuff that went on. Then, about 1986, a small incident just brought all of that back to me. I was driving an old Ford Econoline van at that time and it had a bumper sticker on the rear window with the So. Vietnam flag colors that said "Viet Nam Veteran". As I was pulling out of the parking lot, a fellow banged on the rear of the van and yelled "wait a minute!" I wasn't sure what he wanted but, I stopped and rolled down the window. He came up to me and with a smile put out his hand to shake mine and said, "I saw the Viet Nam Veteran sticker on your rear window and just wanted to say thank you for your service." I shook his hand and smiled and told him thank you very much! He backed away gestured a sort-of salute which I returned and I pulled out to drive home. I do remember feeling overwhelmed that someone would actually THANK me for my service as I sat as the stop light. When I started to pull away, it hit me all at once that, this complete stranger, was the first person in 16 years, to actually thank me for my military service.... I was nearly numb. I had to pull to the side of the road and stop where I just sat and cried for several minutes.....

That experience was what really started me on the journey that I am now on and I knew that there was indeed a purpose for my life and the path I was on at that time was about to change.... Some things happen in slow motion, sometimes years but, I truly believe that God now has me where he wanted me to be all along and looking back on all the things that have happened, the people I have met and those who have crossed my path, it has all been the Lord's doing. Even when I wandered astray and ignored the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit... Sometimes it takes that gentle, small voice screaming in my ear to get my attention. But, I have a strong sense of peace and once again that I am going in the right direction.

Sgt. Paul
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:01 PM
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Drafted

