Your Trojan efforts in this project plus the fact that you have matchless
access to everybody who makes things happen prompts me to send you this
vignette of what happened at San Francisco on the 19th. It is an excerpt
from a personal letter I wrote to Eulis Presley yesterday but it also
concerns every last guy who ever served with Nungs - or with Yards, for that
matter, plus all the troops who responded to your net call for help. So I
thought you might consider this for your sitrep.
The Nungs' plane had landed but they themselves were still in Customs,
behind the forbidden door. We waited outside; TV crews, lights, wires,
poised notepads, and we with flags ready to distribute when the Nungs came
through the door. I was already wrapped pretty tight by then but that was
nothing compared to what came next.
A friendly U.S.Customs agent in civilian
clothes, who I thought was only a casual bystander, had been listening to the
'Would you like to go back in the customs inspection area and greet
them there?' he asked.
"Oh, yes!!!", I said, without any idea how I could identify our guys when I got there.
Anyway, back we went, he and I. Three or four planeloads had just come in from the Orient. A sea of mostly Asian faces stared back at me, some blank, some curious at the green beret whose wearer was so carefully scoping them out. We walked the length of the place twice, stepping over suitcases and cutting through lines. No dice.
But then a single man in one group took a harder squint at
my beret with the 5th
Group/SF flash. Then he faced me, drew himself up, heels together, and
presented a most deliberate salute. I almost lost it right there! A quarter
of a century had gone by and they had kept the faith.
There were more tentative smiles, then handshakes, finally
huge grins, and I hugged Presley's guy Vay. I should have
hugged them all. Well, that set the tone for the
morning. I offer it in extenuation for my labored speech and frequent
swallows on CBS news.
Of course that salute was really
for all of you. He didn't know me. I
returned it in the same spirit. There were many more such scenes later out
on the concourse. It was a humbling experience to represent so many good
Some of you e-mailed me later. Thanks for the kind words.
Here's a quote
from Bill Parnell (CARLWFL @aol.com) which I agree with: ..."now more work
to help the guys become as good citizens as they were soldiers..."
I'm rounding up videos of as many of the local TV presentations as
and those, together with the front page of the Oakland Tribune, will be sent
to Jack Isler as soon as I round all this stuff up My hope is to get it out
in time for the convention. He can mastermind the distribution. I can't be
there. But XXIII Secretary Ed de Hertel will and he was with me at the
Stay tough, everybody