Theodore's World: VFW: Woodstock Wasn't the Only Thing Happening 40 Years Ago

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August 13, 2009

VFW: Woodstock Wasn't the Only Thing Happening 40 Years Ago

VFW: Woodstock Wasn't the Only Thing Happening 40 Years Ago


By Colleen Raezler

While some in the media have been dusting off their love beads, bell-bottoms and broomstick skirts in an effort to wax nostalgic about Woodstock, the VFW has reminded its members that the world did not stop for those four days in August 1969.

In fact, for 109 American soldiers, the world ended that weekend.

VFW Magazine honored those soldiers in the August 2009 cover story, ""While Woodstock Rocked, GIs Died."

Much has been made over the "half a million strong" that flocked to a dairy farm in rural New York to celebrate music and peace. Richard K. Kolb instead compared the coverage Newsweek and Time gave to the festival while shortchanging American efforts in Vietnam.

"Newsweek described them as ‘a youthful, long-haired army, almost as large as the U.S. force in Vietnam," wrote Kolb. Time claimed Woodstock "may well rank as one of the significant political and sociological events of the age." The same article referred to the Vietnam as the "meaningless war in the jungles of Southeast Asia" and cited sociologist Amitai Etzoni, who stated that "the young need opportunities for authentic service."

As for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in the name of "authentic service" Kolb reported, "The casualties they sustained over those four days were genuine, yet none of the elite media outlets were praising their selflessness.

But unlike Woodstock's audience, labeled by Newsweek as "the nation's affluent white young," Kolb wrote that the soldiers killed that weekend "mirrored the population of the time."

Kolb offered statistics to prove his case:

"A full 92 percent were white (seven of whom had Spanish surnames) and 8 percent black. Some 67 percent were Protestants; 28 percent Catholic. A disproportionate number - more than one-third - hailed from the South. More than two-thirds were single; nearly one-third married. Not surprisingly, the vast majority (91 percent) were under the age of 30, with 78 percent between the ages of 18 and 22. "

Kolb also poignantly noted, "Of the four days, Aug. 18 - the last day of "peace and love" in the Catskills when the 50,000 diehards departed after the final act - was the worst for the men in Vietnam. Thirty-five of them died on that one miserable day."

Thirty-five died. Hundreds more were wounded. On August 9, 2009, The Washington Post ran a story about a man who figured prominently if briefly in the legend of Woodstock. As Post staff writer Neely Tucker described it:

"It was like the second day of the festival and Rodgers, 6-foot-5 and about 120 pounds, all of 19 years old, staggered out of the Port-O-San portable toilet, marijuana pipe in hand, and wow, there were guys with cameras, making what became the iconic film "Woodstock." Rodgers's blue shirt was open, he was unwashed and unkempt, his brown hair was an unruly wad on top of his head, and he was about 17 tokes over the line."

"Want some? Want some?" he says to the filming crew, offering hits. He's got this goofy grin. He says "Far out!" and "Out of sight!" For lo these many years, the lovable pothead scene has been a fan favorite.

Tucker's article caught up with Rodgers, forty years on, using nearly 1,500 words to sketch the unremarkable life of an unreconstructed hippie. It is perhaps too much to ask that the Post spill even a fraction of that ink to chronicle the life of one of the hundreds of Americans who were wounded that weekend on the other side of the world. It doesn't fit the self-congratulatory nostalgia.

The sacrifice and service that ultimately changed and, in the case of 109, ended the lives of many young Americans is not the defining notion of that summer weekend in 1969. They are overshadowed by the 500,000 people that crowded onto a farm for three days of self indulgence and ... entertainment.


Wild Thing's comment.......

Our troops never lost a battle and they never lost the war. The corrupt South Vietnamese Government and the corrupt United States government, the leaders in Washington, Hanoi Jane and her ilk, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and the Bill Clinton's of our country they are the ones that lost the war. They are the ones that should be hung in shame!!

Our troops, our Veterans from the Vietnam War should hold their heads high and know with all that is in them how very proud and honored most Americans are for every life that served, fought, was injured and those that were killed, how humbled we are to have such Heroes in our country.

......Thank you RAC for sending this to me.

RAC has a website that is awesome. 336th Assault Helicopter Company

13th Combat Aviation Battalion - 1st Aviation Brigade - Soc Trang, Republic of Vietnam

Posted by Wild Thing at August 13, 2009 06:55 AM


I was home by that time, back in school, and I remember a few who went to Woodstock. But if all the people who said they were there WERE there, the crowd would have been twice as large.

