LEST WE FORGET - THE TET OFFENSIVE IN
By MAJ GLENN MacDONALD
© 2018 MilitaryCorruption.com
When life knocks at the door,
A half-century has passed since the start of the 1968 Communist Tet Offensive in Vietnam. While many bad things that happened over these past 50 years have mercifully faded into the mists of time, there are some moments of sheer terror, of life-and-death situations staring you in the face, that you can still smell the cordite and feel your heart beating like a trip-hammer like it did that January 30 so long ago.
SP4 Marc Lofaro was a friend and combat photographer with the 54th Signal Bn. in Nha Trang. We shared the same birthday. He was from the Bronx, New York while I hailed from the coast of Maine. Both of us dreamed of being civilian war correspondents someday. I got to see that wish come true. He was sent home in a metal casket.
Street fighting is as dangerous as it comes. I can't recall now just where Marc was killed, but I think it might have been near a VC-occupied villa on Phan Nam Street, behind Roberts Compound. It was a sniper that got him, a slug from an AK-47 struck him in the head, his body crumpled, and he was dead before he hit the ground.
DON HIRST REMEMBERS
His death rocked not only me - why did the bullet hit him? Why did he die, while I and others survived? Lofaro's close buddy, another Army combat correspondent, Don Hirst, was in Saigon when the VC attacked and tried to overrun the American Embassy.
Don's memorable photos of two MP's leading away a captured Viet Cong sapper, his arms high in the air in surrender, has been reproduced many times - in magazines and on the cover of books about the war. Hirst told me he might have taken Marc's place in Nha Trang that day, had he not been in Saigon on TDY. Even after all these years, fellow cancer-survivor (Agent Orange) Don Hirst chokes up when he talks about his friend of long ago.
Those of us who lost friends and colleagues in the war (see related stories below) know the aching pain you feel when - transported back in time - you recall the death of a fellow "bao chi" who has left this life forever. Like the late George Esper (AP) and Paul Vogle (UPI), Don was and is one of the most beloved of our dwindling "band of brothers." Like the last leaves on an old withered tree, destined to fall to the ground and die - Hirst has bravely battled cancer to a draw. Our prayers are with you as you read these words, dear friend.
SMALLWOOD GETS A PROMOTION
The poet John Masefield wrote the lines at the top of this sad remembrance. Sooner or later we all must walk into that lonesome valley and prepare to meet our maker. For that reason and others, I want to make it official that former Navy pilot and journalist extraordinaire David Smallwood has been promoted to "editor-in-chief" of MilitaryCorruption.com. Consequently, I will assume the title of "editor-in-chief emeritus." Our hearts and thoughts go out in remembrance of our co-founder,'the late GEN Peter E. Genovese Jr., who shared the dream and helped make possible MilitaryCorruption.com "fighting for the truth and exposing the corrupt." Look down, sir, from heaven above, and see your former aide rendering a heartfelt salute.
Some years ago, a dear lady named Teresa Masaniai, (now deceased) sent me an e-mail about the man who now assumes command of MCC. She wrote: "David would be an excellent successor to you at MilitaryCorruption.com. He's a wonderful man, an excellent speaker, with the drive and will to be worthy of your trust . . . if anything were to happen to you, David is best-equipped to carry on in your place."
We hope you, dear reader, agree.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: -- MAJ MacDonald served in Vietnam (1966-1969) and was an Army combat correspondent and NCO prior to a long career with ABC RADIO NEWS, The Associated Press, The New York POST, and finally, as a United Press International correspondent. He enlisted in 1966, volunteered for Vietnam, and was honorably retired as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve 33 years later.]
WE LOSE A FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE