ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Day Trippin'
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-29-2011, 03:00 PM   #1
mikegc OP
Beastly Adventurer
 
mikegc's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: High Point, NC
Oddometer: 1,345
Duty

I thought about this a little before deciding to post a ride tale for this story certainly isn’t about the ride but the journey. Yeah, I know, how many times have you heard that!? This is going to be something that may not belong in this forum so I’ll solicit the moderators opinion and will not be offended if the vote is ‘no.’ You see, this journey started at a helicopter landing zone in South Vietnam in 1969 and, yup, that firmly qualifies me to be an old man! Old men telling tales can be quite boring but I will make every effort not to do that you. Always remember, the back arrow is in the top left of your screen and the red X is on the right.

Kindly bear with me as I attempt to tell you how this tale came about. In those long-ago days, I was a combat photographer with The Big Red One, the US Army’s famed First Infantry Division. My job afforded the ability to travel our AO, area of operations, and photograph anything that caught my eye. My Leica M-2R and Nikon F captured combat scenes like these:









In the quiet times, however, I was able to photograph GIs helping bring a little joy to war orphans at An Lac:


















I spent as much time as I could at the orphanage. Those children touched my heart and being with them provided a wonderful escape from places like the Iron Triangle, the Michelin Rubber Plantation and War Zone D.



Another of my jobs was to photograph our assistant division commander for maneuvers, BG Herbert E. Wolff. This man entered the US Army in 1943 and fought in the South Pacific, winning a Silver Star and a battlefield commission. Years later, he told me his proudest moment of his 37 years, three-war career was helping to rescue the Bataan Death March survivors at the POW camp at Cabanatuan. I took many photos of this “soldier’s soldier” but this was my favorite and the one that led to a reconnection with our old team, Danger 78, some 37 years later:




Hopefully, I’ve set the stage for what Paul Harvey used to describe as, “the rest of the story. In 2003, my wife gave me instructions to clean out the basement and I did what, I suspect, many of you do under similar circumstances. That’s right, I was moving stuff around but not doing much cleaning . . . much cleaning? . . . I wasn’t doing squat! After some time, I came upon a box labeled “Vietnam” and recalled taping it up back in the ‘70s. I opened it, saw the above photograph and thought, “I’ll bet General Wolff would like to have this picture.” Well, long story shortened significantly, I found the general and sent the photo to him. We talked a few days later and vowed to get together as quickly as possible.

I also managed to find our helicopter pilot, Dale, and another officer, Mike. We even had a little reunion in Kalamazoo, MI about a year after the initial reconnection and it was pretty darned special. Camaraderie was resumed with no effort and friendship bloomed.





That's Dale in his Huey; Mike and me in 1969



Dale, Mike and me at our reunion in Kalamazoo in 2005. Time marches on, huh?

Sadly, not long after our reunion, we lost Dale to cancer. Naturally, Mike and I attended the funeral and made sure our buddy’s widow had everything she needed. Word, apparently, got around that Dale’s army friends were attending so, during the second night’s visitation for the much loved man, one of his friends approached. He said, “You’re ‘the Mikes’ aren’t you?” Replying affirmatively, he continued by saying, “You guys really live your motto, don’t you?” Seeing we were a bit puzzled, he stated, “You know: No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great. Duty First!” That was the motto of the First Infantry Division and we were humbled. Old soldiers . . . . . . .


On a bit of a roll from the aforementioned reconnections, I found a lady who used to work in the orphanage, too. You may want to check this You Tube link about Betty Tisdale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODQSRV-zPq8 . That led to a reunion last year at Fort Benning of the 219 orphans who were airlifted out as Saigon fell. I even manage to find the subject of a 1969 photo:


This was Ngoc at An Lac in 1969. In Columbus, this is Ngoc, Amy (another An Lac orphan) and me in 2010.




Now, you’ve got to be asking yourself, “What’s the point of this guy’s rambling?” Well, my old lieutenant, Mike, was a great officer when it counted. Since our reconnection, he has become a friend even though we live half a continent away. For some time, I’ve wanted to recognize my old army buddy, thank him for “taking me under his wing” back then and for being a good friend today. After quite a bit of pondering, I came upon a solution. I purchased a Colt 1911 Government Model .45, the same type weapon we carried 42 years ago. Wanting to personalize the pistol, I found a gentleman who does scrimshaw work and ordered elephant ivory grips from him. He masterfully etched the grips with our First Infantry insignia. Next, I ordered a presentation case from a woodworker in Indiana. Here are the results of my efforts:










I leave in the morning on my GSA for Wisconsin, planning a three day trip up there on mostly back roads. Along the way, I’ll think about what I’m going to say to my friend when I present this token of respect, admiration and appreciation. You all know that some of your best thinking is done on two wheels and that’s what I’ll do. If you haven’t gotten too bored, yet, I invite you to come along as I perform this duty for a fine former officer and good friend.

