Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Thanks, Army War College

This nice mention is in the Army War College Foundation and Alumni News (Spring 2017). I participated in the National Security Seminar with the Class of 2015.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Five Stars for "Broadcasters: Untold Chaos"

on May 6, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I met Corporal Rick Fredericksen at the American Forces Vietnam Network Saigon station in 1969, he was possibly the youngest, least experienced reporter in the pack. But we were all being asked not to report the news so much as to present it. Rick had recently completed military journalism school, aka DINFOS at 18 while his colleagues came to their jobs from a variety of civilian broadcast and educational experiences. But it was Fredericksen who stayed in Southeast Asia and grew wise. He accumulated contacts, information, and skills that focused his reporting on the events in and around the area for 25 years, leaving as the CBS News bureau chief in Bangkok in 1995.

In the news room in Saigon, Vietnam in 1969, the biggest local story was progress of the American war effort and about the coming redeployment of many of the one half million troops stationed in Southeast Asia while the rest of the world watched America land a man on the moon. Rick Fredericksen was there to see the censorship story develop, the making of the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam", the secret war in Cambodia, POW negotiations, effects of the defoliant Agent Orange, and the fall of music icon Michael Jackson on tour in Thailand.
This is the consummate “story behind the news”, Rick telling his own story and that of others in Southeast Asia. His pack rat collection of notes, clips, and memories provide the authoritative documentation for the events he describes.

It is a story that begins and ends with his own Iowa values and roots. He recently concluded a career capper back home at Iowa Public Radio but continues to write for electronic media and Vietnam Magazine.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Book Reviews Earn Five Stars

Smashwords Review by: Jim Allingham on April 28, 2017 
"As one of the former GI newscasters caught in the middle of the 1969-1970 AFVN Censorship controversy, I found Rick Fredericksen's book to be an enlightening, if not cathartic experience for me. For the last 47 years, I've often wondered if there was more to the story. Rick's brilliant research, combined with his personal recollections of that era, have given me the most complete account to date. Rick was already a "veteran" AFVN newscaster when I arrived in July, 1969 and he was the first to greet me and "show me the ropes" of the AFVN News operation. He was a dedicated, hard-working, talented military journalist who won my personal respect and admiration from our first handshake. Rick's book should be a "must-read" for all aspiring military journalists and broadcasters. The myriad detail that Rick provides does not clutter his incredibly smooth writing style. In fact, it documents the history of AFVN and that era with a fresh, but compelling read. Thanks, Rick. Welcome home!"
SP5 Jim Allingham
Saigon & Hon Tre Island

Kindle Review: on April 24, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fascinating! I could not put this down and finished in 1 day! It brings back memories of and era forgotten but should not be. The writing style keeps you attention and is more story telling than a mere list of historical facts. Job well done from a fellow Marine! Joe F.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Now Available In Digital Formats Only

Buy it at amazon.com or smashwords.com for $4.99
Tantalizing details of news stories are often never told. That changes in "Broadcasters: Untold Chaos," where a veteran journalist sheds new light on a career reaching from Saigon to Sioux City. These insider accounts—little-known or never told—include threats against CBS News, lunch with Ferdinand Marcos, a shocking on-air protest ignited by censorship and a military TV station destroyed with 100% casualties. Amazon link 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Key figures named in "Broadcasters: Untold Chaos"

Key broadcasters and other media individuals (150+) in order of their appearance:

