Chaplain’s Corner

The Chaplain’s Corner

Coming Home From Vietnam, 47 Years Later

By Dan Doyle

Forty seven years ago I was serving as a Fleet Marine Corpsman with Bravo Co., 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division. When my generation came home it was to a nation that was severely divided over the war and we often found ourselves rejected by former friends, belittled, even despised by many because of our service in Vietnam. Those who were vehemently against the war either could not, or would not, separate the warriors from the politics of the war.

We, of course, had our own issues, suffering, as so many of us were, from the various symptoms of what would later be recognized as PTSD. Our families, too, struggled to understand our angers, our silences, our restlessness. As a result, we learned to keep all of that “stuff” inside, shoving it into the background as best we could. In time, most of us just found ways to go on and to succeed in our lives.

As a result of that time in our country’s history, we never felt the important psychological experience of being “welcomed home.” Vietnam veterans, on meeting each other for the first time, even these many years after the war, will often say “welcome home” to one another. It means that much. It is that important. 

Our service, which was honorable and done with great courage and skill, was never recognized, or respected in the way it had been for veterans from other wars. Time, though, and the terrible events of September 11, 2001, brought about a change in the general attitude of society toward the men and women of the modern all-volunteer military. Now, even if people disagree with the wars, they have been able (for the most part) to separate the warriors from the war and to give them the honor and the respect they are due. We Vietnam veterans are profoundly happy to see these men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan coming home to warm welcomes and getting positive coverage by the media. In a strange sort of way this new attitude toward the toward the warriors coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan has come to encompass the warriors of my generation too.

I experienced a personal example of this change in attitude this past April 28th, in Spokane, Washington, forty seven years after I came home from Vietnam. I was a veteran chosen to be honored at Washington Secondary School Athletic Administrators Association (WASSAAA) annual conference in Spokane in 2015. The conference also invited my siblings to be in attendance and to participate in this event. For the past five years, the WASSAAA conference has included the honoring of a military veteran in their program. It has become an important part of their annual conference. The people involved with WASSAAA are hard working and dedicated to the daily struggle of molding young student athletes in middle schools and secondary schools all across the state of Washington. Having met them, I can tell you that they do it with love, joy, and good humor as well.

Coming Home From Vietnam, 47 Years Later

Dan, with his brothers and sister

The welcome and the respect that these folks have for our military veterans is both genuine and warm. When I was introduced at the conference dinner event, a nine minute film interview done with me last year by U.S.A. Military Medals (USAMM) was shown, after which I was overwhelmed by the standing ovation I was given. It moved me very deeply. In fact I can say that now I know what it feels like to be “welcomed Dan, with his brothers and sister home.”

The Chaplain’s Corner

by Dan Doyle 

VFW Post 8870 Chaplains CornerMeet The Man Who Survived The Kamikaze Attacks Below Deck On The USS Bunker Hill. They were the greatest generation, indeed.

Francois Joseph Richer was a regular guy, a teenager from New Bedford, MA when the WWII broke out. Like so many of his peers he entered the Navy to join the cause. He went through boot camp at Newport, RI and was trained to be a Water Tender, producing the steam to drive the huge turbine engines of the ships of that era. After training he was assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and he served aboard that mighty ship for his entire enlistment. I had the chance to interview him personally at his home in Carson City, NV recently, and this is his story, and the story of the Bunker Hill, which was hit by two kamikaze fighter while she was supporting the battle for Okinawa.  

Read the entire account of Richer’s experience on The Veterans Site.com at: http://blog.theveteranssite.com/frank-richer/

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series from Chaplain Dan Doyle’s Veterans Blog. 

Chaplain’s Column—Rock Roth

“Four Chaplains Day” is observed annually on February 3 in America by the unanimous resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1988. It is a day to remember one of the most remarkable and inspiring acts of heroism in the history of warfare. It is a day to honor the heroism of the Four Chaplains, who selflessly gave their lives “that others may live”. Most American schools, and, therefore, most Americans, did not observe it. Indeed, most Americans, including children who will not be taught about it in their schools, do not even know that there is a National Four Chaplains Day, or why. This is true even though, as a former soldier who owed his life to them has said, “Their heroism is beyond belief. That is one of the reasons why we must tell the world what these people did.”