Even now I hear about it occasionally from guys (mostly) who claim to have attended. BFD is my opinion. Get a life before this one is gone, like the sad 109.

Posted by: Rhod at August 13, 2009 08:01 AM

While searching for the station that would carry the Hall of Fame game Buffalo vs. Tennessess I ran across NBC, which was the station that carried the game. Niteline preceeded the game. What did they have on Friggin' Documentary to the Maggots of Woodstock. I couldn't believe it.

I too, had been home for almost 2 years at that time. I remmeber Cars going through the area to get to the Thruway to go there. All long haired,dope smokin, dirty looking maggots who hadn't seen a shower in a month. And these assholes get a documentary for this.

Really shows how low the media has sunk or maybe they are just trying to ensure a place for themselves at the bottom of the cesspool.

Now these same maggots have taken over Washington DC, and all of their lofty ideals are being put into play. They are racing to take the country down to the level of Castro's Cuba, Nationalized Health Care, Deficits so huge because of entitlement programs that don't work for people who don't want to work. But the biggest maggot of all is the one in the White House who wouldn't have made a pimple on any soldiers ass during the time of Woodstock.

It is shit like this that makes me all the more angry and keeps giving me the will to fight harder and harder, to beat these sons of bitches into the fuckin ground and bash ther fuckin heads. Which is one of the reasons I always celebrate May 4.

Found this in Sgt. Grit:
About the time of Woodstock when a huge crowd of hippies were gathering in NY state another group of young men were suffering the indignities of Viet Nam. These Marines were fighting in the first major engagement after the announcement of the U.S. withdrawal. Sometimes called Death Valley or AK Valley this was a gruesome place. I quote from the Book DEATH VALLEY by Keith William Nolan "But in the recorded history of the Vietnam War, there is not a single instance of a Marine Unit refusing a combat mission.

Bill Carey, Corps of Marines

Posted by: Mark at August 13, 2009 08:53 AM

I concur with Rhod and Mark. Personally I was still in country during August of '69, orders for rotation were written and signed on August 3, 1969 we were standing down from daily missions and turning over our equipment during that last 5 days, boarding a C141 out of Chu Lai and landing at McCord AFB on Aug 11, 1969, was back on the street as a PFC as of Aug 13, 1969. The big news of the day was Manson's murder spree and the butchering of Sharon Tate. Then came Woodstock and my disgust with my own country, at the time I tried to get into school but it was too late to make first semester and the classes I wanted, it took another year. I definitely wasn't welcomed by the campus or the homebodies either. The day my hold baggage arrived I packed up and we moved out of town. Why was I in Vietnam? Officially it was the USS Pueblo being taken, shit I didn't know it at the time but Ol' LBJ didn't know N. Korea from N. Vietnam, he did put me on the DMZ anyway just for shits and giggles. So much for the 'rescue' of the Pueblo's crew, my first lesson in true duplicity. LBJ was just padding the books with a call for troops that were sent to the RVN instead. I did get to meet some great soldiers and Marines up there.
I have a 40th homecoming reunion on the 22 of this month. As a soldier amongst many other soldiers and Marines, we won the war while those assholes at Woodstock and in the halls of Congress surrendered it to Communism, we didn't lose that war the Communists within simply surrendered. As troops doing the dirty work we remained faithful while the rest of the country did not.
To add insult to the loss they totally gave up on the MIA/POW's, accepting those ambulatory prisoners out of Hanoi as the only ones left. WTF happened to those Americans and Allies severely wounded, those with lost limbs and minds who were captured in S.Vietnam, N.Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand? The congressional passage of the Case-Church amendment and Nixon-Kissinger secret deals to rebuild the Communist's country nixed all chances of getting them back,their fate was sealed and the nation hasn't objected to their loss, thank you very much John S. McCain and John F. Kerry.
UH-1 pilot Frank Anton was one of those pilots who was captured and held for 5 years in the jungle, military intelligence knew where he was but didn't act to rescue him. US Army Special Forces officer, Arthur D. "Bull" Simons , made an attempted rescue of American prisoners of war from a North Vietnamese prison at Son Tay. He cared and he tried, something most Americans would rather turn their faces from.

