What fun!

A friend recently posted to Facebook (along with the notation of having himself done drawings in the link — not the 1908 catalog! — as a student 31 years ago):

For our fans of Sears Catalog Homes!

From NPR: The Sears Modern Homes catalog debuted in 1908, and it offered all the material and blueprints needed to build a house. The pieces that arrived in the mail were meant to fit together sort of like LEGOs, so buyers could build the houses themselves or hire contractors.

Learn more about Sears Houses by seeing the HABS documentation of an Alhambra model at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/md1235/

#HistoricHouse #SearsHouse #SearsHome #HistoricPreservation#CatalogHouses


In the early 1900s, Sears sold thousands of homes around the U.S. through its mail-order catalogs. Many of those houses are still around, and their owners are saddened by the retailer’s bankruptcy.


That’s Amy’s house! Amy is one of the protagonists in Masjid Morning by Richard Morris. He studied these homes while he was writing the novel. The one in this picture looks like the front of Amy Breckenridge’s home that Morris described on page 8 when she returns home after meeting Atif: “Her eyes swept across the stately two-story portico supported by six white columns with Corinthian scroll tops.” He refers to a sunroom on the right and a carport on the left.

Recent evidence from Richard Morris’s computer verified that Amy lived in a Sears Magnolia with a recent addition.

What fun to imagine Amy driving through the carport and entering the garage and the house addition at the rear. One can follow Amy on the floorplan up the stairs, past Jesse’s room, to her own room on the back of the house with the sleeping porch overlooking the addition. It is easy to picture her in her deep dressing room eavesdropping on her father’s meeting in the addition’s “trophy room.” Poor Amy — looks like she has to share a bathroom with her parents while Jesse has one to himself.


Imagine all the research and planning that went into this small part of a novel! You might enjoy printing the floorplan map to accompany you when you read Masjid Morning.

In what ways is the floorplan essential to the plot of the story? Perhaps only to architects, builders, and other house-savvy people who might be mentally distracted if the layout of the house didn’t fit together!

Our favorite builder says of Masjid Morning, “The book moves effortlessly between technical descriptions of a mosque rising from the ground like a living being and the emotional struggles between religions.” — Jay Endelman

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If your church romanticizes …

“If your church romanticizes the Hondurans they reach out to on short term mission trips, but demonizes the Hondurans seeking asylum in a refugee caravan, it might be time to re-examine what mission is really all about” is going around on Facebook currently.

Some readers of Masjid Morning by Richard Morris questioned whether character Randall, Amy’s father, was realistic enough — that they did not know people like this in their churches and in their lives.

Here is an excerpt:

masjid-coverThat night, when they were getting ready for bed, Eunice told Randall, “Maybe we need to get her away from here—get her mind on other things.”
“What—like to a camp or something?”
“Yes, but I think that would be too short. She needs to be away from this boy for a long time.”
“You think it is a boy, then?” he asked.
“It has to be, the way she’s acting. And I think it’s a Muslim boy.”
“God save us!” he said, pulling his pajama top over his head.
“It’s probably too late for her to become a camp counselor somewhere—camps are probably staffed up.”
“Maybe we could have her volunteer for a work camp,” he suggested, “building houses somewhere.”
“That’s an idea. I think Habitat’s still working along the Gulf Coast and in Haiti.”
He took off his watch and put it on the end table. “But I don’t think we want her around all those black people, do we? That would be asking for trouble. We don’t know what might happen to her in either of those places. Why don’t we ask around at church tomorrow about what mission trips are available and see what she might be interested in.”

Masjid Morning was published in 2016. Was Richard Morris ahead of his time in portraying such Christians? Would a reading of Masjid Morning today bring the response, “Right on target!” “Aptly describes …” Did it just take the reality that we could elect Trump as President and have many Christians continue to support him, to make us start to understand the true character of people we might know, love, or respect?

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1,000 miles or 12,000 minus 11,000 miles?


“Obama spoke about the slow-moving migrant caravan from Central America bound for the United States as another example of a Republican scare tactic.

