In Memory of...

In memory of some really great individuals that served their country very well...

"A veteran - whether active duty, or retired, is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America", for an amount of "up to, and including their life." That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand that”.

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Andy Obecny (1968) Andy Obecny

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Andy Obecny, September 29, 1947 - August 26, 2023
(Link to Andy's obituary)

Thank you Andy - for your service to your country; you were a good friend to all, you did a good job in all you did.

Chuck Plumage Chuck Plumage

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Jack "Chuck" Plumage, September 16, 1946 - November 13, 2021
(Link to Chucks's obituary)

"The Fort Belknap Indian Community is mourning the loss of Charles “Jack” Plumage, a community leader and beloved public servant.

Plumage, who is Assiniboine, died on Nov. 13 at a care facility in Great Falls. He was 76 years old. Plumage was born on Sept. 19, 1946 in Fort Belknap Agency to parents Joe and Frances Horn Plumage. He graduated from Harlem High School in 1964 and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he later served in Vietnam. Plumage was honorably discharged and went on to attend the University of Montana.

Sometime in the 1960s, Plumage boarded a Greyhound bus heading from Billings to Missoula with three of his friends. After his friends sat down, one seat on the bus remained. It was next to a woman named Dolores.

“I remember I talked to him about politics the whole way,” she recalled. “It was the ‘60s. There was the civil rights movement, the American Indian Movement and Vietnam. For our age group, there was always a thread of politics and civil rights in relationships.”

Dolores and Plumage eloped in Idaho and got married again to appease their parents in 1975. Together, they raised four children.

Plumage served on the Fort Belknap Tribal Council in 1974, and two years later, he was elected president. He went on to serve as an administrative officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and service unit director for the Indian Health Service.

Dolores said as a leader, Plumage always tried to bring more voices to the table.

“He was always looking to others who had expertise, and he brought them in,” she said. “He recognized the accomplishments of the people around him.”

Ben Speakthunder, former president of the Fort Belknap Tribal Council, called Plumage a “lifelong friend and mentor.”

“He was very dedicated,” Speakthunder said. “He let people talk first, he’d listen and he’d analyze things before coming up with a positive solution. That’s what a good tribal leader does. … We were fortunate to have a gentleman like him in our community.”

Dolores said her husband’s roles within the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were especially important in terms of Native representation.

“At that time in politics and with the identity as an Indian person, it just felt very necessary to draw attention to the fact that Indian people could hold these positions and help their people,” Dolores said. “Fort Belknap, as all reservations, has problems with isolation and poverty. Jack did his best to make the quality of life better here.”

Despite serving on the tribal council and within various government agencies, Plumage took great pride in another role — being a coach. Plumage started coaching Little League baseball and went on to become the Harlem High School boys and girls basketball coach.

When Plumage became coach of the Harlem high school teams, his daughter Mary Fran Plumage, who played basketball, grew nervous. High school is a tough time for many, and Mary Fran knew her father had high expectations for the program.

“I was really ready to lose friends,” she said.

But Mary Fran said her father transformed the team in ways she never could’ve imagined. He encouraged the players to support each other and play selflessly, he asked them to always address the refs by “sir” or “ma’am,” and most importantly, he taught them to take pride in themselves and in their community.

Mary Fran said Plumage empowered the team at a critical time in their lives.

“Some of us were carrying some pretty heavy stuff,” Mary Fran said. “So when we were on that court, he reminded us it was our time to have fun, to stand up for yourself and support each other with confidence. … He made you feel like you could do anything. To make a whole team feel that way was very empowering.”

Mary Fran, who has three brothers, said that through the basketball program her dad helped build, “I gained a lot of sisters.”

Jennifer Show, who is now the chief health officer for Fort Belknap Tribal Health, overlapped with Mary Fran on the girls team. She said that while some may think of basketball as “just a game,” she learned valuable life lessons from Plumage.

“He believed in us before we believed in ourselves,” she said. “He taught the value of hard work. It was knowing that if I put the work into this, then I will more than likely succeed at it. That was Jack. That’s what he taught us.”

Mary Fran’s relationship with her father grew stronger as they got older. One of her children has special needs, and she said her father was quick to embrace him.

“This lifestyle can be seen as hectic and chaotic and hard, but he let me know this lifestyle is holy and that my son is a medicine bundle to my family,” she said. “It meant the world.”

While he devoted much of his time to the community, Dolores said Plumage always cherished time at home.

“Our house was a rock,” she said, adding that the last words they said to each other were, “I love you.” “We had traditions of togetherness, and we will continue those because we’ve been taught that by him. It’s a value we cherish.”

Plumage is survived by his wife, Dolores, children Mary Fran Plumage, Charles Plumage, Christopher Plumage, Steve Munford, Joe Ironman Jr., his brother Walt Plumage and twin sister Cheryl “Jill” Plumage, and many grandchildren. "

Thank you Chuck - you were a good friend to all, you did good.