Posted by: Jack at August 13, 2009 11:29 AM

I did my Vietnam thing from Sep66 to Mar68, before Woodstock. I would have exended for another tour, but I thought we had just won the war during Tet68, so I derosed and became a pfc(privat f---ing civilian).

My homecoming turned out to be anything but sweet. Most people my age disdained me for going to Nam. Even some WWII vets(found out most of them never saw action) gave me a hard time about Vietnam not being a real war. I had several jobs and finally found one I really liked working around airplanes. The job rquired me to work alone at night refueling and parking planes. No one to argue with. I also returned to college part time. I found a great deal of animosity and hostility from other students and some professors. I hated that environment even though I met a few studnts who befriended me and thought my Vietnam service was admirable.

Then in May of 69 my company went union. I refused to join and went through the classic union shit. I had negotiated my own wages with the company who payed me well because I worked alone at night with a lot of responsibility. I also served as their security on million dollar Lear jets and other executive aircraft, so I had a weapon handy. One night two of the union organizers came by to convince me that I should not be a holdout. They meant to intimidate me. Other harassment had already been tried, all of it vocal. These two guys were dim bulbs that were to be the "muscle". We were in my element and they ended up looking at the wrong end of an M1 carbine.I got some new respect, but was still harassed and one night two executive planes had their fire extinguishers set off inside. I knew the union was going to bug me infinitely.

Between the union threats and the outcast status at college I said something akin to "to hell with it" and reupped in July of 69. Woodstock occured while I was in Army Language School in Monterey California. What I saw on the news about Woodstock was that it had the same cast of spoiled kids I ran into at college. There were a bunch of them around Monterey as the year before they had the precussor to Woodstaock which was the Monterey Jazz Festival. We were also very close to San Francisco, the world's hippie capital. Actually, almost everybody in California in '69 was decent to me, but the anti war atmosphere hung heavy over the area.

Now we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. I will agree it is an icon, like Tet68. 1968/69 was a pivotable turning point in American culture. I don't like what it has become. Those young spoiled hippies/college kids have become political leaders and media leaders. They are leading us to the socialist utopia which other young Americans fought and bled to prevent. Even now as we fight two wars against a religious utopian tyranny, America is facing a fanantical attack on our traditional culture. New and old leaders want to introduce globalist socialism with touches of Marxism included.

The Woodstock boys and girls bringing this socialism to America have probably not stopped to realize that if we get what they want there will not be the freedom for their grandkids to have a Woodstock in 2019.

Posted by: TomR at August 13, 2009 01:02 PM

I had a chance to go to Woodstock but wasn't much interested -- even though I was politically naive back then.

As for the VFW, Mr. AOW and I support our local post. In fact, Mr. AOW works there part-time as a bartender. When Rolling Thunder comes to town for Memorial Day, our local VFW is open all day long and serves free food.

Posted by: Always On Watch at August 13, 2009 09:54 PM

Rhod, thank you so much. I was wondering
how truthful they were about the size of
the crowds. The left always lie about
that kind of thing. Like they did about
the turnouts for many of Obama's rallies

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 12:04 AM

Mark, you said how I feel about them.

"And these assholes get a documentary for this."

I didn't like them or their Woodstock back
then and I don't now. This disgusts me so
much that they have to dig up old harry so
to speak and can't let it die. It is not
something our country should be proud of
in any way.
And it ticks me off too because it also
encourages the dreggs of society now, the
Code Pink types and the hippie types of
today to think it is cool when it is NOT.

Thank you for sharing Mark it means a lot.

And thank you for the quote by Marine
Bill Carey.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 12:14 AM

Jack, thank you for sharing your
experiences and also about Frank Anton
and Bull" Simons too.

This is the kind of thing people should
be more interested in then that horrible

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 12:30 AM

Tom, the way they treated you is
unforgivable. That is why this kind
of thing with this sick worship of
woodstock makes me so angry. It is
like telling all of those today that
it was OK and how they should be like
those anti-American and anti- war
people from back then.

Thank you so much for sharing. I agree
Tom, the leaders in office today many of
them are the hippies from back then. And the
older ones in office were the ones that
sided with Ted Kennedy etc. about the war.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 12:40 AM

HI Always On Watch, good to see you.
That is so fantastic, thank you so much
for sharing about Rolling Thunder coming
there. That is such a great group and
they have done a lot of good too.

Thank you to you and Mr. AOW.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 12:42 AM