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is honored on Panel 1E, Line 88 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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  • I'm proud of our Vietnam Veterans

    Posted on 3/28/18 - by Dennis Wriston
    Private First Class Robert Joseph Betz, Served with the 140th Transportation Detachment, 117th Assault Helicopter Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, United States Army Support Command Vietnam, United States Army Vietnam.
  • Friend of Family Thomas Schwarz

    Posted on 9/7/17 - by Kathryn Riley
    Hi Thom: your old e-mail address is defunct. Please get ahold of me if you peruse this one day again.

    Robert J Betz was my cousin. I'm Kathryn Betz, daughter of Arthur, who is the Uncle to Robert.

    Hope to hear from you.

    I am researching some details about my cousin Robert's death Feb 20, 1965 in Khe Sahn or Da Nang??
  • Remembered

    Posted on 3/6/17 - by Lucy Conte Micik
  • Qui Nhon, 1965: Terrorism Takes a Toll

    Posted on 1/5/16 - by
    “A series of events,” occurring in February 1965, “for the first time in the three years since U.S. troops went to Vietnam in force shocked the American people into some sense of being at war,” proclaimed Newsweek late in that month.

    Indeed, Radio Hanoi had exhorted the Viet Cong (VC) to “strike hard, very hard, at the enemy on all battlefields.” In response, the National Liberation Front’s Liberation Radio vowed GI’s would soon “pay more blood debts.” That threat was realized on February 10, 1965, in the coastal city of Qui Nhon.

    The target: the bachelor’s enlisted men’s quarters. It was billed as the Viet Cuong (“Strength of Vietnam”) Hotel. But structurally the newly constructed four-story building was anything but that. With no reinforced concrete or reinforcing bars, it mostly was made of hollow red bricks held together by mortar and plaster.

    Nevertheless, the U.S. government leased the billet for a helicopter maintenance unit. The 140th Transportation Detachment (Cargo Helicopter Field Maintenance), nicknamed the “Phantom Regulators,” serviced the aircraft of the 117th Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter). Its 273 men in 1964 were based at the city’s airfield.

    The 117th’s commanding officer, retired colonel James E. Rogers, was against placing the detachment in the hotel. “For both safety and security reasons, I voiced opposition to this arrangement,” he said in an October 2014 interview.


    At the time of the bombing, 43 men were in their rooms or in a bar on the ground floor. Coordinated attacks on the city began at 8:05 p.m. Two VC killed the South Vietnamese guards posted outside the building while two other VC planted two satchel charges at the main door. A 100-pound plastic charge destroyed the central staircase supporting the hotel.

    Four stories were immediately reduced to one as the building crumbled into a pile of rubble more than 30 feet high. Alex Brassert was a U.S. adviser who happened to be in Qui Nhon at the time. “There was a loud explosion, then a second; the lights went out in the whole town,” he said. “I saw red fashes in a back window that I think was near the stairwell. Then the Viet Cuong Hotel sank out of my field of vision.”

    117th veteran Carl Vogel recalled: “I was in a guard tower that night. At first, I heard what I thought to be machine gun from the downtown area. The next thing I heard was an explosion; looked again and saw the hotel that housed the 140th lift into the air and settle to the ground. It was the worst night of my life.”

    Just before the attack, SP5 Robert K. Marshall was alerted by VC gunfire. He quickly took up a firing position at the drainage port on the balcony. “I fired at them, and as I did, two more figures jumped from behind a newsstand 30 feet to my left and fired at me with submachine guns,” Marshall said. “I shoved another clip into my rife and emptied it, and one more, into them. I hit them both and saw them fall.” Some 60 rounds of ammo assured that.

    “Then the hotel simply disintegrated beneath me,” Marshall recalled. Marshall was not the only American to engage the Communists that evening.

    Special Forces SSGT Merle O. Van Alstine, a rotational replacement on his third tour, was in the bar that night. According to a vet nicknamed “Iggy” in an account given to Ray Bows in Vietnam Military Lore, Van Alstine pulled his sidearm. “Merle nailed them [two VC on a motorbike]. He fired his last six rounds split seconds before the blast. It took them six days to find Merle. His was the last body they found.”


    Rescue operations were delayed until dawn because the VC took out the local power station, causing a blackout. On duty in the fight operations center when the explosion occurred, SP4 Raul D. Serrano participated in the rescue and recovery.

    “When we arrived at the hotel, I couldn’t believe the devastation,” he says. “We could hear men yelling for help. Digging out was very slow because we did not have proper equipment. We dug for eight straight hours. Men cried out for their mothers, as some of us cried searching for them.”

    Rummaging through the rubble required nerve, and it was displayed by John F. Huske. His Silver Star citation says that he “immediately, and without regard for his own safety, set about the task of crawling through the twisted wreckage searching for survivors. Throughout the night and early hours of the following day [he] continued rescuing survivors from the shifting and settling wreckage.”

