The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Battle of the Ia Drang Valley

 I am continuing the stories from my Dad's war, one thing that we did differently afterwards was the replacement system,  No "FNG"'s, the soldiers rotated in and out as a unit, not as an individual, one of the lessons of Vietnam.  We had gone to the "Regimental system".  From now on Soldiers would go to war with their friends and buddies, not with strangers, like Vietnam, one of the cruel things that was done to the draftees, after sending them thousands of miles to a foreign land, they put them with strangers who had no interest in them and teaching the "newbies" how to survive and that is why the attrition rate for the "FNG"'s were so high.


Word spread quickly that a battalion of Americans had been massacred in the Ia Drang Valley, but reporters were told there was no ambush.

Forty-five years ago this fall, in November of 1965, a lone, understrength battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) ventured where no force—not the French, not the South Vietnamese army, not the newly arrived American combat troops—had ever gone: Deep into an enemy sanctuary in the forested jungles of a plateau in the Central Highlands where the Drang River flowed into Cambodia and, ultimately, into the Mekong River that returned to Vietnam far to the south.

What happened there, in the Ia Drang Valley, 17 miles from the nearest red-dirt road at Plei Me and 37 miles from the provincial capital of Pleiku, sounded alarm bells in the Johnson White House and the Pentagon as they tallied the American losses—a stunning butcher’s bill of 234 men killed and more than 250 wounded in just four days and nights, November 14-17, in two adjacent clearings dubbed Landing Zones X-ray and Albany. Another 71 Americans had been killed in earlier, smaller skirmishes that led up to the Ia Drang battles.

To that point, some 1,100 Americans in total had died in the United States’ slow-growing but ever-deepening involvement in South Vietnam, most of them by twos and threes in a war where Americans were advisers to the South Vietnamese battalions fighting Viet Cong guerrillas. Now the North Vietnamese Army had arrived off the Ho Chi Minh Trail and had made itself felt. In just over one month, 305 American dead had been added to the toll from the Ia Drang fight alone. November 1965 was the deadliest month yet for the Americans, with 545 killed.

The North Vietnamese regulars, young men who had been drafted into the military much as the young American men had been, had paid a much higher price to test the newcomers to an old fight: an estimated 3,561 of them had been killed, and thousands more wounded, in the 34-day Ia Drang campaign.

What happened when the American cavalrymen and the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) collided head-on in the Ia Drang had military and civilian leaders in Washington, Saigon and Hanoi scrambling to assess what it meant, and what had been learned.

Both sides understood that the war had changed suddenly and dramatically in those few days. At higher levels, both sides claimed victory in the Ia Drang, although those who fought and bled and watched good soldiers die all around them were loath to use so grand a word for something so tragic and terrible that would people their nightmares for a long time, or a lifetime.

The big battles began when then–Lt. Col. Hal Moore, a 43-year-old West Point graduate out of Bardstown, Ky., was given orders to airlift his 450-man 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, into the valley on a search-and-destroy mission. He did a cautious aerial reconnaissance by helicopter and selected a football field–sized clearing at the base of the Chu Pong Massif, a 2,401-foot-high piece of ground that stretched to the Cambodian border and beyond for several miles. The sketchy American intelligence Moore was provided said the area was home base for possibly a regiment of the enemy. In fact, there were three North Vietnamese Army regiments within an easy walk of that clearing, or the equivalent of a division of very good light infantry soldiers.

Two of those enemy regiments had already been busy since arriving in the Central Highlands. In mid-October, the 32nd Regiment had surrounded and laid siege to the American Special Forces camp at Plei Me. Although they could have easily crushed the defenders—a 12-man American A-Team and 100 Montagnard mercenary tribesmen—the enemy dangled them as bait, hoping to lure a relief force of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) out of Pleiku and into an ambush laid by their brothers of the 33rd Regiment.

It was an old guerrilla ploy that usually worked, but not here, not now. The ARVN II Corps commander knew if he lost the relief force, Pleiku would be left defenseless. He pressed the Americans to provide continuous artillery and air cover as the column moved toward Plei Me. The 1st Cavalry’s big Chinook helicopters lifted batteries of 105mm howitzers, leap-frogging along within range of the dirt road that led to Plei Me. When the ambush was sprung, the American artillery wreaked havoc on the North Vietnamese plan and the 33rd Regiment. Both enemy regiments withdrew toward the Ia Drang with a brigade of Air Cav troopers dogging their footsteps.

Both sides understood that the war had changed suddenly and dramatically in those few days….Both sides claimed victory.
Then–Lt. Col. Hoang Phuong, a historian who had spent two months walking south, charged with writing the “Lessons Learned” report on the coming battles, said that it was during this phase that the retreating PAVN troops began learning what airmobility was all about. The UH-1B Huey helicopters buzzed around the rugged area like so many bees, landing American troops among the North Vietnamese, forcing them to split up into ever-smaller groups like coveys of quail pressed hard by the hunters.

A new PAVN regiment, the 66th, was just arriving in the Ia Drang in early November when its troops walked into perhaps the most audacious ambush of the Vietnam War. On November 3, divisional headquarters ordered Lt. Col. John B. Stockton and his 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, battalion of scouts to focus attention on a particular trail alongside the Ia Drang River close to the Cambodian border. Stockton sent one of his companies of “Blues,” or infantry, under command of Captain Charles S. Knowlen, to a clearing near that site. He took along a platoon of mortars that belonged to Captain Ted Danielsen’s Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, which had been sent with Stockton as possible reinforcements if needed.

