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NKP DAYS

October 2002

(pictures below)

NKP DAYS ASSISTANCE

 

On October 1, 2002 a large reception was held at Nakhon Phanom airport to greet us as we arrived from Bangkok. There were many Provincial, District and Nakhon Phanom officials and many locals to greet friends not seen in 30 years. The airport reception included a large contingent of Pu-Thai women in tribal costumes; flowers, dancers and a long drum performance, which accompanied the police escorted motorcade to NKP. The vehicles included a 1967 Dodge 6-pack van, assigned to NKP in the late 60's and several jeeps maintained in excellent condition since their days at the airbase.

Following check in at the five star River View Hotel, situated on the bank of the mighty Mekong just South of town, all were invited to attend a meeting with Governor Wit where he officially welcomed everyone to Nakhon Phanom.

Discussions were then held between Governor Wit, his wife, officials of Thai Red Cross and provincial customs and health authorities with myself and General Aderholt concerning the cargo container filed with medical and school supplies awaiting delivery in Bangkok procured by General Aderholt who as you may recall founded and led the 56th Air Commando Wing.  Heinie and the TLC Brotherhood jointly provided the funding for delivery.  Some added charges due to delay in Bangkok were graciously paid by Thai Red Cross by approval of the wife of the NKP Governor.

The container was finally delivered on November 6, 2002.  School supplies for 5,000 children will be shipped to the school where John Middlewood's wife teaches and distributed to the fourteen schools promised the supplies of the eighteen schools which surround the old airbase we currently aid in memory of our departed brothers.

The medical supplies will be distributed to NKP Hospital and other locations under the direction of the Thai Red Cross working in conjunction with John Middlewood as representative of the TLC Brotherhood at Nakhon Phanom.

The Governor's reception dinner was held at the River Beach Restaurant the evening of our arrival. About 75-100 people attended the event. A band resurrected from the 60's and 70's that used to play at the NCO and Officers Clubs on base provided entertainment.

The main focus was dancers from Reyneu Nakorn who provided Pu-Thai tribal culture for the evening. Participants from our group joined in dancing and ceremoniously drinking rice wine with the beautiful Pu-Thai tribal women in their native costume and music from authentic instruments made it a night to remember.

Garbed in traditional attire a formal "Bai Sii Su Kwan" service was conducted to honor us as their guests, while a Brahmin chanted, calling guardian spirits of welcome, good luck, and safe journey.

 Elegant ladies then tied white strings representing the joining of Thai and American hearts to the wrists of all that attended. The banquet featured cuisine utilizing local produce, fish, and chicken. Especially enjoyed by all was the local wine produced in Nakhon Phanom from berries and herbs. The local chamber of congress presented Gen. Aderholt with a plaque in commemoration of the event.

On October 2, 2002, a large contingent of those attending NKP Days visited the NKP Town Hall, and the Roman Catholic Church at NKP, which was re-built in 1970. From there the group proceeded to the two main events of the day; a visit to the old air base and Ho Chi Mihn's house at Na Jok Village a few clicks away, probably less than a mile and a half from the airbase.

A couple of hours were spent at the base, which included a visit inside the old control tower where we could look out upon runway area. The last of the hootches have been removed which belonged to Invert which still remained two years ago. The PSP parking area has also now been completely removed and stacked welded together behind the former airport terminal which had previously been the Life Support building in former days. This is the last of the buildings from the former base still in existence except for an old bird dog hanger shell.

Those who had not been to the base two years ago were amazed at their inability to ascertain locations of former buildings and the profound changes from the base they remember which today consists only of broken concrete slabs and jungle. The king cobra is still very much at NKP and we watched several slither out of the way.

General Aderholt graciously signed the guest book at Uncle Ho Chi Mihn's house where Uncle Ho lived from 1923 until 1930. We were all given a warm welcome and provided refreshments. Truly the hostility of events from many years ago was no longer present.

John Middlewood, while these events were under way brought Dr.'s Mike & Kathy Morley and Susan, a nurse, on tour of five district health offices. The director and deputy of public health for the district, members of her staff, and representatives from the Provincial health office accompanied them. The tour was extremely informative to the doctors and as a result several ideas for assistance through OmniMed will be searched and discussed. That evening the district health office hosted a dinner that was one of the highlights of the trip and many good long lasting relationships appear to have been established.