On February 3, 1943, the Dorchester, a converted luxury cruise ship, was transporting Army troops to Greenland. On board were some 900 troops, and four chaplains, of diverse religions and backgrounds, but of a commitment to serve God, country, and all the troops, regardless of their religious beliefs, or non-belief. The four Chaplains were: Rev. George Fox (Methodist); Father John Washington (Roman Catholic); Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode; and Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed).

At approximately 0055 hours, the Dorchester was hit by a torpedo. The blast ripped a hole in the ship from below the waterline to the top deck. Dorchester survivors told of the wild pandemonium on board when it was hit and began sinking. There was panic, fear, terror; death was no abstraction but real, immediate, seem-ingly inescapable.

The four Chaplains acted together to try bring some order to the chaos, to calm the panic of the troops, to alleviate their fear and terror, to pray with and for them, to help save their lives. The Chaplains passed out life jackets, helping those too panicked to put them on correctly, until the awful moment arrived when there were no more life jackets to be given out. It was then that a most remarkable act of heroism, courage, faith, and love took place: Each of the four Chaplains took off his life jacket, and, knowing that act made certain death, put his life jacket on a soldier who didn’t have one.

The Chaplains continued to help the troops until the last moment. Then, as the ship sank into the raging sea, the four Chaplains linked hands and arms, and could be seen and heard by the survivors praying together, even singing hymns, joined together in faith, love, and unity, as they sacrificed their lives so “that others may live.”

Earlier, in 1944, the Chaplains were awarded Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross. They did not receive the Medal of Honor because of restrictions which limits that medal to combatants.

At the dedication of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains in 1951, then-President Harry S. Truman said their sacrifice reflected the fact that “the unity of our country is a unity under God. This interfaith shrine will stand through long generations to teach Americans that as men can die heroically as brothers so should they live together in mutual faith and good will.”
May the God the Four Chaplains served bless and keep them; and may the nation they so heroically served always remember and honor them. God Bless America! May we always be ‘One Nation Under God!’

Chaplain’s Column—Rock Roth

As my two year old Grandson says, “Wow!  How did we get to 2014 so fast?  I wrote down in my check book not too long ago ‘1954’.  Have no idea where that came from.  I believe, however, that it is indicative of how rapidly time flies.  I am reminded each time I look into a mirror and see my dad looking back at me that ‘Time waits for no one’.  This brings vividly to mind the last line of John Donne’s poem and Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….”

The realization that time marches on has been an issue with man since the very beginning.  In The Encyclopedia of Lost and Rejected Scriptures: The Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha the reoccurring theme is aging and a deep yearning to return to Godliness, i.e., the perfect state of Man before the ‘Fall’.  Periodically, we each need a wake-up call, a reminder, that we have no guarantee that we will survive this New Year.  In fact we have no guarantee that we will survive the day, hour, or minute.  We need to live each day in such a way that we are prepared to meet our Creator!  We are challenged to “Better the community in which we live through our devotion to duty as citizens.  To live such lives of stainless integrity as shall reflect honor upon our country and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and glorify Thy (God’s) Great and Holy Name.”

 As we commence our journey into  (and hopefully through) 2014, let us each look for ways to better serve our God, our Nation, veterans in need, our nation’s youth, and other appropriate individuals and organizations remembering the parable of the Good Samaritan and that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Chaplain’s Column—Rock Roth

One of the many benefits of serving as our Post’s Youth Programs Coordinator (as well as your Chaplain) is coordinating the following Post competitions: Voice of Democracy Audio Essays (open to high school students), Patriot’s Pen Essays (open to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders), and Youth Essays (open to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders).  Along with other members of our Essay Evaluation Committee, I read and evaluated a number of excellent essay submitted by students from a schools in the local area.  I also had the very great privilege of representing our Post by presenting ‘Achievement Award Certificates’ to all contest participants.  It is really a joy to see, hear, and experience the excitement that these certificates bring to participating students.  I have visited at least 8 schools this year.

