Newsletter - November 2013

Greetings from Vietnam Battlefield Tours,

As the Holiday Season approaches, all of us at Vietnam Battlefield tours would like to extend our greetings to each and every one of you for a joyous, prosperous, and healthy holiday season.

We are pleased to say that the 2013 tour season was a busy one.  We were honored to escort many veterans, family members, friends, students, historians, and film makers to Vietnam. We visited countless areas of interest from the "Delta, to the DMZ", and also ventured into Laos and Cambodia on private tours designed to meet the needs of our tour participants.  Since our formation in 2005, we have served many clients.  From our first tour with 13 clients in 2006, we have increased our services to 123 clients on 9 tours traveling with us in 2013.

Our tours include unit designated tours, basic area tours that include the Mekong Delta and very exciting tours that cover the entire length and width of Vietnam.  As the 2013 season ends, we at Vietnam Battlefield Tours are busy planning the 2014 tour season.  It looks like the coming season will be the busiest year ever.  We have also teamed with Operation Comfort in sponsoring a Vietnam Honor Ride 2014.  A group of disabled veterans (Wounded Warriors) will cycle through Vietnam.

Operation Comfort Vietnam Honor Ride 2014
Honor Ride Itinerary

We have agreed to escort these veterans to Vietnam providing an exciting itinerary with historical details in various locations.  We remain committed to providing the best possible tours to a wide range of clients.  We are now finalizing itineraries, submitting information to our counterparts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to gain permission and approval for our visits.  It will certainly be an exciting 2014 season.  The following is the 2014 Tour Schedule:

2014 Tour Schedule
14 February - 21 February
Singapore American School
07 March - 21 March
Middle Tennessee State University
09 March - 23 March
Northern I-Corps
09 March - 23 March
Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry
09 March - 23 March
1st RECON Bn
23 March - 06 April
1st Air Calvary
28 March - 08 April
Vietnam Veteran Honor Ride - Vietnam
30 March - 13 April
Southern I-Corps
30 March - 13 April
95th Evac Hospital
20 April - 04 May
04 May - 18 May
220th Aviation Company "Catkillers"
07 September - 21 September
II, III and IV-Corps
Report from the field

In the Summer of 2008 Marianne Graf Thomas traveled to Vietnam with us to visit the site where her husband, 1stLt Al Graff was lost when his F4B was shot down in the Que Sons.  Lt Graff was the RIO on the aircraft.  Based on the information available at the time we took her to the known loss site.

After extensive research in locating the actual loss site and three attempts to reach it, we were successful in getting Marianne to it in September 2013.  As a side note, JPAC Hanoi has excavated the site three times since 2010 and will go back again In 2014.  I like to think that VBT in some small way were instrumental in assisting JPAC.  We are hopeful that Lt Graf and his pilot Capt. Jerry Zimmer will be found and returned home.  JPAC is optimistic.  It was an emotional trip for Marianne and the group participants who climbed the mountain with us.  Local Vietnamese who actually saw the aircraft get shot down in August 1969 were extremely helpful in assisting us.    by Bob Burke

Three Country Tour - July 2013 - Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia

This 17-day tour took us all over Vietnam, into the Lam Son 719 area of Laos, and to Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  We'll highlight a few of the places we visited, because there were far too many to mention in this newsletter.

Here Cobra pilots, Mick Guttau (left) and Harold Bearden, pose under a traffic sign at the Da Krong Bridge on Route 9.  Mick flew the first Cobra into Tchepone during Lam Son 719 and wiped out a huge NVA weapons depot.

We took an entire day to explore the important (and personal) locations pertinent to the 1971 incursion into Laos called Lam Son 719.  One of the highlights was a longboat ride across the Xe Ban Ghiang River to a remote village where we were the first Americans to arrive there since 1971.  Next we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  We roamed the ancient temples of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and of course, Angkor Wat.  After flying to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we boarded a speedboat and headed down the mighty Mekong River, crossing back into Vietnam and landing at Chau Doc.

Something surprising, good, and unexpected happens on every tour.  Here we see Mick and Harold atop the Presidential Palace in Saigon with an NVA soldier.  All these men fought in the Lam Son 719 campaign in their youth.  They exchanged memories of the battle.

Once enemies, now friends.

Thank You

To all of you who have returned to Vietnam with Vietnam Battlefield Tours, we want to thank you for allowing us the honor to walk beside you as you returned to those areas where you spent your youth.  For those of you still thinking about returning, we look forward to the opportunity to take you there.  If you thought about going back, we can take you there.  Contacts us before these 2014 tours are completely booked.

Ed "Tex" Stiteler, Bob Burke, Bill Stilwagen,
Dave Lytle , Dave "Big Dave" Macedonia, and Gene Miller

VIETNAM Battlefield Tours   -    5150 Broadway St. #473   -    San Antonio, TX 78209-5710   -    Phone: 1-210-568-9500   -   Toll Free: 1-877-231-9277
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