APRIL 12, 13, 14
NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA
Dear Fellow alumni members; This past weekend August 5-6, 2017 at a Vietnam Dog handlers Association (VDHA) board meeting in Houston, Texas Ernie Ayala 212th 67-68 was appointed Vice President by the new President, John Harvey, who became president when Perry Money passed away. I am making this announcement for two reasons. One, many of our alumni members are also VDHA members. The other reason is lend moral support to Ernie. He is embarking on a higher position of authority and responsibility that he did not actively pursue. Being a good team player he reluctantly accepted the job knowing he may not be very far from having to step up to greater responsibilities. Please keep him in your prayers and thoughts. Ernie told me the Sentry Dog Alumni continues to be first in his heart.
Gary Smith 981st 71-72
Dale Carlton 981st 68-69
Dale A. Carlton, age 67 of Spring Lake, passed away on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at his home. He was born on October 8, 1949 to Paul and Elaine (Neigh) Carlton in Saginaw, MI. Dale was a graduate of Douglas MacArthur High School in Saginaw. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Michigan in Sociology and Social Work. Dale was a proud veteran of the United States Army, serving during the Vietnam War. He retired from the State of Michigan as a social worker. Dale loved serving the Lord, fishing and vacationing in Jamaica. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, the former, Susan Moore; son, Troy (Joan) Carlton; daughter, Lisa (Josh) Badour; grandsons, Dylan and Devon; granddaughters, Ashlynn and Brooklynn; sisters, Diana Alles, Ellen (John) Propp; brother, Edward Carlton; sister-in-law, Maryann Moore; brother-in-law, David (Joyce) Moore, and numerous nieces and nephews. VISITATION for Dale will take place on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at The Spring Lake Chapel, 213 E. Savidge St. (616-842-6100) from 2:004:00 pm & 6:00-8:00 pm. A FUNERAL SERVICE for Dale will take place on Friday, July 28, 2017, at Grace Lutheran Church (2651 Shettler Rd.) at 2:00 PM with visitation an hour prior to services. VISITATION will take place at 2:00 at Roselawn Memorial Gardens (950 N. Center Road, Saginaw, MI 48638) with entombment at 3:00 pm on Saturday, July 29, 2017. For a more lasting memory, donation’s in Dale’s name can
be made to the American Cancer Society￼. Feel free to share a memory with the family at www.sytsemafh.com
The following is from Diane Verola, concerning John Zimmerman 212th 66-67. I am a a lost of words. All I can offer is please keep John and Diane in your prayers and thoughts.
I just wanted you to let you know that John’s cancer came back. If you remember, he got hit last year around this time. As a matter of fact, he had surgery to remove the tumor on his birthday, July 31. Last year the doctors found a tumor called a plasmacytoma pressing on his spine and he had the surgery to remove it. That tumor is the multiple myeloma tumor.
He was doing really well since then; the scans and blood work were clean until the end of June. The last pet scan showed some abnormalities and they did a bone marrow biopsy that confirmed it.
John started treatment this past week. It’s going to be a long road, but God willing the treatment will send him into remission. He has to take one drug by mouth every day for 14 days and then stop for 7. In addition he has to take a baby aspirin and an anti viral drug every day. Once a week he has to have a shot and a dose of steroids. Then, once a month he has to take another drug via a drip in his arm. In October, they will harvest his stem cells and the treatment will continue.. In January, he goes to the hospital and they will give him a heavy duty dose of chemotherapy and implant the stem cells. He will have to be in the hospital for about three weeks for this. After that, he will have to be very careful for a few months because his immune system will be very weak. Again, God willing, this will send him into remission and he will be good as new.
I know it has only been one week, but so far so good. You know John, he’s a fighter and his spirits are good, but I’m sure he’d love to hear from you, so if you get a chance, please give him a call.