On October 3, 2002, Mike & Kathy Morley spent the day at Nakhon Phanom Provincial Hospital, touring and working with various physicians there gathering facts for their proposal to OmniMed for an ongoing rotational program and conducting eye surgery with Thai doctors.

This was also the morning of the monument dedication. General Aderholt dedicated the monument and spoke of the great strides the Thai people have made urging them to continue moving forward while at the same time remembering those who gave their lives to provide the opportunity.

The monks chanted for a considerable time, with a single long string held between all of their fingers. There were nine monks who each received packages of gifts as part of the ceremonial customs involved with formal dedications. Each monk held about a yard of the string so this was evidently the origin of "the whole nine yards." There was also a spiritual ceremony conducted to appease the spirits and grant peace.

Following the dedication ceremony there were picture opportunities at the monument of the group. It was a wonderful experience and very moving to be part of the commencement of the only monument in Southeast Asia dedicated to the American and Thai forces during the Vietnam War. This is another of the achievements of the TLC Brotherhood for which we can all truly be proud.

John Middlewood brought General Aderholt, John Schillo and his wife with Nancy and I to a couple of the schools in the afternoon as they were booked on flights leaving the following morning and not able to stay for the extended school tours the following day.

The schools have various programs underway including raising frogs and fish, making soap, cookies and concrete blocks. These programs provide nutritional substance and generate income for the schools to use for the children. All of us were extremely pleased with the great success of the many projects John Middlewood has undertaken with funding from the TLC Brotherhood. All who accompanied us made a commitment to continue support for our TLC Assistance Program in any way possible and spread the news!

There was a farewell dinner in the evening at Saun Mai Restaurant on the main drag by the Mekong River. There were more than 75 people attending the dinner, which was to be initially a gathering of the Americans who came for NKP days to relive memories. The Governor, his staff and many other officials elected to also attend. Many new relationships have been established and much has been accomplished to improve Thai American relations at Nakhon Phanom.

October 4, 2002, Nancy and I, Drs. Morley, and the Governor's wife accompanied by the head of Thai Red Cross visited nine schools with John Middlewood. I invited the Governor's wife and head of Thai Red Cross to view the TLC in action. The schools we visited had never seen the Governor's wife before and were very happy to have her in attendance.

The receptions at the schools varied from a small group of school staff to over 400 people waiting an hour for us to arrive as we gradually became a bit behind schedule as the day progressed.

As the day unfolded the Governor's wife was noticeably impressed with not only the achievements of the TLC Brotherhood programs but with the great warmth of the people within the communities in greeting and interacting with us. Truly it was a display on both sides of friendship, compassion and equality. By the time the afternoon was drawing to a close the Governor's wife's English was remarkably fluent and it was quite evident from our extended conversations both she and the Director of Thai Red Cross had become committed friends to the TLC Brotherhood programs.

The TLCB has made great impressions in the relatively short period of time we have been conducting operations at Nakhon Phanom. As a result of all our joint efforts, other government agencies in the area are commencing additional assistance at some of the schools.

On October 8, 2002 Nancy and I accompanied John Middlewood in visiting an additional eight schools, which TLCB is currently aiding. Our reception again was equally as exciting with the students and teachers showing great appreciation for our programs, which will have lasting results within Nakhon Phanom Province.

Being aware of our efforts and success in Laos the Thai Red Cross and government officials requested our assistance in their desire to enhance better relations and cooperation with Takhet in Laos. Of course I agreed to this exciting and most welcome development.

Blueprints were procured on tree location and soil information at the monument site. Phompan stated the Thai's would build a scale model of the finished plan and place a sign at the construction site for community involvement.

Dr.'s Mike and Kathy Morley thoroughly enjoyed their visit and have approval from the OmniMed Board of Directors for their proposal written to enhance the presence of OmniMed in the forthcoming year by the visitation of several additional specialists and have high hopes for their future involvement within Thailand.

There is an abundance of construction at NKP with many new buildings going up including one with over one hundred shop stalls in a new market center just South of the clock tower along the river almost completed. There are even plans to remove the buildings surrounding the clock tower and extend the river walk all the way to the River View Hotel located about 3/4 of a mile south of town.

