I was honored to be guest speaker.
I was surprised at the large crowd on such an overcast windy morning. It was refreshing to see youth groups participating in the memorial service.
Bagley residents should be proud of the tribute they pay their veterans.
Click on the title and listen to the 11 minute talk.
I am humbled by the comments I received after the ceremony.
On May 27, 2013 at 10:30AM, I am honored to be guest speaker for the American Legion, Bagley, Minnesota. Each year on the last Monday of May we honor the memory of those who have served our country and gone before us.
In the 1990s World War II veterans often stopped by to visit with me at Luekens Village Foods where I managed the butcher shop. Several times over the years, a veteran would begin sharing a story of trauma they had experienced during their war. More than once the person walked away, choked up, story unfinished. Today, I realize it was probably the anniversary date and they needed to share it with somebody. Sadly they are gone now. But I credit them with making me realize the importance of writing our stories.
I am currently working on a memoir about our family. On my last blog post, on my Chickenhouse Chronicle page, I spoke of a soldier standing in as one of the groomsmen in my grandparent’s wedding in 1917. The young man was killed in action on October 25, 1918, less than a month before World War One ended. This week I hope to do a bit of research and see if I can find any information on this forgotten soldier. Over the past two centuries, millions of men and women who served our country have died long after they returned home, taking their stories with them.
To today’s young veterans, I encourage you to write. Tell your stories. It is cathartic for the author and it opens a window through which one’s family can glimpse your experiences.
Three generations of veterans from my family are represented in Nebish Community Cemetery:
Randolph Leonard Affield, U.S. Navy, killed, lost at sea, 1951-1978
Herman Arthur Affield U.S. Army, World War II, 1916-1971
Henry O. Philips, U.S. Army World War I and World War II (maternal grandfather) 1894-1957
Each Memorial Day my family and I pay tribute—a few years ago my granddaughters were with us and this poem came to me about my brother who died so young, leaving two babies behind.
She hop-scotches from etched stone to stone,
little sister in her wake, sunshine on her face
joyous at the lilacs, flags, and synthetic bouquets.
Spring brings accolades—melancholy pride.
Yet, each day, I grieve the day you died,
grieve at life you left behind—
You’ll never sit beneath budding oak, watch
ruby breasted bluebirds flash in flaxen dawn,
golden streaks above dewed meadows.
You’ll never walk your daughter down the aisle
or watch your granddaughter
gather blossoms of wild plums and trilliums.
She skips across your stone to me and asks,
“Papa is you sad?”
and offers me a purple sprig, with smile and out-stretched hand.
Tuesday, April 16, will be a busy day:
At 8:30 AM I will be on “Coyote Country Radio” KKWB 102.5 FM discussing Muddy Jungle Rivers.
At 7:00 PM Fosston Community Library and American Legion have teamed up to host a book reading and discussion. The public is invited.
This past month I visited with two classes at Bemidji State University who used Muddy Jungle Rivers as a text book Spring 2013 semester: Thank you Professor Marsha Driscoll and Professor Tom Murphy. I recently received an inquiry from University of Indiana, South Bend about purchasing Muddy Jungle Rivers for the Autumn 2013 semester for a History class.
This past weekend was very successful at the Bemidji Gun Show. I have booked for two up-coming gun shows in other cities.
We’ve been working on electronic marketing these past few months with great success. This past week we ran a Facebook promotion titled “Remembering Vietnam Forty Years Later.” 12,778 people clicked on it, many following through to purchase the Kindle edition. Others went to my web site for signed copies.
Thank you TJ Design Studio, Bemidji, MN and Hofmann Consulting, Edina, MN, for a job well-done.
Blackduck Community Library and AMVETS have teamed up to host a book reading and discussion by Wendell Affield, author of Muddy Jungle Rivers, a Vietnam War memoir. The event begins at 6:30 PM, March 14, at Blackduck Good Samaritan Senior Living in the “great room.” The public is invited.
Muddy Jungle Rivers is a close-up look at life on a gunboat during 1968, the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War. It is the story of a seven-man crew captained by a volatile pro-war enlisted man, told from a twenty-year-old Cox’n’s point of view. In Muddy Jungle Rivers the reader will glimpse the genesis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Steve Almond wrote the Foreword.
Affield recently visited classes at Bemidji State University and discussed Muddy Jungle Rivers, writing, memory, and research. He is currently studying Abnormal Psychology at BSU to gain insights into human behavior as he works on his latest writing project. Affield and his wife, Patti, live on a farm west of Bemidji.
Affield will donate a portion of the evening’s book sales to the Blackduck Community Library.
To learn more, go to http://www.krls.org/branches/branch_bl.html
Quilt of Valor
Presented to: Wendell “Afe” Affield
Handmade/Quilted by Lanee
Dedicated With Thanks for Serving
“Lanee” is Kathleen Paulson, Solway, Minnesota. This past Saturday afternoon, Kathleen, her husband, Mark, and her parents, Kenny and Carol Stevens, stopped by our home and presented the quilt. I am deeply humbled and will treasure this keepsake.