John. 516-431-5245. Home
In the meantime, I will be in touch. Hope all is well with you and your families. It sure was a good time in San Antonio. Take care,
PS: Please pass this on to anyone else that you think should know. I have been in touch with Lee Ruth and Rhaunal Williams via their wives, but I don’t have contact information for anyone else. You guys all seemed so close, so I’ll leave it at that. Thanks.
Remembering Ralph Hamblin
(April 28, 1928 to April 15, 2003)
Ralph Hamblin — known as Top, the generic nickname for a First Sergeant — was the person at the 981st whom I worked with most closely. I kept in touch with him too at Christmas until his death in 2003. He was a highly experienced noncommissioned officer, a center of calm, and an example to others at 981st headquarters in Cam Ranh Bay and at the unit’s detachments.
A few things I remember about him: He used to write to his mother Lula in Kentucky regularly. When I went to Hong Kong on R&R, he asked me to bring back two silk mandarin pajama sets, decorated with embroidery, for his wife Anna. He also once told me how concerned he was that his children would not be able to attend middle school and high school without being subject to the kinds of substance abuse temptations that were beginning to be rampant in the US at that time. I know he worried about this since he was frequently absent overseas while his three children were growing up.
I also knew he had met his wife when he was stationed in Germany and that her family had had a hard time in WW II, suffering wartime displacement and other losses and indignities. He and his wife both loved dogs and at the time I knew him had a small white poodle at home that Top insisted had a genius-level understanding of the English language. And while he liked our unit mascot Foxy, he devoted most of his attention to his own unit mutt named Homer — sad to say not at all proficient in the English-speaking tongue.
He was close to 1SG David Sam of the 630th MP Company just down the road from the 981st, and looked forward to receiving the generic Christmas letter that Sam and his wife sent to their friends. He also knew and liked SSG Fleming, our Staff Sergeant responsible for the conduct and
detail assignments of new dog handlers arriving in-country. Fleming, who had very erect military bearing and was of Native American background, I believe had worked with Top at an earlier post where they had first become friendly. Top also pointedly disliked loudmouths, braggarts and windbags, of which in Vietnam there were many.
An example of Top’s unflappable personality and ability to lead: SGTs Rush Mortimer and Arnie Price in CRB decided to help Top celebrate his birthday at the local NCO watering hole, which that night had a band in attendance. Top was agreeable but when Price thought it would be rousingly appropriate during intermission to empty the contents of their beer cans over Top’s head — as a sort of celebratory baptism by alcohol — Top quietly but firmly told the two that it would not be a good idea to do this. The two young buck sergeants thus received a benign lesson in personal dignity, which they absorbed by example, while Top avoided a patently unwelcome Pabst Blue Ribbon beer shampoo on his day of birth. And so the three wound up drinking their beers together and enjoying them as the birthday evening wore on. That being said, Top also spent much of his free time in the second-floor lounge in the barracks building he occupied — a place where drinks flowed freely, soldiers could unwind, and stag films could be watched.
On a personal note, Top helped me out on the day I was to be pinned by the colonel as a SGT E-5. On that morning a dog handler up-country had gone AWOL with at least one missing weapon. I had received the phone call on my office phone and had as a result been engaged for the better part of three hours in trying to find out how many people and weapons were involved, the extent of any injuries, etc. It was a bad connection that was intermittently cut off, and since no one wanted to take me off the phone I missed the pinning ceremony. Top went in my stead, though, and explained my absence to the colonel, who then arranged to pin me with my stripes later in the day. He at that time queried me about the incident and praised me for my perseverance — and I then understood that the colonel’s interest was a result of what Top had said about me and how he had said it. Top’s words had been a reflection of how he viewed his subordinates and what they had done or could do for the good of the company. It was something I’ve always remembered about him, as well as an illustration of his quiet good sense in both word and deed.
