From:  Chuck Adams

     Sent:  October 14, 2013

Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy

Talk about memories.

The main thing this story reminds me of is how and why I'm likely still here today.  If it hadn't been for Bob Lawrence, I might not have been. When I landed at Cam Ranh Bay in May 1970, I had a letter from LTC Jim Adams [no relation] saying I had an assignment with AFVN.  That had been set up through and with my commanding officer at AFNE, LTC Art Jones.  But getting that assignment was easier said than done, since where I was was under USARV, and AFVN was under MACV.

So when I presented my letter, I was, in essence, told it meant nothing.  Talk about a sinking feeling. Next thing I knew, I was under orders for the Americal Division, and on my way to Chu Lai.  It wasn't until much later that the Americal was made [in-]famous, courtesy of Lt. William Calley.

It was at Chu Lai that I, a first lieutenant and Signal Corps officer, went for a job interview.  As I sat in a Signal Corps company commander's outer office, waiting for said interview, there was a delay.  So I asked the first sergeant if I could use his phone, with which I called AFVN headquarters.  I got through on the first try, something I later learned was virtually impossible.

As soon as I reached Col. Adams, I shared my plight.  He put me in immediate touch with his personnel chief, Army Capt. Hugh Hastings, who told me my problem [USARV via-a-vis MACV] was something I already knew.  But Hastings added there was an AFVN detachment in Chu Lai commanded by Army Capt. Bruce Beebe, who I had known in Germany.  Once I had that number, I called for Bruce, again getting through on the first try.  Talk about luck.

When I told Bruce what was happening, he said to get out of there immediately.  He then picked me up and took me to officer personnel, where, upon presentation of my letter, my orders were changed from the Americal Division to AFVN Saigon. Rick Ferdericksen's story introduces Bruce Beebe, but doesn't say what happened to him after the cry of "censorship" hit the AFVN airwaves.  My understanding long has been that Bruce was made a "fall guy" and was transferred to AFVN Chu Lai.  That, for me, was a very good thing.

I spent my May '70-May '71 tour as first Chief of News/News Director, based in Saigon, and then as OIC of AFVN DaNang.  And I have Bob Lawrence to thank for being able to say, when asked what I did in Vietnam, that I spent half my tour in a movie ["Good Morning, Vietnam" with Robin Williams...and Adrian Cronauer] and the other half in a TV series ["China Beach," starring Dana Delaney and Marg Helgenberger] based in DaNang.

Upon completion of Infantry OCS, I was commissioned a Signal Corps officer at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.  June 3, 1968. From there, I went to the Signal School at Fort Gordon, Augusta, Ga.  And one afternoon, with some free time, I went over to officer personnel to see what sort of assignment I might get if I were to give "Uncle" an extra year. When they came back with the American Forces Network Europe [AFNE], I, a Radio-TV Speech undergrad with a masters in Broadcast Journalism from The Ohio State University, said, "You got me."

Upon completion of my year in Vietnam, I separated from active duty in May 1971 at the Oakland Army Depot.  I then embarked on a "checked career" with a wire service [AP], network television [NBC] and as a pro sports PR guy [soccer/New York Cosmos and North American Soccer League; baseball/Baseball Commissioner's Office and Chicago White Sox; and golf/PGA Tour], before wrapping up at a "mom and pop" newspaper in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., the Beaches Leader.

If Bruce Beebe hadn't been in Chu Lai when I was about to become a Signal Corps officer with the Americal Division, Lord only knows where, or even if, I'd be today.  So thank you, Bob Lawrence.

Chuck Adams

Army Specialist Four Bob Lawrence Claimed AFVN News Was Censored 
The above link is to a YouTube video clip posted by Bob Morecook.  (52 sec.)

wFrom:  Rick Fredericksen

wtSent:  October 17, 2013 
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy
Forrest, I wish I could have joined you and Gary at the Continental.  I love the place and it is one of my favorite pictures from my time there, even the cover shot on my blog-scrapbook.
Rick

wFrom:  Tim Boodle 
wtSent:  October 16, 2013
Subject:  Bob Lawrence's Remarks on the Air on YouTube
​Art Keys recorded that broadcast for Bob.  Not knowing what was coming.  He was told it was just an air check.  The rest is history.  I was on Hon Tri island at the time.  Art told me what happened.  Where is Art anyhow?

