Our Speaker on Tuesday, October 17th was club member Keith Stuessi describing his tour of service in Vietnam.  Keith noted, “I wanted to share a few experiences from my "tour" in Viet Nam 1968 - 1969. As I said, for about ten years after we moved from Kansas City to Minneapolis late in 1970, I don't recall meeting anyone up here who had served in the military in Vietnam. Whereas it seemed every guy I knew around my age growing up in the KC area experienced the US military during the Vietnam era. So, I thought my experiences might be interesting to our Rotary group.” 
“I started my talk mentioning I was the first guy levied from Ft. Carson to Vietnam out of 2800 troops at that fort. Why me first? Getting to that answer after I arrived at my destination, which was a finance and special operations unit attached to the 101st Airborne. In Qui Nhon, I went through a series of funny dialogs with four people I became close friends with during my 10 month "tour". These included my Colonel, our finance company commanding officer, Sarah, the head nurse for our battalion, John our head supply sergeant, and "Tau" our Vietnamese interpreter.” 
“As it turned out, my French language background was key to my getting this very privileged assignment running a payroll unit paying over 2000 Vietnamese who worked for our military in our province.  Because of this background I was able to communicate and more easily resolve payroll issues with Vietnamese throughout our "Bin Dihn" province. These Vietnamese in my unit, and many in the field were close to my age, 24 at that time, and grew up under French rule where French was their second language. And with Sarah, who also had a similar French language background, we were able to teach English to over 150 Vietnamese in our compound and in 2 little towns nearby.”
“These classes and working with the Vietnamese, who I grew to love, were the highlight of my "tour." “
“Though I wanted to emphasize the most fun and interesting aspects of my tour, I also believed I needed to explain some of the "casualties" of this war, including the loss of a Kansas fraternity brother, an Air Force pilot whose supply plane was shot down right before I planned to have lunch with him again, and the Red Cross planes sent to retrieve the injured, where I was assigned as an interpreter, that were loaded with severely injured Vietnamese adults and kids  from remote  US Army outposts. The tragedy was many of these kids did not survive before we could get them back to our large regional hospital. These events still haunt me today.”