Top also had the opportunity to attend a TO&E strategy and planning meeting that took place while he was in-country. The meeting was called to modify our unit’s basic Table of Organization & Equipment, since our sentry dog company was different from other MP units. It did not meet frequently so this was an important opportunity whereby to plan for having our unit’s future needs met. Top’s input here was both offered and valued.
Top died in 2003, shortly before his seventy-fifth birthday. Many people he worked with remember him, what he did for the 981st, and the remarkable way in which he did it. I was honored to work closely with him and as a result I liked him a lot. Top, the time we knew each other was all too short. But I’ll take this opportunity to thank you now for all you did. You were figuratively and literally at the top of your profession and an inspiration to those of us who knew and admired you. And now, your work being done, may you rest in peace.
Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71.
Harry W. Costick 595th 71-72 passed away July 3, 2017. For more information a link to his obituary is below.
I received this from Larry Majeski. It is from Ryan Przybyl, Arthur’s son.
On Monday, June 12, 2017 3:24 AM, Ryan Przybyl <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I wanted to write and let you know my father, Arthur K. Przybyl, passed away in February this year. He served in 212th MP Company in 65/66. If anyone wishes to contact me with anything related to his time in Vietnam, they can do so at this email address.
Remembering Ronny Dale Bair
(August 21, 1949 to July 31, 1987)
I first met Ron early in 1970 under unusual circumstances at 981st MP Sentry Dog Headquarters in Cam Ranh Bay (CRB), Vietnam. As I recall there was at that time enemy activity country-wide as part of the Tet lunar new year holiday offensive. Everyone had to fill sandbags during the day, and then at night we were banded together and dispersed onto the sand between two of the barracks buildings. We stayed there all night. There was no moon and it was pitch black. We heard booming fire-power all night long but it was at a distance and we sustained no injuries. Somebody near me started talking and it soon became apparent that he was talking to me. I couldn’t see him and I didn’t recognize his voice. I was concerned about the enemy fire and uncomfortable in the dark and remember wishing whomever it was would just shut up. I guess he eventually did and the next morning I saw who had been speaking. It was of course Ron but I did not know this. He had just joined our unit. He had recognized me because I was the Company Clerk but I had no idea who he was at that time.
We quickly became good friends.
He had come from sentry dog training school in Okinawa. I don’t recall him having sentry duty once he came to Vietnam. I do know he worked at the kennels, which were located about a mile from where the barracks were. He and I were also on the same schedule, which meant that we both worked during the day and slept at night, whereas the dog handlers worked nights and slept during the day. I do not recall his dog at all — which now leads me to believe that he did not come from Okinawa with a dog.
As we became friends Ron and I talked about ourselves and our backgrounds. He talked about his home in New Philadelphia, Ohio, mentioned his parents, his brother and sisters, and that his father (Dale) was a musician. I was interested in this last point and Ron explained that his father was part of a band. I’d never before known anyone who did that so it was fun to hear him speak about how his father used his music to entertain others. Ron also told me that his girlfriend at the time was Ruth Mae Fockler, and I knew that they corresponded. Letters sent by mail in 1970 were our lifeblood, as hard as that is to imagine today.
Ron was a lot of fun to be with — outgoing and positive — and was a very good sport. In order to let off steam and keep my sanity I would jokingly try out funny routines with him. One was a holiday TV “commercial,” and involved his name: “Moms and dads, this Christmas give your little girl a genuine Ronny Bear. He’s furry, he’s fuzzy, and he’s full of fun! Don’t be disappointed this holiday season — reserve your Ronny Bear TODAY!” Turns out he thought this nonsense was hilarious, and so we had a good laugh over it.
We also helped each other study to go before the examination board for promotion to sergeant. He became eligible for promotion in July or June, and I in September. I helped him review MP- and dog-related subjects and he passed his board exam and was promoted to SGT E-5. He later helped me study for my exam and told me a foolproof way of doing an about-face while walking forward, without stumbling over my feet. It worked like a charm every time and was impressive in front of the board. I became SGT E-5 in September.
