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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Assistance Committee Chairman
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.
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.
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.
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.
should have some digital photos of the delivery on the way in the next
done, TLCB members!
Adjutant, Post 10249
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
Warmest Regards To All
PICTURES OF NKP DAYS
(CLICK ON BOX TO SEE PICTURE DESCRIBED)
|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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