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My friend, Jane Fonda

I read where another misguided Vietnam Veteran, a 54-year-old former Marine asshole named Michael Smith, spat tobacco juice at Jane Fonda at a recent book signing. He waited in line for 90 minutes before the incident, and then ran away before being run down and tackled by bystanders. “I’ll bet there’s plenty of vets who’d wanna do what I did,” he said, grinning wildly.

This brings to mind a couple of idiots whose pick-up trucks I see parked at VFW Hall in Sandpoint whenever I go there for a DAV meeting and whose bumper stickers spout hate-filled slogans like “I’ll forgive Jane Fonda when the Jews forgive Hitler!” Why in God’s name are they so dead set against an American who stood up for what she thought was right?

 A descendant of Revolutionary War Patriot Samuel Adams and daughter of left-leaning actor Henry Fonda (Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, Mister Roberts) Jane was once named “Miss Army Recruiting of 1962.” She began putting on scores of free shows and concerts for the troops (over 60,000 soldiers attended) with her friends Donald Sutherland and Peter Boyle. She didn’t begin her antiwar activities until 1970, (“I couldn’t even find Vietnam on a map a couple of years ago,” she told Merv Griffith in a 1972 interview.) so examples of her supposed “hurting morale” (of the troops) prior to that time seem to occur in someone’s dreamland. For instance, Historian Eric Bergerud quotes an Army Lieutenant who served in South Vietnam in 1966 as watching in dismay as his troops listened to Jane Fonda arguing the war was a mistake; this a full four years before her public activities began.

Likewise, novelist and Vietnam vet Nelson DeMille, who served in 1968, also remembers “the bad morale on our troops caused by Jane’s visit to Hanoi,” again, a full two years before she came out against the war. Due to “Vietnamization” of the war, there were less than 50,000 troops, mostly support, left in Vietnam by the time of her Hanoi visit.

The most serious charge against her is probably that she turned over to their captors slips of paper given to her by POWs in Hanoi describing their torture, causing many of them to be beaten; one, Air Force Lieutenant Jerry Driscoll, quite severely. “It’s a figment of someone’s imagination” says Driscoll, “I never even met her, totally false, it never happened.”

Mike McGrath, President of the Nam-POWs Association, has verified in an email, “Excuse the generic response but I’ve been wasting a lot of my time having to respond to all these stories filling the internet by unknown Fonda-Haters. I have spoken to all parties supposedly involved and they all state this is an impossible-to-stop Internet hoax and they wish to disassociate their names from the false story.”

 Retired Col. Larry Carrigan, a former POW many claim as a source, is so tired of having to repeat he wasn’t beaten after Fonda’s visit that he won’t talk to the media anymore. In truth, Fonda carried home mail from the POWs to their families, the first many even knew their loved ones were alive, a kindness many remember fondly.

For standing up for her beliefs as an American she’s been arrested, beaten, placed on Nixon’s “Enemies List,” had her mail opened and her phone tapped. She’s the subject of ignorant, hate-filled bumper stickers and is a 66-year-old woman who’s been spat on by misguided veterans who then run away. Jane Fonda has apologized more than once for many of her Vietnam-era doings that offended veterans. Let’s forgive her and move on. Meanwhile, I’ll try and forgive those ignorant Yahoos at VFW Hall.

As you know, this is the first issue of the new format of The River Journal and I’d like to take a moment to let new readers know if you’re in Sandpoint and would like to go to one of the many veterans groups’ meetings, they are held at VFW Hall (corner of Pine and Division) and new members are always welcome. The Vietnam Veterans of America (Chapter #890) meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 pm, and both the Disabled American Veterans (Chapter #15) and the local VFW Post both meet the third Wednesday of every month at 6:30 pm. The nice girls of the VFW Auxiliary put on a great free dinner every Veterans Day for all local veterans and their families. Thank you!

‘til next issue now, smoke ‘em if ya’ got ‘em and All Homage to Xena!

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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