CLASS OF 1961 | 2019 | ISSUE 1

Numerous replies were received regarding class members’ participation during the Vietnam era. Readers are referred to the class notes’ previous publication for the initial comments sent in. Additional replies are listed below.

“I’m glad your idea of focusing on Vietnam is bringing in many responses,” writes Larry Wiberg. “Wesleyan was an intense experience and I can still conjure up memories that seem only like last week! I received a medical school and medical training exemption during the Vietnam War.

“For 20 years of my 50-year psychiatric career, I was a psychiatrist for the Denver VA Medical Center Posttraumatic Stress Disorder program, serving a large population of male and female PTSD patients. Some were Korean veterans, but the majority were combat veterans (the women patients from that time were mostly in nursing or medical specialties serving in Vietnam and had taken care of the terminally wounded). The male PTSD patients in our Denver program were primarily combat veterans or veterans who had dealt firsthand with the results of combat. Treatment modalities were medication (marginally helpful; primarily antidepressants, nonaddicting anxiolytics, and sleep aids) and group and individual psychotherapy. When present, substance and alcohol use had to be dealt with concurrently. In doing the talk therapy part I would introduce myself as not having been in combat, but had I been, I am sure my remaining life experience would have been totally altered. It turns out that group therapy with me present, but not that active, was most helpful. The veterans were their own best therapists.

“Imagine being trained to kill, being threatened to be killed, or seeing others killed at an age we all were in our years at Wesleyan. This was the recurrent theme they all shared in one way or another. Granted there were veterans seemingly untouched by the experiences who did not present for treatment at any facility. Among the worst cases I dealt with were service personnel stateside who had to go to the doors of loved ones to announce a death. Vulnerability to PTSD has been hard to pin down in studies. For myself, I joined and retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve Medical Corp. I was a general medical officer for the Denver Marine Corp Reserve. I support some form of mandated federal service though it certainly does NOT have to be military. I look forward to what others in our class have experienced and a hearty ‘hello’ to all my Wesleyan buddies.”

Spike Paranya comments: “I was not really aware of anything to do with Vietnam at first when I entered the Corps. We had visiting officers from several countries in our class at Basic School, and I believe a few were from Vietnam. Of particular note was our End of Basic School Problem. The problem involved leading an amphibious assault onto the shore of a Southeast Asian country. Only two years later did I realize that it was the beginning of plans for actual landings on the shores of North and South Vietnam. I left the Corps in December 1964 and, as the war began to heat up, I went through a period of questioning myself as to where my loyalties lay with or against the growing war. It was about a year later when my Marine Corps loyalty separated. I joined my grad school roommates against the war. About 10 years ago I went to a reunion of Quantico Marine Corps athletes of the ’60s and heard many stories from those on the track team for whom I was the administrative coach. Most were in Basic School at that time, so many went to Vietnam. All the guys I knew returned alive, but everyone there honored one Marine who didn’t, a super guy and athlete who came from New York’s inner city. I watched every bit of Ken Burns’ special on the Vietnam War and was appalled with the politics going on behind our backs.”

Spike goes on to add: “In alumni news, Kathy and I twice got together with classmate Paul Vouros and his wife, Irene, this summer. Paul is just completing a gradual retirement from teaching in the chemistry department at Northeastern University. He has had a wonderful career there and his many graduate students have made him proud with their accomplishments in the field of chemistry.”

“I missed the Vietnam experience, but served five Navy years, including the Cuba blockade instead,” writes John Rogers. “We helped turn away Russian ships and brought U.S. Marines ashore, so I’m really grateful this crisis didn’t lead to something more. I still appreciate Wes, Navy, and business success despite some personal strife, although my 56-year marriage with five kids and 14 grandchildren have led to a wonderful life.”

It seems only yesterday that Bob Johnson and your class secretary were performing on the Venice Symphony stage. Bob died last fall, leaving a void in the southwest Florida community and its musical world. Word has also been received that Foster Morrison died peacefully at home in North Potomac, Md., on Oct. 13. His wife of 48 years, Nancy Lewis Morrison, was at his side.

Stay tuned, classmates, for an exciting conclusion to our Vietnam series in the next class notes.

Jon K. Magendanz, DDS |
902 39th Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205