Knowlen sent out three platoon-sized ambush patrols. One of those platoons set up near the trail and began hearing the noise of a large group moving toward it on the trail. The enemy column—men of the newly arriving 8th Battalion of the 66th Regiment—stopped 120 yards short of the ambush and took a break. Then they resumed the march. The platoon of Americans held their breath and their fire until they heard the louder clanking noise of the enemy’s heavy weapons company moving into the kill zone. The Americans blew their claymore mines and emptied a magazine each from their M-16 rifles into the confused North Vietnamese and then took off, running like hell straight back to the patrol base. A very angry PAVN battalion was right behind them.

Knowlen and his men beat back three waves of attacking North Vietnamese, but the company commander feared the next attack would overrun his position. Knowlen radioed Stockton at his temporary base at Duc Co Special Forces Camp and begged for reinforcements as fast as possible. Stockton radioed his higher-up, Brig. Gen. Richard Knowles at Camp Holloway/Pleiku, requesting permission to send in the rest of Danielsen’s company. Knowles denied Stockton permission, and the legendary 9th Cavalry commander squawked, squealed, whistled, dropped the radio handset and waved Danielsen’s men aboard the choppers and away to save the day.

They were about to make history, conducting the first nighttime heli-borne infantry assault into a very hot landing zone. They arrived in the nick of time as the next PAVN assault began. Danielsen’s men joined the line, and Stockton’s helicopter crews got out of their birds and joined the battle with their M-60 machine guns and the pilots’ pistols.

Knowles was furious at Stockton for disobeying his orders. Stockton just shrugged. If he had obeyed Knowles, more than 100 of his men would not have survived that night in the Ia Drang. Stockton, an Army brat who had grown up in horse cavalry posts all across the West, had resurrected black cavalry Stetson hats for his men and smuggled the 9th Cav’s mascot Maggie the mule aboard ship and 8,000 miles to Vietnam in defiance of another of Dick Knowles’ orders. But for his actions this night of November 3, John B. Stockton would be relieved of duty and sent to work a desk job in Saigon.

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One out of four members of the 7th Cavalry were killed or wounded in the Ia Drang Valley. (Photo: Joseph L. Galloway)

All of this was merely prelude, setting the stage for the savage mid-November battles at LZs X-ray and Albany.

When Hal Moore took the first lift of 16 Hueys—all that he was given for this maneuver—into the landing zone he had chosen in the Ia Drang, he was painfully aware that he was on the ground with only 90 men, and that they would be there alone for half an hour or longer while the choppers returned to Plei Me Camp, picked up waiting troops and made the return flight. It was a 34-mile roundtrip. The luck was with Moore. The clearing was silent for now. Then his men took a prisoner, a North Vietnamese private who was quaking so hard he could barely speak. When he finally did say something, it sent chills through the Americans listening to the translator: “He say there two regiments on that mountain. They want very much to kill Americans but have not been able to find any.”

Within an hour of landing and the second airlift of troops just arriving, the battle at X-ray was joined. It would last for three days and two nights before the North Vietnamese would vanish into the tangle of brush and elephant grass, leaving a large circle of their dead scattered around the American position. The smell of rotting corpses hung heavy over X-ray, and with the arrival on foot of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under its new commander Lt. Col. Robert McDade, on the morning of November 16, there were now three Cavalry battalions crammed into that clearing. General Knowles wanted to bring in the first-ever B-52 strike in tactical support of ground troops, and X-ray was inside the 3×5 kilometer box that was “danger close” to the rain of bombs that would fall on the near slopes of Chu Pong.

The 3rd Brigade commander, Colonel Tim Brown, gave orders: Moore’s battalion, plus Bravo Company of 2-7 Cavalry, which had reinforced Moore and fought alongside the 1st Battalion troopers, would be pulled out by helicopters and lifted to Camp Holloway on November 16. On the morning of November 17, Lt. Col. Bob Tully’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, would march out of X-ray, headed northeast directly toward LZ Columbus, where a battery of 105mm howitzers was positioned. Bob McDade’s 2-7 Battalion plus one company of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, would follow Tully part of the way, then break off west and northwest toward another clearing closer to the river dubbed LZ Albany.

As McDade’s battalion neared the Albany clearing, it was halted, strung out along 550 yards of narrow trail hemmed in by much thicker triple canopy jungle. The Recon Platoon had captured two North Vietnamese soldiers. A third had escaped. McDade and his command group went forward so the battalion commander could personally put questions to the prisoners through the interpreter. He also ordered all four company commanders to come forward to receive instructions on how he wanted them deployed around the perimeter of Albany. They all arrived with their radio operators, and all but the commander of the attached Alpha Company of 1-5 Cav, Captain George Forest, brought their first sergeants with them.

The enemy commander, Lt. Col. Nguyen Hu An, had kept one of the battalions of the 66th Regiment in reserve, and unbeknownst to the Americans that battalion was taking a lunch break just off the trail. The North Vietnamese swiftly deployed along the left side of the column and prepared to attack. The weary Americans, who had had little or no sleep for the last three days and nights, had slumped to the ground where they had stopped. Some ate; some smoked; some fell asleep right there. Suddenly, enemy mortars exploded among the Americans signaling the PAVN attack, and they charged through the tall grass and cut through the thin line of Cavalry troops strung out along the trail.