Paul Rhoades, Russ Van Dyke, Bob Sevey, Derek Williams, Rick Lewis, Michele McNabb, Vinh Ve, Shelly Blunt, Ron Turner, James DiBernardo, John Deering, Tom Young, Don Gouin, Harry Ettmueller, Courtney Niles, John Anderson, Steve Stroub, John Bagwell, Jack Laurence, Robert Schakne, Murray Fromson, Don Webster, Duong Va Ri, Walter Cronkite, Michael Herr, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, Steve Kroft, Mai Phuong, John Chancellor, Clarence Page, Gene Siskel, Earl Woods, David Kieffer, Mike Maxwell, Bob Andreson, Lee Hansen, Steve Sevits, Jerry Masini, Craig Prosser, Harry Simons, Paul Bottoms, Casey Kasem, Wolfman Jack, Chickenman, Adrian Cronauer, Robin Williams, Pat Sajak, Merv Griffen, Richard Bednar, Gary W. Gears, John Steinbeck, Thomas Steinbeck, Hugh Morgan, Carl Hudgins, Robert Stricklin, William Wilson, Randall Moody, Toney Brooks, Ray Nash, Bob Lawrence, Bobbie Keith, Paul Baldridge, Janie and George Lewis, Al Dawson, Jim Russell, Tony Sargent, Kenley Jones, Gary Bel, Richard Threlkeld, Gary Shepard, Joe Moore, Michael Goucher, Nick Paladino, James Adams, Huntley-Brinkley, James Campbell, Ray Profeta, Peter Berlin, Bruce Beebe, Tom Sinkovitz, Norman Schwarzkopf, Ron Hesketh, Hanoi Hannah, Ed Wood, Eric Sevareid, Paul Harvey, Parker Lane, Bob MacArthur, Greg Cooke, Ron Bartlett, Jim Allingham, Rep. John Moss, Lynn Packer, Jack Anderson, John Broger, William R. Frye, S.L.A. Marshall, Robert Sanders, C.W. Lane, Richard Fitzpatrick, Lee W. Hauser, Mike Jackson, Dennis Woytek, Aunt Sara, Wayne Cannon, Jim Sandt, Robert Morecook, Keyes Beech, Brian Ellis, David Henderson, Richard Warner, Eric Cavalerio, Joel Bernstein, Dan Rather, Larry Doyle, Graham Greene, Tran Duc Suu, Linda Mason, Pham Dinh Long, Le Van Anh, Beth Bressan, Mai Phuong, Rob Dillard, Edward R. Murrow, Neal Davis, Bill Latch, Luis Beltran, Narong Srivoraphak and Uthai, Andy Williams, Gabby Tabunar, Ed Bradley, John Hamlin, Don Hewitt,Tori Lynn Jorgensen, Haing Ngor, Dith Pran, Charles Kuralt, Sydney Schanberg, Hidenobu Okamoto, Bob Simon, Nate Thayer, Dave McKaige, Art Key, Wanna Chukul, Connie Chung.

Friday, January 27, 2017

An Auspicious Life Moment

Thai King Bhumibol (Rama IX) in 1985, honoring military veterans in Bangkok. He died Oct. 13, 2016.

An American by birth, Thai King Rama IX was the longest-serving monarch in the world when he died in 2016. Most Thais alive today were born under the 70-year-reign of King Bhumibol, Rama IX. He came into the world in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while his father was attending Harvard Medical School in 1927. Thanks to this man, I met my wife through the royal family.

Most Westerners were introduced to the current Chakri Dynasty through the movie “The King and I,” where Yul Brynner portrayed Rama IV, King Mongkut, when Thailand was still Siam. The 1956 film won Brynner an Oscar, and the actor became the international face of Thailand’s Monarchy, also winning two Tony Awards for the stage version.

Ironically, the movie was officially banned in Thailand. The conservative Royal Household considered Brynner’s portrayal a little too frivolous; including scenes of the King frolicking with his children’s English tutor. Nonetheless, Brynner was popular in Thailand, where his death in 1985 saddened the Thai nation, all the way to the Royal Palace. A couple months earlier Queen Sirikit had seen one of Brynner’s last stage performances of “The King and I” on Broadway.

I first saw Rama IX in 1985 (above photo), at a public appearance honoring Thai veterans. Living in Thailand helps one understand the deep reverence for His Royal Highness, who has provided a calming influence during times of natural disasters, political turmoil, and ordinary hardship. The royal family has raised living standards for impoverished citizens with programs to promote clean water and conservation, agricultural, scientific and medical advances.  