wFrom:  Rick Fredericksen 
wtSent:  October 17, 2013
Subject:  Bob Lawrence's Remarks on the Air on YouTube
​Tim, I ran into Art Key in a bar on Pat Pong  in Bangkok in the 80s and we renewed our friendship from Saigon.  (He was a regional  rep for the Ampex Company.)  We both had Thai wives, though I was not yet married, and we were close.  One time he was running with the Hashhouse Harriers across a rope bridge and it broke.  He fell and suffered a serious back injury that confined him to a wheel chair.  Great guy! Haven't seen him since 1995.  I'll try to reach out.  I didn't know he recorded the famous Lawrence newscast, only that CBS News did, as Bob had tipped off reporter Gary Shepard. Soon after, I was off to Hon Tre myself.
​Rick Fredericksen

wFrom:  Forrest Brandt 
wtSent:  October 16, 2013
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy
Fog of war.  Or fog of drinking several bom di boms.  Maybe Gears was talking about one of his own run ins with authority.   I really liked him, but I didn't have to work with him or be his commander.
​Forrest

wFrom:  Rick Fredericksen 
wtSent:  October 16, 2013
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy Forrest,
I arrived in Saigon March 11th, 1969 and I do not recall any excitement like this.  I can say that the time frame you give would have been too early for any disciplinary action regarding the censorship issue.
Rick Fredericksen

wFrom:  Forrest Brandt 
wtSent:  October 15, 2013
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy
I was in Saigon with Willy Johanson and Wayne Yeager to record our show.  Some one had gone off script in a broadcast, or been insubordinate, during that week.  Gary Gears joined us for beer at the Continental and gave us some of the details.  I think the guilty party was being investigated prior to possible re-assignment. I seem to recall Gears telling us that several men were charged at least one was taken off air and given tasks such as dusting all the records in the library while the officers decided what would/could/should be done.
​The incident was serious enough that when news of Lawrence's broadcast reached the states, I immediately flashed back to it.  any of you recall a giant kurfuffle [commotion, agitation or disorder (Scottish)] in that time frame?
​Earlier in my tour, while still with the First Signal Brigade, one of my friends. LT Swenson, was caught driving a 3/4 Ton off post with several enlisted as passengers.  (They got caught when they crashed an O6 and up party w/local talent somewhere between Saigon and Long Bihn).
Our CG went overboard, "I'm sending you to the most remote site in my command."
​Major Schimick, the unit's JAG, had to walk him back from that stand, informing him that regs prohibited assigning folks to dangerous postings as punishment.  Swenson ended up in the PIO office of the 101st in Phu Bai.
​ I mention this as I'm assuming that the same "punish to the max" thought must have gone through Lt. Commander Nash's mind only to hear the same advice from the JAGs in his Chain of Command.  Short of a court martial and time in LBJ- which would have been a terror filled sentence given the racial tensions at LBJ [Long Binh Jail] at the time- there really wasn't much for Nash to draw on. Maybe that's the first time I began to use the phrase, "What are they going to do, send me to Vietnam?"
Forrest
​PS:  Dammit!  Failed to mention this would have been around February - March of 69.

wFrom:  Rick Fredericksen

wtSent:  October 15, 2013 
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy
​Chuck, your account and my story seem to support each other.  Ironically, Lawrence told me it was Beebe who hired him, although Bruce doesn't recall that.  You are correct about placing him in Germany (2 years) and in Chu Lai (6 months).  Like you, Beebe said his orders to Vietnam did not mention AFVN...he had to talk his way in too, so perhaps his experience connected with yours.  We talked twice in April and he was not eager to be quoted since he still works for a radio station group in CA.  Lawrence will not see your posting as he is even more reclusive and doesn't engage in the social media.  As for me, I enjoyed your comments. I came home from Vietnam in March 70 so we missed each other. Cheers,

wFrom:  Bob Morecook
wtSent:  October 15, 2013
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy
​What a Great Story, welcome home, Chuck!
Bob Morecook
wFrom:  Bob Morecook 
wtwtTo:  AFVN Group (Special Mode)
wtSent:  October 10, 2013
Subject:  Major Story about AFVN News Controversy
The story below is re-posted by Bob Morecook to the AFVN'ers in SPECIAL MODE on the AFVN list. The story is on the web at the AFVN site with publisher's permission.
Rick Fredericksen    9:43pm Oct 5
​Vietnam Magazine:
First inside story of the censorship issue.