PAVN machine gunners climbed atop the big termite mounds—some 6 feet tall and as big around as a small automobile—and opened up. Snipers were up in the trees. The fighting quickly disintegrated into hand-to-hand combat, and men were dying all around. In the next six hours, McDade’s battalion would lose 155 men killed and 120 wounded. An artillery liaison officer in a Huey overhead wanted desperately to call fire missions in support, but was helpless. All he could see was smoke rising through the jungle canopy. At the head of the column, McDade had no idea where most of his men were and was near-incoherent on the radio. The Americans trapped in the kill zone were on their own. Later artillery and napalm airstrikes were called in, but they often fell on enemies and friends alike. All through that endless night, the PAVN troops combed through the elephant grass searching for their own wounded, and finishing off any wounded Americans they came across. Both sides had lost interest in taking prisoners. There were no Americans captured and only four North Vietnamese prisoners taken—all at X-ray and none at Albany. When the ambush was sprung at Albany, an intelligence sergeant shot and killed the two North Vietnamese prisoners with a .45-caliber pistol.

An Associated Press photographer, Rick Merron, and a Vietnamese TV network cameraman, Vo Nguyen, had finagled a ride on a helicopter going into Albany on the morning of November 18. After a short stay, Merron grabbed another chopper going back to Camp Holloway, and the word spread quickly that a battalion of Americans had been massacred in the valley.

LBJ ordered McNamara to Saigon to find out what happened at Ia Drang, and what it meant.
General Knowles called a news conference late on the 18th in a tent at Holloway. He told the dozens of reporters who had assembled that there was no ambush of the Americans at Albany. It was, he said, “a meeting engagement.” Casualties were light to moderate, he added. I had just returned from Albany myself, and I stood and told the general, “That’s bullshit, sir, and you know it!” The news conference dissolved in a chorus of angry shouting.

In Washington, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent an urgent message to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, who was in Europe, ordering him to come home via Saigon and find out what had happened at Ia Drang, and what it meant. McNamara met with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in Saigon and then flew to the 1st Cavalry Division base camp at An Khe, where he was briefed by the Cav commander, Maj. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard, and by Colonel Moore.

On the flight across the Pacific, McNamara wrote a top-secret memo to President Johnson dated November 30. See the Memo. McNamara told LBJ that the enemy had not only met but exceeded our escalation. We have come to a decision point and it seems we have only two choices: Either we arrange whatever diplomatic cover we can find and get out of Vietnam, or we give General William C. Westmoreland the 200,000 additional U.S. troops he is asking for, in which case by early 1967 we will have 500,000 Americans on the ground and they will be dying at the rate of 1,000 a month (the top Pentagon bean counter was wrong about that; American combat deaths would top out at over 3,000 a month in 1968). McNamara added that all this would achieve was a military stalemate at a much higher level of violence.

On December 15, 1965, LBJ’s council of “wise old men,” which in addition to McNamara included the likes of Clark Clifford, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, George Ball and Dean Acheson, was assembled at the White House to decide the path ahead in Vietnam. As the president walked into the room, he was holding McNamara’s November 30 memo in his hand. Shaking it at the defense secretary, he said, “You mean to tell me no matter what I do I can’t win in Vietnam?” McNamara nodded yes. The wise men talked for two days without seriously considering McNamara’s “Option 1”—getting out of Vietnam—and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of further escalation of the war.

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Resupply and medevac at LZ X-ray during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley on November 16, 1965. (Photo: Joseph L. Galloway)

Back in Saigon, General Westmoreland and MACV G-3, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations General William DePuy, were studying the statistics of the Ia Drang battles. What they saw was a ratio of 12 North Vietnamese killed for each American. They decided that these results justified a strategy of attrition: They would bleed the enemy to death over the long haul. One of Westmoreland’s brighter young aides later would write, “a strategy of attrition is proof that you have no strategy at all.” In any event, the strategy was an utter failure. In no year of that long war did the North Vietnamese war death toll even come close to equaling the natural birth rate increase of the population. In other words, every year reaching out far into the future there were more babies born in the north than NVA we were killing in the south, so each year a new crop of draftees arrived as replacements for the dead.

Seven hundred miles north in Hanoi, President Ho Chi Minh and his lieutenants likewise carefully studied the results of the Ia Drang campaign. They were confident they would eventually win the war. Their peasant soldiers had withstood the high-tech firestorm thrown at them by a superpower and had at least fought the Americans to a draw, and to them a draw against so powerful an enemy was a victory. In time the same patience and perseverance that had ground down the French colonial military would likewise grind down the Americans.

Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap studied the battles and correctly identified the helicopter as the biggest innovation, biggest threat and biggest change in warfare that the Americans brought to the battlefield. Giap would later say: “We thought that the Americans must have a strategy. We did. We had a strategy of people’s war. You had tactics, and it takes very decisive tactics to win a strategic victory….If we could defeat your tactics—your helicopters—then we could defeat your strategy. Our goal was to win the war.”

The PAVN commander directing the fight at X-ray, Lt. Col. Nguyen Hu An, revealed to us in Hanoi in 1991 that they had figured out one other way to neutralize the American artillery and air power. It was called “Hug Them by the Belt Buckle”—or get in so close to the U.S. troops that the firepower could not be used, for fear of killing and wounding their own. Then, said An, the fight would be man-to-man and much better odds.

For the Americans, Ia Drang proved the concept of airmobile infantry warfare. Some had feared that the helicopters were too flimsy and fragile to fly into the hottest of landing zones. They were not. All 16 Hueys dedicated to lifting and supporting Colonel Moore’s besieged force in X-ray were shot full of holes, but only two were unable to fly out on their own. The rest brought in ammunition, grenades, water and medical supplies, and took out the American wounded in scores of sorties. Without them, the battles of the Ia Drang could never have taken place. The Huey was on its way to becoming the most familiar icon of the war.