Jim Schaefer Jim Schaefer

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James 'Jim' Schaefer, April 19, 1948 - December 2, 2018
(Link to Jim's obituary)

"I am accepting it on behalf of those who served in the Vietnam and Gulf War."

Jim Schaefer
Purple Heart Recipient

Jim was a medic at Cat Lai. He helped a bunch of us get through Tet. He was solid. Many years later he helped me get my military records straightened out. Thanks Jim. RIP.

CPT Charles 'Reg' Shrader (1966-1967) CPT Charles R. Shrader-1967

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Art - 1966. Reg Shrader - 2018
Charles Reginald "Reg" Shrader, July 3, 1943 - August 28, 2018
(Link to Reg's obituary)

Reg was very proud to serve in the US Army for 23 years retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. During his Army career, he served two tours in Vietnam and one in Germany. He also served as an instructor at the US Military Academy, West Point, NY; Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS; US Army War College, Carlisle; and the NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy. He ended his Army career at the US Army Center of Military History, Washington, DC.

Reg was an early contributor to this web site. I remember him while at Cat Lai. He was a real go getter and always on the go. Thanks Reg - good job.
11th Trans Bn (Tml) Change of Command Ceremony, 1966/67, either at Cat Lai or M&M Area of Saigon Port.  From Left to Right:  LTC James Fleming (outgoing CO, 11th Trans Bn), COL Jack Fuson (CO, 4th Trans Cmd), and LTC Thomas Hoy (incoming CO, 11th Trans Bn). L.-R.:  CPT Chuck Andrean (CO, 117th Trans Co), CPT Tom Sheldon (CO, 124th Trans Co), and CPT Reg Shrader (CO, HHD, 11th Trans Bn), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 L.-R.:  LTC Thomas Hoy (CO, 11th Trans Bn) and MAJ Kevin Maher (XO, 11th Trans Bn), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 MAJ Art Hull (S-3, 11th Trans Bn), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 CPT 'Doc' Galvin (Surgeon attached to 11th Trans Bn), Cat Lai, ca. 1967. L.-R.:  CPT Tom Sheldon (CO, 124th Trans Co) and WO Lively (Bn Maint Officer), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 L.-R.:  CPT Reg Shrader (Bn Adj) and CPT Dick Cunningham (Bn Asst S-3), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 LT Miller (HQ 11th Trans Bn), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 L.-R.:  CWO Atlee Troyer (Bn Personnel Officer) and LT 'Bull' ???, Cat Lai, ca. 1967 L.-R.:  SP4 Wyse (Bn CO’s Driver) and PFC Chuck Plumage (Bn Legal Clerk), Cat Lai, ca. 1967 CPT Charles R. Shrader, Bn Adjutant and CO, HHD, 11th Trans Bn (Tml) Cat Lai, February 1967 Aerial view of Cat Lai, ca. 1967.  The 11th Trans Bn (Tml) HQ is the large building at center right, with tents/hooches behind (toward river).  The area to the right of the HQ building was where the HQ of the 199th Lt Inf Bde was located.  The two large buildings in the center are old French seaplane hangers.  Other buildings were part of 11th Trans Bn area or belonged to RVN Army 100th Ordnance Arsenal Another view of Cat Lai, ca. 1967 The tents/hooches where the companies were billeted at Cat Lai, ca. 1967 If you don’t know what this is, you weren’t there!! Maids on the veranda of the BOQ at Cat Lai, ca. 1967 Outdoor theater at Cat Lai, ca. 1967.  Strange.  I cannot remember ever seeing a movie there, although I am sure I must have done so. Some of you may remember the Indian entrepreneur who ran the laundry/tailor shop at Cat Lai, ca. 1967 My room in the BOQ at Cat Lai, ca. 1967 Cartoon, ca. 1967

I joined the 117th Transportation Company (Terminal Service) as a Platoon Leader in June 1966 in Saigon. I worked mostly in Area 3 of the main port at night for a couple of months before being reassigned to the 124th Transportation Company (Terminal Service) as a Platoon Leader and OIC at the ammunition port of Nha Be. In February 1967, I was promoted to Captain and was again reassigned to HQ 11th Transportation Battalion (Terminal) at Cat Lai as Battalion Adjutant and Commander, HQ and HQ Detachment. I served at Cat Lai until June 1967 when I returned to the States. I had a second tour with the 48th Transportation Group (Motor Transport) at Long Binh in 1968–69, but that is another story.

After forty-three years I can say I rather enjoyed my time in the 11th Trans Bn. Junior officers, NCOs, and even some PFCs were given a lot of responsibility in those days when the massive buildup in Vietnam was just beginning. As the OIC at Nha Be, I ran the third largest tonnage port in Viet Nam as a 1LT, and the job I did in Saigon Port as a Lieutenant in 1966 was done by a Lieutenant Colonel and two Majors in 1968.