For relaxation we went to local bars, especially when they had live bands (usually Philippino) performing. We could have either weak mixed drinks or canned beer or soda — the canned stuff often tasting of rusted metal due to the heat and the humidity of Vietnam. Things like cookies, crackers, and candy, by the way, usually were sold at the PX in tins to prevent spoilage from vermin. M&Ms for some reason were the only candies sold in bags, and as a result the bags often had mouse or insect holes in them no matter where we stored them.
At around the time I got promoted, Ron was selected to be the team leader and sergeant in charge of the 981st’s Phan Rang outpost. It was the outpost closest to CRB but it was still a potentially dangerous trip by jeep. He was unusual in that he knew how to conduct himself with both superiors and subordinates. Everybody liked him and that worked to his advantage with his superiors and in motivating those in his charge. Although he would return to CRB a couple of times before I went home in January, we did not see much of each other once he moved to Phan Rang. Phone communication was reserved only for military business and was at best sporadic and prone to disconnection. I stayed the whole time in CRB, and if Ron had been there too we certainly would have kept in touch after we left the Army. The day before I left for home, Warren Dodge, one of Ron’s friends from Phan Rang, came to CRB on business of some sort and he told me that Ron “says goodbye and wishes you well.” That was the last I ever heard from Ron and if I had it all to do over again I would have moved heaven and earth to keep in touch with him.
In addition to Warren and myself, Ron was close to Terry Gawel, who is from Michigan. He and Ron used to play basketball together and sometimes wrestled. Terry eventually moved up to An Khe and Tuy Hoa, and was a veterinary technician (vet tech). I remember too that Ron walked on the balls of his feet, the way a high school athlete might have done. (Many years later his eldest son Jeff verified this as soon as I mentioned it to him, and also told me his father liked to imitate Cleveland Browns announcers while practicing football moves with his young sons.)
After I left the Army, it was in the late 1970s that I thought I’d like to contact Ron. Grand Central Station as well as my local library in NJ had scores of phone books from all over the US. I found a current one for New Philadelphia but when I looked, there was no listing for him. I felt frustrated and did not try again until the advent of the internet, when things like that became simpler. I tried online phone books but with no luck. Eventually the thought occurred to me that as unlikely as it seemed, he may no longer have been alive. I looked up his name in the New England Death Index, a user-friendly database that recorded deaths as part of Social Security data. That’s where I found his name in 2005.
Ron had died in the summer of 1987, just short of his 38th birthday. I was in shock. It was almost better not to know at all than to know this. Ron, I am sorry I didn’t keep in touch with you back then and wasn’t able to locate you while you were still alive. Things might have turned out differently if I had. I think of you even now forty-some years after we first heard each other speak on that pitch black night in Vietnam, miss you more than I can say, and hope you are finally at peace.
Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71.
Sent from my iPad
Remembering Jerry Mac Griffis
(August 9, 1949 to November 22, 2011)
Jerry Griffis was a big ol’ Texas boy and one of my friends and Lackland classmates. He was a lot of fun and the two of us got along a lot better than you would expect a NYC guy and a Texas guy to. He was a sensitive and caring person too. In our last days at Lackland, after graduation and before Vietnam, we had to get shots before we could ship out. Five or six of us went to the medical facility at the same time on a cold gray day. When we got inside, the steam was on full blast and it was overbearingly hot. We got our inoculations and went outside in the cold to return to our rooms. Whereupon I felt I was going to pass out, dropped to the cement steps, and stuck my head between my legs to get some blood rushing to my head. Everyone noticed this of course and they all stopped and sat with me, with Jerry putting his arm around my shoulder until I recovered and we all walked back to our dorm rooms. I’ve never forgotten what he did. When we got to Cam Ranh Bay in January of 1970, Jerry and I had KP duty on our first overnight there, eventually resting our heads on a table and talking about home. A few months later, when he was to go before the board for promotion to SGT E-5, he stopped into the orderly room looking starched, ironed, shined, spit-polished, and very military but I could tell he was anxious. I then dramatically reached over to my phone, lifted the receiver, pretended to press an imaginary intercom button, looked toward Jerry and intoned into the phone: “Helen, get me Central Casting right away!” Everybody laughed (even though what I said didn’t even make much sense), Jerry relaxed, and he subsequently had no problem getting promoted — and both leading and inspiring the soldiers he worked with in Vietnam.