GETTING DRAFTED
Were you drafted? You know what I mean. Back in the Viet Nam War days, we were heavy into the draft. I’m not talking about wind, I’m talking about being changed from civilian into soldier in the US Army whether you asked for it or not. Some soldiers volunteered for the draft. “Why would they do such a thing?” you ask. I reply, “so they could decide when they were going to join because they knew it was coming anyway. Also, sometimes they could choose what job (MOS) they wanted.”
Books are written about getting drafted in those days. The Viet Nam War needed so many soldiers that they had to make men come into the Army. Nowhere near enough would volunteer. Now it’s different because we don‘t have a draft anymore. But we don’t have time to talk about that. (“And no, they didn’t draft women“).
In 1969 I was at Fort Ord between Viet Nam tours. I was assigned to AIT Infantry. It was challenging to be a chaplain for troops who knew they were going to Viet Nam to pound the ground. I don’t need to explain to you why being a grunt in the jungle wouldn’t be some guys first choice. Having already been in Viet Nam, I was credible with the infantry trainees. Some of the counseling I did was with troops who were trying to avoid infantry. Some had college degrees in subjects that had nothing to do with being a grunt. I had to counsel that I couldn’t get them out of infantry no matter what. They’d already had their college student deferments, then they graduated, and were drafted (I guess they didn’t volunteer quick enough). As you can see, even educated types with money got drafted.
Over in the Nam it was real interesting. The joking, arguments, and such sometimes got real personal between draftees and volunteers. Volunteers had RA in front of their serial number which meant Regular Army. I can’t remember what the letters were in front of draftees’ serial numbers, but I think it was US. If you remember, please let me know. You may have been a draftee, yourself. [Back in my pre-Army days, I got my draft physical notice, took my physical and joined the Air National Guard. Later, after I graduated from college and seminary, I joined the Army to go to Viet Nam as a chaplain, then I stayed in and retired]. In the war, when things got hot and other things were flying through the air, like green tracers, hot shrapnel, and such, draftees would get onto the RAs. They said, “You asked for this but I got rammed into it” (meaning “I can complain but you can’t”).
We had a lot of situations concerning the draft such as the Category IV matter. “What’s that?” you say. Cats I, II, III, and IV were the categories that men were divided into for purposes of knowing how qualified they were to function as a soldier. School grades, personal and legal backgrounds, abilities, and so forth determined which category a man fit into. Categories I through III men were OK. Cat IV was the bottom. The Viet Nam War needed so many soldiers that the Army later drafted Cat IVs to fill the quotas. This made for an interesting situation. Some Cat IV troops had attitudes and were hard to deal with, causing untold trouble for everyone, themselves included. On the other hand, many Cat IVs took advantage of the opportunity to get their lives on track and did well. Maybe you had a Cat IV soldier sharing your foxhole or tank. Maybe you were a Cat IV yourself. I don’t know. I never knew who was what. When the stuff started flying all that mattered was how your buddy performed. People talk about equalizers in life. Vets can tell the world what an equalizer is, it’s fighting in a war - you either measure up or you’re gone.
One thing about the Army that is truly great in America is this. Our army is the most integrated segment of American society. Our Army drafted people from every part of America including every ethnic, racial, economic, religious, and educational level and group. I clearly recall many civilians complaining that rich kids could stay out of the Army by just going to college. What they didn’t seem to fathom was what I talked about a few minutes ago. That was that the Viet Nam War went on long enough to catch up with perpetual students who avoided the draft by staying in school. I know, I counseled a lot of them. To make my point about the Army being integrated and representative, I’ll tell you about when I was in Schweinfurt. In my chapel we had Americans who were black, white, Korean, Hispanic, American Indian, Japanese and I don’t know what else. I’ve known soldiers off the streets of New York and others from Beverly Hills. I’ve supported every sort of Christian religion including different shades of Catholic, different kinds of Protestant like liberal, conservative, evangelical, charismatic, and Pentecostal plus the denominations. Add in Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. I’ve had atheist friends and I even had a wiccan soldier.
If we had more time I’d tell you more stories about the Army and the draft. But you have your own stories. Everybody has their own. I’d be interested in hearing them. I think you’ll have fun looking back on times that might not have been so much fun then, but look OK now. Besides, your grandkids want to hear your “old timey” stories.
The draft has gone the way of the gooney bird. Our country got rid of it in the early 1980s. Recruiting has worked out OK since then. We have a great Army these days. It’s as good as we’ve ever had. Sometimes I think maybe we should go back to a draft again because I’m one who believes that every American owes something to their country. But it won’t happen, so don’t worry.
Since I’m a chaplain, I’ll remind you that In God’s army there’s never been a draft. No one’s ever been conscripted by God even though it hasn’t always been hard to see that you needed to join (you know what I mean). Advantages of joining God’s army are taught in the New Testament, (which I might have mentioned before): “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…. Be alert….”
Maybe you were drafted and maybe you volunteered. Either way you served, maybe not perfectly, but honorably. I volunteered into God’s army where I serve, not perfectly, but I think honorably. I wish the same for you.
God bless you. God loves you. So do I.
Chaplain Larry Haworth
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:40 PM
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The following letter was written by Chaplain Larry Haworth, USA (ret).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One day last January, I was browsing the book section at the PX (I retired after 27 years as an active duty Army chaplain so can still use the PX). I came across a paperback called Homecoming by Bob Greene (Ballantine Books, New York, 1989). He is a syndicated columnist. He had heard stories fro years about Vietnam veterans who, upon returning home, were spat on as they arrived in the USA. He was incredulous that such an occurrence could be true, even during the days of riots and conflicts of the late sixties and early seventies. He decided to find out for himself. “I raised the question in my syndicated newspaper column ... More than 2 million Vietnam veterans came back alive. It is to those veterans that I posed the question: Were you spat upon when you returned from Vietnam?” (Page 2 of his book)

The response to Greene’s question was astonishing. He received replies from over a thousand veterans with virtually all telling their story. Many were actually spat upon; and not just by hippy-wierdos, either. Some were spat upon by “little old ladies” and “normal” people. Of course, many were not spat upon at all. Of these, many did not really believe it ever happened. Then, of the hundreds of respondents, many told a different story of their “welcome home”, some worse than being spat upon.

For example of those who were spat upon (from page 15): “I was medically evacuated from Vietnam in November, 1969 to a Naval hospital in Japan where, after my recovery, I was stationed. ... In early 1970 I was transferred back to the USA.

“My family and I landed at San Francisco International Airport after a very long flight from Japan. We were going into the cafeteria to eat and, of course, I was in my uniform with all my Vietnam medals, including the Purple Heart and the Gold Star.