“’Now the latest, they’re trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees a thousand miles away,’ he said. ‘That’s the thing that is the most important thing in this election,’ he said. ‘Not health care, not whether or not folks are able to retire, doing something about higher wages, rebuilding our roads and bridges and putting people back to work.’

“’Suddenly,’ he continued, changing his voice to a high-pitch to strike a mocking tone, ‘it’s these group of folks. We don’t even know where they are. They’re right down there.’”

Current scare tactics are reminiscent of the main reason many people supported the war in Vietnam — the domino theory.

Protagonist Wilfred Carmenghetti in Cologne No. 10 for Men muses:

“He thought of freedom and democracy and heard the machine-gun clatter of falling dominoes hitting each other, knocking the next to the tabletop. Then he remembered Robert Kennedy’s comment: ‘We’re killing innocent people because the communists are 12,000 miles away, and they might get 11,000 miles away.’ How could that justify the killing?”

Author Richard Morris speaks about the domino theory in his post: https://richardmorrisauthor.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/the-vietnam-war-part-1-on-pbs/

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Lynching in Maryland

Between 1920 and 1938, the NAACP flew a flag outside its headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

“Between 1920 and 1938, the NAACP flew a flag outside its headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York City. 

“What do we know about these racist attacks and how should we confront this horrific history today?” was the question introducing the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU 88.5. Titled “Lynching in Maryland: Confronting a Legacy of Local Violence,” the program asking this question was introduced with “Many people associate the Deep South with lynchings. But at least 40 happened in Maryland.”

This caller answered that initial question in this manner:

“White people tend to know little about the history of lynchings – the postcards depicting lynchings that were freely sent through the mail, the picnic-style settings in which some lynchings took place with a gathering of townspeople including children, and how the ruse of protecting white women covered up other reasons for lynchings, such as greed. We need to make the effort to learn, to teach, to join with Will Schwarz and Nicholas Creary’s (Maryland Lynching Memorial Project) initiative, and to utilize the offer of the Equal Justice Initiative to give us the duplicate columns for the lynchings which occurred in our counties (duplicate columns from EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama).

Research-based fiction is another way to learn and to teach; Well Considered (2010) by Richard Morris is based on a lynching in Prince George’s County, MD, and Sycamore Row (2013) by John Grisham tells the same land-grab story but in Mississippi and from a different point of view. Morris’s research uncovered more Maryland lynchings than are identified by the Equal Justice Initiative, but EJI had stricter criteria for what qualified.”

EJI’s criteria included “African Americans killed by two or more Caucasian Americans between 1877 and 1950 and individuals whose murders could be documented with two or more primary sources.”






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Zombie Visibility

A year ago Richard Morris continued his support of the Hyattsville Elementary School PTA Zombie Run fundraiser as a Gold Sponsor; two weeks later he had a fall on October 26, followed by emergency surgery and complications. He died November 21, 2017. My memorial to him has been to keep his legacy visible, especially in the form of his books and songs. I am Barbara, his partner and wife of fifty years.


This blog now functions as Blog B, whether B for Barbara or B as secondary to the two hundred wonderful posts Richard left to us in his original blog. Today Richard Morris was a Gold-Sponsor-in-memory at the Hyattsville Elementary School PTA Zombie Run.

As a sponsor, there was a tent where I could display Richard’s novels and CD. In addition, I took our Sy Mohr painting of Hyattsville to amuse the community in identifying locations. Although Sy died in 2016, Richard was his webmaster and had previously established and maintained Sy Mohr’s website: http://www.symohr.wordpress.com.

I also displayed Richard’s mementos from his two runs in the Marine Corps Marathon. Although we started out with light rain, that never keeps Hyattsville from supporting the Zombie Run. I was able to send home with hundreds of runners in their packet bags a card showing the beautiful poster display of Richard’s books (Cologne No. 10 for Men, Well Considered, Canoedling in Cleveland, and Masjid Morning) on the front and information about him on the back.

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Harvard Authors’ Bookshelf

Looking for a holiday gift for a special reader? Take a look at the Harvard Authors’ Bookshelf and find a book that won the BOOKVANA award in the Fiction: Romance category and was a Finalist in the International Book Awards in the same category. Kirkus called it “A thought-provoking and ultimately moving story that looks at love, human nature, and conservative religion.” Amy and Atif fall in love while their families feud over the building of a mosque.

