|The girl on the left was a permanent employee of the Salvation Army. The Woman seated in the center of this picture was a doctor from mainland China working with The Salvation Army.|
|Captain Barbara Exline on the left in the white tropical unifrom helping a child. This was a school for refugee children run by the Salvation Army.|
On your right is Mrs. Major Collins of the Central Territory, USA. On her right is a Salvation Army social worker from Hong Kong. The social worker from Hong Kong received the Victoria Cross from Queen Elizabeth for her work among refugees during World War II. She and the doctor from mainland China taught me how to use chopsticks. They also cooked the Chinese dinner when Commissioner Hepburn visited from National Headquarters, USA. What a deal eating a meal cooked by a winner of the Victoria Cross.
The Salvation Army United States of America
Central Territory (USA Central)
|These are most of the supplies used in the refugee camps while I was there. Every day, many of these boxes were loaded into the VW microbus and taken to several refugee camps. These included educational materials, medical supplies and whatever was needed in the refugee camps. Whenever I could spend a day with the Salvationists, I spent a ton of time lifting and carting these boxes. Other salvationist military members would drop by and give a hand whenever possible.|
The nurse in this photo was a Salvation Army Major from Canada who was stationed in Hong Kong. There were two ladies from Hong Kong and one female docor from mainland China in the team when I was there.
Canada and Bermuda Territory
Hong Kong Command
|Shot after shot after shot, day after day after day sitting on a wooden stool with makeshift tables and equipment. We set up the tables, stools and chairs and equiipment in whatever shady spot there was, trying to keep on a dry spot on the ground out of the mud.|
|Sometimes the children needed a helping hand to hold still for the shots.|
|Whenever American servicemen came by they would lend a hand. I believe this man was a Navy enlisted man from North Carolina whose last name was "Black" but then if that's correct, it'll be the first time I ever remembered anybody's name.|
I was getting short and I hadn't taken R & R yet. Getting short means your time in Vietnam is getting short. Each person was sent to Vietnam for one year. The day your boots hit the ground you got a calendar at put a big X over that day on the calendar. Every day you would X out that day on the calendar. On the date 365 days later there would be a big circle or come other mark denoting that was "HOMECOMING" day. As the X's got more numerous the distance to the circled date got shorter, and shorter and shorter. Each of us had a replacement coming about the time we were supposed to leave. It was generally believed that you couldn't leave Vietnam until your placement showed up. Each person's replacement was known as his "Turtle." The replacement was called a "Turtle" because he was always so slow getting there. R & R was Rest and Recuperation or Rest and Recreation depending on how you looked at it. It was like Spring Break for soldiers. We were told that at some time after about 6 months, the US government would fly us to our chosen destination which would be Hawaii, Australia, Thailand or some other exotic acceptable place. I was getting short, my Turtle wasn't in sight so I chose to go on R & R to Australia.
I only had about three weeks left in Vietnam so I got on a plane for Sydney, Australia. The main reason I chose Sydney was because they had some great Salvation Army Corps there. Our plane took off from Vietnam and flew to Darwin, Australia. It was night time when we landed and nobody was allowed off the plane. Some Australian Customs and Pest Control agents came on the plane and sprayed bug poison all over us. We were macho combat vets so we didn't complain, but I'll bet a lot of us got sick late in life from that one bug spray. Then we took off again and headed for Sydney. I will never forget the sight of Sydney, Australia as we descended for a landing We could not see the ground at all because there was a dense fog about a hundred feet thick clear across the ground. We saw everything in Sydney that was over a hundred feet high. The buildings in the downtown area were sticking up through the fog like castles in the air. Above the fog, the sky was very clear with little wispy clouds here and there. It was what pilots get to see, but very few others ever experience.
As usual, the first thing I did was look up The Salvation Army. I ended up visiting The Sydney Congress Hall Corps and Salvation Army Headquarters. They were both in the same building. Someone there called a Salvationist businessman and told him an American soldier was there on R & R from Vietnam. He immediately invited me to have dinner with him and his family. It was Wednesday night so it was band practice night. The business man was a bandsman so he took me to the corps for band practice. They had a very fine band of about 45 men. The building was interesting. The sanctuary was very plain and had something I hadn't seen in years. They had wooden folding seats throughout the sanctuary. These were really old fashioned. The Seattle Temple Corps had deeply cushioned movie theater style seats. That Sunday I attended the meetings at the Corps. Another thing happened that I hadn't seen in years. The officer said, "Let's go down before the Lord in prayer," and the whole congregation was immediately on their knees praying. We couldn't do that in our corps anymore because we were too comfortable in our cushy movie theater style seats. Besides, there wasn't room to kneel in our rows of seats. At Sydney Congress Hall, they still had a wooden floor. The whole place was old fashioned to me, especially the spirit of the people and the attitude of worship there. I'm sure these physical shortcomings have been taken care of.
The following Sunday would be Easter. In Sydney, that means it's time for "The Royal Easter Show." I decided to go see it and find out what it was all about. As I approached the door, there was a woman from The Salvation Army in full uniform soliciting donations. After I got into the The Royal Easter Show it was like Deja Vu all over again. The place was absolutely familiar. I like around and I could have sworn I had been in this place before. I walked into a building and saw a display of farm produce laid out in an artistic picture like display. Then it hit me. This was a spitting image of the Puyallup State Fair in Washington State! Besides the Royal Easter Show there were other things to do. There were trips up through waterway that reminded me of Puget Sound and a lot of that sort of thing.
Being Easter Week, the Salvation Army had tent meetings at a park in Sydney. I went to the meetings and there were bands and songster brigades from different corps. It was fantastic. I was sitting with a group of people when someone told me that this wasn't the only tent they had. The had a much larger tent that had been borrowed by the Australian Army for use by the military and they hadn't brought it back yet. I asked them when the military had borrowed it and they said it had been borrowed for use in World War II and hadn't been returned yet! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Easter with the Salvation Army in Sydney, Australia. It was totally fun.
After returning to Vietnam, I was really short. I only had a week left and I would be going home. I went up the stairs to my office floor and walked past the office of one of the Warrant Officers in my office. He had his head down on his desk and he was weeping. I went into my office area and asked another Warrant Officer what was going on with the first guy. He said, "He just got his orders. He's going home." I said, "Why is he crying about that? Shouldn't he be happy?" The other warrant officer said, "He just found out he's going to Fort Bragg, North Carolina." I said, "What's wrong with that?" He said, "He's been to Fort Bragg before." So I left it at that. Three days later, there was a sheet of paper on my desk. It was my order to come home. Yep, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
So I headed out to the Long Binh airport for my flight home. I got there and made a huge mistake. I went into the mess hall and selected a fried chicken dinner. The chicken was cold and kind of greasy, but I didn't care. I ate supper. About two hours later, I began vomiting. I've had occasion to call the poison control center more recently and have learned that food poisoning kicks in about two hours after the meal. I had food poisoning. The rule was that if you had any illness at the appointed time to go to the US, you couldn't come home until the hospital crew checked you out. I was wretching and vomiting with my head stuck in the toilet while real soldiers were shaving. Every once in a while someone would say, "Do you think you ought to see a medic?" "Oh no. I do this all of the time. No problem. I'll be over this in about 5 minutes."
I survived until the time of the flight just before I headed out to the pick up area for the plane I was having the dry heaves. I was the second to the last guy in line for the plane. We stood there for about an hour in the night waiting for the plane to open up. Finally, the door opened and it was too much for the guy behind me. He fainted dead away. Someone called an ambulance and we could see it coming from about a mile and a half away. The flashing red lights came closer and closer and I was beginning to panic. If they got out to pick up the guy on the ground who was still out cold, and heard me wretching or smelled any odor, I would be riding back with the comatose guy. I slowly moved out of line and stayed about thirty feet away while they picked up the unconscious dude. After they left, I was the last guy in the line. I could see the door and I would do anything to get on that plane. They started loading passengers on the plane and it was maxed out. I got on the plane and there was only one seat left. I sat down and remained as still as I possibly could. That other guy was going to wake up still in Vietnam and then he would really be sick. I didn't want anybody to squeal on me so I just sat there without moving.
Then the pilot started the engines and came on the PA system. He announced that he was taking us back to the "Land of the Golden Arches" (McDonalds) and everybody cheered. I even managed a groan. Then we got on the runway lined up with the center line. The pilot gave her full throttle and hit a button. The engines revved up and as we began to roll, over the PA system came the song "Would you like to ride in my wonderful balloon...." As the song cheerfully went on and we rolled down the runway everybody began yelling. "Go, Go, Go, Go, Go, Go, Go,..." until we were off the ground and the wheels came up. Then there was another cheer and guys were crying and shouting. We flew directly to Japan. Since I had got the last seat, it was a non-reclining seat at the emergency exit. I spent half of the time trying to sleep on the tray coming out of the seat in front of me and half of the time in the lavatory with diarrhea and vomiting. In Japan the plane was serviced and then we went on to Oakland. When we got off the plane most of us knelt down on the tarmac and kissed the ground. We were then given our wonderful welcome home. A gift certificate for a steak dinner. It was great!