I was not familiar with the Quilt of Valor program so I Googled it and discovered that,
“A Quilt of Valor is a wartime quilt made to honor our war wounded. It is a tangible way to say: “Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor for our country.””
My war ended over forty years ago but we have again been at war for more than a decade so these Quilts of Valor truly are “wartime quilts.”
After Lanee and her family left I studied the quilt—the tiny, intricate stitching, the unique pattern design, the quilting. I’m sure Lanee spent many, many hours creating this piece of art. She even stitched in, “Treasure each Moment” a phrase I had written in her father’s copy of Muddy Jungle Rivers.
As I studied the pictures we took, I reflected on the two little girls, Kadance and Livia, perched on the quilt. The older girl, Kadance, was an infant when I began writing Muddy Jungle Rivers. One evening this poem, “Lullaby for the Lost,” came to me as I held her:
Autumn’s rain echoes overhead
as I rock my granddaughter tonight
Another tune, staccato,
lulled you to sleep
on a muddy jungle river
Readers have asked why I use no punctuation—no periods. How do you explain that there is no end to loving a grandchild: No end to remembering those we lost in war?
Today I mourn the young men and women lost in this new war who will never have a chance to hold a grandchild. But it is comforting to know there are people in the world like Lanee who step forward and offer a symbol representing what we sacrificed for.
Thank you, Lanee
Email I recieved from Larry Reid on May 3, 2012 in response to Muddy Jungle Rivers:
You don’t know how much your book meant to me Wendell!
I don’t remember everything that happened that day. At Spec 4 (E-4) I was the ranking man with the most time in combat left in 3rd platoon, Co. D, 4/47th Inf Bn, 2nd Bde, 9th Inf Div. I had 3 others with me. One of them was named Gene Fountaine. I was in touch with him for a while but haven’t heard from him in years now. The 4 of us were assigned to 2nd platoon for the rest of that operation. I was only lightly wounded and finished the operation. Third platoon was wiped out that day.
Another soldier who was in the well deck was Stafford Cowles. He helped to kick some of those burning ammo and grenade cases over the side. I am still in touch with him but he moved to Guatemala last year. He was wounded pretty bad that day and choppered out. The Latino you mentioned using a bunk may have been Hector Lugo-Mojica. He was KIA and here is the link to his name on The Wall: http://vvmf.org/thewall/Wall_Id_No=31542
Be sure to click on the remembrance I left for him at the bottom of the page.
Your book confirmed some things that I remembered but could not confirm. One was that I thought I saw a medevac chopper shot down. Thank you for letting me know that I didn’t imagine that. Another was about the hook not letting the ramp down. I sat at the front of the ATC at one point when we were beached to discourage Charlie from tossing grenades or firing another RPG. It was hell for all of us that day.
I have more details I would like to share and some questions to ask. I was the 3rd platoon RTO and should have known the name of the black sergeant who took over the empty .50 cal turret, but I cannot think of it. I still have my orders awarding me the Purple Heart…maybe his name is on there. I will look for my Vietnam storage box.
I look forward to continuing our conversation. I am very glad you survived that day. The “official” records say that we only lost 4 people, but I doubt their KIA count and would like to find out how many more died of wounds within a few days of 8/18/1968 from that ambush.
It is an honor to be in touch with you.
I find it incredible how today’s technology is capable of connecting strangers, across time and distance, who shared a common experience four decades in the past. I hope to hear from others.
Muddy Jungle Rivers is available in the Bemidji area at Luekens Village Foods North, Luekens Village Foods South, Book World, Kat’s Book Nook, and TJ Design Studio. Beginning May 1, 2012, Muddy Jungle Rivers is available for sale on Kindle or in Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Muddy Jungle Rivers, my Vietnam memoir, is at the publisher. I expect to receive the first print proofs for review the first week of March. TJ Design Studio, Bemidji, Minnesota has developed the electronic book formats for submission to Kindle, Nook, and Apple iStore, which will be ported by the end of March. Reach TJ Studio at: http://www.tjdesignstudio.com/
The print edition of Muddy Jungle Rivers should be available locally and through on-line bookstores by mid May.
I recently had lunch with a local author who has almost a dozen books published by traditional publishers. He was very frustrated by the state of the publishing industry and was exploring the possibility of self-publishing his next book. One his biggest complaints was that his publisher expected him to do most of the marketing—very time-consuming—yet receive a small fraction of his book’s sale price as a royalty. He refers to the new publishing world—the world of electronic books and self-publishing as, “Today’s Wild West where anything goes,” and feels that author retention of all intellectual rights is very important because of evolving technology and the fluid environment of cyber publishing platforms. He continued on with a litany of issues, commenting that even best selling authors like Barry Eisler are self publishing. I went home, Goggled Eisler, and discovered this site with a very strong argument for the self-publisher. http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20110321/00183913568/best-selling-author-turns-down-half-million-dollar-publishing-contract-to-self-publish.shtml
The Barry Eisler interview and my luncheon conversation with the Bemidji area author have reinforced my decision to self-publish. Several local writers are excited about Whispering Petals Press, LLC as a local resource to publish under.