This morning I received a copy of an email sent to Governor Schwarzenegger from Gary Barnhill, a Vietnam veteran and California resident.  Gary flew bombing missions over North Vietnam in 1965.  I’ve never met Gary, but I can attest that flying a single engine jet fighter loaded with bombs over heavily defended cities like Hanoi and Haiphong was a dangerous and dicey proposition.  Losses were high and many of the aircrews who did so routinely ended up as POWs in such infamous camps as “The Hanoi Hilton” and “The Zoo.”  Two of the more famous residents of those camps were Presidential nominee Senator John McCain and Medal of Honor recipient Bud Day.

All this leads me to Gary’s email.  He is outraged that in December, Governor Schwarzenegger will induct a list of prominent California residents into the California Museum’s Hall of Fame.  Among the notables so honored will be Jane Fonda.  For those of you who live on another planet and have never heard of Jane Fonda, or only remember her as the babe in the tight, pink tights; she is the woman who, “During a 1972 trip to North Vietnam, propagandized on behalf of the North Vietnamese government, declared that American POWs were being treated humanely, and condemned U.S. soldiers as War Criminals, and later denounced them as liars for claiming they had been tortured.”  This is a direct quote from a statement verified as “true” by www.snopes.com.

I personally like Governor Schwarzenegger and think he has done a lot for the State of California.  But I find myself wondering what he can be thinking of.  Honoring a person with valid credentials as a traitor, or at the least one who has collaborated with the enemy, is a terrible signal to send to his constituents – especially to veterans and their families.  That’s why I urge him to withdraw her nomination as quickly as possible – while there is still time for damage control.

In his email to the governor – which included a link to the article I wrote yesterday on this subject – Gary said, “Some enterprising reporter will surely make the connection between a Republican governor presenting an award to a traitor who denied US pilots were tortured and the new Republican US President who was a severely tortured POW.”  One thing is for sure, this reporter sees the connection loud and clear and thanks to Gary’s efforts, I now know where to send people who want to express their concern.  This person is:

Lisa Kalustian
Chief Deputy Director
Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Lisa.Kalustian@GOV.CA.GOV

Ron Standerfer is a retired Air Force Colonel and fighter pilot who flew 250 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He has written numerous short stories, magazine articles, and blog pieces on military aviation in general, and fighter pilots in specific. During the initial bombing of Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, he was seen on national TV as a military analyst. His latest novel, The Eagle’s Last Flight, chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. Details of this book can be found at http://www.theeagleslastflight.com His blog, which presents his views and opinions on a variety of subjects can be read at http://www.theeagleslastflight.blogspot.com

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