More on Masjid Morning:  https://richardmorrisauthor.wordpress.com/masjid-morning/

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Free Delivery

Free Delivery

Amazon Prime had nothing on us today! We offered free delivery on our books so that runners wouldn’t have to carry them home. We would deliver them to their door (just like UPS) or  mail them (just like USPS).

Start of the 5K Zombie Run
10-14-2017 Hyattsville, MD

Why the special service? Because today our market was runners–about 570 of them at the Zombie Run in Hyattsville–many of whom were miniature zombies–lots with painted faces. We could make the offer because most of the runners were local, and the “book rate” at the Post Office is pretty cheap for those who weren’t.

This was the second annual Zombie Run produced by the Hyattsville Elementary School PTA, and I was a sponsor for the event.

Little Zombies line up for 1K

Many runners who liked our books left their wallets home and had no cash or plastic, so we directed them to our local Busboys and Poets Bookstore or Franklins General Store in Hyattsville or online to purchase their copies. Several people commented on seeing Masjid Morning and my other books in the front of the newly arranged bookstore at Busboys in Hyattsville.

Busboys and Poets Book Store

Zombie Run Sponsors





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Offbeat Gargoyle and Cologne No. 10 For Men

Richard Peabody

I was excited to read that Gargoyle, DC’s oldest literary magazine, celebrated its 40th anniversary, and I’m proud that I worked with its founder and editor, Richard Peabody, a couple of times over the years. That sort of puts me in the company of MacArthur Fellows, National Book Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other literary luminaries. Tara Campbell published her book blog about the celebration in Washington Independent Review of Books on October 9, 2017.

Melissa Scholes Young, the event host, described Richard as the literary godfather of DC.

Tara Campbell writes:

MFA student Vince Granata kicked off the event with an illuminating overview of Gargoyle’s establishment in 1976, its reputation as a “scallywag, maverick” publication, its description in the Post as “Washington’s most revered and irreverent” literary magazine, and Peabody’s explanation in an interview that Gargoyle has never been bound by specific editorial guidelines because “[w]e don’t believe in them.”

She adds, “Ah, Gargoyle, always piquing our interest with something a little offbeat.”

Stress City –
Edited by Richard Peabody – Paycock Press (2008)

I met Richard in 2006 when he agreed to edit my Vietnam War satire, Cologne No. 10 For Men. He helped me cut that book in half–eliminating poignant intellectual discussions and sidebars unrelated to the story–and placed the most offbeat passage he could find right at the beginning.

When it was published, he gave me a blurb:  I love the way Wilfred recycles the bodies. That’s fabulous stuff  with a direct line to Heller’s Catch-22 and perfectly captures the insanity of the Vietnam War.” — Richard Peabody, editor, Gargoyle Magazine. 

A year later, in 2008, he included a chapter from Cologne No. 10 For Men in his Stress City anthology. It begins,

They sat in the twilight watching wisps of fog rising from the glassy lake. “It’s becoming clearer to me now, Robbie. What we need to create is the functional equivalent of war: everything except the killing.”

“You mean the illusion of war.”

“Yes,” Wilfred said, astounded at Reckert’s clarity. . . .

Writer’s Digest described Cologne No. 10 For Men as “a truly superb novel of the Vietnam war, a novel that compares favorably with those earlier “dark humor” war novels such as CATCH-22 and M.A.S.H. The writing crackles with authenticity.” Kirkus Reviews called it “A funny and serviceable satire about the gross rationalizations that propel war and peace.” “. . . like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. . . .carries echoes of Tim O’Brien’s similarly toned The Things They Carried.“ And David Willson, Books in Review II, The Vietnam Veterans of America Veteran commented, “There aren’t very many funny Vietnam War infantry books. This is one of them. Read it and be amazed.” Click here for more on the illusions and delusions in the war.

I wasn’t at Richard’s 40th anniversary celebration of Gargoyle Magazine at American University, but I’m glad to see him honored in this way, and I will always be grateful to him for helping me along the way. Thanks, Richard!