    Today, says Huske, “I have tried to put those events behind me after all these years, but these events should be brought to light. I was one of the first responders as part of a quasi-search and rescue team. I spent over 12 hours digging to a man trapped under tons of debris. When I reached him, I discovered that one of his legs was mangled and I was able to free him. I assisted a Korean doctor to amputate his leg where he crawled out of a hole.”

    Arthur Abendschein was the last American taken out of the hotel alive after 35 hours being trapped. As quoted in Vietnam Military Lore, he related: “The big blast inside the hotel blew out all of the windows in my room and made the walls shake and start to crumble. The rubble tumbled around me. It was just liked riding a fast elevator.”

    That the experience left a permanent psychological impact on the survivors is beyond doubt. “It was very traumatic and had a profound effect on those who offered immediate assistance to the injured in the collapsed building,” said Rogers. Lasting more than a week, “the task was very difficult and emotional for those involved in the recovery effort.”


    Indeed, it was. The detachment had to be reconstituted from scratch. “At the memorial service, I counted 22 pairs of empty boots,” Serrano sadly remembers. “It is something that has stuck with me for 50 years.”

    No Viet Cong terrorist attack took a greater toll in American lives during the Vietnam War than the Viet Cuong Hotel tragedy. A total of 23 GI’s died that night: all but one belonged to the 140th Transportation Detachment. The other was a Green Beret.

    In addition, seven South Vietnamese women and children in the area of the explosion were killed, too. All 21 of the surviving 140th members were so badly wounded that they required evacuation stateside.

    At this stage of the war, U.S. troops in country were mostly regulars. Of the 22 140th members killed, 19 had enlisted; just three were drafted. They ranged in age from 18 to 39; 55% were married.

    But Qui Nhon was only a harbinger of things to come. At the funeral of Special Forces soldier Van Alstine in February 1965, one of the pallbearers was most prophetic. “It’s a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day war going on over there, although a lot of people don’t seem to be aware of it yet,” MSGT Laurel Ward said. “I am afraid the American people are going to see a lot more funerals before it’s settled.” [Taken from the digital edition of VFW Magazine by Richard Fournier, February 2015]

    The 23 soldiers killed in the attack on the Viet Cuong Hotel included SP5 James B. Alexander, SP5 Everett L. Anderson, PFC Paul E. Bays, SP4 Tommy J. Belcher, PFC Robert J. Betz, SP5 David N. Clayton, SP5 Clarence L Coleman, SP4 Horace C. Collins, PFC Delmer L. Ferris, SP5 Glenn H. Kelley, PFC Dallas Lawson, PFC Larry B. McClanahan, SP5 Robert S Mosier, PFC Walter L. Rickard, SP5 Harry E. Rowley, SP5 Ernest M. Schultz, SP4 Robert L. Simon, SP4 Harry L. Summers, SSG Francis J. Valkos, SSG Merle O. Van Alstine, PVT Melvin L. Waters, SP4 Lavon S. Wilson, and PFC Floyd Wynn. Another 21 soldiers were wounded.
  • A brother who 'lived' for his brother Bobby ...

    Posted on 9/26/15 - by Raleen Hockenberry
    From the moment of Bobby's death until November 29, 2013, his brother Frank mourned Bobby's death and strove to do service in memory of his brother. He 'adopted' orphanages and small rural areas in Nam - promoting clean water projects, shoes and books for orphans, teaching ESL in country ... and more. Betz, Francis E. 70 Oct. 03, 1943 Nov. 29, 2013 Francis E. Betz, of Beaverton, died Nov. 29, 2013, following a long illness. He was born and raised in Cliffside Park, N.J., to Francis J. and Julia T. Betz. Frank, as he was known to family and friends, graduated from Don Bosco High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy (1963-1967) and proudly served two tours during the Vietnam War as an electrical technician (ETR3) onboard the U.S.S. Monmouth County LST 1032. He received the Vietnam Campaign medal, National Defense Service medal and the Vietnam Service medal. Furthermore, the ship received a Letter of Navy Commendation for its service during the war. Following an honorable discharge from the Navy, Frank received his master's in education from California State University at Los Angeles in 1972. He began teaching with the Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District, Calif. 1972-1980; then Oregon Salem Keizer School District 1980-1995. He specialized in working with special needs and elementary school children. He was a member of VFW Post 4617 in Beaverton. In 2011, he founded the Welcome Home Coin project, which was his heart's desire to honor veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam. He created the Welcome Home Coin Project and designed welcome home coins to honor his son, Michael, and the soldiers of Michael's unit, the 1-140th Aviation Assault Battalion, and other Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam veterans. Frank would greet each veteran with "Welcome home. Thank you for your service and sacrifice," followed by a handshake and a welcome home coin -- a legacy of generosity and kindness that will not be forgotten. Frank is survived by his sons, Michael and Daniel; granddaughter, Michelle; sisters, Julia Betz and Teresa Machinski; brothers, Tom and Stephen; nephews, Brian, Kurt, Christian and Lucas; and nieces, Amanda, Kendall, Olivia and Claudia. A service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at Wilhelm Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 6705 S.E. 14th Ave., Portland, OR 97202.

    Published in The Oregonian from Dec. 15 to Dec. 18, 2013
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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.

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