General Giap also learned one very important lesson. When 1st Cav commander General Kinnard asked for permission to pursue the withdrawing North Vietnamese troops across the border into their sanctuaries inside Cambodia, cables flew between Saigon and Washington. The answer from LBJ’s White House was that absolutely no hot pursuit across the borders would be authorized. With that, the United States ceded the strategic initiative for much of the rest of the war to General Giap. From that point forward, Giap would decide where and when the battles would be fought, and when they would end. And they would always end with the withdrawal of his forces across a nearby border to sanctuaries where they could rest, reinforce and refit for the next battle.

Another political decision flowing out of the Johnson White House—limiting the tour of duty in Vietnam to 12 months (13 months for Marines)—would soon begin to bite hard. The first units arriving in Vietnam in 1965 had trained together for many months before they were ordered to war. They knew each other and their capabilities. They had built cohesion as a unit, a team, and that is a powerful force multiplier. But their tour was up in the summer of 1966, and all of them got up and went home, taking all they had learned in the hardest of schools with them. They were replaced by new draftees, who flowed in as individual replacements and who knew no one around them, and nothing of their outfit’s history and esprit. The North Vietnamese soldier’s term of service was radically different—he would serve until victory or death. One of those soldiers wrote of marching south in 1965 with a battalion of some 400 men. When the war ended in 1975, that man and five others were all that were left alive of the 400.

General Giap knew all along that his country and his army would prevail against the Americans just as they had outlasted and worn down their French enemy. The battles of Ia Drang in November 1965, although costly to him in raw numbers of men, reinforced his confidence. And, while by any standards the American performance there was heroic and tactical airmobility was proven, the cost of such “victories” was clearly unsustainable, even then. Even in the eyes of the war’s chief architect.

In the late 1940s, Giap wrote this uncannily accurate prediction of the course of the Viet Minh war against the French:

“The enemy will pass slowly from the offensive to the defensive. The blitzkrieg will transform itself into a war of long duration. Thus, the enemy will be caught in a dilemma: He has to drag out the war in order to win it and does not possess, on the other hand, the psychological and political means to fight a long-drawn-out war.”


Joseph Galloway had four tours in Vietnam during his 22 years as a foreign and war correspondent. The only civilian decorated for valor by the U.S. Army for actions in combat during the Vietnam War, Galloway received the Bronze Star medal with V Device for rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire in the Ia Drang Valley, in November 1965.
This article originally published in 2010 on Historynet.com


Monday, November 29, 2021

Monday Music "Where's the fire" Tim Feehan

 I am continuing my "What songs would I play if Sirius/XM let me host a segment for an hour and these are the songs that I could play over and over again 3 or 4 times before continuing to the next song.  I will continue the *Boogaloo* theme after Christmas, that poor theme I had started November of 2019 and rode it hard like that little burro that carries the really fat lady down the grand canyon and back up again so it is still recharging in the pasture eating grass and grain before use it again.



I was stationed in Germany when this movie came out and we picked up the VHS up at the local German store that rented movies including movies to us G.I's and we rented it.  Well the movie was "ok, but the sound track was pure "80's", and for some reason the title song really resonated with me.  there was a clip on the song that stated "I' don't know where I'm going...as long as I'm going fast" I adopted that song as my theme song while I was in Germany  it is a hard song to find.

In 1986, Feehan entered a songwriting contest sponsored by producer David Foster (Celine Dion, Whitney Houston) taking first place and signed with Scotti Bros/CBS in Los Angeles where he relocated later that year. The self-titled debut album Tim Feehan was released in 1987 and gained five A.R.I.A. (Alberta Recording Industry Association) awards including "Best Pop Performance" and "Producer of the Year". The first single "Where's the Fire" was chosen as the theme song for the Charlie Sheen motion picture and cult favorite The Wraith. In 1987, Tim also won the Canadian Academy of Arts & Sciences Juno Award for "Most Promising Male Vocalist"


The Wraith (released in the Philippines as Black Moon Rising: Part-2) is a 1986 independently made American action-fantasy film, produced by John Kemeny, written and directed by Mike Marvin, and starring Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassavetes, and Randy Quaid.[2] The film was theatrically released November 21, 1986 on just 88 screens in the United States by New Century Vista Film Company (later New Century Entertainment Corporation).

The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural, or possibly alien-created, street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him. 

It don't take a lot to keep me moving  It's gonna take a lot to make me stop I'm racing to a fire alarm Should slow down but I just can't stop Move over if you see me coming I've got the fighter's touch I feel the heat inside me It's not enough but it's a little too much There's something out there i can hear it calling I wanna hold it but I'm moving too fast Where's the fire? Everybody's always asking me Where is it, baby? Doesn't anybody know? Where's the fire? It's burning up inside of me Where is it, baby? Open up the door and let me go I got a method to this madness I learned it on the street There's someone right behind you He's grabbing at your feet I've got no time for talking I've got no time to kill Some say I'm going nowhere But it's better than standing still There's something out there i can feel it baby It's getting closer but I'm moving away Where's the fire? Everybody's always asking me Where is it, baby? Doesn't anybody know? Where's the fire? It's burning up inside of me Where is it, baby? Open up the door and watch me go It don't take a lot to keep me moving It's gonna take a lot to make me stop I feel the heat inside me Should slow down but i just can't stop There's something out there i can hear it calling I wanna hold it but I'm moving too fast Where's the fire? Everybody's always asking me Where is it, baby? Doesn't anybody know? Wheres the fire? It's burning up inside of me Where is it, baby? Doesn't anybody know? Where's the fire? Everybody's always asking me Where is it, baby? Doesn't anybody know? Where's the fire? It's burning up inside of me Where is it, baby? Open up the door and let me go

     I snagged the lyrics off "DuckDuckgo"

Saturday, November 27, 2021

"The Death of a Donut Dollie"

   This one made me miss my Dad, this was his Division in Vietnam and he became "EL-CID" after his tour.  This happened after my Dad rotated back to the world but he would have known some of the background of the case that I could have plugged into the blogpost.....Damm I miss him. 