__________________
IBA 25881


Duty- Honoring a Friend

mikegc screwed with this post 02-13-2014 at 04:36 PM Reason: typo
mikegc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 03:17 PM   #2
Riff
Legend - In my Mind
 
Riff's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Cumberland, MD Twisties Heaven in any direction
Oddometer: 307
Dear Moderators I humbly implore you to let this trip, thread, report continue to it's logical conclusion .... I would love to see the "Rest of the Story".

Respectfully Riff / Subscribed.
__________________
Ride Faster to See More Quicker!
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak, that is why I TRY to be quiet!
Riff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 06:30 PM   #3
East Coast Rider
Just Me...
 
East Coast Rider's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Stuck somewhere in motorcycle Purgatory
Oddometer: 3,711
I'll second that request...
__________________
Txt msg with Dan right after he was paralyzed:
Me: Hey Dan-O. Just wanted to say howdy and Love ya!
Dan: Howdy and Love you too. Doin' good and feeling good.
Me: Give 'em hell, little Bro!
Dan: Roger that.
East Coast Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 09:22 PM   #4
Sic Semper Tyrannis
.
 
Joined: Aug 2009
Oddometer: 416
Quote:
Originally Posted by East Coast Rider View Post
I'll second that request...
...all in favor say AYE!


AYE!!!!
Sic Semper Tyrannis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 06:36 PM   #5
maiden.jade
Studly Adventurer
 
maiden.jade's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Doha, Qatar
Oddometer: 696
Me too.

Wonderful story and pictures, by the way.
maiden.jade is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 09:26 PM   #6
bretedge
Do Epic Shit
 
bretedge's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Moab, Utah
Oddometer: 437
I'm in, too. Great photos and story.
bretedge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 09:35 PM   #7
norton(kel)
vintage
 
norton(kel)'s Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: berthoud,colo.
Oddometer: 781
I'm in, ride safe brother. '69/'71. In country '71
norton(kel) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2011, 10:10 PM   #8
benwiggin2
Beastly Adventurer
 
benwiggin2's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Red stickered, in the wild, wild, west
Oddometer: 1,995
Aye!
benwiggin2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2011, 04:06 PM   #9
B3EAR
Sheepdog
 
B3EAR's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2010
Location: State of Jefferson
Oddometer: 107
Aye... I'm in
B3EAR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2011, 07:20 PM   #10
mikegc OP
Beastly Adventurer
 
mikegc's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: High Point, NC
Oddometer: 1,345
Duty

North Carolina has some great roads but I-40 ain’t one of ‘em. It is, however, my road of choice to extricate the “Pig” and me from the heat. I left hearth, home and Airedale around 7:00 AM with my sights set on first on Asheville, NC 28 over to Deal’s Gap, second, with the Cherohala Skyway thrown in for good measure before heading on over to The Music City on some of Tennessee’s finest blacktop. My bride of 42 years snapped this photo as I prepared to launch.



Traffic was pretty light as I headed west and three hours later, I saw the exit for Maggie Valley. Whenever I’m in this part of the state, I thoroughly enjoy stopping at Dale Walksler’s Wheels through Time Museum. I’ve you’ve never been there, it is certainly worth a stop. It isn’t on a scale as the Barber Museum in Leeds, AL but it has a “personality” that is completely its own. I managed to snap a few pictures to whet your appetite.





The above photo is one of the vintage Cannonball Run bikes. Pretty cool!






Do you think there's a story with this bike and the artificial leg?



Some innovative guy built an airplane and powered it with a Harley engine.

I could have stayed for quite a while but, as you know, duty calls. I continued my westward ride and quickly found one of my favorite rides: NC 28 over to the infamous “Dragon.” I only stopped for one Kodak moment close to Fontana Dam.



The heat was around 90° at this point and I wondered about the possibility of afternoon storms. I didn’t have to go too far before I pulled into the parking lot of the old Crossroads in Time, finding a full parking lot. Before grabbing a little lunch, I was asked to photograph four young Ducati pilots who were displaying their recently acquired “high speed riding awards” from Tennessee’s finest. Just before I snapped the photo, I said, “Look innocent!” Sure enough, one guy start saying, “I am. Just ‘cause these guys . . . . . .” I walked away laughing as the wronged biker received a bunch of grief from his buds.I finished up at Deal’s Gap and headed over to the Cherohala Skyway for a very enjoyable putt over to Tellico Plains, TN.




The so-called "Tree of Shame" is well fertilized!






Those clouds were really piling up and, sure enough, I got a little rain for about three miles. Frankly, it felt great and I just kept riding with the mesh jacket. As I crossed the 3000 feet level, I saw the temperature fall to 73°. It stayed a little cloudy most of the way to Music City but, as I approached Murfreesboro, the sun came back out and the heat drove the mercury up once again. I found my hotel with no trouble at all. After a 500+ mile day, I’m going to turn in early. Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty warm and I’d like to get an early start.

Thanks for coming along with me. By the way, I’ve been working on what to say to my buddy when I present him with the token of respect. I’ll get it “honed” over the next couple of days as I continue north.


