Responding to a Call

"The Beginning of the TLC Brotherhood website"

This story will give insight to the creation of the TLC Brotherhood website in early 1997.

 

As the creator, founder and webmaster of an online veterans organization, in December 1996, called The 519th Transportation Association, Thailand (formerly The Association of US Army Transporters in Thailand) at http://www.pcisys.net/~jjwilson/trans.html I was contacted in early 1997 by a guestbook entry from John Sweet, a former Air Force Staff Sergeant who was stationed at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand.

The sum of his guestbook entry was that he and his wife Nancy had just returned from a trip to Thailand where they had visited an orphanage at Thare (Tai Ray) near Sakorn Nakron in Northeastern Thailand. (It seems that John was among a number of service men stationed at NKP who supported the Thare Orphanage during the mid-1960's). John mentioned that Father Khai (former headmaster of the school) was now the archbishop of Thailand and had come up from Bangkok to meet with John and his group. John had taken a number of photos of the kids, the base and even Father Khai and others picking up pebbles from the airfield at NKP. (These would later be sold to raise money for the kids).

I responded to John's email and wanted to know where I could go to view his pictures. He said that he didn't have a website, nor even knew how to make one. At this point I felt that John's email was a "call to arms" and I asked him to send me the photo's so I could build a website where everyone could read about his trip, and see the photos. I placed the initial website on my internet server.

John and I started exchanging email quite frequently. John began to tell me of a group of former NKP guys that had met in West Virginia in October 1996, and later went to The Wall in Washington DC in June 1997 to find closure of the guys from NKP who never came home and to start the healing process. He spoke of a book by COL Jimmie Butler called A Certain Brotherhood, that put a lot of things in perspective for guys who were in Thailand during the Vietnam War. John sent the story about that trip to The Wall along with the pictures that were taken by Paul Lee. At this point the website was in it's birthing stage, without a name and without a direction or purpose.

When creating a website one must look at a number of things so people can find it. One important thing was a name that could be registered with the various search engines. All we had was some guys who had been stationed in Thailand, or flew over Laos and Cambodia enroute to Vietnam. Out of necessity I decided to shorten the name to TLC and added Brotherhood because that was what we were, even though we didn't necessarily know each other or were even stationed in Thailand during the same time frame. Hence the name TLC Brotherhood became the name of the website.

Another important factor in registering with search engines was the use of tangible key words. We used words like Thailand, NKP, and a few more that I don't remember at this time. These key words would allow a search to have a direct hit on NKP or Thailand.

Then we needed a format. Initially the site consisted of a home page, where we listed the concept or our definition of "Brotherhood" and what it meant to us. As John sent me more and more info, stories and photo's they got added to the site. Then we had to add a page for members, listing names, units, bases and dates of assignment. Next came stories, photo's and patch pages. Then we had a guestbook where visitors could sign in, and a counter that could tell us where visitors were coming from. As the site became more and more functional it began to draw hits from around the globe.

During this time frame I got a phone call from COL. Jimmie Butler who also lives in Colorado Springs and we spent about an hour or more on the phone talking about A Certain Brotherhood and about our service in Thailand. I obtained a copy of A Certain Brotherhood and read it rather quickly. It started putting things into perspective and helped to focus the direction and purpose of the website. I dare say that this book alone was instrumental in the formation of the TLC Brotherhood website and helped to change the image I had of my service in Thailand during Vietnam. As I gathered more and more information, stories and pictures I realized that there were lots of guys out there who felt the way I had for the past 30 + years, that my service in Thailand was insignificant and did not contribute to the war effort in Vietnam. That was wrong and a clear picture of who we were and what we did started to emerge. It became my goal to change the self image of others about their service in Thailand.

With all the items being contributed by a number of individuals and as the website grew and I decided to transfer it to John Sweets web server. The transformation of the website has been continuous until today.

In August 1998 after maintaining and building the TLC Brotherhood website for almost 1 full year, I had the privilege of handing the reins over to a superb webmaster Rich Verde. I was never disappointed at the way Rich developed the site, even providing a unique domain name at http://www.tlc-brotherhood.org. Next came Jim Henthorne who continued to build on this fantastic website. Now it's 2001 and recently Bob Norway has taken over the reins of this site and I am anticipating great things to come.

Joseph J. Wilson, Jr. - Former Webmaster and charter member of the TLC Brotherhood.

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