   *This was supposed to drop this morning*, but I messed up the time


This is where it all began. The Tropic Lightning Academy was the entry point for all replacements to the 25th Infantry Division and its base camp at Cu Chi, Republic of Vietnam. New arrivals sat in bleacher seats and heard the somber words of seasoned veterans lecture on about what to expect. The Academy was situated within the confines of camp headquarters and had a view of the Donut Dollies billet. On this day, a sign was hung at the billet doorway that read “Welcome Virginia”, giving all assembled the name of someone they would like to meet. The orientation droned on! Everyone was anxious to meet Virginia. Finally, after hours of drilling details of division legend and lore, a petite young girl in a powder blue dress stepped to the front of the bleachers and was introduced by the Donut Dollie in charge. “I would like you to meet our newest arrival – Miss Virginia Kirsch”. The new girl looked up at the assembled troops and simply said – “You can call me Ginny”.

Virginia (Ginny) Kirsch was born on December 2, 1948, in Erie, PA. She had four sisters and two brothers in her family. Her father was a co-owner of a men’s clothing store. Her mother was a high school English teacher. Ginny graduated from Brookfield High School in 1966 and from Miami University of Ohio in 1970. For a brief period, she taught English and Religion at Badin Senior High School in Hamilton, Ohio. In July of 1970, Ginny attended Red Cross training classes in Washington D.C. and arrived in Vietnam about two weeks later. After a brief period of orientation in Saigon, Ginny was ordered to report to the American Red Cross at Cu Chi.

The Donut Dollies

Red Cross Donut Dollie, Susan Bradshaw McLean

Donut Dollies were American Red Cross volunteers who had heard the nation’s call to serve their country at a time of war. They were young women with college degrees from all across America. At the request of the military, the Red Cross sent teams of young women to Vietnam to operate Red Cross Recreation Centers and to conduct audience-participation programs for men stationed in isolated sections of the country. Approximately 280 thousand servicemen took part in these recreation programs. The women traveled 27,000 miles by jeep, truck, airplane, and helicopter each month. Red Cross officials estimate that during the seven years the program was in operation, the women logged over two million miles.

A Bad Place To Be

The experience of Vietnam always began with the plane ride. Upon sight of the South China Sea and the coastline of Vietnam, all aboard became noticeably quiet. The wisecracks and bravado of the American GIs quickly subsided. In its place, soldiers came face-to-face with the stark reality that destiny now controlled their lives. The stewardesses, so playful and carefree early on, sat sullen in their landing seats and contemplated the soldiers’ fate. They had given their all to help these young men endure the ever-so-long flight. “They are in God’s hands now. Please protect them and bring them home safe and sound.”

There are two things that one remembers when the plane door opens. The first is the sledgehammer impact of stale, hot air on your face and skin. The open door instantly sucks all the cool air out of the cabin. The second sensation arrives the moment you step down the metal stairs to the runway. “What is that awful smell?” You are escorted with haste through a billowing black cloud to the awaiting transport. The sight you see is equal to the smell. A Vietnamese worker (or a disciplined GI) is hauling a burning oil drum across the tarmac. A nearby latrine has recently been relieved of its human waste, doused with JP4 jet fuel, and set ablaze. The pungent odor that permeates the nostrils and lungs is unforgettable to this day. Even without the war, Vietnam would be a dangerous place. The country is rife with snakes, spiders, mosquitoes, rats, and leeches. Its weather is either monsoon rain or dust bowl dry. The American GI quickly realizes that he doesn’t belong there. Even a Donut Dollie, emboldened with patriotism, has to question what the future holds.

Field Operations - August 15, 1970

Back in Cu Chi on the following day, Ginny and another girl headed out by helicopter to a Special Forces camp at a firebase near Katum. It was located within a few miles of the Cambodian border. It was Ginny’s first opportunity to do what she was there to do. She clowned around with the troops, posed for photographs and movie pictures, and generally made everyone just love her. She was in her element. It was an exhausting visit, but certainly a memorable one.

On the return flight to camp, the helicopter pilot received orders to visit an infantry platoon of the 25th Infantry on Nui Ba Den, (i.e. Black Virgin Mountain). At first, the troopers wanted no part of the fun and games that the girls had come to deliver. When the platoon leader in charge told Ginny that his men were not interested, Ginny asked the lieutenant to “just let her try”. After a quick hello and glow from her, the men were hooked. They welcomed her warmly and played her silly little games.

On the flight back to camp, the helicopter pilot asked her out for a date. She was caught off-guard with the unexpected attention. She was there for duty and country, not dates. But she did not want to rock the boat in her first week, so she nodded okay. They agreed to meet at the officers’ club that night. Ginny wondered what this unanticipated attention would do to her mission there.

