Sunday, September 27, 2009

Have You Noticed?

A 20 lb. bag of ice at Sam's Club is $2.69. At Lowe's Foods 18 lbs. is $2.99.

Have you noticed ice plants in parking lots of shopping centers in your area? I'm aware of two in Winston-Salem and one in Mooresville. I am intrigued by the concept of selling ice from a coin operated unit that looks like a dressed up cargo shipping container.

The units offer 16 pounds of fresh bagged ice for $1.50 or 20 pounds at the same price if dumped into your portable ice chest container. Processed water is sold there for 25 cents per gallon or $1.00 for 5 gallons.

If you desire to start your own business, I believe this could be a profitable one. The investment would be $100,000. The ongoing expenses would be rent, utilities, and maintenance. There would be almost no labor cost. If the unit malfunctions, it automatically telephones the owner.

Go the the web site and learn more. Click here.

Have a good week!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Former Correspondent for Reuters and Time Magazine

He earned the "Hero of the People's Armed Forces" award, the highest military recognition by Vietnam for his information in planning the Tet Offensive in January 1968.

Fourteen additional medals were awarded to Pham Xuan An for his tactical help in specific battles and campaigns while fighting the United States and South Vietnam forces. In 2003 An was awarded a medal for 50 years of service in the Communist Party.

All these awards were presented following the war, because from 1955 to 1975, Mr. An was a spy working as a news correspondent for Reuters until 1965 and for Time magazine from 1965 to 1975.

He was charming and entertaining as he interacted with diplomats and news people like Morley Safer, David Halberstam, Frank McCulloch, Beverly Deepe and many more reporters throughout the long war.

When North Vietnam realized the United States would continue the fight after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the Vietnam Communist Party sent Pham Xuan An to Costa Mesa, California in 1957 where he enrolled in Orange Coast College to learn American culture. He studied two years in the community college and then traveled across country by car. An was in the press gallery in New York to watch Nikita Khrushchev deliver his speech during the Soviet leader's first visit to the United States.

Pham Xuan An had a network of 45 couriers to get messages to Ho Chi Minh. Twenty-seven were captured or killed throughout the war. One courier, Ngenyen Van Thuong, was captured and tortured by amputating his legs several inches at a time every two months. A total of 6 cuts reduced his legs to stubs. The signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 brought about Thuong's release. He, too, earned the "Hero of the People's Armed Forces" award for his part in transporting messages and keeping the secrets during captivity. Thuong lives in Vietnam in a wheelchair with half a body.

The tunnels in Cu Chi were used by An to send frequent intelligence to North Vietnam leaders.

In the 1980's when all this came out about Pham Xuan An's role in the war, most reporter friends in the U. S. didn't feel betrayed. Some admired his cunning and skill at avoiding detection and suspicion. During the 1990's many friends in the United States raised money to bring An's son, Pham Xuan Hoang An, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study journalism and Duke University to study law.

The book, The Spy Who Loved Us: The Vietnam War and Pham Xuan An's Dangerous Game, by Thomas A. Bass was published in 2009 by Public Affairs. I recommend this book if you're a student of history, war, and spying. If you're easily upset by the news media, then don't read it.

Have a good week!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Welcome Home

The WWII generation didn't suggest it; baby boomer opinion leaders wouldn't touch it; the VFW didn't push it; the American Legion was silent. A maturing new generation of young people who know right from wrong made it happen.

A new commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and fresh community leaders around Fort Campbell took corrective actions and organized a welcome home for Vietnam veterans on August 16, 2009.
Forty years after the fact (plus or minus) Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell's speech to veterans and families expressed appreciation and heartfelt thanks for the job we did.

We arrived at Fort Campbell on Sunday afternoon and parked our cars beside Division Parade Field. Our family members loaded onto coach buses and departed for the hangar before the 600 veterans loaded similar buses and motored to the same destination. Veterans unloaded and assembled into a giant formation in front of the closed hangar. When the command was given, the enormous doors spread open like a theater curtain to reveal a brightly lit interior with bleachers filled with cheering people. Celebration horns sounded, band music played, the crowd waved and shouted as we marched inside to a standing ovation. Ceremonial protocol followed.

Veterans from all branches were invited and 1,500 came. There were three repeat celebrations throughout the afternoon and into the evening to accommodate the large turnout. Clarksville's Golden Rule Smokehouse BBQ and Ajax Distributing donated 900 meals to feed the first wave. Hopkinsville-Christian County Chamber of Commerce handled the veteran registration leading up to the weekend. It was a joint effort by the community, the Chamber of Commerce, General Campbell, and the military. Male and female active duty soldiers helped execute the ceremonial plan and coordinate the event. An excellent job was done by all.

While on Ft. Campbell, I returned to the barracks at the corner of Kentucky Ave. and 46th Street where I spent most of 1967. This place was my duty assignment after I returned from Vietnam. Our platoon fell out each morning for reveille on the ground where I'm standing in the bottom photo.

It was exciting to return to Fort Campbell for the ceremony after 42 years. I knew nobody, but felt kinship to everybody.

Click on pictures to enlarge them.

Have a good week!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

40 years

40 years starting September 6, 1969 equals 2,087 weeks or 14,610 days.

This is the period of time my wife and I have been happily married. We felt a celebration was in order so we organized a week-long party at Lake Norman. This lake is near Charlotte, North Carolina, has 520 miles of shore line, was completed in 1964 for generation of power by Duke Power Company, and was named after the company's CEO in the 1950's, Norman Atwater Cocke.

We rented a lake-front house, hired a rental company to provide a tent, tables, chairs, and more, bartered with a friend for a 24-foot pontoon boat, and arranged with Harris Teeter to prepare food each day for family, friends, and neighbors who visited throughout the week.

See the pictures of people having fun. Click to enlarge.

See 100 additional pictures by clicking here.

Have a good week!