When I was first assigned to the 117th in June 1967 we lived in a newly (but poorly) built “hotel” not far from the M&M piers. I then went to the 124th where we lived in tents on the grounds of the old M&M company headquarters, then the HQ for the Military Sealift Command, which meant we were constantly battling the Navy weenies over the use of their flush toilets and shower in the HQ building. I got to Cat Lai not long after the 11th Trans Bn moved out there. As I am sure you all know, Cat Lai had been a French Navy seaplane base during the First Indochina War, and I am told they flew missions over Dien Bien Phu from there, but it seems a little far to fly if you ask me. At Cat Lai, the Battalion HQ was on the first floor of the old French barracks building, and the BOQ was on the upper floor. The companies were billeted in tents that were erected between the HQ building and the river. For the life of me, I cannot remember where I ate. I suppose it was in one of the company messes, although the HQ officers often cooked for ourselves in the BOQ.

We had neighbors at Cat Lai. The Vietnamese Army 100th Ordnance Arsenal, which supposedly produced small arms ammunition, although I never saw any such work being done, “owned” the installation. Soon after the 11th Trans Bn got to Cat Lai, the HQ of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade moved in next door. As I recall, we had more interaction with the Vietnamese of the 100th Ordnance Arsenal than with the 199th---unless they wanted something, such as lumber.

The truth is that I didn’t take many pictures in 1966–67. But here are a cartoon and a few snapshots that have survived.

Reg Shrader
(117th and 124th Trans Cos and HHD, 11th Trans Bn, 1966-67)

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’s Great Grandson”

by Reg Shrader

The authors of the 1968 U.S. government handbook for North Viet Nam proclaimed that reptiles were seldom seen and that deaths from snakebite were rare. Vietnamese, French, Japanese, British, and American soldiers who have “humped” the jungles and paddies of Viet Nam (or inhabited its base camps) are probably a bit more aware of the dangers of the native Vietnamese reptile population. In fact, one authority has stated that there are thirty–eight species of poisonous snakes plus twenty–three species of poisonous sea snakes to be found in Indochina and its coastal waters...Read more (PDF Download)

Story and Photos © 2011 Charles R. Shrader

“The Dragon Lady Makes an Offer”

by Reg Shrader

In the spring of 1971, the US news media were in a feeding frenzy over the criminal conduct of a few American officers and senior NCOS caught up in an enormous scandal that involved skimming cash, payoffs, and kickbacks associated with the officer/NCO club system in Viet Nam. The Senate conducted a probing investigation that resulted in at least one brigadier general, Earl F. Cole, losing his star, and in the criminal indictment of Sergeant Major of the Army William O. Woolridge and other senior NCOS. In the course of Senate testimony regarding contracts and the club system on Long Binh Post, a name frequently mentioned was Madame Phuong, otherwise known as the “Dragon Lady” ... Read more (PDF Download)

Story and Photos © 2010 Charles R. Shrader

Art Malzahn (1966-1967) Luther 'Skip' Allen

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Art - 1966. Art - 2018
Arthur Leslie Malzahn, June 29, 1944 - April 2, 2018
(Link to Art's obituary)

Art loved his country and served in the army during the Vietnam War. He began his service on July 7, 1965. He came home from Vietnam April 10, 1967, and was honorably discharged the same day.
Nov 1966. Rear of headquarters building. Looking toward the docks. Art (glasses) with 2 friends.  Anyone know these guys? Three guys that worked in Personnel.Anyone know these guys? Nov 1966. Back of our tents. Cat Lai construction 1967. March 1967. Vance Van De Peer and Ron Letner (March 1967). Playing softball behind HQ / Christmas 1966. Behind the latrine preparing lunch?  The Sergeant was our Personnel Sergeant. Dec 1966. Santa Clause December 1966 - Anyone remember who played Santa? Lots For Sale. More Lots for Sale (Docks). Rice paddy workers on Cat Lai Road. Miss Pham talking with Art Malzahn. She was one of the HQ typists / secretary. She was a very nice young girl. World famous Cat Lai outhouse. R&R coordinator, Steve Pence, in his R&R office. Chuck Plumage and Steve Pence. Vance Van de Peer. He was our 1st PX *employee*. Thanks to Captain Terry Gibbs. Vietnamese garage sale. Homes along Cat Lai Road. Rice paddies along Cat Lai Road. Upstairs was the Officers Suites. Crates and tents were enlisted men’s quarters.

