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--
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.
For bringing everything needed to set up a bar and provide food and snacks for the duration of the reunion.
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.
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.
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.
As Registered for the Reunion
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.)
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
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
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
Bill and Scooter
James and Karen
Stephen, Joyce and Christine
Gary and Virginia
Joe and Mary
Karen, Max and Jose
Don, Amy and Fleck (Amy) Confer
Ron and Joyce
Mike and Susan
Doug and Joan
Ken and Lila
Michael and Janet
John (Jay) and Jule McGee
Jean and Clarice
Jerry and Marcia
Ray and Mary
Mike and Susan
Steve and Jane
As on the AFVN Roster showing Rank, Years, etc.
(I.E., in their previous incarnations)
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
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.