Veterans Memorial Park

Milton radio station airs the real Good Morning Vietnam


  • October 19, 2015
  • /   Marketta Davis, pnj.com
  • /   Post Tags

 
In a time where anyone can find almost anything online, Milton's 1330 AM WEBY radio station has found and will air, for the first time since its original broadcast, footage that will turn back the calendar to when commercials were about anti-Malaria pills, cleaning your M16 rifle and good locations for military R&R.

While Robin Williams only played the famous Air Force radio disc jockey Adrian Cronauer in the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam," WEBY talk show host Mike Bates has been working with real Marine Corps DJ Sgt. Harry Simons on a documentary featuring historic tapes from the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN).

Harry Simons, right, describes his time working for the American Forces Vietnam Network during his military service, while WEBY 1330 Radio’s Mike Bates, left, looks on. Simons saved many of his radio show recordings while servicing in Vietnam, which is the genesis of a radio documentary the two men are working on.

Photos: Tony Giberson

 
Harry Simons, right, describes his time working for the American Forces Vietnam Network during his military service, while WEBY 1330 Radio’s Mike Bates, left, looks on. Simons saved many of his radio show recordings while servicing in Vietnam, which is the genesis of a radio documentary the two men are working on.

Photos: Tony Giberson

 
WEBY 1330 Radio’s Mike Bates goes on air to promote his new 10-hour radio documentary that he and Harry Simons have been making. Simons saved many of his radio show recordings while servicing in Vietnam, which is the genesis of a radio documentary the two men are working on.

Photos: Tony Giberson

 
Harry Simons, right, describes his time working for the American Forces Vietnam Network during his military service, while WEBY 1330 Radio’s Mike Bates, left, looks on. Simons saved many of his radio show recordings while servicing in Vietnam, which is the genesis of a radio documentary the two men are working on.

Photos: Tony Giberson

 
Harry Simons, right, describes his time working for the American Forces Vietnam Network during his military service, while WEBY 1330 Radio’s Mike Bates, left, looks on. Simons saved many of his radio show recordings while servicing in Vietnam, which is the genesis of a radio documentary the two men are working on.

Photos: Tony Giberson

 

For Veterans Day, WEBY will honor vets' service and sacrifice with "AFVN: the GI's Companion, a Tribute to our Vietnam Veterans," a broadcast of live recorded programs from 1960s and 1970s AFVN providing positive and humorous memories from the soundtrack of their lives in the bush.

 "The idea initially was play it for an hour, talk about," Bates said. "Very simple. But the more it evolved and the more I listened and the more I talked to other veterans about the historical importance of these recordings, the more I realized that to do this justice, we've got to do a full blown serious documentary. And so that's what we've done."

Over the past six months, Bates and Simons have digitized the old radio reels, interviewed Vietnam veteran listeners impacted in some way by the AFVN and even traveled to Saigon back to the original site of the AFVN station in Vietnam, where Simons was a DJ.

"It has consumed nearly every waking minute of my life for the last six months," Bates said. "But it is a labor of love."

Simons and his sister have had the 100-plus reels of studio quality mastered historic tapes for almost 50 years.  While he admits to avoiding the tapes for a long time, he realized the historical value and wanted to share it with fellow veterans.

"I really didn't want to go back to listening to them," Simons said. "It stirred up negative memories of my service in Vietnam that I just didn't want to have to recall. And playing these tapes was just way too close."

It's taken him the past three years to digitize them because he's had to keep walking away but he finally got it done.

Simons got his start in radio in the fourth grade when he played in "The Littlest Angel" on a live presentation in Augusta, Maine. As he got older, he stayed in local radio stations doing odd jobs which eventually led to him reporting short news broadcasts. After enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1967 as a F-4 mechanic, his big break came when he got the inside scoop on the Apollo 1 flash fire that killed three astronauts, which he aired at the base radio station he worked at during his free time.

Shortly after that broadcast, Simons was sent to Saigon where he recorded many of the programs WEBY will air this month and for Veterans Day.

In addition to Simons' short news broadcasts, the 10-hour, five-day tribute documentary will also include broadcasts from other AFVN DJs — such as Army Spec. Pat Sajack of "Wheel of Fortune" — personal stories from Vietnam veterans who were avid listeners of AFVN and, of course, the cherished music troops depended on for a taste from back home.

And that was the purpose of AFVN, Simons said, to provide an element of entertainment that would support the morale of the Americans that were in Vietnam. When a soldier is in his hooch with his radio rocking and rolling, and it sounds like hometown radio with a local disk jockey, it's an immediate familiarity, he said.

"When a veteran of the Vietnam era that served in Vietnam listens to one of these programs, what that person is going to enjoy and what that person is going to immediately recall is where he was or she was at the moment they heard that song because that's what AFVN was all about," Simons said.

And the music was important, according to Bates, but there was much more to it than just the music.

"The DJs brought the sound of home to the servicemen who were thousands of miles from home," Bates said. "They made it sound like the hometown radio station they left to go to Vietnam. They made jokes, they took requests, they did dedications, they made announcements ... The music and what was between the music are all essential elements of what AFVN was."

WANT TO LISTEN?

WHAT: "AFVN: the GI's Companion, a Tribute to our Vietnam Veterans.

WHY: To honor the service and sacrifice of military veterans, and rekindle positive and humorous memories through the Armed Forces Vietnam Network, a radio station that provided positive news and music heard by troops in and offshore in Vietnam.

WHEN: 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 26 through 30 and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

WHERE: 1330 AM WEBY and www.1330weby.com.

CONTACT: Mike Bates, 983-2242, [email protected]

 

View the Original Article at pnj.com

 

 

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