8.   Selected Messages Leading up to the 2012 Reunion

These messages are more than just registering for the reunion.  

They also attend a lot of information about many of the members of the AFVN group.

5.  A Miscellany of Items on Display

A number of those who attended the reunion brought a variety of personal mementoes to show everyone.  

The following is a rather eclectic selection of some of those which I scanned.   Jim White

There will be 27 people present who served at AFVN the American Forces Viet Nam Network, most of whom were on-air personalities.  There will also be three women who served with the American Red Cross in Viet Nam.  Some of the Red Cross women volunteered to work with AFVN for five-minute short features in radio and as the TV “weather girls.”  Chris Noel will be in attendance.  Chris toured Viet Nam as part of USO groups, and she also voiced a daily one-hour radio program that was recorded in Hollywood at the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) studio and then shipped to all AFRTS outlets, both ashore and at sea.  Chris founded a shelter for homeless veterans that operates in Florida.  This will, in all probability, be our last reunion.  We were always few in number, and time has taken some of our best from us.

Why did we choose Memphis?  We took a vote within our Yahoo discussion group.  The candidates were San Diego, Branson, Dollywood, A Florida cruise, and Memphis.  Those who selected Memphis did so primarily because Memphis is the home of Sun Records, a label upon which many of the artists whose music was played on AFVN were recording.  Almost all of us were in broadcasting prior to and following our work with AFVN, and the Sun label was central to our real-world broadcast work.

Was I an announcer with AFVN?  Yes.  I was an anomaly, though.  Most of the AFVN talent had attended the Army’s Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort Benjamin Harris in Indianapolis and were trained by DOD to broadcast in a military environment.  They were, as you might already have guessed, primarily Army.  I originally went to Viet Nam in July of 1967 as a 3rd Class Gunner’s Mate.  I was a gunner on small river boats called PBRs (Patrol Boat, River) and spent TET of 1968 in Vinh Long, during which two of our boats were sunk and our unit was twice ordered to retreat while under assault.  I was injured in April of 1968 during a helicopter rescue and sent to Saigon to recover.  When it was learned that I had previously been in broadcasting, I was scooped up by AFVN as an announcer.  That’s where I stayed until I left Viet Nam on 28 February 1969.  I was one of three Navy personnel at AFVN at the time, and the only on-air voice.  My live show ran from 10 am to noon daily, but I also did production work and ran the audio board for pre-recorded shows such as the one by Chris Noel that I mentioned earlier.  Other AFVN broadcasters were about as anonymous as I, but we were also able to boast names such as Adrian Cronauer (he headed the MIA/POW recovery efforts during the G. W. Bush administration), Gary Gears of WLS in Chicago, Pat Sajak, and John Steinbeck III.  Many of us went on to successful broadcasting careers.  Gary and Pat were my AFVN contemporaries.  Pat’s daily morning shift preceded mine from 5:00 to 9:00 in the studio, and Gary’s ran in the six hours leading up to midnight.  One of those who will attend the reunion is Joe Ciokan who, with another AFVN staffer, went to the Saigon Embassy to photograph and report on the Tet assault on that facility.

Our jobs as talent were targeted at one goal: troop morale.  We could not have carried out that mission without the support of our engineering, news, and production staff.  The engineers were the gerbils making the wheels turn.  They kept our towers up and operating.  They fixed everything from a blown fuse to Hue’s destroyed facility, where two of our staff were killed in a firefight and four taken prisoner by the NVA.  One of the Hue POWs was Harry Ettmullier, who may be attending -- he has outpatient surgery scheduled for October 3rd.   The news staff kept everyone up to speed on what was going on outside of our tiny corner of the world.  The production staff were wizards.  They created fun, professional spots from material that was about as dry as a Mastodon bone.  Their spots warned us to take our pills so the evil anopheles mosquito wouldn’t give us malaria, to get medical help if we found ourselves dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, and to take those two weeks of Rest and Relaxation leave each of us earned for our in-country service -- exotic destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Seoul, Taipei, Sydney, and Honolulu.  Some of those people will be attending the reunion.

There is not a Viet Nam war veteran alive who didn’t hear AFVN at some point during his tour.  They know us from the music and news and sports, and some were able to watch AFVN TV.  They think they know how “soft” we had it.  That they believe we had it “soft” is an indication of how well we did our job.  They don’t know about those of us who were wounded, killed, or taken prisoner.  They never knew that the Saigon anchor station was bombed twice, each time knocked off the air while the emergency tapes at the Can Tho kicked in to keep the music machine running.  They never knew that many of the voices heard providing live music programs during daylight hours at our northernmost outlets were infantry grunts, just like them, who spent most of every day “humpin’ the boonies.”

Yes, I was part of the AFVN mission.  We knew that every day we were on the air was going to be the last day of life for some of our listeners, and we did everything in our power to bring a tiny bit of home to them on that last day.  Sure shoots down the Robin Williams “Good Morning Vietnam” clown, doesn’t it?

9.  Thanks to--


Ken Kalish

For doing the real work of collecting money, keeping track of who was coming and otherwise being Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. 


Bill and Scooter Altman

For preparing the name tags, being responsible for setting up and manning the registration desk and preparing the booklet.


Dick Ellis

For bringing everything needed to set up a bar and provide food and snacks for the duration of the reunion.


 Tom Fowlston

For bringing a wide variety of audiovisual equipment to help keep us entertained.


To the Donut Dollies and Special Services Participants

Who not only volunteered while in Vietnam but who also came to help us remember how it once was.


Chris Noel

Just for being Chris Noel


To the Not-to-be Named

For helping others attend


To Those Who Donated Items for the Raffle

And then bought tickets to support it.


To Everyone Else Who Came

Simply for coming.

7.  Some Comments

Ken Kalish  GMG3, USN  1968-69

6.  A Side Trip to Oxford, Mississippi

Forrest Brandt  1LT, USA  KLIK / IO, 1st Div  1968-69

Forrest didn't join everyone on the tour to Graceland but, instead, visited the "Ole Miss" campus in Oxford,MI.

Here is his story and some photos.


4.  Photos   

4a.  Hospitality Room - Get-together  - October 4th, 2012
4b. 
Graceland Tour - Parts 1 & 2 - October 5th, 2012
4c. 
Sun Studio Tour - October 5th, 2012
4d. 
Buffet, Auction and Music - October 6th, 2012
4e. 
Buffet - October 6th, 2012

Please write the Webmaster if anyone has been erroneously identified.

3.  Activities

3a. Activities Schedule

3b.  Booklet

(Prepared by Bill & Scooter Altman.  Upload for viewing may be a little slow.)

3c.  Brochure from Sun Studios 

3d.  AFVN 2012 Reunion Rock

(Reunion Newsletter prepared by Ron Hesketh)

Altman, Earnest T. "Bill"  SSG, USA  1965-1966

Andrews, James "Jim"  1970-1971

Ashley, Stephen C.  SP4, USA  Saigon  Admin  1972

Beitch, Morrie P.  SP4, USA  Saigon / Tuy Hoa  1968-1969

Brandt, Forrest  1LT, USA  KLIK,1st Inf Div IO  1968-1969

Brill, Gary  SP5, USA  1969-1970

Ciokon, Joe  JO1, USA  1968

Cluff, Preston  SSG, USA  1967 to 1971

Eischens, Ken

Ellis, Dick   SP5, USA  Saigon  1967-1968

Fowlston, Tom  SP4, USA 1972-1973

Fox, Donald F.  "Don" SP5, USA   DJ, Saigon  1966-1967

Hesketh, Ron  SP5, USA  1964-1965

Jackson, R. Michael  SPT, USA  Network News OIC  1971

Jennings, Doug  SP5, USA  1970-1971

Kalish,Kenneth K.  "Ken"  GMG3, USN  1968-1969

Kelsey, Ann  Special Services Librarian  Saigon  1969-1970

Kumm, Michael  SGT, USAF 1972-1973

Lehman, John  SFC, USA  Saigon  1971-1972

LeRoy, Jean  MSgt, USAF  Blue Eagle  1966 / Saigon  1971-1972

McKinney, Eugene R.  1ST, USA  Network NewsOIC  1972

Morecook, Robert C.   SP5, USA  1972-1973

Nelson, Jerry  SP4, USA  Admin, Saigon  1970-1971

Noel, Chris  Actress / DJ  AFRTS-LA

Profeta, Raymond  SP5, USA  1968-1969

Smith, Stephen, H.   SP4, USA  Saigon / Da Nang / Nha Trang  1968-1970 

Red Cross "Donut Dollie" and Volunteer DJ  An Khe / Da Nang / Ch Chi 

                 1967-1978

Stone, Randall L.  SP5, USA  1968-1970

Sullivan, Michael J.  "Mike"  SP5, USA  1969-1970

Watts, Holley  Red Cross "Donut Dollie" and Volunteer DJ  Da Nang /

                  An Khe / Cu Chi  1966-197

White, James D. "Jim"  MSG, USA  Admin NCO, Saigon  1970-1971

Wltsie, Steve  1LT, USA  Quang Tri / Saigon  1970-1971

Altman

Andrews

Ashley

Beitch

Brandt

Brill

Ciokon

Cluff

Eichens

Ellis

Fowlston

Fox

Hesketh

Jackson

Jennings

Kalish

Kelsey

Kumm

Lehman

Leroy

McKinney

Morecook

Nelson

Noel

Profeta

Smith

Smoyer


Stone

Sullivan

Watts


White

Wiltsie

As Registered for the Reunion

Bill and Scooter

James and Karen

Stephen, Joyce and Christine

Morrie

Forrest

Gary and Virginia

Joe and Mary

Preston

Karen, Max and Jose

Dick

Tom

Don, Amy and Fleck (Amy) Confer

Ron and Joyce

Mike and Susan

Doug and Joan

Ken and Lila

Ann

Michael and Janet

John (Jay) and Jule McGee

Jean and Clarice

Eugene

Robert

Jerry and Marcia

Chris

Ray and Mary

Steve

Nancy


Randy

Mike and Susan

Holley


Jim

Steve and Jane

2.  Attendees

As on the AFVN Roster showing Rank, Years, etc.

(I.E., in their previous incarnations)

1.  Venue


Whispering Woods Hotel & Conference Center

7300 Hacks Cross

Olive Branch, Mississippi  38654
(This may seen strange since the reunion was "in Memphis" but taxes, etc. made a distinct difference in rates and

this hotel was just across the border in Mississippi and therefore convenient to Downtown Memphis, the Airport, etc.)

AFVN Reunion

October 3 to 6, 2012 -- Memphis, Tennessee