Sunday, May 28, 2000

Reception gets warmer as time goes on




By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLERAIN TOWNSHIP — Staff Sgt. Howard Ferdon joined the Army in 1964 and saw three years of combat in Vietnam.

[photo] HOWARD FERDON SERVED THREE YEARS IN VIETNAM.
(Dick Swaim photo)
        He came home and wanted to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

        “Most of the flack I got, I got from the VFW,” said Mr. Ferdon, 53. “They told me to my face, "We don't want Vietnam veterans.' They said it wasn't a war. They said it wasn't even a police action.

        “I said, "Hey, my commander in chief sent me, so I went.'”

        Then he went to an American Legion post in Mount Healthy and became a member, fought his war ghosts privately and got on with his life. He would spend the next 28 years in the Ohio National Guard.

        “It was a good six, seven months before I could lay down and go to sleep,” he said. “If a car backfired, I hit the floor.”

        A friend once made the mistake of sneaking up behind him to scare him. The man got knocked out.

        These days, Mr. Ferdon works as a driver for Case Towing in Lebanon. His two grown daughters have given him three grandchildren.

        And he's found the reception that Vietnam veterans receive now is warmer than the one he got from the boys at the VFW hall in 1970.

        Mr. Ferdon marches in parades with a Vietnam veterans group that pulls a 4-by-8 foot replica of the cage in which North Vietnamese held U.S. prisoners of war.

        “It makes me choke up,” he said. “They look at you as a Vietnam veterans unit, jump up and salute. They clap. They really respect you.

        “It's like people are trying to say they're sorry for how they treated us when we got home.”

       



Citizen Soldiers
   A lesson to keep: 'Improvise, overcome and adapt'
   Military life shaped 5/3 CEO
   Service an obligation of citizenship
-    Reception gets warmer as time goes on
   Driven to succeed 'for all my buddies'
   'You went on with your life'
General Assembly was busy
Theory wins $40,000 prize
Graduates mourn teen Loss of classmate hits hard at graduation
PULFER: Mapplethorpe
WILKINSON: Rogue candidate takes GOP loyalty to the brink
Scene two: Selling the movie
    Post-production problems
    A look at local films in works
    Prize-winning 'Dream Catcher' will open in Paris
Brian Rose digs up the past
DEMALINE: Regional plan relies on county
Get to it
KENDRICK: A tough soldier battles a new enemy
KIESEWETTER: Television news
Museum's hog pops with art
Review: Carmina Burana
REVIEW: Coriolanus
Veterans: We must remember them - and embrace them
BRONSON: WWII Heroes
DAUGHERTY: Looking for cheese? Skip the fridge, try a teen's bedroom
A.M. REPORT
Complaints spark investigation of cemetery
CROWLEY: Covington mayor's race topped surprises in this year's primary
Diversion program faces challenge
Dose of rain whets some appetites
Exhibit by deaf artists to open
Lebanon road plan assailed
Murder mystery: River uncovers skeleton
SAMPLES: Good deeds
Shakers gone but not forgotten
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book