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On the Wrong Side of History

I just completed ten blog posts summarizing Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s Vietnam War series and inserting comments about what I was doing at the time or how that particular segment related to my Vietnam War satire, Cologne No. 10 for Men, or the songs on my “Skytroopers” CD.

This war went on … and on … and on. The last of our troops left in March of 1973. By that time I was in my isolated mountain community designing and building custom homes, building my family (three children by 1975), building my business by adding a small prefab housing facility, immersed in energy-efficient passive solar design, and participating in community theater and other events. The war to me was very far away. But gradually I began to look back through the lens of hindsight and contemporary morality.

Helicopter Maintenance


Every soldier’s war was different. Much of the difference depended upon what year or decade one was there and what job one had. Some shuffled paperwork on safe military bases. Others drove trucks, repaired helicopters, built roads and bridges, Military police, Judge Advocate Corps, Medical Services . . . .  Somewhere between five and fifteen percent actually saw combat.

If you’ve read my posts, you may have noted that I was a “hawk” and supported my government’s actions throughout the events of the entire KB/LN series. At some point though, after I left Vietnam, I began to reassess this support, especially after we withdrew from the war after losing 58,000 of our men KIA and 153,000 wounded. South Vietnam suffered the majority of an estimated 2,000,000 civilians killed. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam ARVN suffered 266,000 killed, and there were  1,011,000 North Vietnamese combat deaths.

(I didn’t know it then, but now, in 2017, it is estimated that fifteen percent of Vietnam veterans [389,100] came home with PTSD. Thousands more are homeless, and thousands are addicts or alcoholics.  “More than 150,000 Vietnam veterans have committed suicide since coming home from Vietnam. This is almost three times the number of soldiers that actually died during the war.” Thousands of others have suffered cancers from Agent Orange.)

Homeless men sleeping on a grate in Washington DC, 1-18-16




In 1978, in our secluded mountain community, we heard about Vietnamese boat people  escaping Vietnam and coming to the United States after living in refugee camps in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In the U.S., the Lutheran Church established an organization to help the new arrivals, and I thought that our rural Methodist Church should get involved.

Boat Families

I had also made acquaintances with members of an Amish church nearby, and they wanted to help. Eventually, our two churches took a family of ten Vietnamese. The Amish people had a vacant house that they made available. It had a coal furnace, gas refrigerator, and no electricity, but every night an  Amish neighbor would come in, stoke the furnace, light the kerosene lights, and shovel the snow off the walks. My mother and sister would drive the family to doctor’s and dental appointments, and on shopping trips, and our nephew, the dentist, donated his time, as did the doctor. After a while, I employed one member on my carpenter crew building houses. Many other people helped. The family stayed a year and then moved on to a relative in Chicago and later to Santa Ana, California, a large Vietnamese community, where the weather was warm like Vietnam. Now, today, most of the children have graduated from college and have secured good jobs. Several recently came to visit us and their Amish friends.

Meanwhile, I kept looking back at my Vietnam War experience, wondering whether we should have been fighting there. “In November 1967, to the flag-waving warriors of the Vietnam Era, [Robert] Kennedy, on national television, had said the following: ‘We are killing South Vietnamese, we’re killing children, we’re killing women, we’re killing innocent people because we don’t want to have the war fought on American soil, or because they’re 12,000 miles away and they might get to be 11,000 miles away.’”

I began to consider all the illusions and delusions of the war, and my mind began to swing toward opposing the war. Many tactical operations seemed absurd, like our:

Free fire zones, where we or our helicopter support could kill anything that moved. Anyone who was running was assumed to be the enemy.

Search and Destroy missions (later called Search and Clear) that sought to win the hearts and minds of civilians by sometimes burning their homes.

Measuring our success by counting enemy bodies (KIA) and “friendly” bodies and dividing the enemy KIA by our KIA to determine “kill ratios.” A ten-to-one kill ratio was considered pretty good. Unfortunately, commanders started gaming the system and finding bodies or killing civilians to increase their kill ratios. In other wars, we measured our success by taking and holding ground, but not in Vietnam. Listen to my song “Counting Bodies in the Nam” (2007), lyrics.

