Tuesday, March 7, 2023

AFVN - The GIs Companion


Mike Pitts and "Peaches"

For the 3.4 million Americans who served in Vietnam and the surrounding theater during the war, AFVN (American Forces Vietnam Network) was the soundtrack of their lives while in Southeast Asia. AFVN disc jockeys, newsmen, sportscasters and special program hosts brought the sound of home to Vietnam. American servicemen, servicewomen, civilians and even South Vietnamese citizens regularly listened to AFVN for music, news, entertainment and other important information. AFVN was heard everywhere: on bases, aboard ships, in cockpits, and in the fields of battle. AFVN was with our troops on demand 24 hours a day throughout Vietnam and several other countries in the region. Wherever Americans were, AFVN accompanied them.

Hundreds of military personnel and civilians diligently served with AFVN on the air and behind the scenes to make it such an important and positive element of the Vietnam experience. It is the radio network where Adrian Cronauer signed on with "Gooooooood Morning, Vietnam" (which was the basis for the film "Good Morning, Vietnam" starring Robin Williams). Standout, Pat Sajak (of "Wheel of Fortune" fame) also served at AFVN-Saigon in 1968 and 1969. In April 1975, AFVN in Saigon famously played Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" as a signal for the remaining Americans that the final evacuation of Saigon had begun. The importance of the AFVN radio stations cannot be overstated. The purpose of this tribute broadcast is to honor our Vietnam veterans and the role AFVN played in providing Americans a sense of home back in the States.
Marine Corporal Harry Simons (later Sergeant Harry Simons), using the on-air call sign "Your Brother", was stationed at both AFVN-Saigon and AFVN-Danang from 1967 - 1969. Mr. Simons, a life-long broadcaster, recently provided WEBY with many hours of original studio master tape recordings of his "Boss Radio" style rock and roll music programs. These programs that aired nearly 50 years ago have been provided for the purpose of sharing these historical broadcasts with his fellow veterans.
WEBY is compiling these time-capsule recordings into a special week-long commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and to honor our Vietnam veterans. It will air during the 2015 Veterans Day season. Authentic AFVN program recordings of Pat Sajak, Scott Manning, Joe Rowland, Allan Moore, and other radio personalities will also be featured.

Chris Noel, famed Hollywood actress, has joined our tribute broadcast allowing us to include her #1 rated Los Angeles-produced radio program through AFRTS that aired on AFVN. Chris often traveled to Vietnam under the USO umbrella to entertain the troops in areas considered too dangerous for the Bob Hope Show. A published author, Chris Noel speaks to her Vietnam experience in her best seller “Vietnam and Me”. In 1993, Chris Noel founded Vetsville Cease Fire House, a non-profit charity based in Boynton Beach, Florida. Its mission is dedicated to providing food, shelter and care for indigent military veterans. That mission continues today. 

Exclusive interviews with “Donut Dollies” serving with the Red Cross in Vietnam bring to this broadcast a unique and mostly untold story of these brave young women who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the purpose of lifting the morale of American combat soldiers. These frontline civilians, The Donut

Dollies, also charmed the airwaves of the American Forces Vietnam Network with their own radio program which dedicated songs to wounded GIs they had visited in hospitals around the country.

Chickenman (Dick Orkin) has been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Dick is the creator of the extraordinarily popular syndicated radio program “Chickenman.” He has contributed an interview and original episodes that will play a prominent role in the total AFVN broadcast experience. Chickenman was provided to AFVN by Mr. Orkin and aired from the AFVN Network flagship station in Saigon. It was heard throughout Vietnam. Chickenman is credited for maintaining sanity for many GIs.

WEBY will take Vietnam veterans and all listeners back in time as we broadcast the original AFVN programs. Combat correspondents’ interviews with ser vicemen are included. Interviews with veterans of the Vietnam War that have interesting stories about their service and AFVN Radio are included as well. Adding background and color to the broadcast, many of the program hosts (DJs) who proudly served in those very difficult circumstances have been interviewed to share their memories and experiences. Interviews with Mr. Simons will be interspersed throughout the broadcast as he shares the inside story of AFVN.

Americans in Vietnam were kept informed of the news at the top of every hour by dedicated military journalists who compiled newscasts from major American networks, wire services, and military sources. Of particular nostalgic interest as this documentary goes back in time are the AFVN newscasts which report in present tense such topics as former Vice-President Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency against Hubert Humphrey, airline hijackings to Cuba (on now defunct Eastern Airlines and National Airlines), the upcoming Apollo missions to the Moon, negotiations between the United Kingdom and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) concerning independence from colonial rule, and many more interesting stories.

The AFVN sports reports give football results for the Los Angeles Rams (now the St. Louis Rams), the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals), and the Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts) . Major League Baseball coverage refers to the Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) and Mickey Mantle's announcement that he would retire from the New York Yankees. The broadcast features coverage of Arnold Palmer and Gary Player at the two-man team match play at the 1968 Piccadilly World Match Play Championship at Wentworth near London (now the Volvo World Match Play Championship). Additional sports reports cover the upcoming 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

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