I would like to tell you about one of the schools I visited.  On Wednesday, 4 December, I visited Providence Classical Christian School and presented ‘Achievement Award Certificates’ to ten very excited third graders during a school assembly.  The Assembly – the environment – at Providence Classical Christian School was different.Let me explain.  At all schools students are wonderful. all schools students and faculty are welcoming and friendly. all schools students and faculty are respectful and courteous. Providence Classical Christian School was different because prayer was offered at the opening, during, and at the end of the assembly.  The Bible was read and quoted by students and faculty, openly throughout the assembly. America was acknowledged as “One Nation Under God”.  The existence of Christ was acknowledged and glorified.Another thing, albeit less important, that makes the school different is that all the students were in ‘uniform’ – skirts, white blouses, and sweaters for the girls; slacks, white shirts, and sweaters for the boys.I’m certain that there were economic differences but you certainly could not tell by looking at the students.  It was a marvelous experience.

Hopefully you will be able to attend our 10 January Post meeting during which you will meet our superb contest winners, those placing second, and those recognized as runner ups.These will included those participating in Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen, and Youth Essays.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.  God Bless our Troops and God Bless America

Chaplain’s Column—Rock Roth

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving, a Holiday (or better a Holy Day). Thanksgiving is not an original American idea. Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times. The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated. In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a poorly documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the “First Thanksgiving”, including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.

Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, and then by both state and church leaders until after the American Revolution. During the revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. Various proclamations were made by royal governors, John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress, each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes. As President of the United States, George Washington pro-claimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God”.

That is your history lesson for the month. I would suggest, however, that each and every day should be Thanksgiving. We are “….endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” as clearly stated in our wonderful (and I strongly believe) God Inspired Declaration of Independence. During the upcoming Holy Day Season, please remember just how much you are blessed to live in the greatest nation on God’s earth. Please re-member to thank God for his personal gift to you – the gift of freedom. God Bless our troops and God Bless America.

Chaplain’s Column—Rock Roth

God’s Grace – A lesson of God’s Love!  We don’t deserve it nor have we earned it.   That love is given to us as a gift.  God’s Grace!

There once was a man named George Thomas, preacher in a small Texas town.
One Sunday morning he came to the Church building carrying a rusty, bent,
old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit.  Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, the Preacher began to speak. . . .

“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward
me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little
wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.  I stopped the lad and asked, “What do you have there, son?”  “Just some old birds,” came the reply.  “What are you going to do with them?” I asked.  “Take ’em home and have fun with ’em,” he answered.

“I’m gonna tease ’em and pull out their feathers to make ’em fight.

I’m gonna have a real good time.”  “But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later.

What will you do then?”  “Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy.

“They like birds. I’ll take ’em to them.”  The preacher was silent for a moment.

“How much do you want for those birds, son?”  “Huh?? !!! Why, you don’t want them birds, mister.  They’re just plain old field birds.  They don’t sing. They ain’t even pretty!”
“How much?” the preacher asked again.  The boy sized up the preacher as if he were crazy and said, “$10?”  The preacher reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill.

He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone.  The preacher picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot.  Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free.
Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then

the preacher began to tell this story:  One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation.  Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting.  “Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there.  Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn’t resist.  Got ’em all!”  “What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.  Satan replied, “Oh, I’m gonna have fun!  I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse.  I’m gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!”  And what will you do when you are done with them?”  Jesus asked.. “Oh, I’ll kill ’em,” Satan glared proudly.  “How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.  “Oh, you don’t want those people. They ain’t no good.  Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you.  They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you.  You don’t want those people!!”  “How much? He asked again.  Satan looked at Jesus and sneered,  “All your blood, tears and your life.”  Jesus said, “DONE!” Then He paid the price.

The preacher picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit.

God Bless America and God Bless our Troops!!

Chaplain’s Column—Rock Roth

Quang Nguyen, Creative Director/Founder Caddis Advertising, LLC, was asked to speak on his experience of coming to America and what it means. He spoke the following at Prescott Valley, AZ, Freedom Rally, in dedication to all Vietnam Veterans.

35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth.  I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American.  If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people.I am a proud US citizen and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it, and I am very proud of it.  I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could re member anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers;10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.  35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the US. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle from God.  If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now. It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity and here I am.  This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience.  In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t re member anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.  Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.  One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said yes. I shook and held his hand. The grown man began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.  You see, America is not just a place on the map, it isn’t just a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must accept this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here.  Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the Internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the US Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.  Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.  At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today. I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all.

Chaplain’s Corner

I met with Erv Schmidt yesterday.  That is always a pleasant experience.  However, this time Erv wanted to discuss plans for his memorial service.  Erv stated quite emphatically that although he feels fine, he tires easily.  He misses his wife, June, and is looking forward to joining her in the not too distant future.  Erv mentioned fondly his wonderful daughter Katie and son-in-law Bill; he is very thankful for all they do for him.  He showed me his apartment including many pictures of family.  Family has played and continues to play a very important role in Erv’s life – that is how it should be for each of us.  Hanging over his dining table is a wedding picture of a very happy, attractive, and very young couple, Erv in his Navy Blue Jumper and his beautiful wife, June, in a very lovely hat.  The picture was taken in April 1944. Erv was home on leave – between ships.  The couple glows with youth, excitement, and happiness.   Oh that we could capture time returning to an earlier and happier day.  Oh that we could, like a picture, remain young.  Of course, it is not to be!  Time marches on!  What was once young fades with time – including us.  We are, however, blessed with memories of days gone by.  In those memories, we are forever young as are those we remember and love.  Although Erv misses his wife, June, and longs to join her, he recognize that life is precious and is a gift from God, meaning that life, all life, from conception to death, belongs to God.  We live and die in accordance with God’s plan, a plan not (normally) shared with us.  Erv has – here on earth – a loving family, many loving VFW Comrades, and other friends too numerous to mention.  For those of us blessed by having Erv as a friend, we want him around awhile longer and know he still has much to give.  What I always find most rewarding in my discussions with Erv is his unconditional trust in his Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Erv knows that Jesus has personally told him, though the Bible, that “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”   There is no doubt in Erv’s mind that when the Lord calls, he will ‘return home; he will join his Lord and his beloved wife, June.

We hope that Erv remains with us for a long time.  .  We should each remember that every day is a gift –it is the ‘present’. May God Bless you and may God Bless Our Troops.

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

Can any of us who lived during WWII forget Kate Smith singing God Bless America?  Did you know that God Bless America was written by Erving Berlin in 1918 during WWI and revised in 1938 three years before we entered WWII?  Did you also know that Irving Berlin was Jewish?  The God in whom he believed was the Jewish God of the Torah or Old Testament.  Christians believe in the same God as revealed in the New Testament – the Judeo Christian God.

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains To the prairies,
To the ocean white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.”

I would suggest that as a nation we need to (re)dedicate ourselves to being “One nation under God, indivisible……”  I would further suggest that we are not African American, Chinese American, Vietnamese American, German American, et al.  We are one and all Americans.  I, as your Chaplain, pray for God’s Blessing on this land, the United States of America.  I pray that He stand beside us and guide us, through the night with the light from above.

May we remain one Nation Under God.

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

Can any of us who lived during WWII forget Kate Smith singing God Bless America?  Did you know that God Bless America was written by Erving Berlin in 1918 during WWI and revised in 1938 three years before we entered WWII?  Did you also know that Irving Berlin was Jewish?  The God in whom he believed was the Jewish God of the Torah or Old Testament.  Christians believe in the same God as revealed in the New Testament – the Judeo Christian God.

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free, Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. God bless America, land that I love Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with the light from above From the mountains To the prairies, To the ocean white with foam God bless America, My home sweet home.”

I would suggest that as a nation we need to rededicate ourselves to being “One nation under God, indivisible……”  I would further suggest that we are not African American, Chinese American, Vietnamese American, German American, et al.  We are one and all Americans.  I, as your Chaplain, pray for God’s Blessing on this land, the United States of America.  I pray that He stand beside us and guide us, through the night with the light from above.

Happy Birthday, America!!  May you remain one Nation Under God