Fighting up Hamburger Hill

Fighting our way to the top of a hill, losing untold men to enemy fire, and then giving the hill back after we conquered it. What was the point?

The one-year tour of duty for troops made the soldier’s goal surviving for the year and going home rather than fighting until the war was won and the mission was accomplished. Was our objective to win or survive? I remember the World War I George M. Cohan song: “Over there . . . we’re going over . . . and we won’t come home till it’s over over there.”

The idea that we could win by dropping bombs on the enemy. This destroyed his homes and family, but never his desire to rid the country of us, the enemy.

My Lai Massacre, a few of the victims

The idea that killing thousands of people with bombs and artillery is not an atrocity, but Lt. Calley’s actions at My Lai were.

Our hubris–the idea that we were invincible, and superior to our enemy, who were intellectually backward, primitive, aboriginal “third world” people. This was basically a racist idea.

We were fighting against Communism, but the U.S. Military was the second largest socialist dictatorship in the world. It provided us with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, transportation, jobs–everything–as long as we did what we were told.

We were even told that Agent Orange, which we used to defoliate jungle canopies and destroy rice crops (to drive refugees to the cities) doesn’t hurt humans. However, the Agent Orange Act of 1991 accepted a presumed link between Agent Orange and many cancers.

TV reporters in Vietnam sought grisly material to report on the evening news at home–the more revolting, the better.

Harassment and Interdiction Fire–every night on an artillery fire base, the artillery would fire randomly outside the perimeter (not at an enemy target), I guess to scare any forces who might attack us. [“Who are they firing at?!” “Nobody!”]

Pull back and call in the artillery, a standard practice whenever we received enemy fire, and a practice that resulted in high civilian casualties but few among the enemy.

Artillery Preps: Before we made a combat assault, jumping from our helicopters to surround a village, the artillery would fire rounds at our helicopter landing zone (again, not at an enemy target), which let the enemy know exactly where we would land.

After considering these things, I found myself on the wrong side of history and decided that I had to get on the right side through my writing. I began writing Cologne No. 10 For Men, a satiric novel like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H., only one about the Vietnam War instead of  World War II or Korea. I wanted to tell an engaging story that would highlight some of our illusions and delusions in Vietnam.

Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond

Decades later, in 2002, I again found myself on the wrong side of history and decided that the Republican party no longer represented me. This was when Trent Lott, Republican Senate Majority Leader, agreed with Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, that the country would have been better off with racial segregation. Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either,” a veiled reference to Civil Rights Movement strife. In his presidential campaign, Thurmond had called for the preservation of racial segregation, states’ rights, and overturning the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and prohibited racial segregation in schools, employment, and public buildings. The Republican party also seemed to be spendthrift at the time, whereas I always leaned toward fiscal conservatism. So, I said, “Wait. This is not my party! This does not represent what I believe,” and I became a Democrat.

My wife reflects upon the fact that she grew up in Montgomery, AL, without an awareness of the Civil Rights Movement even though it was taking place near her while she was growing up. Some years later, she felt that students of color in an African American studies class she was taking in graduate school did not believe her when she told of her unawareness. On the other hand, they themselves did not know much of the history of African Americans in this country either.

Carl B. Stokes, first African American mayor of a major U.S. city [Cleveland]

In a Cleveland suburb as a teenager, I raised the question about why no people of color lived in my town. [A real estate representative told me that people of color didn’t want to live in the town.] At least by the time I was in graduate school at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, I had enough awareness of race relations in this country to volunteer to work for Carl B. Stokes [the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city] in his first campaign for mayor. But I didn’t explore the issue of residential segregation any further until almost fifty years later when I was writing Canoedling in Cleveland and had my characters pursue the questions I had not asked back then. Well Considered and Masjid Morning were also written in response to what I saw happening in my world. //
We live in a city that has chosen to become a sanctuary city (see blogpost), that allows voting by sixteen-year-olds and recognizes the importance of its youth in other ways [a shout out to our mayor, Candace B. Hollingsworth], that allows noncitizen voting in local matters that affect them. It is a city where neighbors proudly act upon values that seem to me to be on the right side of history. In a time when everyone wonders where the future political leaders will come from, I feel so fortunate to have strong leadership on the right side of history in my own city. And as Barbara and I celebrate fifty years of marriage together this year of 2017, I know that one of the reasons our marriage has lasted and thrived is because we both have changed tremendously – but we changed in the same direction and so did not grow apart.


