Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws, and asks no omen but his country’s cause.
—The lliad (Pope’s translation)
Six Degrees of the Bracelet: Vietnam’s Continuing Grip
Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is at most six steps away from, or connected to, any other person on Earth.
While the Vietnam War was raging, silver bracelets were created to raise awareness of, and show support for, American servicemen who were prisoners of war (POW) or missing in action (MIA). After the war, black bracelets were produced to pay homage to any of our armed forces killed in action (KIA). The orange bracelet is more recent and symbolizes all those, living and deceased, who have suffered from diseases, combat wounds, and post traumatic stress resulting from their Vietnam service. These bracelets honor the memory and sacrifice of our troops—one of the central goals of this book.
You will be riveted by the indescribable stories told by veterans, about veterans, and for veterans, and by the families of the lost or still missing MIAs. More than 3,400,000 men and women served in Southeast Asia. Although close to 60 percent of all Vietnam veterans who served in-country are no longer alive, the families of all these veterans will continue to be affected by the Vietnam War for generations. This book illustrates the misery and despair experienced by both soldiers and victims of this visceral war, but also the exhilaration of combat, and the camaraderie felt, during their respective tours, to present day.
The understanding of warfare, combined with the appreciation of all the elements derived from combat, is necessary to better comprehend the effects of battle on those who have sworn to protect our country. Even if our soldiers did not incur flesh wounds, they may have suffered irreparable damage to their emotions, their psyche, and their soul. We civilians may never know or be able to comprehend the degradation caused to their human spirit and the violence and brutality they encountered. We need also to continue to support these men and women in the aftermath of their courageous service.
Background of the Book
In December 2009, John Siegfried discovered the silver POW/MIA bracelet that his mother-in-law had worn for over 20 years. Curiosity urged him to contact the person named on the bracelet, a contact that inspired him profoundly and set him on a path that resulted in this book. Colonel Myron Donald willingly shared the story of both his service and imprisonment as a POW in Vietnam. In a personal meeting with Colonel Donald, Siegfried learned the harrowing details of how Donald overcame over five years imprisonment in the horrid conditions of North Vietnamese prisons. This story opened his eyes to the harsh reality and bitter tragedy of a savage war and inspired him to begin researching the stories of others affected by the Vietnam War. This book contains many of those stories, as well as compelling insights into Siegfried’s own journey of discovery. All interviews within this book are true accounts and were conducted in person throughout the United States.
Six Degrees of the Bracelet: Vietnam's Continuing Grip is a personal account of the Vietnam War. John traveled the United States meeting survivors from both sides of the war that gave him very personal aspects of the war and what they experienced. It helped him grow as a person to hear the actual accounts of what took place in what is considered a very misunderstood war.
Interviews with the Author
John Interviews Vietnam Veteran Dave Martin
List of Interviewees
Colonel Thom Nicholson (Ret.) SOG Captain (Inactive) Homer R. Steedly Jr. Specialist 4 Edward Bruce Spear PFC George Fallon 101st Airborne Specialist 5 James Schlegel Captain William J. Jamison Colonel/Surgeon (Ret.) Richard Odom 1st Cavalry Airmobile
Lieutenant John Gulick, SEAL Rear Admiral (Ret.) Michael S. Roesner PR-2nd Class Robert Bevan Hogan Lieutenant Commander James T. Caldwell (Ret.) Navy Corpsman Carmelo Infantino (Doc I) Navy Corpsman John Murphy
Sergeant Hip Biker, pen name Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Mike McAllister
Forward Observer Sergeant David “Smilie” Martin
Chief Warrant Officer 4 (Ret.) Paul C. Scotti
Lt. Colonel Myron Donald (Ret.) USAF
Chief Warrant Officer George Phillip Berg USA Major Harold William Kroske Jr. USA Major George John Pollin USAF repatriated
Medal of Honor Recipients
Colonel Walter “Joe” Marm (Ret.) 1st Cavalry Airmobile Corporal Michael Crescenz USA KIA