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Journals - Lest We Forget - Veteran Interviews
Parties, Platforms, & Promises videoconference 
Parties, Platforms, & Promises videoconference 

CITVC participated in this VC series, hosted by Berrien RESA who works with Lest We Forget Southwest Michigan to coordinate a series of interviews with local veterans. Please read more about the program here.

We had the honor of speaking with three veterans of the Vietnam War: Don Oderkirk, Don Alsbro and Edwin F. Heiden. We spoke about the Vietnam War, the current war in Afghanistan and also military issues in general. All three veterans were very willing to answer all our questions and we appreciate their service and the time they spent with us in this videoconference!

  • Don Oderkirk
  • Don Alsbro, Colonel, US Army, Retired
  • CPL Edwin F. Heiden

I was a Junior Officer [Ensign and Lt.Jg] on a small ship that provided naval gunfire support along the coast and rivers in Vietnam from April 66 until April 68. We were flat bottomed and shallow draft, so we could get in close to shore and navigate the shallow rivers in the Mekong Delta. There were only 5 Officers and 120 Enlisted men aboard and we were a tight knit group! No discipline or drug problems in my two years! The two Korean Army Divisions in Vietnam utilized us a lot. We fired rockets in large numbers. My roommate at Olivet College was from Korea and I knew a few Korean words; so I was sort of a "Liaison/interpreter".

I was drafted several months after graduating from College and joined the Navy and was accepted at Naval OCS. I volunteered for Vietnam after OCS partially due to the fact that even in 1965 it was hard to get good info on Vietnam and I wanted to see it first hand, but not in a foxhole! I returned to Vietnam in 2002 as part of a "VVRP Team" [VVRP has a Homepage] to help build houses for disabled North Vietnamese Veterans! Sort of like a Habitat for Humanity, but many Vietnam Veterans found this a "Healing Experience". The Vietnamese have put what they call "The American War" behind them much better than we have in this country! We all shed tears as former enemies hugged each other 35 years later!

Ed D in Education and certified health educator CHES). Graduated from Western Michigan University ROTC in 1963. Served 31 years in the Active Army (10 years) and Reserves (21 years). Active Duty Tours:   Vietnam lst Cavalry Division 1966-67. Vietnam, 4th Infantry Division and America Division 1970-71. Germany 1963-66, Spent considerable active duty time running Troop Medical Clinics in the 80's and 90's. Vietnam experience:  Spent entire year (66-67)as a civil affairs officer working with the Vietnamese people.  We helped them build a school, pig co-op, playground and athletic field, dispensary, and distributed clothing, soap, toothpaste, etc. I have many pictures of what we did.  

Served in three branches:  Infantry  1963-67, Adjutant General 1967-1975, Medical Service Corps 1975-1992. Doctorate from Wayne State University Professor at Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor MI from 1972-present teaching health and physical education.  Founder and President of a Patriotic Organization Lest We Forget that has produced reenactments, military auto biographies, patriotic ceremonies, videos and received many awards for the patriotic activities:  www.lestweforgetusa.org . Inducted into the Western Michigan ROTC Alumni and Lake Michigan College Athletic Hall of Fames.

Service: United States Marine Corps
Where: Republic of Viet Nam, I  Corps Area  of Viet Nam; Near the DMZ.
When: October 1967  to November 1968.
Duties: Motor Transport  Bn   3rd Marine Division. Truck Driver and Truck Mechanic.
Ambulance Driver and Mechanic. Stretcher Barrier Detail. Unloaded wounded and dead off of Medical Helicopters.   

 

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