Additional thanks to Cat Lai veteran Steve Pence, who served along side Art, and Art's wife Carol, and her son, Paul, found some more photos of Cat Lai. These are pioneer type photos. Oct/Sept 66. There are only a few that were not taken at Cat Lai. Thank you Art, Carol, Paul and Steve for providing this look back at a very early Cat Lai, Vietnam.

CatLai area (arial) prior to US Army base CatLai area (arial) prior to US Army base with base outlined Art Malzahn at hotel/barracks in Saigon Art Malzahn at Cat Lai Art Malzahn and latrine @ Cat Lai Vance Van de Peer Fenced in area behind hanger at Cat Lai.  No one is quite sure why Art took this picture of the fence – Cat Lai Veteran Steve Pence was told stay away RATS; I was told unexploded ordinance – and we both remember in early 1967 the fence was partially, maybe completely removed. If you know for sure what it was, drop me a note Fenced in area behind hanger at Cat Lai.  No one is quite sure why Art took this picture of the fence – Cat Lai Veteran Steve Pence was told stay away RATS; I was told unexploded ordinance – and we both remember in early 1967 the fence was partially, maybe completely removed. If you know for sure what it was, drop me a note Fenced in area behind hanger at Cat Lai.  No one is quite sure why Art took this picture of the fence – Cat Lai Veteran Steve Pence was told stay away RATS; I was told unexploded ordinance – and we both remember in early 1967 the fence was partially, maybe completely removed. If you know for sure what it was, drop me a note Fenced in area behind hanger at Cat Lai.  No one is quite sure why Art took this picture of the fence – Cat Lai Veteran Steve Pence was told stay away RATS; I was told unexploded ordinance – and we both remember in early 1967 the fence was partially, maybe completely removed. If you know for sure what it was, drop me a note Fenced in area behind hanger at Cat Lai.  No one is quite sure why Art took this picture of the fence – Cat Lai Veteran Steve Pence was told stay away RATS; I was told unexploded ordinance – and we both remember in early 1967 the fence was partially, maybe completely removed. If you know for sure what it was, drop me a note Hanger. Notice the window on the lean to ext. That was our 1st and only PX. Looking toward the river from HQ Area behind HQ looking toward the river Behind HQ. Notice the dirt buildup or berm in front of the tents Looking toward village Behind HQ.  Looking toward the river Latrine on the side of HQ Art Malzahn by the hangers Art Malzahn at Saigon Port Art Malzahn in Cholon Playing cards in Saigon. Gary Finco on the right with no shirt Art Van de Peer Art Malzahn in glasses. Do you know anyone else? Hotel on a river in Saigon
Here is a note from Carol, Art's wife,
I am so grateful to all of you for your service during the Vietnam war. Art told me very little about his time spent there but DID tell me about how poorly you were all treated on your return back to the United States. I am so sorry for that. Thank you for your part in my husband's life. I'm sure you all helped each other get through it all. I do know I can never understand completely the situation you were in. It's very heart warming for me to see these photos/slides. I always knew he had taken all these slides. I KNOW he always wanted to get them organized but you know, it is just one of those things you think you will always have time to do. AND, of course I always kept him pretty darn busy!!! hahaha Art was his mother's pride and joy - her first born, her only son. He wrote home about every 4 to 6 days while he was in Vietnam, mainly just to assure her that he was OK!!! I recently found all those letters and am slowly reading them. It is a bit mind boggling for me to 'relive' this time period. Now, looking at the actual photos.... WOW! I am slowly piecing all of his months and days, spent in Nam, together. I also have 2 scrap books his mom and sister kept while he was there. It was his mother's way of keeping her sanity. His sister was only 10 years old at the time. All they cared about was his return home - safe and for the most part - sound. They packaged up all their letters, scrapbooks, news articles etc. and they remained, hidden in boxes, in storage. When his mother moved to the nursing home they were going to throw it all away. I gathered it all up and Art and I saved it ALL!!! As I've been going through his boxes and boxes.... I'm finding all these now precious items. I am SO HAPPY to be able to share them with you and have Steve help explain things to me. I've thrown quite a few questions out to Steve and he's always, miraculously replied to each and every one of them!! I LOVE learning all the facts and stories about my husband, of course and everything else about what all of you men experienced, endured and lived through! I probably don't have to tell YOU that Steve has a multitude of .... how should I put this..... fond memories??? LOL
Thank you for sharing these photos from Art. They are much appreciated by all.
Many thanks to Cat Lai veteran Steve Pence, who served along side Art, for going through all of Art's slides to pull out the pictures shown here.
Thanks again, Jerry

Ron Letner (1966-1967) Luther 'Skip' Allen

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Ron - 1967. Ron and Pamela
Ron Letner, June 29, 1944 - April 2, 2018
(Link to Ron's obituary)

Ron served in the Army with a tour in Vietnam (1966-1967). He worked in construction as a carpenter and he was also a truck driver.
Ron and Pamela's wedding day!'. Looking toward the docks. Ron Vance Van de Peers(left) and Ron(right)
Pamela and Steve,
Thank you for sharing these photos from Ron. They are much appreciated by all.
Many thanks to Cat Lai veteran Steve Pence, who served along side Ron, for helping with the information about Ron.
Thanks again, Jerry

Vance Van de Peer (1966-1967) Vance Van de Peer

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Ron - 1967. Vance Van de Peer and Ron Letner - 1967 Vance - 1966. Vance and Art Malzon - 1966
Vance Van de Peer, Oct. 10, 1939 - Nov. 12, 2006
(Link to Vance's obituary)

From fellow Cat Lai Veteran Steve Pence:
When we arrived at Cat Lai in Oct 66, he had about 3-4 months left in the Army. His obituary states he was a chaplain’s assistant, but I don’t recall that. Must have been before we or I arrived. But I do remember him as being in charge of our small PX at Cat Lai. He also did some clerical work at HHD, 11th Trans because I was his replacement and he more or less trained me as legal clerk and a number of other clerical functions. We shared the same tent together and I got to know him very well.

I remember Vance running the small PX at Cat Lai when I arrived in Jan 67 - Jerry

Many thanks to Cat Lai veteran Steve Pence, who served along side Vance, for helping with the information about Vance.
Thanks again, Jerry

Ulysses 'Jim' Perry (1967-1970) Jim Perry

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Jim Perry US Army Jim Perry US Army Vietnam
Download a story about Sgt Major Ulysses 'Jim' Perry
Pictures and information provided by Jim Perry, the son of Ulysses 'Jim' Perry - Thanks Jim!

Ulysses ‘Jim’ Perry (Cat Lai October 1967 – 1970)

My dad enlisted in the Army in 1936 or 37 he served with the 6th Field Artillery and was in the Calvary and rode a horse pulling a caisson and Artillery piece.

He left the army in 39 or 40 but enlisted in the Coast Guard before WW2 and served until he was discharged in 1947, after he recuperated from being wounded.

He enlisted back into the Army in 1948 and retired out of Ft. Eustis in 1963.

My dad was recalled to active duty in August of 1967 and left for Vietnam in October of 67.

He was stationed at Cat Lai from 67 to 69. He arrived in October of 67 as a First Sargent.

My Dad became a Command Sargent Major before he left Vietnam. His Commander was Colonel Nathaniel Ross Thompson who later became a Lt. General. I do know his unit built and orphanage near Cat Lai. Another memory is his unit was nicknamed The Red Barons.

He served in Vietnam until December of 1970 and retired out of Ft. Polk.

He lived his life out after Vietnam in Philadelphia. He was very active and well known in the Veterans community in Philadelphia. He was a member of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society and was instrumental in helping to have the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built in Philadelphia.

Ulysses ‘Jim’ Perry passed away 17 yrs. ago and he would have been 100 on January 25th, 2019.

Thank you Mr. Perry for your service, above and beyond, to our country.

Luther 'Skip' Allen (1967-1968) Luther 'Skip' Allen

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Luther 'Skip' Allen-1968 Luther 'Skip' Allen-2006 Skip's 46 Coupe Skip's 46 Coupe Gary Gary Kim Dedic groundskeepers Guess Who Kim Dedic and Jerry Simmons Kirby Johnny B. Skip...actually working! you know this GI? local help monkey Jerry Simmons (center) you remember the other GI's? Mr you remember these GI's? Do you remember these GI's? payday! RCA Victor Kim Dedic getting ready to go home During 68 Tet..Skip Allen(r) you know the other GI? Cat Lai Base Firing practice Mr. Champion Dominick Lombardi-guitar; Ralph Iannucelli-singing; Skip Allen-Drums Ford pickup Jerry Simmons Do you remember these GI's? the office Carl Waid, 11th BN Message Center Mr. Champion
You were one of the really good guys.
You will be missed by all that ever had the opportunity to know you.
Thank you for being such a good friend and contributor to this website.
God Bless.
Good-bye My Friend, Jerry

Jack W. Cornelius II (1968) Jack - 1968

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Jack - 1968 Jack - 2008 Jack and family Jack and family Jack and family Jack and family Jack and family Jack and family Jack and family Jack and family 250 lb bombs

Jack W. Cornelius II
April 23, 1948 - July 8, 2009.

Jack William Cornelius II was born on April 23, 1948 in Oklahoma City.

He passed away on July 8, 2009 at his home in Hinton, OK.

He was a graduate of U.S. Grant High School and served honorably as a sergeant in Vietnam.

Jack and his dad owned "Jack's" in OKC.

In 1997 he moved to Hinton, where he was a member of the First Baptist Church, the American Legion, and the Hinton Planning Commission.

Survived by mother, DeNella Cornelius; wife, Sheryl Cornelius; sons: Joshua & wife, Rachel; and Benjamin; daughter, Jacquelyn; step-sons: Jim and Ian Ray and wife, Robyn; step-daughter, Sarah; grandchildren: Mia, J.J. Cornelius, and Abbigael Ray; sisters, DeAnna Edwards and Cathy Musgrove & husband Shawn.

Published in The Oklahoman on July 11, 2009

Jack W. Cornelius II was in Cat Lai from January 1968 through January 1969.
What a way to be welcomed to Vietnam with the 1968 Tet Offensive.
Jack worked on the ships and around the radio tower at Cat Lai.
Our Vietnam Brother, Jack W. Cornelius II passed away this last year, and his wife Sheryl contributed the pictures for this web site. Take a moment and look at the pictures, if you see your picture and the name is not there, let me know and I will make the update.
Be at Peace Jack, you did good. You will be missed by all who knew you.
Thank you Sheryl for sharing with the rest of us.

Ray Compassi (1967-1968) Ray Compassi-1967

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Ray Compassi-on left of picture - January 1967 Ray Compassi-on left center of picture - January 1967 Ray - 1968 Ray Compassi- 2006

Ray Compassi arrived in Cat Lai in January 1967. We arrived in Cat Lai at the same time.

After a long illness Ray passed away on March 14, 2011. Ray was married and lived in Redding CA.

Rest in peace Ray - you did a good job.

Raymond Richard Compassi August 2, 1947 - March 14, 2011

Ray passed on March 14 at his home in Redding, CA. He is survived by his wife, Doris.

Eldon Ellis (1968-1969) Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69

Did you know or do you remember Eldon Ellis while in Cat Lai?
Eldon served from January 1968 - January 1969.

If you knew Eldon while in Cat Lai, please contact me. My email address is

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Here are some pictures provided by Eldon's wife:

Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69 Eldon (L)/GI(R)soldier of the Month Eldon Ellis, Cat Lai 1/14/68 - 1/6/69

Roy C. Blair (1969-1971) Roy C. Blair

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These photos were provided by Shirley Blair, Roy's wife. Roy was a member of the 124th Trans Co (1969-1971)

Here is a note from Shirley:

"My husband, Roy Blair, passed away 8 January 2005 and he was in the 124th Transportation Company at Cat Lai From 1969 - 1971.

The photo is of him and a friend of whom I don't know his name. Please contact me if you have any information on this other person in the picture or if you knew Roy while in Vietnam."

If you are or know the guy on the left of Roy, or knew Roy while at Cat Lai, Shirley would like to hear from you. Send me a email and I will put you in touch with Shirley.

Thank you Shirley.

Robert J Yered Sr. (1968) Robert J Yered Sr.

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Engineman First Class Robert J. Yered was awarded the Silver Star due to his heroic actions at the Army Terminal in Cat Lai, Vietnam in 1968. U.S. Coast Guard photo. This circa 1967 photo shows the opening of ELD quarters at perhaps Cat Lai. The men are (L-R); Captain William N. Banks, USCG. Banks was Commander, Coast Guard Activities Vietnam (COMCOGARDACTV), Congressman Frank M. Clark (D., PA), Commander Ray Hertica, OIC, Port & Waterways Detail-Vietnam. Congressman Philip E. Ruppe (R., MI), LTJG James Ruff, OIC, Explosive Loading Detachment #1, Cat Lai. Explosive Loading Detachment #1, Cat Lai. USCGC Robert Yered (WPC 1104)

Robert J. Yered was stationed at Cat Lai and served with the United States Coast Guard Explosive Loading Detachment #1, Cat Lai.

Engineman Robert J. Yered’s fearless actions set him apart as he stood duty in the explosive loading detail at the United States Army Terminal, Cat Lai, Vietnam, on February 18, 1968. In the early morning hours the terminal at Cat Lai was attacked by enemy rocket, mortar and small arms fire. As the heavy rounds beat into the terminal, one of the rockets struck a barge carrying several hundred tons of mortar ammunition. The barge was quickly engulfed in flames, and threatened to destroy three nearby ammunition ships carrying more than fifteen thousand tons of explosives. Engineman Yered courageously exposed himself to enemy gunfire as he helped extinguish fires on the burning barge. His bold act averted not only the destruction of his own ship but also that of the entire terminal. Yered’s valorous character shone through many times throughout his career and he is one of 12 Coast Guardsmen awarded the Silver Star. Among his other awards are the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars and a Purple Heart Medal.
Coast Guard Compass Oct 29, 2010

USCGC Robert Yered (WPC 1104)

USCGC Robert Yered (WPC 1104) USCGC Robert Yered (WPC 1104)

The USCGC Robert Yered is a Sentinel class cutter scheduled to serve in Miami, Florida upon her commissioning.She was launched on November 23, 2012, and is scheduled to be commissioned in February 2012. Like her sister ships, she is equipped for coastal security patrols, interdiction of drug and people smugglers, and search and rescue.Like the smaller Marine Protector class she is equipped with a stern launching ramp. The ramp allows the deployment and retrieval of her high speed water-jet powered pursuit boat without first coming to a stop. She is capable of more than 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) and armed with a remote controlled 25 millimetres (0.98 in) M242 Bushmaster autocannon; and four crew-served Browning M2 machine guns. She is named after Robert Yered who heroically put out a fire in an ammunition dump while serving with the Coast Guard`s detachment in Vietnam.