Through all his fame and admiration, he was always close to the people; one of his favorite things was jazz music. Rama IX was a saxophonist and used to broadcast radio jazz programs from the palace. In 1960 he was photographed in New York playing sax in a jazz quartet with Benny Goodman on clarinet, Gene Krupa at the drums and Urbie Green with his trombone. He also liked the simplicity of driving a car.

The commemorative 70 baht note honors King Bhumibol, Rama IX.
I happened to be at the Grand Palace with visitors one time when King Bhumibol appeared. Built in 1782, the walled palace complex, with the venerated Emerald Buddha, is a major tourist attraction and admirers had crammed into all of the pathways and open spaces hoping to get a look at His Majesty. He moved through the crowd with a scepter, dipping it into a vase of holy water, and splashing the assembled disciples bowing down on the ground before him. He approached me, and with a flick of his wrist, I received the full measure of holy water across my face and torso. It was a direct hit and I have been blessed with good fortune ever since.

Rama IX’s son, and crown prince, would be heir to the throne. He was a fighter pilot in the Thai Air Force and occasionally made appearances representing the royal family. In 1987, a number of journalists based in Bangkok were invited to join him for an extraordinary overnight visit to an upcountry royal palace. This was not considered a news event, but more of an opportunity for a get-to-know meeting with the future king. I sent in my RSVP as the CBS News representative and considered it a privilege.

Reporters gathered at the airport and clambered aboard a military aircraft for the short flight to Sakhon Nakhon. We would overnight at a guesthouse on the palace grounds, join the crown price for dinner and return the next day. The C-130 cargo plane was configured for passengers; with seats facing each other. As I strapped in, I noticed the media contingent included some fresh faces I was not familiar with, among them, a pretty, young reporter for Yomiuri Shimbun sitting across from me. The Japanese newspaper had a bureau in Bangkok and Wanna was their Thai reporter.

At the evening event, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn made the Thai and international guests feel comfortable. Dinner was informal. The discussion steered clear of controversy; I did ask him about a recent incident when his aircraft blew a tire on landing and he shared the story. He had just flown over parts of Thailand and observed the country’s worst drought in a decade. His father, Rama IX, had initiated a royal project to turn a near-desert region into a greenbelt, involving improved irrigation and deepening reservoirs.

I had glanced and smiled at Wanna a couple more times before we returned to Bangkok, when a traditional courtship began. During this time, we covered some stories together, including military coups, when the elder King Bhumibol ultimately stepped in to end the chaos. All Thais respected the infallible voice of Rama IX, who was viewed as above politics. He literally saved the country on multiple occasions.

It takes time for an outsider to fathom the inspiration and impact that King Bhumibol had on his nation for seven decades. During my 10 years of residence in Thailand, I saw it repeatedly; from the photos of the king in every household, to audiences standing for the national anthem at movie theaters prior to every showing.

His Majesty personally handed diplomas to graduating college students; Wanna has a photo of the very moment when she received her certificate upon graduation from Thammasat University. For generations, the respect for the royal family has been passed down from parents to children. There are severe laws that forbid defamation of the royal family.

That invitation to dinner with the crown prince turned out to be an auspicious moment; seven years later Wanna and I were married, cementing a personal link with Thailand’s royal family. When the beloved Rama IX died last year, his son inherited the throne and the crown prince who brought us together 30 years ago is now King Rama X.   Video of Thais singing Thai Royal Anthem

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Rick and Wanna with our hosts Staff Sergeant Tim Wehrli and his wife Kwan.
To honor the Marine Corps' 241st birthday, we joined the celebration with about 200 Iowa-based Marines, spouses and other special guests. The unit, consisting of 75 Marines, supports the recruiting mission in Iowa and Nebraska. It was our first time ever to enjoy the ball in the U.S. Previously, we had attended a string of observances in Bangkok. My lasting impression: Even in Iowa, these folks are exposed to the world. They have either been to, or are going to, exciting postings overseas. The Wehrli's will soon be off to the Orient. (Des Moines 2016)
Flashback to a Bangkok ball in the early 1990s, with Vichien Prichanant, the CBS Bureau's fixer.
The symbolic "missing man" table setting honors all lost Marines.