Back In the World

In 1970, the United States military in Vietnam reflected an ever-changing mixture of soldiers rotating in and out of the country. With designated tours of 12 or 13 months, there were thousands of GIs on the move every day. You would see green troops arriving and brown troops departing each day of the year. For an American soldier, there was never a good day to arrive or a bad day to leave.

With the composition of the military in a continual state of flux, the problems of America at home were quickly reflected as problems for the military in Vietnam. Civilians with problems at home now became soldiers with problems at war. It should be no surprise that everything bad about America could be found in Vietnam.

Although the Vietnam War was in its late stages by 1970, the war machine continued to require fresh recruits to meet its operational requirements. The first troop withdrawals began in July of 1969, with an announced withdrawal of 40,000 expected by Christmas 1970. There were a number of factors that affected the quality of the new recruits. First and foremost would be the seismic shift in sentiment about the righteousness of the war. In the latter half of 1969, hundreds of thousands participated in antiwar demonstrations across the United States. The fateful culmination of national protest was the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970. Ohio National Guardsmen fired on student protestors, killing four students and wounding nine others.

By the summer of 1970, there was little inclination for eligible military candidates to risk life and limb for what was, at best, a questionable cause. Inequities in the Selective Service System drove many of the best candidates to National Guard and Army Reserve enlistment. Many others fled to Canada. Some were coerced into enlistment by offers of favorable occupational specialties or training. All thoughts were to take whatever actions were necessary to avoid service in Vietnam. There were numerous reports of unethical recruiters offering enlistment deals that could not possibly be honored. Some recruits signed up for three-year Army enlistments in order to avoid jail time for petty crimes and misdemeanors. Others were promised occupational specialties for which they could not possibly qualify.

The US military in Vietnam was afflicted with all of the societal problems of America back home. Drug use in America had quickly evolved from recreational use to mainline addiction. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were premier performers at the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in August of 1969. Marijuana and LSD were the refreshments of choice during those days. No one in attendance could have imagined that both Jimi and Janis would be dead of drug overdose by the end of the following year. Drug use, more than any other problem, had become a major destabilizing force to troop discipline and operational effectiveness in Vietnam.

Donut Dollies were not typical of the times. They were emboldened by Kennedy-era ideals about service to their country. They wanted to do something important. The Vietnam War was a noble cause fought by America’s noblest. What better place to make a difference in the world.

The Murder - August 16, 1970

The major was awakened with a shout. The enlisted man standing over him was frantic. “A Donut Dollie has been killed. An MP with a jeep will take you down to the morgue”.

The base camp was utter pandemonium. People were running. Lights were flashing. Sirens were blaring. Everything was moving much too fast. The girl’s name was Ginny. She had been in base camp only a day or two. How could this happen?
Official investigative reports of the homicide state that at approximately 3:50 AM, August 16 1970, an occupant of the American Red Cross billet observed a man run from the back door of Kirsch’s room. She entered Kirsch’s room and observed Kirsch on the floor with stab wounds to the throat, left side, left arm, and left finger. Kirsch was transported to the 25th Medical Battalion Dispensary and was pronounced dead from the stab wounds. She was not sexually molested. Kirsch’s remains were released to the 25th Infantry Division Graves Registration for medical examination.

There were two military policemen on duty at the time of the incident. One was on duty at a static post at the front gate to the billeting area. The other was on duty in the area and talking to the front gate guard when they observed a man force the rear gate of the billeting area open and escape. A US Army survival knife was found at the scene.

The witness at the scene described the fleeing subject as a male Caucasian, dark hair, 5’10”, 160 lbs., age approximately 23, wearing white t-shirt, white trousers, and a dark jacket.

The Suspects Roger A. Christian

On November 4, 1970, Christian was administered a polygraph examination. He showed deception. He then verbally admitted to crime investigators that, on the morning of August 16, 1970, he was high on heroin and looking for a place to sleep. He walked into some billets, a dark room, and was surprised by the occupant. Christian said that he remembered stabbing a girl with a knife and left the room.

On November 9, 1970, Christian was charged with unpremeditated murder.

On January 17, 1971, the eyewitness at the crime scene failed to identify Christian in a physical line-up at Ft. McPherson, Georgia.

On February 24, 1971, all charges were dismissed against Christian because of insufficient evidence and he was discharged from Army service.

Gregory W. Kozlowski

On the morning of August16, 1970, Kozlowski was found in possession of a tape recorder and camera which was stolen from the Red Cross billets between 1:00 – 3:50 AM that day. These items were the property of the witness at the crime scene who lived three doors from Ginny’s room. A few days later, Kozlowski became a murder suspect as well. On August 21, and again on August 25, Kozlowski was included in two line-ups. The eyewitness failed to identify him in each of those lineups.

Shortly thereafter, Kozlowski was medically evacuated to Japan with a diagnosis of mental illness. While the Army's investigation was in progress, Kozlowski was placed on convalescent leave in the United States. He was granted immunity by the Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, with respect to the larceny offense in order to provide possible information regarding the homicide.

On October 21, 1970, Kozlowski shot himself. After initial medical treatment, he was transferred to Letterman Army General Hospital, at the Presidio, San Francisco. Because there was evidence of mental illness, his case was referred to a medical board for psychiatric evaluation.

On January 9, 1971, this board determined that Kozlowski was unable to adhere to right and wrong at the time of the murder and, further, that he was unable to cooperate intelligently in his own defense. Because the latter finding precluded trial until he was able to cooperate in his defense and because the former effectively precluded conviction, the charges were dismissed by the convening authority. Meanwhile, further Army investigation had implicated Gregory Kozlowski in the Kirsch murder. On January17, 1971, the eye witness identified Kozlowski in a pictorial line-up as the person she saw leaving Kirsch’s room the morning of the murder.

