More on The Vietnam Tapes from MPR


When Dan Kleven served in combat in Vietnam in 1970, he was sent on a raid into Cambodia.  He describes finding a cache of supplies.  I have copied the following from MPR’s transcript of the program.  This is Dan Kleven speaking in an audio cassette letter to his folks on a dairy farm outside of Willmar, Minnesota.

I know something I didn’t mention. We found this medical cache. It had everything you could think of. It had heroin, it had morphine, it had barbiturates and amphetamines and every kind of drug. All of them in vials from France and Russia, Great Britain, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and all these different places where all these drugs came from.

They had a whole big bag full of syringes, sterile syringes, and they were from the United States. They were given by American Friends Service Committee — Quakers. And what I’ll do, I’ll send this deal home in this tape and you can show it to whoever you like. But it really made us guys mad because you know, we’re over here fighting and you got bunch of idiots sending the North Vietnamese people supplies and stuff. Goll, I can’t hardly believe it. It really made us mad anyway, but I’m going to send it home in the tape and let you read it.

He’s nineteen or twenty years old here, a soldier in a country we Americans never learned about in school, nonetheless, we were trying to save it. 

In June, Pastor Wayne delivered a sermon in which he talked about traveling with the Lutheran World Relief to Ethiopia in the late 1980s.  There was a famine in Ethiopia and various countries had donated food but the food was not being delivered to the people who were hungry.  To help, the Lutheran World Relief bought Mercedes Benz trucks to transport the food from the docks to the feeding stations.  Pastor Wayne wasin a delegation to see if the food was being delivered to the hungry masses. 

Yes, it was.  And after it was delivered, the Merceded Benz trucks were confiscated by the government.  These fine trucks would make no more deliveries of food to the hungry; they would now go into service for a government that was willing to starve its own people.  But before that had happened, they had each made one delivery of food to starving people. 

My comment:  It is difficult to do service.  Once our good intentions have left our hands, we cannot know what will happen, if our good intentions will be diverted, even perverted.  Perhaps our life-saving supplies will fall into the hands of the enemies, the wicked, the corrupt, the spooks. 

Perhaps we can take comfort in Jesus’ command, “Love your enemies.”  It is difficult, but sometimes we might do it despite our efforts otherwise. 

Reva Rasmussen


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