wFrom:  Jim Allingham

wtDate:  October 8, 2013

Subject:  Rick Fredericksen's Feature Story about AFVN News Censorship 
Kudos to Rick Frederiksen for his handling of a subject that has garnered its share of discussion...and arguments...some polite, some not...in this forum over the years.
​ I was there the night of the Bob Lawrence broadcast...and I was one of those newscasters who was "sent up-country" in the immediate fallout because I gave an "unauthorized interview" on camera to Kenley Jones of NBC News...an interview in which I said that I couldn't disagree with Bob; that I admired him as a dedicated professional; that Bob did what he believed was the right thing to do, albeit, I wouldn't have had the guts to do it and that I hadn't been in news broadcasting long enough to develop the passion that Bob had for it.
​I was also the guy who led with the story on my radio newscast...finally at 3 a.m. (almost 4 hours after his TV newscast and only after stern guidance from MACOI to "attribute it the Associated Press."
​ After reading Rick's article, I can honestly say that he did an excellent job of giving us the big picture in a fair, balanced, and unemotional way; especially considering that he was one of the first "casualties" among the guys who questioned why things were done the way they were. And, I believe he gave us a fair and honest assessment of the root causes of the problem and perhaps what could have been done had the news department of AFVN been managed differently over the years leading up to Bob's broadcast. In my six months in Saigon, I learned a lot about the news business from a lot of great guys, including guys on both sides of the proverbial fence regarding censorship.  Rick Fredericksen was one of these guys, as were Bob Lawrence, Hugh Morgan, and Mike Maxwell.  But, they also included great professionals and career soldiers like Nick Palladino, Wayne Cannon, and Bob MacArthur. All of these guys put their hearts and souls into the news operation.  Regardless of how things ultimately shook down, all of these guys were honorable men and I believe all of them tried to do the right thing in their own way.
​Thanks, Rick, for a great article. My grown kids have now been told a story about their Dad that they've never heard before. And, you've given this Dad a sense of peace with myself...finally, after 43 years.
​And, a big thanks to Dr. Bob and to Jim White for getting us the electronic version...my Barnes and Noble still hasn't received the December issue!
Best regards to all who served proudly at AFVN.
​SP5 Jim Allingham
AFVN News
Saigon/Hon Tre Island 
1969-1970

    From:  Steve Sevits

     Sent:  April 8, 2013

Subject:  Censorship: Thoughts, Memories

Reply to censorship issue

In late spring of 1963 I was sent from Okinawa TDY to AFRS as the radio station approached its first anniversary on the air.  My job was exclusively news.  All our world copy was received by radio teletype, it was newspaper copy which is a totally different language from radio copy.  My job was to rewrite it as radio copy.  I had prior civilian experience in writing broadcast news copy. I “edited” news copy only slightly for clarity.  The “White House” became residence of the chief executive or president’s official house.  The reason explained to me was that even to English speaking people in Asia the term “White House” could intellectually become “crystal palace.” The only editing we did was slight as above, we never propagandized or slanted stories, although there were a couple of story subjects we just omitted completely although now, 50 years later I don’t recall what they were.  I have no idea of what took place after I left in the fall of 1963.

Steve Sevits

    From:  Forest Brandt

     Sent:  April 7, 2013

Subject:  Censorship: Thoughts, Memories

Thank you Bob.  It is always good to make sure the bases are covered.  I talked with Capt. Moody today for the first time in 40+ years when I worked for him.  He mentioned you, and the contact from the girlfriend of one of the photo journalists who were killed in the mine incident in Da Dang. Two of them had filmed stand-ups for my reports in Saigon.  You have really held together the AFVN connection from the end of the war until now.  Without you, who knows where we would be as a cohesive group.  As a newcomer, I appreciate what you have done.  And thanks for making sure I know about Capt. Moody.

Rick

    From:  Forest Brandt

      Sent:  April 6, 2013

Subject:  Censorship: Thoughts, Memories

The man for sure to talk to is Randall Moody the news officer at the time.  My memory is that he supported the EM's argument that there was censorship and said so in lectures at Dinfos.  One person to reach out to is the fellow who made the accusation.  My memory is that he is still in radio, I believe in PA.  There's also a short video of him actually making the accusation that is posted on the net on YouTube.

Bob M

    From:  Rick Fredericksen

     Sent:  April 7, 2013

Subject:  Censorship: Thoughts, Memories

The AFVN censorship issue is the subject of a feature length story later this year in Vietnam Magazine.  I am reaching out to this group for your thoughts and memories.  For or against. Activist or bystander.  Please give your name, rank, time at AFVN, position, location and your thoughts on the matter, then, and now.  Please be concise, maybe just a few paragraphs to begin with.  Let's use my personal email address for this: fredericksen@outlook.com   While I won't be able to include everyone in the final story, all of your comments will be read and will help give me a broad base of knowledge to write at informed story.  Look for a fair, historical feature.  Pass on to others that may be interested.  Hoping to hear from you.

Rick

Censorship - Thoughts and Memories

April through October 2013 and October 2018

Help in researching for a book on the subject.

AFVN Group Conversations

Taken from a Facebook posting in April 2017.   (Webmaster)

   From:  Bob Morecook

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
Wow! Great meet up! Wish you guys had made it to the reunions.