A different medical board was convened to determine whether Kozlowski was fit to remain on active duty. It determined that he was not, and he was therefore placed on the Temporary Disabled Retired List and his medical records were transferred to the Veterans hospital at Wood, Wisconsin, where Kozlowski was sent for further inpatient care. The charges against Kozlowski were not dismissed because of any lack of evidence but rather because of his mental incompetence, both at the time of the incident and at the time charges were preferred. In view of the findings of the medical evaluation board, it was concluded that there was little else the Army could do with respect to Gregory Kozlowski.

The Dodge County Sheriff Edwin E. Nehls

On June 8, 1972, Gregory Kozlowski was arrested for the murder of Kenneth A. Glasse, 21 years old, of Milwaukee. On June 19, he was charged with first-degree murder and detained in Dodge County Jail under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Nehls. Later that evening, Kozlowski asked to speak with the sheriff on a matter of utmost urgency. Kozlowski admitted to the sheriff that he was guilty of another crime of homicide, the slaying of a Red Cross girl in Cu Chi, South Vietnam, on August 16, 1970.

Immediately after Kozlowski made the admission on June 19, the sheriff contacted military sources in Washington, who confirmed that on August 16, 1970, a Red Cross girl by the name of Virginia Kirsch had been stabbed to death in her bedroom at Cu Chi. Military sources revealed to the sheriff that no one had been convicted of the murder. However, they said they had suspects and that Kozlowski was a suspect in the Virginia Kirsch case. The sheriff informed the authorities that he had documented information in the Kirsch case, made by Kozlowski.

On September 6, military officials advised Sheriff Nehls that were closing the case, as they were convinced that Kozlowski was responsible for the death.

On September 19, Sheriff Nehls called Max Kirsch, father of Virginia Kirsch, in Brookfield, Ohio, and relayed the information to him. According to Mr. Kirsch, he had not been contacted by any other authority about the latest developments. The sheriff told Mr. Kirsch that he had held this vital information for the past three months and felt he had an obligation to advise Virginia Kirsch’s parents.

As regards the first-degree murder charge in the Glasse case, Kozlowski entered a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. He subsequently underwent several rounds of mental examination, the results of which indicated to the Court that Kozlowski was capable of standing trial on the murder charge. Kozlowski was ultimately found to be mentally ill. He has spent his entire adult life in mental health institutions within the State of Wisconsin.

After years of treatment and therapy, the psychiatric doctors deemed Kozlowski to no longer be a threat to either himself or others. On January 22, 2008, the Circuit Court granted Kozlowski a conditional release to a group home in Milwaukee. There has been no further information regarding his whereabouts since that date.

Tragedy or Travesty

Virginia (Ginny) Kirsch loved her country. Ginny was quoted by the American Red Cross in Saigon as having said “I felt that I could do something for the men over here and for my country.”

The wanton loss of human life is an unwelcome product of war. There are always unintended consequences of military conflict. For the most part, the military goes to extraordinary lengths to account for all such events. We are well aware of detailed investigations of alleged atrocities or friendly fire. So why is it that a 21-year old civilian woman can be brutally murdered at Division Headquarters, in a billet protected by armed guards, and no one is held accountable? It took two and a half months to identify one suspect while another suspect was permitted to leave the country shortly after the murder. Was the US Army in Vietnam in such disarray at that time that it just dropped the ball? Or was there more to it than that?

There is no indication that the American Red Cross pressed the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) to apprehend and prosecute Ginny’s killer. On the contrary, by all outward appearances, condolences were expressed, memorial services abroad and at home were held, and it was back to business as usual. If Ginny’s death had been an unfortunate accident, one could understand this response. But Ginny’s death was not an accident. It was murder! What was the organization’s responsibility to seek a full accounting of Ginny’s murder? How could this organization, in good conscience, continue to recruit, train, and send young women to Vietnam, knowing these women could not be adequately protected? What was their responsibility to the women who were already serving there? Sad isn't it?

George F. Slook, E-5
4th Infantry Division
Pleiku and An Khe

This article originally appeared on: https://www.war-stories.com/donut-dollie-murder-of-ginny-kirsch-1970.htm


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

 This is loaded into the scheduler thingie, I have to work...Unfortunately my job is that the flying public wants to get somewhere and my employer prides itself on the reliability and timeliness of our fleet, and maintenance cancellations are a nono. So enjoy the Turkey, Ham or whatever, I will be home later to get leftovers ;)

                              For those that already have their Christmas lights up .....

 Go out and enjoy Thanksgiving, Ignore the people trying to scare the crap out of you to not get together with your family because of "fears".  We are not guaranteed tomorrow, and to deny time with your family because of "fears" is a crappy thing to do to them.  Have fun, spend time with your family and friends, watch the Cowboys and the Lions play football.. Traditions.....It is what make us Americans....And tell the powers that be to pound sand...

  Remember to have fun, enjoy the camaraderie of Family and Friends and don't talk politics, unless your liberal Aunt or Uncle start it, then have fun stirring things up, LOL

I clipped this compliments of alex@ammo.com
Thanksgiving is the oldest national holiday in the United States. However, it’s observation is not a continuous presence in American history. While the celebration of Thanksgiving predates even the founding of the nation, it was proclaimed by George Washington, then ignored by Thomas Jefferson. From then on, it was sporadically observed until Abraham Lincoln, who once again introduced a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving to the United States.
Indeed, it was Lincoln who set the day as the last Thursday in November. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed the day between 1939 and 1941, which was highly controversial. The days were called “Franksgiving.” Roosevelt changed the date because retailers communicated to him through the Retail Dry Goods Association and the Secretary of Commerce, that the late date of Thanksgiving that year (the last day of November) might negatively impact retail sales. It was considered bad form to put up Christmas decorations or put on Christmas sales before Thanksgiving.
If only we still lived in such times.
In 1942, Congress set Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of the month, and here it has stood since then.