A local architect and historian Khun Lek, is seeking to retain the buildings in the area of the clock tower along the riverfront as an historical preservation site. However, these buildings were constructed without any local authority and the land was not even purchased so their future is in doubt at this time including the last of the G.I. bars the famous Monties Ice Cream Parlor. 

There has been much progress in the development of friendships and understanding between officials and organizations within Thailand at Nakhon Phanom toward enhanced working relationships with the TLC Brotherhood.

Our current programs and future opportunities for continued success are well founded on the substantial achievements John Middlewood has achieved conducted under the direction of the TLC Brotherhood Assistance Committee.

Sincerely

John Sweet

Assistance Committee Chairman


John Oles Wrote:

A caravan of Post 10249/TLCB members and family traveled 60km to Bandong and then another 10km down a beaten path of a dirt road to the Bandong Kaelek Elementary School.  Four hundred students from numerous surrounding villages attend the school.  The caravan was greeted by a banner over the school ground welcoming the TLCB to the school.  After unloading the supplies, the school staff treated their guests to a traditional Isan meal along with a few dances put on by the students.

The school principal presented Dale a plaque thanking the TLCB for their donation of supplies.  As we've done in the past, we stenciled Donated by TLCB on the back of each piece of furniture presented to the school.  After we picked up the sports uniforms for this delivery, we found out we can have them stenciled for an additional 5 baht.  In the future, we'd like to stencil donated sports uniforms with the TLCB logo as well. 

A remote school such as the Bandong Kaelek Elementary School doesn't often get to benefit from the generosity of organizations such as the TLCB (or any Thai organization for that matter).   A few weeks ago, the Voice of America organization (which has their radio site in the nearby town of Bandong) donated a used kitchen counter set and water treatment machine to the school.  The generous back-to-back donations of such supplies to such a remote school leaves a favorable impression on the school staff and the students as well.  

As with most schools and organizations we've helped in the past few years, this one is in the village of the wife of one of our post members.  As they frequently visit the village, they'll have the opportunity to ensure the donated supplies are being put to good use.

We should have some digital photos of the delivery on the way in the next few days.

Well done, TLCB members!

John Oles

Adjutant, Post 10249


Dear John,

All of us stateside are very grateful for the outstanding participation of Post 10249 (My Post as many of us in the TLC can proudly say) and the many wonderful projects undertaken in the Udorn area jointly with Vicht of which we can all be proud.  I doubt there is a post anywhere in the world with involvement as extensive in such a meaningful way.

Please pass along the thanks of our entire membership to all, especially those post members who donate their personal time and effort whom we do not know personally.  One thing is certain, together the TLC Brotherhood and VFW Post 10249 form an unbeatable team!

Warmest Regards To All

John Sweet

Assistance Committee Chairman

   

PICTURES OF NKP DAYS

(CLICK ON BOX TO SEE PICTURE DESCRIBED)

Supplies are delivered

The Medical Supplies are Delivered
(click on picture to see larger version)

Gen. Aderholt, John & Nancy Sweet, Dr.'s Mike & Kathy Morley Pu-Thai Dancers at the Welcome Party
Fish Pond we provided to enhance the noon meals at school as well as provide a source of revenue - 1 fish cost baht 5 and sells for baht 35 Ladies of the Pu-tribe greeting those arriving from Bangkok for NKP Days
Young dancers at one of 18 schools surrounding the former NKP Airbase that the TLCB generosity helps Magnificent garland presented to arrivals as a Welcome Gift
Student at one of the schools we are aiding Group of young students display their colorful traditional dance as a gesture of thanks
Traditional dance and costumes by children at another school where we are making a difference and they are grateful for our support Some of the children and parents who waited an hour after school to visit with us and show their appreciation for our aid
John Middlewood and John Sweet speaking with kids One of many flowers growing wild in a village near the old airbase
The children waiting to greet us and each waiting to tie a Ceremonial String around our wrists!  Have a Nice Trip -- a perfect ending to a wonderful journey
General Heinie Aderholt & John Sweet at Monument Commencement Dedication  

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