   From:  Bob Morecook

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
We had ALMOST blanket permission. If it cast the US in an unfavorable light, we read it with attribution [before and after]. If it dealt with current operations, then operational security killed it -- this happened with only one story in my hands where "NVA tanks we sighted north of Saigon" - why tell the bad guys we know what they have and where [turned out false anyhow]. One story about B52s bombing a Cambodia school was put on delay because only UPI reported it and they were considered flakier than AP - we were told to hold it but run it if AP did -- which they did not. And UPI dropped the story after sending it once - so it was unsubstantiated and thus consider flakey [untrue]. So the little rebellion by the newsroom years earlier DID lead to more complete freedom on the newsroom. I worked 6 or 7 days a week for 9 months and 10 days, and all I did was news, but radio and later TV as well -- as both producer and anchor. In fact after the first week I never even conferred with a senior NCO or officer about any newscast - I simply did them. (there was one exception, and it was approved). They gave us complete freedom and truthfully what they got back not just from me but all the others in the newsroom was a complete sense of responsibility and drive for professionalism. (I do know that if we were screw-ups then leadership would have come down on us - but we did our jobs and they gave us the room for us to give it out best. For this reason this became one of the best experiences in my life. You guys who revolted made it possible for us to really work on mission success -- which was to give the American fighting man and woman the news - the same news that every American got back home in the USA thank you.


   From:  Bob Morecook

wtSent:  October 10, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
You were NOT allowed to read wire copy? Did I get that right? Did you write all your own stuff? What the heck did the news guys do then? In 72 - 73 there was typically only one news reader on duty who handled radio, another for sports. In the afternoon there was a tv news producer on duty as well, who sometimes also did the tv newscast.


   From:  Rick Fredericksen

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
There was great interest in the news censorship issue. We both fought against military censorship at AFVN, a battle that we would win, along with a core group of brave whistle blowers.



   From:  Bob Morecook

wtSent:  October 10, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
In 72-73 any censorship was long gone. The military got burned on that one earlier in the war. BUT they still managed the news WITHOUT censoring it. Simply put, no one at AFVN wrote ANY news, not even a change of command. We simply read AP newswire.


   From:  Rick Fredericksen

wtSent:  October 10, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
Just reading the wire copy was a lot more than we were allowed to do a few years earlier. But in your time the staff may have diminished, and just reading and not reporting or writing was a good way to get the job done.


   From:  Roger McKnight

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
That was one of the questions the E5 board ask about in 71, "I know nothing."


My Experience with Censorship During the Vietnam War

by Jeff Dugan

Taken from a Facebook AFVN Discussion Group on September 29, 2017


        A little anecdote--in my spare time, I worked at AL1AF -- the MARS Station at Fuchu Air Base, Japan.   One of my primary duties there was to coordinate phone patches for the guys in Vietnam to all (via radio) back home.  In Japan we always heard the statewide stations about an hour before they did, so we would relay so when the conditions allowed, there was no time wasted coordinating things. 

         My point is that being in constant contact with [MARS] stations throughout Vietnam, it was not at all unusual for us to be working with them and then suddenly have them come back with "SECURING STATION"-- usually in a pretty excited voice.   What I found out was that in those situations they were under attack -- but for security reasons on our non-secure channels, they couldn't say so. 

        But even though I knew firsthand this had happened, we would get NOTHING at FEN reporting on these.   They simply did not come across our our news wire.  And then about a week later, there would be some snippet in the Stars & Stripes that fit the time frame.  What I later caught on to was that the Japanese Mainichi Daily News, generally had a more detailed story the day after the event originally occurred. 

        You bet the news we got was highly vetted before or even if we every got it.  

[NB: I realize that this has little to do with censorship at AFVN, but "censorship is censorship.  Webmaster]


   From:  Bob Morecook

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
In 72-73 any censorship was long gone. The military got burned on that one earlier in the war. BUT they still managed the news WITHOUT censoring it. Simply put, no one at AFVN wrote ANY news, not even a change of command. We simply read AP newswire almost exclusively, though we did also have UPI, CBS, ABC, Mutual News and a few others. The troops simply got anything the wire services wrote, though we were careful to attribute any controversial stories to the services. Though my best guess is that any releases written by JUSPAO and distributed to the media may have contained actual efforts to actively manage what the civilian services wrote. It was a clever method - and the officer leaders would love it since it protected them from being accused of censorship. "We didn't write it AFVN - we only read it." It was a brilliant decision - and - truthfully the troops did hear exactly what folks got in the USA. (Usually, the hourly five minute AP radio news feed for local broadcasters to read live.)

   From:  Rick Fredericksen

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
I'm waiting for a DINFOS meet up.


   From:  Rick Fredericksen

wtSent:  October 12, 2018 
Subject:  (From Facebook)
Gosh, your heartfelt words are music to my ears! You put it so beautifully, and coming from an insider, it means a lot Bob. I hope you read my book which outlines how Gen. Abrams essentially gave control of news management back to AFVN, and AFVN alone. I also quoted you as saying censorship had ended by the time you read the last newscast. THANKS.