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“The Vietnam War:” Episode Ten: “The Weight of Memory” (March 1973 – Onward)

[What follows is a brief summary of Episode Ten of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick Special “The Vietnam War” along with my personal commentaries, songs, and writings about where I was during this period. – Former 1Lt. Richard Morris, A Co. 2nd Bn 5th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile) 1967-68]

Last Episode (Ten): “The Weight of Memory” (March 1973 – Onward), Thursday, Sept. 28:

Tim O’Brien, Vietnam Veteran and author of The Things They Carried, said that soldiers carried many things: diseases, leeches, lice, each other, and many others.

 A COVERcologne 12-06[I was delighted when Kirkus Reviews described Cologne No. 10 For Men as “A funny and serviceable satire about the gross rationalizations that propel war and peace.” “. . . like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. . . .carries echoes of Tim O’Brien’s similarly toned The Things They Carried.“— Kirkus Review]

The Paris Peace Accords, officially titled the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, was a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973 to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. The treaty included the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States.


Following the accords, the North Vietnamese returned 591 American prisoners of war (POWs) during Operation Homecoming. On March 29, 1973, the last U.S. soldiers left South Vietnam:  200 Marines. The U.S. listed about 2,500 Americans as prisoners of war or missing in action, but only 1,200 Americans were reported killed in action and body not recovered. In 1991-1993, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs led by John Kerry, Bob Smith, and John McCain “found no compelling evidence that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.”

 One hundred forty-five thousand NVA troops remained in the South, the North had positioned surface-to-air missiles just north of the DMZ, and the new Ho Chi Minh Trail was a paved road. By August 15, all parties were to cease all operations. 

For two more years, the North and South fought an endless civil war. And Americans couldn’t get their minds off it [except me*]. Was it worth it?

* [I say “except me” because I was in my isolated mountain community building my family (three children by 1975), building my business by adding a small prefab housing facility, and immersed in energy-efficient passive solar design, and participating in community theater and other events.]


[Excerpt from Wikipedia] Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a security guard at the Watergate Complex, noticed tape covering the latches on some of the doors in the complex leading from the underground parking garage to several offices (allowing the doors to close but remain unlocked). He removed the tape, thinking nothing of it. But when he returned an hour later and discovered that someone had retaped the locks, Wills called the police. Five men were discovered inside the DNC office and arrested. They were Virgilio González, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martinez, and Frank Sturgis, who were charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications. On September 15, a grand jury indicted them, as well as Hunt and Liddy, for conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws. The five burglars who broke into the office were tried by a jury, Judge John Sirica officiating, and pled guilty or were convicted on January 30, 1973.

Nixon said, “I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in.”

On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the president of the United States be impeached and removed from office because of obstruction of the investigation of the Watergate break-in and other unlawful activities.

Nixon Resigns
(AP photo)

Nixon resigned the Presidency on August 9, 1974. Vice President Gerald R. Ford of Michigan took the oath of office as the new President to complete the remaining 2 1/2 years of Mr. Nixon’s term.

In Vietnam, one-fifth of the workers in the South were unemployed. The army cut the pay, and twenty-thousand deserted. Fuel, ammo, artillery shells, grenades, and bullets ran low.While the Watergate scandal riveted Americans’ attention and forced President Nixon to resign, the Vietnamese continued to savage one another in a brutal civil war.

In the 1975 Spring Offensive, Le Duan attacked Phuc Long province followed by the key Central Highlands city of Buon Ma Thuot. These operations were intended to launch a general offensive in 1976. However, the South Vietnamese realized they could no longer defend the entire country, given the cutbacks in American aid, and they ordered a strategic withdrawal from the northern half of South Vietnam. The retreat was a debacle, however, and the southern forces were routed. They abandoned the Highlands. Hue fell, then Danang. A flotilla of boats with soldiers and civilians headed south towards Cam Ranh Bay. By the end of March, eighteen North Vietnamese Divisions were pursuing six ARVN Divisions.