“My family and I were standing in line, when out of the blue, this middle-aged lady walked up to me with a bowl of potato salad in her hand. She threw the salad in the middle of my chest and spat what she had in her mouth in my face. Then she proceeded to call me a ‘baby killer’, ‘war monger’, and a lot of other vile names.”

Of those not spat upon their stories are varied. Perhaps, typical is on page 85: “As a five-tour combat veteran, I have never been spat upon nor have I ever known of a Vietnam veteran so treated. As I recall, their most frustrating treatment, at the hand of a minority of the public, was indifference.”

Other incidents did occur that could be seen as worse than being spit on. For instance, on pages 177-178: “I received a gunshot wound in Vietnam in September 1968, and on my return home in late October I was required to change planes and airlines at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I was on crutches and wearing a full leg cast. I was also trying to carry a travel bag, which was rather difficult, as I was inexperienced on crutches.

“A pair of college-age males walked up on either side of me and one of them asked if I was returning from Vietnam. I replied that I was, and they asked a couple more questions about my injury and acted very friendly. Suddenly they kicked my crutches out from under me, pointed and laughed at me on the floor, then took off running...
“Although I remember this experience very vividly, what I remember more is the concern and help that I received from other people who witnessed the incident.”

These stories are poignant and powerful. Each of us has his or her own story to tell of homecoming (don’t forget, many were women: nurses, donut dollies, and other female soldiers, etc.). We all were acutely aware that there were no bands, parades, and such. However it happened, each of our “home-comings” was the sort of experience we do not forget.

Why am I writing in such detail about a story from the past? Why am I resurrecting old history that many think should be long forgotten? Because these stories are powerful. Because we each have our own stories that have such a strong influence on our lives, even today. Because too many of us have not resolved these matters properly. Because some of us are still living these events as if they were only yesterday. Because they were not yesterday; they were many years ago and it is time we treat them as history and not a present reality. Powerful as our experiences were, they are history. We must never forget our history, but we must be wise and discerning in how we relate to that personal history (same for our nation, but that’s another subject).

It’s time to put our Vietnam experiences in perspective. Many vets, of course, have already done so. Some are in the process. Some of you need to get started. Healing, forgiveness, sharing, learning from experiences (both good and bad), teaching others, including our sons and daughters, reconciling with those we may have hurt or who may have hurt us: these all go together toward making the vet a whole, mature, strong man. The Bible talks about our character being refined by fire in a similar way as gold is refined by fire. The Vietnam vet (and his family members who shared so much with him or her) has the extraordinary opportunity to take the power of his experiences and use them to gain insight, understanding, patriotism, compassion, and values He can grow in ways the person who was not there can never understand.

To close, I would like to quote the words of Jesus in the Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:21). Speaking of great “Welcome Homes”, God wants to welcome you now and at your accounting day: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

God bless you. God loves you. So do I.

Chaplain Larry Haworth
USA Retired
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Old 07-30-2011, 02:16 AM
0341Mortars 0341Mortars is offline
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Healing the Past

Healing, forgiving, sharing are all verbs, not just concepts. "Wherever there are two gathered in my name..." is important here, as these attributes are pretty tough to put in motion in a solitary fashion. The very reason for Pointman Ministries. Much of the forgiveness that has visited me over the years has been as much a need to forgive a repressed nation as much as any individual. I too was spat upon; in Chicago in 1969. Yet that was the least of the attitudinal muck we had to deal with. One may recall that we were not permitted to join VFW's for an indefinite period of time, as we were not veterans of a declared war. Curiously, no one since is either! We last declared war in June of 1941. Yet the collective healing and forgiving marches on with the lessons of Vietnam raining on us to this day. We are still trying to win the hearts and minds of villagers!
Forgiveness is dynamic and evoles over time. It is not an innoculation that just downloads upon request. Yet once the fruits of the spirit of forgiveness rule the day, then the peace that surpasses all understanding comes to visit. Forgiveness is the key to the Kingdom! Thanks Larry for your thoughtful narrative.
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