The Early Days of Thanksgiving

Harvest feasts date back centuries, with the earliest “thanksgiving” celebrations in the New World dating to the 16th Century with the French and the Spanish. The Commonwealth of Virginia had regular celebrations of this type dating back to 1607. The first permanent settlement, Jamestown, Virginia, had a thanksgiving celebration in the year of its founding, 1610. 
Of course, anytime someone says “Thanksgiving,” one immediately thinks of the Pilgrims. “Thanksgiving” as we know it is generally dated back to when the Pilgrims first celebrated it in 1621. This was in response to a successful harvest, however, it was not the first of a consistent celebration. The Pilgrims celebrated this only sporadically.
No one is entirely sure when the Thanksgiving celebration took place. There was a three-day celebration following their harvest, sometime between September 21 and November 11, with the Feast of Michaelmas (September 29) being the most likely date. We do, however, know that all 50 surviving Mayflower passengers were there, as well as 90 Native Americans. The feast was cooked primarily by four women, all of whom were on the Mayflower. Two years later, in 1623, following another boat of colonists arriving, the first civil (not religious) Thanksgiving took place in July.

The Revolution to the Civil War

The day of national Thanksgiving jumped around until the founding of the nation. During the late Colonial period, the Continental Congress merely recommended the day be celebrated by the various colonies. Samuel Adams drafted the first national proclamation, issued in 1777 – something to remember when you tip back one of his beers while watching the game. Revolutionary Commander General George Washington set the date in December of that year to celebrate early revolutionary victories. 
In 1789, President George Washington would proclaim November 26, 1789, to be a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving. This day also provides the roots for America’s National Day of Prayer. In 1795, Thanksgiving was celebrated, again by presidential proclamation, on February 19. President John Adams continued the tradition in 1798 and 1799. The tradition was undone by deist and skeptic President Thomas Jefferson. President James Madison revived the tradition in 1814, but it remained sporadic until the Civil War. Many governors proclaimed celebrations statewide. 
In November 1863, however, President Lincoln made the celebration national again. He was inspired by an editorial series written by “Mary Had a Little Lamb” author Sarah Josepha Hale. Secretary of State William H. Seward wrote the proclamation. During this period, traditions were regional and some of the food is decidedly not what we would consider to be traditional Thanksgiving fare today (pigeon pie, for example).


Franksgiving is one of those things like the court-packing plan that made FDR’s opponents squeal with laughter. FDR’s moving of the date of Thanksgiving caused his opponent in the previous election, Alf Landon, to compare him to Hitler. James Frasier, chairman of the Plymouth, Massachusetts board of selectmen heartily disapproved of the change. 
The change caused a number of problems, not least of all holiday travel plans. Football teams around the nation played before empty stadiums because they couldn’t change their schedule. Many games were cancelled. In what is a familiar scenario to anyone who has followed 21st-century politics, Democrats narrowly supported Franksgiving (52 to 48), Republicans widely despised it (79 to 21) and most of America didn’t like it (62 to 38). 
All told, 23 states and the District of Columbia recognized the new date, while 22 preferred the traditional date. The remaining three (Colorado, Texas and Mississippi) went with both dates, meaning there was plenty of time off for everyone. In 1940, 32 states and the nation’s capital went with Franksgiving, while the remaining 16 opted for what was called “Republican Thanksgiving.”
A report from the Department of Commerce issued in 1941, found that there was no difference in retail sales due to the day of the month. Indeed, barely more than a third of all retailers even observed Franksgiving. What’s more, only two out of every seven Thanksgivings would fall on a fifth Thursday rather than a fourth. Still, a joint resolution of Congress, signed into law by President Roosevelt, permanently moved the date to the fourth Thursday, where it has stood ever since. Most states concurred, and while revelry was on the back burner thanks to the war, Thanksgiving in its final form took root by 1945. 
If you ever find yourself watching the Merrie Melodies cartoon Holiday Highlights, you’ll notice a reference to two different Thanksgivings – one for Republicans and one for Democrats – that will now make sense to you. 
Texas was the last state to observe the traditional “last Thursday” Thanksgiving in 1956.

Thanksgiving Haters

While it has its roots in European harvest festivals, there is perhaps no more quintessentially American holiday than Thanksgiving. Americans eat more food this day than they will any other day of the year, including the Fourth of July and Christmas Day. Unsurprisingly, there are people who think that the celebration of Thanksgiving is shameful and should be abandoned. 
Both liberal college professors and some Native American activists believe the traditional story of Thanksgiving has been whitewashed by conquerors. They believe in replacing the day with a National Day of Atonement and fasting. Other prominent Native Americans such as Tim Giago, who founded the Native American Journalists Organization, believe that the celebration of Thanksgiving is a synthesis of both European and Native American traditions and is, as such, uniquely American. 
The rest of us, however, will enjoy stuffing ourselves with turkey, slipping into a tryptophan coma, and waking up just in time to catch the big game or the parade. Real Americans, as it turns out, would much rather enjoy a day off than complain