Jerry died in a motor vehicle accident in 2011. As his loving family members so movingly express, his presence will always be remembered. His loss was a sad one for his family and for all of us who knew and never forgot him. Jerry, rest in peace.
Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71
Posted Nov 30, 2011
Jerry Mac Griffis
Fort Davis, Texas
In loving memory of Jerry Mac Griffis. Born August 9th, 1949 in Brady Texas. Died November 22nd, 2011 in Payson, Utah.
Proceeded in death by his parents, John and Clara Griffis. He is survived by his two children: Laura Griffis-Potter and husband Pat of Sandy, OR. and John Allen Griffis II of San Marcos, Tx. Three grandchildren: Mac, Lilly Belle, and Lil’ Griff Potter of Sandy, Or.
One brother: Johnny Griffis and wife Lola Kay of Alpine, Tx.
Two sisters: Sharon Griffis Coody and husband Joe of Pecos, Tx.
Beverly Griffis Hathorn and husband Doug of Pecos, Tx. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews and many, many dear friends.
He loyally and honorably served his country in the Vietnam War from
January 10th, 1970- November 16th, 1971. Service & Burial Hillcrest Cemetery in Ft. Davis, Texas Saturday, December 3rd 2011 at 11:00 a.m. with a gathering to follow at Pam and Buster Mills home.
Officiant- Oscar Medley Acknowledgement- Laura and John wish to express their sincere thanks for all the prayers, support, flowers and other expressions of love during this time of bereavement. Dad was always a great provider- so great that he gave us his all without the need for us to ever ask for it. He was a man of integrity and devotion. A man who understood a hard day’s work. He worked his entire life to take care and provide for his family.
He served his country and defended our freedoms with tremendous courage, honor, devotion and loyalty. He is a true Hero. His core accomplishment has always been John and I. Our Dad poured vast amounts of love and energy into our lives everyday. He always held our hands in his- and helped us navigate and discover life and the world around us. He pushed us when needed, stood next us when needed and carried us when we needed it most. He was so strong, so loyal and so steadfast in ALL he did. He was a man of few words, and when he spoke- all listened because we knew it was well worth listening too. Dad worshiped at the feet of honesty, honor, loyalty and integrity. People talk of these values, but Dad LIVED them and embraced them. The many awards/medals and accolades that he received during his lifetime for his dedication, hard work, loyalty to family and friends and the RESPECT that we all have for him are a testimony to this. Dad always soldiered on bravely, no matter the circumstances. He was more concerned about the people he loved than any discomfort or pain he may have been in. To many of us he was a very kind person and was always there to help. He never wanted to be acknowledged for anything he did. When he helped, he simply helped.
His grandkids were one of his greatest joys in recent years. He knew that LOVE to them was spelled T.I.M.E….and quality time is what he gave them. He spent every second he could building a deep bond that will always stay with them. They will always remember their special times and love from Grandpa Tex. He was bigger than life, tougher than nails, stubborn and hardheaded. It made us all love him that much more. As a beloved son, father, brother, uncle, friend, veteran, cousin and amazing grandfather, he leaves us with many memories, stories and an honorable legacy. Always remember him and everything he shared with us. We will carry on our Father’s Legacy and keep him with us always. In His Grip- Laura Griffis-Potter & John Allen Griffis II
Recently John Trepagnier 595th 69-71 sent this to me. I believe it is of mutual interest to us all. I found the statistics sobering.