Mike







__________________
IBA 25881


Duty- Honoring a Friend

mikegc screwed with this post 12-02-2011 at 07:00 AM Reason: typo
mikegc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2011, 08:58 AM   #11
Craig McCurdy
BIGMAC
 
Craig McCurdy's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Hood River, Oregon
Oddometer: 1,373
Great ride report, and looking forward to hearing about the rest of your ride!
Craig McCurdy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2011, 06:41 PM   #12
mikegc OP
Beastly Adventurer
 
mikegc's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: High Point, NC
Oddometer: 1,345
Duty

Dad:
I asked my father once, back during the mid-1950s, if he was glad he’d served in the Army. He served in the Medical Corps in the South Pacific. I remember he got an odd sort of look on his face, paused and said, “I’m glad I had the experiences but I wouldn’t want to do it again.” I know what he means.


Phillip:
Dreams are a strange phenomenon. Last night, I dreamed about Vietnam and I guess that’s not surprising, considering the current circumstances. The dreams I had were not the frightening type I had for over eighteen years after the landing gear retracted just after lift off at Tan Son Nhut. The dream I had last night was about a war orphan I photographed in ’69. I mentioned the orphanage at An Lac in my original post. Well, forty-two years ago, I walked through the gates of the walled orphanage and was immediately inundated by children just wanting to be held:

Yeah, that's me under there.

I wandered around the compound taking pictures and managed to catch this young fellow who had been scooped up by a friend:


He was a cool little guy who just couldn't seem to get the hang of the crutches someone had given him, so, when we took the kids to the zoo, we carried him right along.


A few weeks after I took these photos, I was transferred and never returned to the orphanage. I thought about those kids for many years after the country fell.

When I reconnected with Betty Tisdale, the lady at the orphanage, I found out that the little boy had been adopted by a couple in St. Louis. I was fortunate enough to meet them last year at the An Lac reunion in Columbus, GA. They named him Phillip and, unfortunately, he died from kidney failure three years ago.

Well, St. Louis was in my path today so I stopped by to visit Russell and Patty for a few minutes. We had a very nice time and made plans for a future get together. As I had many miles to go today, the meeting was brief. I was mounted on my bike, helmet on and waiting for the BMW’s computer to give the okay to blast off. Patty gave me a big hug and said softly, “I feel like I’m touching Phillip when I hug you.” I couldn’t reply as I had a lump in my throat the size of my Arai helmet. I just nodded and slipped away. That hot St. Louis bothered me for several miles as my eyes watered heavily. Damned heat!


As I pushed north, I thought about how astonishing this entire reconnection has been. I recalled my dad’s words, too. While I’m glad I had the experience, I do wish I could do it again but with the wisdom of my 64 years. I would have spent more time with those children. Missed opportunities . . . . .

Oh, in the first post, there was a photo of a little girl sitting on a GI’s knee. Well, that soldier was me and I’ve been in contact with her. Xinh Mai didn’t make it out of Saigon when the country fell. Today, she owns a small clothing store and has two daughers, one a physician and the other is a merchandiser for a departments store.

That’s her in the white blouse at the site of the An Lac orphanage. Life can sure be interesting.

Tomorrow, I'll push on to Mike's home. I'll try to update on Tuesday evening. Wish me luck with the presentation!

Mike




__________________
IBA 25881


Duty- Honoring a Friend

mikegc screwed with this post 08-22-2011 at 02:24 PM
mikegc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 09:21 AM   #13
1200gsceej
Beastly Adventurer
 
1200gsceej's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: San Francisco Peninsula
Oddometer: 1,184
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikegc View Post
I asked my father once, back during the mid-1950s, if he was glad he’d served in the Army. He served in the Medical Corps in the South Pacific. I remember he got an odd sort of look on his face, paused and said, “I’m glad I had the experiences but I wouldn’t want to do it again.” I know what he means.
That is almost exactly what I've told my kids and others when they ask me about my time. Including the odd sort of look. I never thought how universal that feeling might be until now ...
-ceej
__________________
My bike: Yellow '05 1200GS - on the Spotwalla ADV location page.
My solo trips: SF to Colorado and back 2011 and 2013, SF-LA loop, Pinnacles and Carmel Valley loop
With Ol'Badger: http://www.2guysonbikes.com
And remember: Beauty is in the behind of the holder.
1200gsceej is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 10:29 AM   #14
mikegc OP
Beastly Adventurer
 
mikegc's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: High Point, NC
Oddometer: 1,345
Duty

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1200gsceej View Post
That is almost exactly what I've told my kids and others when they ask me about my time. Including the odd sort of look. I never thought how universal that feeling might be until now ...
-ceej
Old soldiers, Ceej . . . old soldiers. Welcome home.

Mike
__________________
IBA 25881


Duty- Honoring a Friend
mikegc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2011, 05:52 PM   #15
FatherX
Java Man
 
FatherX's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: NE Ohio,USA
Oddometer: 3,819
Thank you for the stories.

Being the son of a 2 tour Nam vet (I was born in 12/69) I am thankful that you are able to articulate these memories. My father is not.

Please continue and good luck with the words for you brother in arms.

Subscribed and enjoying your tour of duty.


Michael
__________________
I love these goofy bikes and their "let's go make coffee some place stupid, instead of, a stupid place to buy coffee" mentalities.
FatherX is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 03:39 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014