I made a few phone calls to friends and family in Oakland. I went back to my Uncle Vinson's house and taught my cousins how to throw the boomerang I had bought in Australia. The world champion boomerang thrower had taught a bunch of us GI's how to throw the boomerangs. I also called Major and Mrs. Wiseman. They invited me to dinner again and told me it was Northern California Youth Councils that weekend and if I wanted to go I could go as a delegate from the Oakland Citadel Corps. I went to Youth Councils and saw a lot of friends. There was Judy Angel whose parents had been stationed in Seattle and Frank Bunch who had been such a good friend in the Northwest Divisional Band and music camps. He had been married and had gone through the Salvation Army School For Officers Training. I really enjoyed the whole weekend and since it was outside San Francisco in the mountains, I didn't have to worry about getting shot for the weekend. I was completely away from the military and Vietnam had already become just a dream.
I had about 45 days of leave I was going to take and then head out for Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
While I was in Vietnam, I had saved literally every penny I earned less some Coca Cola products and a few hamburgers, a Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera, and a 35mm Olympus Pen half frame camera like the ones we had issued to our civilian spies. I had a bundle of money. I had driven around with the Salvation Army medical team in a VW bus and I had decided that during my leave, I would buy an airplane and fly it to Fort Bragg and finish my flying lessons there. If that didn't work out, I would take my money and buy a VW bus like the one the Salvation Army had in Vietnam.
When I got home, I got a hug from my mother and the old family message, "You'll have to cook your own supper. Everybody else has plans for tonight. See ya later." That was my welcome home. So the next day I was at my mother's house and Vietnam was slipping from my mind. I lay down on the couch and went to sleep. One of the last gigs I had in Vietnam was collecting information about some heavy artillery that the North Vietnamese were bringing into South Vietnam. Nobody would believe us. It was like when we told them about the heavy Russian T-54 tanks that had come south. Nobody believed us until the tanks came out of the jungle and parked on top of the Special Forces command posts. The tank crews got out of their tanks and proceeded to drop hand grenades down the ventilation shafts into the Special Forces bunkers.
In the same way nobody believed us about the tanks, nobody believed us about the heavy artillery. This artillery thing was rattling around in my head somewhere. Well, as I slept, all of a sudden a huge explosion took place right outside my mom's house. I was instantly awake, but my eyes wouldn't open. As I lay there holding as still as possible holding my breath waiting for the next artillery shell, all I could think was, "Why wouldn't those jerks listen? Now I'm going to die because nobody would listen." It was pitch black because my eyes wouldn't open and because it was pitch black I thought it was night time in Vietnam and my eyes were open. I was waiting for another artillery round or a guy charging into my room with a rifle and bayonet. Suddenly, this wet sloppy thing went shooting across my face and my eyes flew open. There I was in my mother's house with my brother's scared dog licking my face. I fully woke up and discovered that lightning had hit the utility pole outside my mom's house in Seattle. That was spooky.
At any rate, I was in Seattle ready to buy my first airplane, but the whole Puget Sound area was socked in. To fly out of there, I would have to cross the mountains or go down to Portland and fly along the Columbia River. I kept checking the weather for about two weeks and the weather never changed. Several of the best mountain flying pilots in Seattle disappeared trying to fly over the mountains with paying passengers n their planes. I don't think any of them were ever found. They were mostly in seaplanes. The Gorge was completely socked in the whole time too. There was no way to fly along the Columbia through the mountains. I decided to go to Boeing Field and finish off my pilot training. So I got my license during that time. You can read about some of this by clicking here and reading about "The Scariest Pilot I've Ever Flown With."
So I got my flying license, then I hopped on a train and headed to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to buy a VW bus.
|Visit Salvationist.org. Register to find old Salvation Army friends. Tell which Salvation Army corps you have attended in the past and now. Your friends will be able to find you. We've found friends we hadn't seen in thirty years within minutes after registering.|
|Tell your Salvation Army friends about this website. Chapter Ten about our Seattle Temple Corps Experience is going to be very interesting, but you have to read every chapter in order to understand Chapter 10. You won't be disappointed.|
Dan Ross Bonna Ross Jordana Ross Dan & Bonna Ross Dan and Bonna Ross drdan71, email@example.com cornucopiagenealogica 09/30/03
Make a Family Tree on Ancestry.com - It's Free!! Click on the banner below: