The Huron Carol

 

Huron Carol two[1]
 

"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun."

Amazing Grace 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhc7MEYY-Ho&feature=fvwrel 

————–

“Twas in the moon of wintertime, when all the birds had fled,
That God the Lord of all the earth sent angel choirs instead
Before their light the stars grew dim
and wandering hunters heard the hymn

Within a lodge of broken bark, the tender babe was found.
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
the angel song rang loud and high

The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair,
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
with gifts of fox and beaver pelt

Huronfamily_1_2 O, children of the forest free, the angel song is true.
The holy child of earth and heav’n is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy,
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.

 

Jean de Brebeuf, S.J. Martyr and Author of

 
"The Huron Carol"


————–

Christmas in Vietnam.

"The war went on in the central highlands. At Christmas time I decided to hold a detachment Christmas party. I mentioned this to the battalion commander of 3/525, MI Group, LTC Paul Langford during a visit by Langford to Song Be. As we discussed this, a five gallon water jug of home made “hootch” bubbled happily in a corner of my office under the beneficent warmth of an electric light. Pineapple juice, brewer’s yeast and a daily “feeding” of sugar were creating something within that obviously was alive. The application of sugar invariably produced a tempest in the bottle. The men began to think of it as a pet.

Langford ignored the bottle. “Are you going to leave someone to man each station?” he asked. “That’s all right then,” he said when assured. “Let’s not tell Group. They already think you and I are nuts.” I bought cases of Mumm’s Cordon Rouge and other goodies in Saigon, and on the appointed day mysterious personages began to arrive from all over the Border on Air America’s scheduled service. All in all, there were about twenty party goers. The province senior advisor, LTC Ray Suarez and the local CIA boss attended. There was much singing of Christmas carols, as well as a ham, a turkey and such cooked by the kitchen in the Special Forces "B" camp in town. The bald headed, middle aged light weapons man in the team was also mess sergeant.  He had been a feldwebel in the Grossdeutschland and later an adjutant-chef in the 2nd REI.  Like most of the men in that B Team he felt sorry for me in my exile from SF.  He and several others from the B Team were at the party.

The guests sang the "Huron Carol" (in English) to humor me.

—————

“For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given…”

Isaiah, 9:1-3, 5-6

—————

At midnight, celebration was interrupted by the sound of machine gun fire in the distance. The revelers trooped outside to see if they were going to have to fight on Christmas Eve. There were hard words concerning the ancestry of the enemy. Across the wire, across the outpost line, across the valley of no-man’s land were the crests occupied habitually by the “opposition.” From these heights there rose a stream of green, Soviet made “tracer.” The celebrants contemplated this for a minute, and then Suarez suggested a reply. An M-60 machine gun emerged from the house, and while one man fired red tracer into the air, another held the bipod above his head and another fed the gun its belted ammunition. The streams of bullets crossed in the black, star-studded sky. The VC gun fell silent, as did the American. There was a hush as warriors waited for some sign that the hope of common humanity yet lived. The VC fire resumed. Now there were three guns shooting green stars into the blackness. The MI men’s gun chattered merrily, spilling a river of shell casings into the street. Red and green filled the night. " 

———————

Every Christmas I post this excerpt from an autobiographical sketch I wrote once.  This incident is reminiscent of the legendary football game in no man's land in 1914. The men at the party were of the Third Combat Battalion, 525th Military Intelligence Group, MACV CORDS Advisory Team 94, the CIA and the 5th Special Forces Group. The place was Song Be, Phuoc Long Province. It was 1968.

There is a statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.  On the pediment is inscribed, "Love makes memory eternal."  That once was true.

The party-goers are long gone. Some never saw another Christmas. Some died a couple of months later when the men across the way nearly took the town.  

They tried for what seemed an eternity but was actually less than a week.  We killed six hundred of them in repelling their valiant effort.   Some died around my house and in the street in front of my gate.  We buried four hundred bodies found in front of and in our (US and Vietnamese) positions.   The Second Brigade of the First Cavalry Division was ordered into the fight halfway through the battle.  Without them the VC would have killed or captured us all.  PW survivors told us how many the enemy lost.  They were of the 211th, 212th and 165th VC battalions under VC Military Region 10. By that time these units were mostly North Vietnamese in their manning.  They were "foemen worthy of our steel."

God rest all these worthy gentlemen.  pl

 

 

CordsMicrest2SFGROUPINS CIA_LOGO_by_krumbiTe60001_tenue_vietcong-z 425px-1st_Cavalry_Division_-_Shoulder_Sleeve_Insignia_svg

 

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132 Responses to The Huron Carol

  1. Larry Mitchell says:

    COL Lang,
    Stories of Christmas in a war zone always capture my attention this time of the year, and I enjoyed your story. I thought you might enjoy this one as it describes a couple SF officers making Christmas 1967 a little better for my leg infantry battalion at Katum near the Cambodian border in War Zone C. I am not Catholic, so I didn’t attend the service but I was at Katum as a rifleman with B Co.
    A few short weeks later, we did grieve the death of MAJ Roush, the SF officer who was Bn S3 and a man respected by everyone in the batallion.
    I’m not sending this necessarily for you to post but for mainly for your enjoyment. Merry Christmas and thank you for your web site.
    Larry Mitchell
    Christmas in War-Torn Vietnam
    Jim Peterman (Green Beret Priest Memoir, 1/04/2002, at website: http://www.greenberetpriest.com/)
    On Christmas Eve 1967, throughout the Vietnam countryside, all was quiet and peaceful. Not a bullet had been fired; at least not yet. In the spirit of Christmas the war had been put aside for a day. The Viet Cong (VC), under the control of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), and the US military had agreed to a truce. But none of us trusted the VC and they didn’t trust us.
    Looking out of the helicopter, as we flew high above the jungle, I had a panoramic view of the green countryside below. I couldn’t believe a war zone would look so peaceful. This led me to reflect on why I was here. Since I was a priest, a chaplain in the United States Army, the soldiers with whom I’d be celebrating this Christmas would be my parishioners. I was here to bring them God’s blessings of peace from that holy night when Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world.
    As we whirled above the countryside, I spotted the City of Tay Ninh three thousand feet below and farther away Nui Ba Den, the Black Virgin Mountain. Tomorrow afternoon I’d be celebrating Christmas mass on top of that mountain. In fact, tomorrow I’d be celebrating masses from dawn to dusk in a dozen different places. The brigade Commander had approved my request that a helicopter be set-aside on Christmas Day to fly the three battalion chaplains and myself to every area where our soldiers were assigned.
    These troops out here, near the Cambodian border, sweltering in the heat of the jungle, wouldn’t see a single decorated Christmas tree and certainly not the inside of a church. But, if the VC didn’t surprise us with an attack, these weary soldiers could at least come together under the open sky to hear the gospel story of Christmas.
    When the helicopter began its descent I reached for the mass kit under my seat and prepared to disembark. Phil Zapata, my chaplain’s assistant, was not with me. He would go with me tomorrow when we made the rounds, like Santa Claus flying across the sky, bringing the gift of Christmas joy to all the troops.
    Lt. Col. John Henchman, who had just taken over command of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, had requested Christmas Midnight Mass for his men. His troops kept close surveillance on activity along the border of Cambodia where enemy soldiers with their SKS rifles stealthily moved across the border, hiding in the thickets until they could sneak past the American forces. Most of the enemy here were hard-core North Vietnamese soldiers who lived in comfortable safe-havens only a few miles across the border. Cambodia, off limits to American soldiers, was not only a safe-haven for the NVA who trained and fought with the underground VC forces, but was the main supply route for weapons and explosives from Communist China and Russia trucked down through Laos and Cambodia.
    Hurrying away from the Huey with head bent down to stay beneath the circling blades I spotted Bill Roush, the executive officer, talking with a group of soldiers.
    “Hey, Padre”, he said, waving his hand in greeting. Walking toward them, I returned their salutes shouting, “Merry Christmas!”
    Among the infantry officers I knew in Vietnam, Major William Wakefield Roush stood out as one of the best. He also was an outstanding Green Beret. Both of us wanted to be with the 5th Special Forces Group in Nha Trang, but higher headquarters had assigned us to the 25th Infantry Division. Both of us had graduated from the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg. Both of us had served tours with Special Forces in South Vietnam during earlier days when the role of US forces was limited to being advisors to the South Vietnamese military. Now that President Lyndon Johnson had escalated our involvement to defeat the communist-led North, we found ourselves together in the 1st Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division. No doubt about it, our mission was totally defensive.
    Like defensive linebackers in a football game, the challenge for our troops was to defend the goal line. Saigon, the goal line, was only thirty miles from Cu Chi, where the 25th Infantry Division had set up headquarters. Our military mission was to block the NVA and VC, who were determined to sneak weapons and explosives across the Cambodian border. Bill Roush and I both understood that this war was being fought not for terrain, but for the minds and hearts of the indigenous Vietnamese. We both had many concerns about the complexities of this war; but our main concern always came to looking out for the welfare of the young soldiers whose lives were constantly at risk.
    Minutes later, Major Roush and I arrived at the command post. Several soldiers sat at a folding table, monitoring radios to keep headquarters in contact with all units in the area. Radio frequencies were changed regularly to confuse the enemy. They listened in on us. We listened in on them. Code words were used by both sides to shorten and conceal the content of messages. Since the Christmas truce was being respected up to this moment, the radios were quiet. There stood Lieutenant Colonel John Henchman, who smiled when he saw us.
    “Merry Christmas, Father,” he said. “I overheard the copter pilot on the radio saying he was landing with Victor One Niner on board, so I knew you were here.” “Hey, Colonel … Merry Christmas. You guys sure are on top of things, ” I replied. Standing next to my Green Beret buddy wearing my flack vest and steel helmet, the mass kit dangling at the end of the straps slung over my shoulder, I thought to myself: This seems just like any other day around here. The only difference is that the calendar says it’s Christmas Eve.
    “Come, let’s go outside and chat a bit,” Colonel Henchman said, giving a nod of his head to Bill Roush to follow. The colonel wanted to discuss how we could handle security for tonight’s Midnight Mass.
    “My concern is that, if we allow the troops to assemble in a tight group, Charlie could surprise us,” the colonel said. (Charlie, a shortened version of Victor Charlie was the call sign on the radio for VC.) “Charlie knows we are here,” he continued.
    As it turned out, Major Roush had foreseen this problem and discussed it with the colonel earlier that day. Together they had worked out a plan. The troops, spread out in a single file, would walk quietly to a clearing in the jungle that would be secured by three concentric circles of sentries on the perimeter. No lights would be used, except a shielded flashlight that Major Roush would handle. Noise, talking, any unnecessary sounds must be kept to a minimum. “Father, so that you won’t have to yell to be heard, we’ll let the troops huddle close together around the altar when mass begins,” Colonel Henchman explained.
    When we had finished our meeting, Bill Roush took me to the area where I’d be spending the night. “Here’s an air mattress so you won’t have to sleep on the ground,” he said. “That’s my gear over there.”
    “Just like the Waldorf Astoria,” I said. We both laughed. John Henchman, Bill Roush and the troops spent many nights out here. Tomorrow morning I knew a helicopter would pick me up at dawn and I’d be on my way to much more comfortable and safer places.
    “There’s a couple of things I’ve got to do,” Bill said. “Why don’t I meet you here at 2300 hours and we’ll go set up the altar.” “OK with me,” I said. “All I’ll need is a folding field table. Everything else is right here in the mass kit.”
    Bill Roush headed toward the command post. I went looking for Chaplain CJ Benner, the Protestant chaplain assigned to Lt. Colonel Henchman’s battalion. As twilight faded to darkness CJ and I walked together, chatting with the troops, wishing them Merry Christmas. Not a man in that jungle wanted to be there that night. Their thoughts were thousands of miles away back home to where family and loved ones were celebrating Christmas. One of the soldiers I stopped to chat with was looking at a picture of his wife. He was a medic. When I came out here in the forward area without Phil, my assistant he often served mass for me. He responded cheerfully to our Christmas greeting. Then he added, “Father, I’ll see you later at Midnight Mass.”
    Around half past twenty-one hundred hours (9:30 PM), I headed back to our bivouac area to reflect on my Christmas homily. Major Roush showed up at the appointed time. Shortly after midnight, the troops had gathered around a simple altar, in the peacefulness of Christmas, for one of the most special masses I would ever celebrate. The altar candles hardly shed any light because they were in containers to shield them from the wind. I could not see the soldiers in the dark, but I knew they were there. God knew they were there, just as He knew shepherds stood around the infant’s crib in the stable at Bethlehem.
    My Green Beret buddy, Major Roush, an Episcopalian, held the flashlight and turned the pages of the missal as we offered prayers of adoration and thanks to the God of us all, joining with the angels who sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men of good will.” When everyone had filed up to the altar and received Holy Communion and the mass had ended, I suggested to John Henchman that we all sing a couple of verses of “Silent Night.” “OK,” the colonel whispered.
    Then as the troops filed back to their sleeping bags, with hushed voices they sang, “Silent night, holy night.” For a few moments heavenly peace filled the dark jungle. Major Roush and many of the men who served in that battalion didn’t know it, but this was to be their last Christmas.
    During the Tet offensive, a few weeks later, nearly all the soldiers who participated in that special midnight mass died bravely, defending their position at the border. Bill Roush (*) was shot in the head while reloading his weapon. The young medic was killed by an exploding mortar as he ran across an open area to drag a wounded soldier to cover. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
    Memories come flooding back of that special Midnight Mass celebrated in the jungles of war-torn Vietnam with my Green Beret buddy and the brave men he led. In their memory, I celebrate the peace, love and joy of each Christmas as if there might never be another.

  2. Lurch says:

    Do as you see fit Colonel, but I would urge you to continue the tradition. Tradition is important for soldiers. It is an institutional memory, and no man truly dies as long as he is remembered.

  3. Leila says:

    Perhaps I was not reading you yet last Christmas, because this is the first I’ve seen of the Huron carol and the war at Christmas sketch. Thank you.

  4. Leila says:

    Too rushed – going to Christmas Eve early (children’s) service in five minutes.
    Should have wished you and all a Merry Christmas from the Left Coast Republic of Berkeley-Oaklandistan. Quasi-socialist peacenik tree-hugging feminist that I am, I hope all of you are blessed with the peace of Jesus Christ tonight and every night to come.

  5. Christmas 1968: The Huron Carol

    This incident is reminiscent of the legendary football game in no man’s land in 1914. The men here were of the Third Combat Battalion, 525th Military Intelligence Group and MACV CORDS Advisory Team 94. The place was Song Be, Phuoc Long Province. The pa…

  6. taters says:

    Merry Christmas to all.
    Col.Lang,
    Lurch speaks for me,too sir.
    Larry Mitchell,
    Thank you.

  7. 505th PIR says:

    Merry Christmas…Peace to all men and women of goodwill.

  8. Nancy Kimberlin says:

    Col. Lang, I want to take this time to thank you for Sic Semper Tyrannis and to wish you a Merry Christmas and may you have health, happiness and peace in 08.

  9. DH says:

    Sir, I hope you will continue to post your sketch every year so that new readers will be able to see it. Merry Christmas to you and all my fellow posters. This site is a treasure.

  10. J.T. Davis says:

    I second DH’s wish, Colonel Lang. And Larry Mitchell’s comment. I hope you keep posting this story and the Huron Carol every Christmas.

  11. anon says:

    The Huron Carol is a staple of Canadian Christmas ceremony. It reminds us of the hard fact that our country is winterbound at least half the year. Or in the words of another anthem, “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver”.
    Fr. Brebeuf died for his beliefs near Midland, Ontario at the hands of his aboriginal flock. There is a large shrine to his memory at the site.

  12. Jim Meade says:

    Ref: Christmas in War-Torn Vietnam http://www.greenberetpriest.com/
    Dear Pat, I forwarded the comments to an old friend that was at Tay Ninh & Katum at the time. Here is his reply: Thanks for making me cry, I remember that Christmas well at Katum. Wonder if that Chaplain was the one who came around just after 1800 when the cease fire was to take effect and gave us a T.S. card with one punch. Attached is a picture of Major Roush (hand on hip looking down) taken just before we departed Katum, about 2 or 3 days before he was killed. One hell of an officer he was.

  13. Maureen Lang says:

    Thank you for posting this again this year, Pat. I was hoping you would. I always send a link for it to everyone in my address book.
    I’ve visited the memorial site at St. Marie au pays des Hurons, which includes a replica of the original Huron village/compound. Interesting historical reenactment of the attack on the compound that led to Fr. de Brébeuf’s death. There is a reliquary in the nearby church/shrine dedicated to these martyrs in which part of his cleaved skull & that of fellow Jesuit Gabriel Lalemant are enshrined. Morbidly fascinating, that stuff, isn’t it? We stared at the relics for a long time, trying to imagine how the event had transpired so long ago.
    I’m glad I made that trip ten years ago with your niece & showed her where Mom’s people, our ancestors, originally came from.
    http://www.saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca/french/index.html

  14. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    I agree with “Lurch” and “taters” from last year. Makes for a great SST tradition so I hope to see it posted again. Merry Christmas to all.

  15. Nancy K says:

    Col. Lang, I wish you are your family a Merry Christmas and A Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year. God bless you and thank you so much for your wisdom and insights and sharing it with us, your readers.

  16. Charles I says:

    Let me get this straight. The Langs are really expat Canadians? Well then,the Huron Carol obviously stays, its part of our Christmas.
    Larry, tremendous story, all you soldiers who soldiered through Christmas wherever, that’s where the . . . I’m at a loss, where the rubber hits the road. I salute you.
    I’ve been to the Shrine too – its on the way to the cottage. St Marie Among the Hurons is , or was, elementary school stuff. I’m not to fussy on the religious theme per se as much the missionay meeting the Forest, which is Sacred to me.
    Maureen, there’s a fair bit of Can Lit dealing with the meeting of the white man with the natives and the forest so long ago. I don’t find the shrine too morbid, the replica a tad hokey to my mind, but the pristine boreal forest would have had some very spooky elements to its nature. There are some remaining bits here in northern Ontario and New York which have afforded me direct Communion with the Creator on my own controlled and enhanced terms. I can’t imagine, all that Can Lit and tourism later, what it must have been like to be confronted by that undeveloped New World and the Natives’ interpretations of it.
    If I could see it, be in it, I’d a died and gone to Heaven.
    Merry Christmas to you all and many prayers for our soldiers serving away from home this day, and the other eleven too.

  17. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Thank you for the Huron Carol. I was pleased to see it again this year. It adds another strand to my anchor cable.
    God Yul

  18. jonst says:

    Thank you Col…for sharing this memory, and for all you do keeping this website unique, vital, and most of all, enjoyable. Happy Holidays to you and family.

  19. Ranti Makinde says:

    Sir, merry Christmas and happy new year to you and your family. Thanks for providing a place where a person can come to learn.

  20. David Habakkuk says:

    Good to see the story and the carol posted again — as Sidney Smith says, it makes a great tradition. A merry Christmas and happy new year to all.

  21. 777guy says:

    I heard “The Huron Carol” performed recently by the Manistee Choral Society. It is surely a good one.
    Merry Christmas

  22. another_David says:

    Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year.
    Col. Lang, many thanks for the story.

  23. DeLudendwarf says:

    Just dropped by to wish you and your wife, Pat, and Maureen, and all of the commenters here a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    This is a special place.
    As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us all, everyone”.
    You all take care.

  24. mike says:

    Lurch has it right, Colonel. I too look forward to hear it next year.
    As for the Hurons and their Christmas Carol, it was pretty, but I much prefer our own Cathy Tekakwitha’s poem. Born into the Turtle Clan of the Mohawks 40 miles west of Albany New York in 1656. Converted at 18, died at 24, beatified by John Paul II 300 years later. Recognized by the church as the patroness of ecology and the environment and known as the Lily of the Mohawks.
    She is memorialized in a magnificent sculptured relief on the main door of Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Manhattan. And her portrait or sculpture is in the majority of Indian churches throughout the country plus many in Canada and some south of the border. Rome needs to get of the dime and finally canonize her.
    Lord of heaven
    I love you so
    I’ve known you since I was eleven.
    Your love reaches high and low.
    You are my Savior, Lord
    How I dearly love you
    For you I would take a sword.
    You are with me, through and through

    (Second to last line obviously added by an over-the-top Jesuit at some time after her death)

  25. Merry Christmas everyone.
    Col Lang, how’d the hooch turn out? Tasty? Flammable?

  26. pecunium says:

    Hey sir. I love stories like this. I got a sudden tightness in the chest when you mentioned the 525 MI Group, since I was with the 525 MI Bn, in OIF-1.
    Merry Christmas, and may all the rest be dsturbed by nothing more than angels.

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    pecunium
    I was the CO of A/3/525 MIG that year. I don’t think the present 525 MIB has any institutional memory that we did clan HUMINT in VN. pl

  28. Chad Spawr says:

    Nice site. YOu mentioned LTC Ray Suarez. He was PSA at Song Be; I knew him as PSA at MACV 47 at An Loc. He was a fine officer who I respected very much. I was very sorry when I learned he had been murdered in Song Be.

  29. Buzz Meeks says:

    Merry Christmas to all.
    Buzz Meeks

  30. Charles I says:

    A wonderful story, don’t try not to post it again too hard.
    I must be sleepwalking, I hadn’t even been here yet today and yet I’ve posted!
    What a crazy year.
    One and all, please have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. My most fervent wish is that next year will be as wonderful for you as this past year has been to me.
    For all with friends, family, community, for all our fellows fighting far from home this year, I break training and pray to your Gods for their succor and safe delivery back to you.
    Hi Ashby, however, wherever, you are. Woof Woof. All dogs go to Heaven, and if they’re lucky, their masters do too. You’re in good company.

  31. Annie says:

    Thank you for posting this and for creating a Christmas tradition for SST.
    This site is a welcome alternative to the bullet-point “analysis” one gets elsewhere.
    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy/Healthy New Year.

  32. Ingolf says:

    Love the story. Like Maureen, I’m going to send it out this year.
    Thanks for providing a small oasis of sanity. Merry Christmas to you, and to all the fine people who post here.

  33. optimax says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
    Thank you, all, for not moralizing. Oral Roberts has a football team playing in the Fish Bowl.
    “Master, you just broke my leg.” Epictetus–as I remember. Must find that book.

  34. David Habakkuk says:

    I agree with Charles I: ‘A wonderful story, don’t try not to post it again too hard.’

    Merry Christmas to all, and let us hope for a less crazy New Year!

  35. Gary says:

    Col. Lang,
    Just discovered your blog, great story. Have a merry Christmas.

  36. Michael Torpey says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all. Thank you Col. Lang for posting your Christmas story. It reminds me of soldiers and sailors who spend Christmas far from home.

  37. Larry Mitchell says:

    COL Lang,
    I always look forward to your Christmas, Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day posts. They always switch on a certain part of my mind that connects me with 1967-1968.
    My old battalion, 4/9th Infantry, has been reactivated and deployed to Iraq a couple times. The Vietnam era Manchus have now more or less adopted the present day Manchus, and we have found many ways to support them and their families. It makes the old men feel good, and hopefully helps the young ones get through the day.
    Thanks for all you do with this blog. I like to think I’m a little smarter from following it, but I doubt that I could prove it.
    For my part, you can post this every year. The grunts know that a good war story never gets worn out.
    Keep Up the Fire
    Larry Mitchell B/4/9

  38. Maureen Lang says:

    Merry Christmas, everyone, & best wishes for a prosperous 2010.
    CWZ asked in last year’s comments upthread if Pat’s hooch turned out to be drinkable or flammable. Why not both? Your question, Zoomie, reminded me of a co-worker’s remark to my husband when recommending a snort of his own home brew- “It’s real tasty. Gotta watch how you store it though since you can light a cigar on the fumes at 50 yards” (he wasn’t joking btw).
    Happy Holidays to all.

  39. Patrick Lang says:

    All
    First we drank the Mumms Cordon Rouge Brut. Then we drank a few bottle of pink brut that someone brought.
    Then we drank the hootch. pl

  40. psc says:

    This site is a learning experience. I am thankful that the Colonel provides us with this service. Merry Christmas to everyone!

  41. RAISER William says:

    No need to post this, just to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

  42. Kay Langford says:

    Guess I’m too late…(or early) for a Christmas wish.
    Thank you for keeping this tradition.
    LTC Langford was my father….I admired and adored him.
    Wish you all could have just sat with me a while, watched him think.
    Though he spoke little of war, he mourned the loss of his fellow soldiers til his last breath.
    But your story, it confuses me some…Dad was the best “hootch” drinker I ever knew!
    Love & gratitude to all…
    Kay

  43. Patrick Lang says:

    Kay
    Your father was a great CO
    Pat Lang

  44. And Washington surprised the Hessians on Christmas day.

  45. The Moar You Know says:

    You posted this last year, and for all I know many years beforehand.
    I will never, ever, ever get tired of reading it, and hope you do so again next year.
    Merry Christmas, Colonel.

  46. Patrick Lang says:

    WRC
    Sgts. Amos Hall and Ezekial Straw, my ancestors were in his army. I haven’t quite figured out yet if they were at Trenton. “bloody foorprints in the snow.” pl

  47. Estimates that up to 1/2 of Washington’s army had no shoes.

  48. Charles I says:

    Beautiful, and then Kay Langford humanizes the story yet more.
    What a moving place SST can be. You make me sentimental over soldiers I don’t know, or even know of.
    Passed right by the Shrine twice going to the eclipse this week, which I observed from Mohawk territory – “in the moon of wintertime, when all the birds had fled.’
    Although the eclipse set the whole forest, including wintering birds atwitter and amurmer in the most delightful way. Truly a worshipful moment.

  49. Robb says:

    Col Lang,
    Great tradition and much appreciated every year.
    Merry Christmas

  50. The Twisted Genius says:

    I posted this late last night to Colonel Lang’s last Christmas reminiscence before it was replaced by the Huron Carol. I want to post it again to share with the SST family. It is a Christmas email I received from my high school, a Jesuit institution. It puts to song Colonel Lang’s final sentiment, “God rest all these merry gentlemen.”
    http://faculty.fairfield.edu/mediacenter/prep/prep_christmas_2010.html
    Merry Christmas to you, Colonel Lang, and to all my SST brothers and sisters.

  51. Patrick Lang says:

    charles I
    The Cardinals have not fled from here. we are feeding about six if the squirrels will leave them something to eat. pl

  52. XX o’ VII
    Worst year of my life. Lost 2 important people I loved, one of ’em was my ol’ man (did I shower him with enough care & affection?…)
    Still waitin’ to reconcile with that other special someone. Well, ball’s in her court…
    Happy holidays to you, Col., sir. & to the rest of your family & friends as well. May the Heavens watch over y’all durin’ this season of warmth & joy.

  53. Got A Watch says:

    Merry Christmas And A Very Happy New Year!
    Thanks for being a light of reason in the darkness.

  54. confusedponderer says:

    Frohes Fest i.e Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all!

  55. mongoose says:

    I was but a child then and feel but a child again when I read your annual post.
    A very Merry Christmas to the Lang and SST family.

  56. DH says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. Lang and all the posters. God bless us, every one.

  57. graecastle@gmail.com says:

    I would echo everyone’s sentiments… Please continue this tradition of posting your Christmas “past”. It provides those that served a touchstone to post their reminiscences. It provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on what so many have done for us who didn’t serve.
    Thank you.
    graecastle

  58. Charles I says:

    “Love makes memory eternal”
    Drove by St. Marie Among the Hurons this week going up for the Solstice. Id idn’t really give it a thought I was so smitten with concept of increasing daylight.
    Pat, you are a memorable loveable old soldier. Don’t change. Keep posting.
    Merry Christmas to one and all,and may those you love only in memories recall fond ones to you now.

  59. B. D. Warbucks says:

    pl,
    Keep posting the Huron Carol and your memories of Christmases far from home. My Christmas memories stuck in the Kingdom during DESERT SHIELD were nothing to write home about, other than the “Christmas Cheer” we made from grape juice and yeast. Fortunately, I have been blessed with domestic holiday observances since.
    Your annual posts are now traditions for me, much as the Kings College Choir at the Festival of Lessons and Carols and my (shameless plug) Christmas Roasted Red Pepper Soup (posted on the Athenaeum) and prime rib of roast beast are for my family and friends.
    Let me say with tongue firmly planted in cheek, without tradition, our lives would be a shaky as a fiddler on the roof.
    God rest ye merry gentlemen and ladies, let nothing you dismay. We still live in interesting times.

  60. Mj says:

    I was 90 miles away but it might as well have been 10,000. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Here was the 107th Signal Company tree that day:
    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3057/2772519148_bdf25f388b_o.jpg

  61. Medicine Man says:

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  62. Jim Ticehurst says:

    There is nothing like the Knowledge and the Feel of Gods..
    “Amazing Grace”..as it gives Us Strength ..Inspiration..Faith and Hope for Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All Mankind.. His Kingdom Come..His will Be Done..On Earth..As it is in Heaven..
    Thank You Colonial Lang..Your Post is Perfect in All Aspects..You Honor the Living and the Dead…
    God Bless You and your Loved Ones..

  63. Doug Tunnell says:

    Col. Lang,
    Thanks for all the insights SST provides, including and especially those regarding pineapple juice fermentations !
    Merry Christmas !

  64. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All:
    Merry Christmas.
    إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ
    Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah;

  65. turcopolier says:

    All
    1968 was my FIRST Christmas in VN. pl

  66. The Twisted Genius says:

    I fondly remember the days before Christmas 1976 at the Ranger training camp in Dahlonega, Georgia. We were still housed in forest green plywood squad huts heated with kerosene stoves. The dozen or so huts were nestled in a clearing within the forest just outside the camp administrative/training area. That year it was cold for north Georgia. In fact, one particular morning we returned from our patrols by sliding down the now ice covered TVD (Tennessee Valley Divide) bouncing from tree to tree in the freezing rain. That afternoon the entire company was in the squad hut area now warm and dry while a fairly heavy snow fell. The snow falling on the many holly trees and the shacks was a beautiful sight. We all broke out in a spirited rendition of “Jingle Bells.” It was a wonderful expression of shared Christmas spirit. In a few days, all training would cease for a Christmas break. We would all be heading back to our families to heal in preparation for the Florida phase of ranger training. We had no idea that in a few weeks our platoon would march into the swamps of the Yellow River at sunset and by morning two of our classmates would be dead from hypothermia.

  67. turcopolier says:

    ricks
    Remember to strain it. pl

  68. jeff roby says:

    Pat,
    Never stop posting this. I was one of the protestors against the war, but I look forward to this every year.

  69. turcopolier says:

    Jeff Roby
    I went to visit Song Be on Google Earth a while back. you can literally walk the streets. there is a lot of hydroelectric power in that patch of mountains now and so there has been a great increase in the Vietnamese as opposed to Montagnard population. there are many more towns. Places where we fought are buried under development. pl

  70. Bobo says:

    A Merry Merry Christmas to you Dear Colonel & Family plus the Merriest to all those participants of SST. To those many lurkers in the shadows come on out and enjoy and let us know your deepest thoughts as they are well worthwhile.
    I can only tell those of you that served those memories are there forever as an older family member and WW 2 vet with dementia would only give a rise when the words of Lorraine, Rodalbe, Bad Orb or Luckenwalde were mentioned as that was when that glint in the eye would be seen and you knew something was there. As in all things he has passed.
    A tip of Santas cap to those that served.

  71. turcopolier says:

    Bobo
    I live with the memory of that and my other wars. I do not want to forget. So long as we remember them they are not truly gone. pl

  72. kxd says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

  73. Larry! You have helped to keep these individuals alive in your memory and ours. Many thanks for this special comment! Please post as long as you can somewhere annually!

  74. P.L. These holiday and memorial posts are wonderful and very special. Hope you post every year since they help to keep alive brave people in a brave time.
    Many many thanks for all of US that use these memories to remind US of basic humanity even in difficult times.
    You are the truest of PATRIOTS to my mind!
    Happy Holidays!

  75. David says:

    Thank you sir for posting this again.
    A very merry Christmas and Happy New Year
    to all.
    David

  76. confusedponderer says:

    Merry Christmas and Fröhliche Weihnachten!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M3P8PUTmRM
    Joseph, lieber Joseph mein,
    hilf mir wiegen mein Kindelein,
    Gott, der wird dein Lohner sein
    im Himmelreich, der Jungfrau Sohn Maria.
    Eia! Eia!
    Gerne, liebe Maria mein,
    helf ich dir wiegen das Kindelein.
    Gott, der wird mein Lohner sein
    im Himmelreich, der Jungfrau Sohn Maria.
    Eia! Eia!
    Freu dich nun, o Christenschar,
    der himmlische König klar
    nahm die Menschheit offenbar,
    den uns gebar die reine Magd Maria.
    Eia! Eia!
    Süßer Jesu, auserkor’n,
    weißt wohl, dass wir war’n verlor’n,
    still uns deines Vaters Zorn,
    dich hat gebor’n die reine Magd Maria.
    Eia! Eia!
    This is the probably oldest christmas carol written in German, “Joseph, lieber Joseph mein”, performed by the Dresdner Kreuzchor.

  77. BabelFish says:

    In Fort Valley, Georgia Private Jackman of “The Orphan Brigade” wrote of his Christmas day, 1864:
    “For breakfast had fresh pork, biscuit, sweet potatoes, etc. Cool disagreeable morning. At noon cold rain commenced falling. Bad prospect for a Christmas dinner — can’t cook in the rain. Slept all evening. Rain pouring down. Has been a most gloomy day — being the fourth birth day spent in the army. At night sat up late chatting around a smoky fire built under the sheds in the rain …“
    Merry Christmas to you all, who serve, who served, who loved and supported us.

  78. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST,
    I do hope that the world will see better days in the future: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/12/the_world_is_not_falling_apart_the_trend_lines_reveal_an_increasingly_peaceful.single.html
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  79. CP,
    It is Anglicised as ‘Christ was born on Christmas Day.’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8RPRFQOayE
    Another old German carol I always loved is ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’, here sung by The King’s Singers.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7y05TrzeHo
    A merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all here.