Silver Star Citation of Robert James Yered Sr.

Silver Star Award

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star (Army Award) to Engineman First Class Robert J. Yered (CGSN: 320 644), United States Coast Guard, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Engineman First Class Yered distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on the morning of 18 February 1968 as the safety advisor to the Unites States Army Terminal Cat Lai. The terminal was subjected to an intense enemy rocket, mortar and small arms attack. One of the rocket rounds struck a barge on which there were several hundred tons of mortar ammunition and immediately ignited a fire. The blazing barge threatened to destroy three other ammunition ships on which there were in excess of fifteen thousand tons of high explosives. Engineman Yered, without regard for his personal safety, exposed himself to the enemy fusillade as he helped extinguish the fire on the burning barge. His courageous act averted total destruction of the ammunition ship, and the United States Army Terminal. Engineman First Class Yered's gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Coast Guard.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 4309 (September 11, 1968) Action Date: February 18, 1968
Service: Coast Guard
Rank: Engineman First Class
Regiment: Explosive Loading Detachment #1

Carl Huttula by Dan Cornell (1968) Spc 4 Carl Richard Huttula

> Click image to start slideshow - Right click small image to download large pic <

Moc Hoa where a small special-forces base was located in 1968.  Carl landed here in his helicopter to refuel before taking off on his final flight. The runways as Moc Hoa, the small special-forces base in 1968 where Carl landed to refuel in May 1968. Dan Cornell in Hong Ngu, Vietnam after buying flowers at the marketplace to put where Carl died. Placing flowers into the rice paddy at the bottom of the dike where Carl died on May 16, 1968.  The authorities would not allow a photo up on top of the dike.  The Cambodian border is just 100 yards away. Flowers placed into the rice paddy at the bottom of the dike where Carl died on May 16, 1968.  The authorities would not allow a photo up on top of the dike.  The Cambodian border is just 100 yards away. Flowers placed into the rice paddy at the bottom of the dike where Carl died on May 16, 1968.  The authorities would not allow a photo up on top of the dike.  The Cambodian border is just 100 yards away.

Carl Huttala was not stationed at Cat Lai. I knew Carl prior to our separate duties in Viet Nam.
The following are notes and pictures from a classmate of Carl's, Dan Cornell, while growing up in Elma. Dan went to Vietnam in November 2009 to find the place where Carl gave his all for our country. Dan went to much effort and lengths in rememberance of his friend and our Vietnam Brother in Arms.
Thank you Dan for sharing your trip, thoughts, and feelings.

Search for a boyhood friend ends with a sad success in Vietnam

November 17, 2009

By Daniel Cornell

Ever since I got the news that my high school classmate Carl Huttula had been killed in Vietnam, in 1968, I've wanted to know where it happened. I've wanted to go there. But information was scant, and I thought I'd never get the chance.

A newspaper story at the time of his death misspelled the name of the province where he died, and then in 1975, when the war ended, the Communist government changed the names of many of the provinces.

But I was able to find the new name online. Then a wonderful article appeared by the helicopter pilot who was flying Carl that day, and he gave a few more details, including that the location was right on the Cambodian border. In talking with him, I learned that they had just flown over a village when the battle started. And that there was a U turn in the river that forms the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.

I spent hours scouring Google Earth and had a good idea of three or four places that might be the one I was looking for. I hoped just to locate the village, and perhaps -- if very lucky -- ask some of the villagers if they remembered a battle there, a helicopter crash in May 1968. I realized that I would never be able to find the exact spot where Carl died, but I hoped to at least get close.

When I arrived in Vietnam and arranged for a driver and car to take me to Dong Thap Province, he had a detailed road map that showed all the old villages, which, of course, have become towns as Vietnam has developed. Only three are directly on the Cambodian border, and two of those are accessible only by water, and one by road, which is Cong Tao ... very small.

So that is where I went, and just as I suspected, the villagers did indeed know all about the battle in May 1968, and knew that a helicopter had been downed and destroyed.

Then came a terrible disappointment. So close to my goal, we were turned away by a green-uniformed border guard who told us to leave immediately -- that we had no right to be there, especially since I was a foreigner.