Vietnamese attempt to enter U.S. Embassy grounds

Panic was rampant among the 200,000 South Vietnamese who had helped the U.S. South Vietnam requested $722 million in emergency aid, but Congress voted against any. Evacuation of Saigon broke every rule. People escaped on aircraft, boats, helicopters. However, U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin was not interested in leaving. The ARVN held on for twelve days, and on April 21st, President Thieu resigned. He was not invited to the U.S. by President Ford.

April 1975, South China Sea — US Choppers Ditched After Saigon Pull-out — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS




On April 27, 1975 rockets landed in the center of Saigon, and small boats full of refugees left the harbor and sailed for sea. There was a call for choppers from off-shore ships.

President Ford ordered Ambassador Martin to leave, and 129 Marines in the building went to the roof to await helicopters.

When hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese troops poured into the south, Saigon descended rapidly into chaos and collapses. There was no bloodbath, but one and a half million South Vietnamese went through re-education–supposedly for three days of study, a month long for officers [It is said that some spent years.]. The Communists bulldozed cemeteries to eliminate names of the enemy dead. Altogether, three million soldiers–Northern and Southern–were killed, plus 58,000 Americans. Washington refused to recognize the Communist government, which abolished capitalism and set up collective farming.

Sino-Vietnamese War– March 16 – February 17, 1979

On March 16, 1979, Chinese troops crossed the Vietnamese border and captured several small cities, withdrawing a month later.  China launched the offensive in response to Vietnam’s invasion and occupation of Cambodia in 1978 (which ended the rule of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge). China and Vietnam each lost thousands of troops. Vietnam lost almost as many troops as the U.S. lost in the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam Memorial

In April 27, 1979, four years after the Fall of Saigon, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was incorporated to establish a memorial to the veterans of the war. Jan Scruggs, a wounded Vietnam veteran, led the effort. Eventually, $8.4 million was raised by private donations. A year later, a site was chosen, and on March 30, 1981, the design by Maya Lin, a Yale architect, was selected over 1420 other designs, with the names of the more than 50,000 U.S. servicemen killed in the war inscribed on the black granite.


Diplomatic Relations

In 1985, the U.S. had no diplomatic relations at that time, but our veterans kept traveling back as tourists. So, we entered into a negotiation with Vietnam to restore diplomatic relations, led by  Senators John McCain, John Kerry, and Bob Kerry. Le Duan was dead, and the country had embarked on a more pragmatic economy, although the government was still Communist. Hanoi began to help the U.S. find MIAs. In 1994, we lifted the trade embargo. In 2000, President Bill Clinton visited the country followed by Obama in 2016.


Many ghosts remain from the war, including the casualties and poisoned soil from Agent Orange, and the tons of ordinance that are buried in the ground, ready to go off.  North Vietnamese mothers continue to come south looking for their sons and daughters to take them back for reburial in the North so their souls will not wander. In America, we have ghosts from PTSD, which in World War II was combat fatigue, and in World War I, shell shock.

[Sometimes I still sing love songs that I wrote in Vietnam to my wife back home (“Mirage,” “Barbara,” and “I Needed A Girl Like Barb’ra” — see Skytroopers CD links below). I recorded them on a tape with Sgt. Mendoza, a most excellent guitarist who helped me on the rear firebases, and then I sent them back to the world. I’m glad I was able to sing them to her in person.]

My DEROS Calendar


For my other blog posts on the Vietnam War, see:

Cav Takes Over Khe Sanh

Fact or Fiction in Vietnam,”

Kill Anything That Moves – The Real American War In Vietnam, by Nick Turse: A One-Sided View of the War,”

Cologne No. 10 For Men – Fact or Fiction

Skytroopers CD

Skytrooper CD Lyrics

A Movie of Cologne No. 10 For Men?

“Read it and be Amazed.” —Vietnam Veterans of America on Cologne No. 10 For Men

“When’s the Sun Gonna Shine on Camp Evans ?”

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