  80. Sam9969 says:

    “They were ‘foemen worthy of our steel.'” Haven’t heard that kind of good shit in years!

  81. mac says:

    Colonel,
    Thanks for posting. A timely reminder of our shared humanity.
    With much gratitude, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Sir and to all of the SST community.
    Mac

  82. Charles I says:

    R.I.P.

  83. Charles I says:

    And now Joseph Boyden has blessed us with his account of first contact, The Orenda.
    Don’t start it unless you have some free blocks of time.
    http://arts.nationalpost.com/2013/09/06/book-review-the-orenda-by-joseph-boyden/

  84. Charles I says:

    Thanks for the memories. Merry Christmas to all.

  85. confusedponderer says:

    David,
    you made me find something beautiful – thanks!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s_n_ycNvP8

  86. optimax says:

    Have a swinging Christmas, all. Oscar Peterson–Jingle Bells
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPupcp1Ify0

  87. georgeg says:

    I treasure Christmas in 1967 and 1968. I miss my long lost military friends and civilian friendships in that beautiful corner of the world across the Pacific. May peace prevail…..

  88. David says:

    Thanks again for re-posting, Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
    David

  89. A merry Christmas to all.
    It seems strange to see the greetings from ‘Charles I’ from last year. I miss his comments.

  90. confusedponderer says:

    To all of SST, who- and wherever you are, a merry and blessed Christmas!
    Since my sister will be spending hers in hospital this year, good health to you all, too.

  91. Not just the persistence of memory because we are just our memories.
    Happy Holidays to all and Merry Christmas to those who are Christians.

  92. It is a joy to revisit some of these old postings and all the old comments. This one, in particular, sets the mind awhirl in a maelstrom of memories. Thanks for reposting this every year, Colonel Lang, and Merry Christmas to you, your family and to all members of this committee of correspondence.

  93. BabelFish says:

    Let me echo the fond wishes and kind thoughts of our committee of correspondence. May you have happy holidays, a Merry Christmas and safe travels for yourselves and those whom you love.

  94. jeff roby says:

    I look forward to this every year. Thanks, pl.

  95. Cee says:

    All,
    I wish you all Love, Peace, and Blessings this holiday season.

  96. mike says:

    Pineapple hootch???? Our home-made hootch of choice was raisinjack. After several days when more sugar was added, the chopped raisins motored around in the jug like a swarm of angry birds. Finished product looked like liquid mud, and it tasted a bit gamy also unless you strained it. We used bread as the strainer.

  97. turcopolier says:

    mike
    We used bread as well. it was fairly tasty but the Mumm’s was better. I bought that in the big commissary in Saigon. Air America let me fly it back as checked baggage in a C-45 twin Beech. pl

  98. Valissa says:

    Merry Christmas everyone!
    Little Drummer Boy – Pentatonix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ_MGWio-vc
    Carol of the Bells – Pentatonix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSUFzC6_fp8
    Some Christmas cheer 🙂
    http://bit.ly/1kiTmTx
    http://bit.ly/1RJgoBt
    http://bit.ly/1NO7QmD

  99. I remember my father’s dandelion wine sitting in a crock in the cellar. I, along with my brothers and sisters, always helped pick the dandelion blossoms. I know there were lemon and orange slices along with a lot of raisins floating in the brew. Only the Lord and my father knew else was in there. There were no sterilization procedures or precise measurements. The mixture was eventually strained through an old diaper. It was magnificent… every year. My father is quite skilled in this area. He learned it from his father. In fact this skill was the reason he had to make sergeant twice in the Marine Corps. His still once blew up on a troop ship. He was brewing hooch using dried fruit as the base.

  100. Sherry Long De Mandel says:

    Col. Lang,
    Best wishes to you and Mrs. Lang for this holiday season. Thank you for the blog – and, thank you to all who post and all who comment here. Merry Christmas.
    With hopes for peace and goodwill to all and hopes for a better world in 2016,
    Sherry and Rob De Mandel

  101. Sherry Long De Mandel says:

    Col. Lang,
    Best wishes to you and Mrs. Lang for this holiday season. Thank you for the blog – and, thank you to all who post and all who comment here. Merry Christmas.
    With hopes for peace and goodwill to all and hopes for a better world in 2016,
    Sherry and Rob De Mandel

  102. Sherry Long De Mandel says:

    Col. Lang,
    Best wishes to you and Mrs. Lang for this holiday season. Thank you for the blog – and, thank you to all who post and all who comment here. Merry Christmas.
    With hopes for peace and goodwill to all and hopes for a better world in 2016,
    Sherry and Rob De Mandel

  103. Sherry Long De Mandel says:

    Col. Lang,
    Best wishes to you and Mrs. Lang for this holiday season. Thank you for the blog – and, thank you to all who post and all who comment here. Merry Christmas.
    With hopes for peace and goodwill to all and hopes for a better world in 2016,
    Sherry and Rob De Mandel

  104. This essay has become a Christmas tradition here. I plan to print copies of it and an Alid Christmas for our dinner guests on this Christmas night.
    Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to all in the Committee of Correspondence.
    “God bless us, every one”

  105. Eugnid says:

    We pass just once in a lifetime on our own two feet, ready to shape History in a memorable way, but twice as total dependents on the goodness of others. But in between we are given but a brief moment of youth in which to matter– FOR THAT MOMENT, that is– risking all yet never knowing if it really means something in the long run. So many died in Vietnam and we killed so many Vietnamese with our wonder-weapons. Yet why was always clear but how to make it worthwhile was always an enigma as more innocents killed from among those we were trying to save while trying to stop those who would enslave them en route to a global mission. We failed, leaving 10 of our dead behind for every 1000 of those we killed were trying to save them. We gave these survivors arms and left behind the love we had for those of our owns that died on that mission as well as the love we felt for those locals who shared our quest for global freedom and security for all our families.
    For years the hagiography of “baby killers” was set in stone to justify those who would not thread there and besmirch those who answered in their place. Finally, a decade later, the dead were given a common headstone where their names would stand close enough to where lie the bodies of heroic warriors who shared their fate. For those who had set foot in that bloody land at those bloody times, the word Vietnam became a personal experience as they watched American and Vietnamese battle comrades fall victims to unexplainable high rates of neoplasty. Others survived and generations followed as we all fell off that pedestal of youth from where our bodies would have set the world on a correct axis.
    The deeper we sank away from the apogee of our youth, the more we watched in shock as our homeland, here and there, sometimes seeing everywhere, came to remember the Vietnam of our youth, when we sought to do something for “Freedom,” whatever that is. Escaping the kind of explosions we sought to escape in Vietnam, we were now dragging our old bodies through the smoke and rubble of the Twin towers as our wonder toys of peaceful victory over the enemy of the last decade were used as explosives to devastate the life we all expected in this, the century to come. True to the presumption that our might is the answer, we went to meet the enemy that had hit us by expanding our wrath over a world where life is something one can sacrifice to make it meaningful as otherwise it is merely a robotic praying ritual machine. Blindly we struck at the familial bonds that alone gave meaning to the lives of the people we called our “Islamist Extremist” enemies. Common to the wars of Christendom, we attacked the homelands of Islam. Totally ignorant of their ways, language and family bonds, we let our wonder war toys technology, which we never got to use in Vietnam, speak for our rage over 9/11. To us the enemy was one and so they were all– as in the days when pilots and HQ commanders spoke of the enemy as “THE Vietnamese,” rather than distinguish those we were trying to kill on behalf of those we were trying to save– “Muslim enemies.” Little wonder that we again were frying the “New Gooks” with bravery and stealth and superior firepower from our ever evolving chariots of fire, advancing on land, sea and air!
    Far less passive, these “Muslims'” lives now devoted to a morphosis into “Jihadis,” avenging their pulverized loved ones, our enemies multiplied to ten avengers for every “bad guy” we killed. Soon the last sad Soviet venture was being repeated by the very people we had armed to save Afghanistan from Godless Communism….finding Vietnamese field manuals amongst them, mysteriously distributed amongst them so they would NOT forget the lessons of our last Crusades!
    Almost two decades into our current Jihad, we are nowhere better than we were in Vietnam. Our public cares no more– and perhaps much less– about those inebriated with patriotic zeal, as can be seen from public disregard for the care of the broken souls and bodies of the fallen and mutilated veterans of these repeat-tours-combatants in our anti-Jihad struggles– even as we fill our car gas tanks while thanking God for the low price of gasoline! One hears: “No one forced them; they must like to kill; give them the guns they need and let them go there doing what they’re paid to do; let them have their fun! But don’t come back and think that you can get ahead of me on the goodies-line just because you like to kill!” Quite a welcome, ehhh? But it is very familiar to the Viet Vet!
    When the public doesn’t care, the Pentagon, the combat HQ and the battlefield is filled with commanders who are nothing but select fearless pitbulls. So what does it matter that my neighbor’s son and daughter is– afterall, ain’t my kid going to….!”– exsanguinating because, in our names, the life blood of our patriots is dissipating in the sand as a result of poor command policies, like those of the Roman generals in the Era of the Decline and Fall dissipated the blood of the Roman Legionnaires?
    And still, “Islamic Jihadis” hit us where it hurts most: Rock concerts and Office parties! We are helpless because, since we sent to Vietnam “the flower of our youth” to now, we never learned that every end requires means and every NATIONAL end requires NATIONAL means in blood and treasure behind which or against which we each must stand, and firmly, well informed, at that, ready to scarifice whatever is needed to enable our warriors and to balm them on their return!
    Invariably our sun has set because those of us who should know better only memorialize our experiences without lessons learned in hagiography– each composing a memorial memory of our little event in time and space where our youth almost came to an end– leaving the future to others, only to ravel in our ever more synthetic past, with holes patched by fantasies so necessary to get by the daily pain of old age.
    Now we finally have a Savior: TRUMP,the hero of old men whose fear comes from deep within their rage and painful buried resentments. He will know how to save all our illusions from the helplessness of old age in defending them from light and logic……making some “great deals,” I suppose.
    We survived the tumultuous seas that made our apogee such an adventure and what we seek now is the comfort of self-deception. But our generation demanded focused effort of our muscles, attention of our senses and cleverness of our minds, making things or destroying the things our mortal enemies made. Our minds then needed sharpness to press the right button, at the right place and time so this or that giant machine can produce the desired result. History was at the movies, an excuse of a lightly clad woman to appear on our TV screens as symbol of our righteousness; or it was only something the kids had to memorize in outline form for some State-wide exam to move to the next class level. Who remembers the details of our interactions with both the Viets that hated us and the “gooks” that loved us? Who remembers Ramadi or Mosul or the Southern Mountain provinces of Afghanistan, where “our” Afghans, like “our” Viets decades ago, are surrendering to an advancing rag-tag army of Jihadis. We haven’t even figured out how the expanding Pretoria of Western racist superiority ideology got us in this mess– inch by inch, since the start of the century. Ha!…and we’re all talking about “boots on the ground” to “kill” ISIS!
    Col. Lang has gained in girth since when I first met him; nevertheless, he tries to do his duty to this day, reminding us all, now parents and grandparents, that RECENT history matters, for if the parents don’t realize that, the kids never will and will die trying as so many of our era did!
    Our history is that of repetitious monotony; wasting, failing leaving….. It comes from our never appreciating how little we care about “our” Viets, “our” Muslims and “our” friends. Since it ain’t my kid going to war anymore, who cares?
    The American Empire is declining and falling as we in our old age suffer from greater and greater myopia, lost in the fantasies of our yesterdays. It is our right as old warriors of Cold and Hot wars; but then let us not forget, as did the Roman citizens, of our duty to the Republic and our brothers and sisters in arms who are not just “professionals” who “LIKE” the excitement of being in harm’s way, but are the people to whom we hand the future, to BUILD it, to save by saving, studying and understanding the past…which was our apogee present! That requires building a present upon which that future can stand. So our reckless and irresponsible on-again, off-again spasms of involvement, thinking that out there there is a “white knight” on a “Dark Horse” that will save us and all we need do is choose between an aluminum siding salesman and an embalmed mummy of the past (with a puppeteer whose fingers on the strings are rather obvious). It cannot be such a vapid choice that we are still alive to pass on to our kids, in our last act as custodians of a notion that has made real the aspirations of mankind’s most inspired thoughts as to what should be. I wish you all a NEW year because we obviously cannot afford another OLD one such as that which is shaping up right now!

  106. turcopolier says:

    eugnid
    I am tempted to think your comment is some sort of troll nonsense. All that crap about our “wonder weapons,” our indifference to the identity of friendly and enemy Vietnamese and our invasion of the homelands of Islam and conversion of them all into jihadis in our minds is just too ridiculous for words. It smacks of a mischievous undergraduate. pl

  107. Laura says:

    Again, thank you and God Bless you at this season. The Huron Carol has long been a favorite and the story of Father de Brebeuf has long been a favorite of mine as well.

  108. Kunuri says:

    Merry Christmas to all from Istanbul. However, me and my German girlfriend visiting will not be attending Christmas Mass at Saint Rafael on Istiklal Street due to the security situation, what a shame! We got warnings both from US and German consulates. I think TV and homemade gluwine will have to suffice this year.
    Wonderful to read all the stories about celebrating Christmas in places much more dangerous than here. God bless all of you.

  109. Robb says:

    Thanks for posting Pat I always enjoy reading this. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  110. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    Thank you for reposting this lovely Xmas story again this year. I always like to read through the old comments, especially the ones from departed friends like Charles I, and other regular posters from whom we don’t hear any more.
    Merry Christmas to all, and a Very Happy New Year!

  111. Jonathan House MD says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    Thank you.
    Jonathan House

  112. Bobo says:

    Well it’s that time of year again, grateful it comes each year. Been to the store four times already today, foods a cooking, grandchildren are running all over the place, quality music is blaring, a present or two for each and all under the tree, SWMBO is in all her glory as the great-grandchild arrives in a few hours. So we are ready for the houseful to arrive to celebrate our traditional Christmas Eve.
    So another great year here at SST, I learned much again this year so Colonel, Columnists and Commentators I thank you for clearing the fog and showing the path to truth. Wishing you all the Merriest Christmas of all.

  113. Sans racines says:

    Col Lang
    Thank you for this reposting – they will be in our thoughts!
    Merry Christmas!

  114. David says:

    ISL,
    Thank you and I hope that for all of us there are many more Christmases to come.
    David

  115. georgeg says:

    Christmas 1968 in Ban Me Thuot in one of the old French colonial mansions. Brings back irreplaceable memories…..

  116. Bobo says:

    Wishing all a very Merry Christmas here at the Outpost of higher learning.

  117. J says:

    Merry Christmas to one and all.

  118. Colonel,
    Thank you for those stories. They convey a lot. And thanks to you and your circle for the work that must go into keeping this very special site going. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  119. Only relatively positive memory I have of Christmas in Vietnam was the Bob Hope USO show in Cam Ranh Bay. Hope showed up with Raquel Welch, Barbara McNair, Elaine Dunne and Madeleine Hartog Bell (Miss World).
    Some guys made it early to the show’s location, but I was late and was so far back in the crowd that any pictures I took were a complete waste of time given they looked like shots of the moon.
    This pic will give you an idea of the size of the crowd at the show:
    https://crockettlives.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bob-hope-crb-67.jpg
    However, after the show was over, I was trundling down the road back to my company when a convoy rolled past, with Raquel Welch hanging out the window of one car wearing a cowboy hat and waving to everyone they went past. Probably the closest I ever got to a smokin’ hot movie star.
    This shot (not sure which base this was taken at) shows why Welch was a hit:
    http://www.historynet.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/hn_VIEP-100200-HOPE-02_1200x480.jpg
    I remember watching the movie “Fathom” one movie night at another company’s “movie spot” (a screen made of two-by-fours holding a tight sheet before which we sat in the sand or on wooden benches – the Army didn’t have an air-conditioned theater like the Air Force base had LOL.) Welch was the lead along with actor Tony Franciosa. She spent most of the movie in a bikini. The movie was the worst sort of dumb spy movie but it had its moments even aside from the endlessly bikini-clad Welch.
    Hope everyone has a marvelous Christmas. I’m waiting for New Year’s Eve when I shall eat a lot of pizza and watch “Casablanca” and “The Maltest Falcon” as I do every year. Spend New Year’s Eve at Rick’s place!

  120. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang and all frequenters of SST,
    Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a Very Happy New Year!

  121. SonofaFAC says:

    These last few years i have eagerly awaited this posting. It’s become a welcome holiday tradition in my home. When i first shared it with my father, he lit up like i’d never seen and unexpectedly shared many of his own memories. For that gift, i am eternally grateful. Thank you Sir, for allowing us to honor all of those worthy men. Merry Christmas.

  122. David says:

    Thanks again Sir for posting this story. It brings back memories of my father who served in World War II and had some memorable stories of his own from that time. A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
    David

  123. GeneO says:

    ” The lines were so close on the Rappahannock during the winter of 1862-3, that contact between Northern and Southern soldiers became commonplace. They often met on an island in the river, where Confederate troops exchanged Southern tobacco for the coffee ration issued to Northern soldiers. When officers discouraged contact, they would make their exchanges by small, hand-made boats that the soldiers called “fairy fleets.” Sometimes they met to play cards; other times they just exchanged stories. The war was the real enemy, they concluded, and not each other – and if they had to go back to shooting at each other the next day, it wasn’t personal for many of them. For most, the camaraderie became genuine reconciliation at war’s end, and when Johnny Reb and Billy Yank chanced to meet after the war, it was often with obvious friendship and mutual respect. “My friend, the enemy,” veterans of the war came to call each other – with the understanding that, Northern or Southern, they were Americans all.”
    http://www.mortkunstler.com/product_images/48_2.jpg

  124. Sans Racines says:

    May peace be upon us all when all is said and done. Thanks once again for this annual post Col. Lang.

  125. Serge says:

    I highly recommend reading Parkman’s France and England in North America, the sections on Brebeuf’s life and final martyrdom are especially moving.

  126. Diana C says:

    I must also thank you for posting this remembrance of Christmas during the Vietnam War. I am always left humble, as a female, because of what men who have gone to war–any war, any time–ave experienced. And now that I am too old, I also feel admiration for the young women who join the military.
    I send prayers for all our young people who are in the military today and especially to those who are in the field where they may be in danger.
    I also give special prayers of gratitude to my personal friends who served in Vietnam. They served well and honorably but often came home to suffer the disdain and ingratitude from people their own age who blamed them for going, as if it had been an evil thing they did.
    I have an appointment to meet some of my classmates the day after Christmas for coffee, including several of those men who served. I will be sure to express my gratitude again to them for their service.
    Your written account of that Christmas in Vietnam was quite moving. Thank you!

  127. Barbara Ann says:

    Thanks for re-posting this story Colonel. I still find that rendition of the Huron Carol hauntingly beautiful and your message of hope for the spirit of common humanity uplifting.
    Merry Christmas to all at SST.

  128. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Colonel Lang, Pilgrims of SST,
    Re-reading the story and all the comments over the years reminded me of pilgrims and Christmases past we celebrated together. In memory of one Babak of these pages, I re-post the Qur’an 3:45-51 Surah Ale-‘Imran (The Family of ‘Imran)

    إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ
    Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah
    What an island of sanity this site has been over the years! May all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  129. turcopolier says:

    Ishmael Zachariah
    Babak Makkenijad is welcome to return.

  130. Kilo 4/11 says:

    53 years ago, I spent my first Christmas Eve away from home, at Camp Pendleton. Being a Chicagoan, I brought snow – it snowed that night, a little dusting. I was told it was the first time anyone could remember snow in Southern California. My next Christmas was in Vietnam, probably on Hill 34 west of Danang.
    @ Serge, thanks for the recommendation of Parkman’s “France and England in North America”.
    @Diana C., Those who “blamed” us for going to Vietnam, as if we had “done something wrong” were mostly just angry that by our action we cast doubt on their claim of moral superiority.
    @Colonel Lang, it is wonderful to be reading your stories in the comfort of my home with my wife and sons. God bless you and Mrs. Lang, and Merry Christmas to you and all who comment here.

  131. K. Watson says:

    Merry Christmas, Colonel Lang.
    “….And from this hill, dirt-topped, it’s flanks
    Covered with Christmas trees,
    Many further hills are seen.”
    2nd Poem to Mary, E M Hemingway

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