We drove 45 miles to Cao Lanh, the provincial capital, with me in a depressed silence. The driver dropped me at the hotel there and I tried to sort my thoughts, telling myself that I had done all I could. At least I had definitively learned that it was at Cong Tao, this tiny collection of houses on the Cambodian border, that Carl had died. I had just about given up hope of doing anything more.

My driver picked me up at 7:30 on a warm and humid morning, and we drove to the provincial security police and immigration building. We decided that our only chance of getting permission to visit Cong Tao would be to say I wanted to see where my "brother" died. (Forgive me Carl, for the small lie.)

A middle-aged man demanded my passport and disappeared for 20 minutes or more; I was getting worried, but suddenly he reappeared and ushered us into another room with lacquered Chinese-style chairs. Three uniformed security agents were there.

They asked to look at our map and inquired what I knew about Cong Tao. I replied that I knew only what the still-living helicopter pilot had told me. (We did NOT tell them that we had been there the day before, as it was strictly illegal for me to be in a frontier zone.) One told me that they do NOT allow tourists to enter the frontier zone, that it is just impossible for foreigners to go there. But he added: "You have come from America, and a very long distance, and you might not be able to return soon, and you have a reason to be here." Even so, he could not give permission without clearing it with the highest authorities.

I just kept my hands clasped with a pained expression on my face, which was not hard to do. He said he works occasionally with American military on trying to identify remains. Then he told me that he had three brothers who had been killed in the war, that his family was still pained over its loss, and that he understood that American families were pained also.

Meanwhile, he kept pouring tea. I was sweating buckets, not knowing what he would decide, as it was obvious he was trying to ascertain just who I was, and if I was, indeed, on the level. Then he told me that he was going to send us to Cong Tao, but that his 32-year-old adjutant, who spoke some English, must accompany us. The niceties continued with more tea pouring, smiles, agony on my part -- and suddenly they got up and ushered us out.

The adjutant turned out to be a very nice young man. The security chief had told us that we must take shortcuts over back roads, as they were faster, which was fine with me, and off we went with the driver and adjutant in the front seat, and me, apprehensive but determined, in the back.

I had bought a small bottle of rice wine in Saigon two days earlier, and I just happened to have it in my small bag in the back seat. A couple of times, I took a drink from it just to calm myself.

The "frontier zone" is clearly marked in three languages, including English, and then we were back in Cong Tao. Six local policemen and security agents met us on the highway on motorbikes. My driver got out and chatted with them (but later on he told me he heard local people in a roadside cafe saying that we had just been there yesterday, and he said he was scared, as none of the security people knew that). Then, with motorbikes in front and in back, off we went for a mile and a half, to where a dirt road turns to the left and heads straight for the river. Then we were where we had been the day before. I had brought flowers from the hotel. There was a curved concrete bridge over a nearby canal, and we headed for that. The local police chief warned me not to take pictures, but I gave him my camera, and motioned for him to take a picture of me, "for mother/father."

The bridge is the high spot in the area, leading to an earthen dike that divides the canal from the water-filled rice fields. I looked toward Cong Tao across the water, thinking that was where Carl had died, and I undid the flowers and asked to descend the dike to the water. The police chief followed and took pictures.

I took some flowers out, and put them into the water.

The local police had known we were coming, as the security police in Cao Lanh had called ahead. He told me that the "old" people in the village had said that the helicopters that morning had come right over the houses next to us, that they had landed on the very dike we were on, that one of them had been destroyed ... and I was dumbfounded. Carl had died right there where I was standing.

I wasn't just speechless, I was frozen in emotion.

Then I looked around, and everything the helicopter pilot had told me fit. We were just 150 yards from the river that formed the border, we were standing on the earthen berm, there was the village they had flown over, and this was the spot.

I asked if I could get a picture there on the dike, but the young head of border security in the area stepped forward and said no, we could NOT take photos. I walked part of the dike, deep in thought.

I don't remember much about the 45 miles back to Cao Lanh; I was in a daze, lost in thought and emotions about Carl dying in this strange land. Now we finally knew where, I had seen it and tried to do him justice, honor and respect by going there and by at least leaving some flowers for him in his memory.

The photos the police chief took are the only ones I have.

I thought afterward that I should have done more; that I should perhaps have scooped up some soil, should have tried this or that. But I did the best I knew how to do. I really tried to honor Carl's memory and the childhood we shared so many years ago. I returned to my luxury hotel room in central Saigon and started to put a few things away; and do you know, I suddenly burst into tears. I wept and shook uncontrollably for a long time.

Daniel Cornell, who recently retired after 39 years teaching in the St. Paul public schools, grew up in Elma, Wash., with Carl Huttula.

Courtesy - Daniel Cornell and Minnesota Public Radio.

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