Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I've shown people this picture in the past and they always ask if I went to Vietnam.

The answer is "No".

This photo was taken at the entrance to Hope Village, near Weimar, California, in the early 1970's.

It was a camp set up to house Vietnamese refugees who had fled their country after the War came to an end. 

My photographer (the late, great Howie Shepherd) and I had gone there because John Wayne had offered some land of his in Arizona to house some of the refugees. We had heard that the former premier of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky, was at this camp and that he had been talking with Wayne. So we flew over to Sacramento (on a milk run that stopped in San Diego and Los Angeles before getting there), rented a car and drove to Weimar.

We arrived in the early evening, checked into our hotel, and then with nothing to do until the next day, looked at a map and promptly drove to South Lake Tahoe, about 100 miles away. 

Well? Isn't that what the network boys would have done?

Next day, after little sleep, we interviewed the former premier.

His wife was very pretty but he didn't seem thrilled to meet me.

Next we flew home to Phoenix, did our reporting and a few days later another photographer (Tim Terrific)* and I flew again to California where we interviewed John Wayne. Now THAT was a thrill.

The Duke was dressed in seersucker slacks and a camel hair blazer and was incredibly gracious with the two young guys from Arizona.

He offered us coffee and a great view on the bayside patio of his home in Newport Beach.

In spite of this photo where he seems to be about to say "isn't it about time for you guys to get outta here?" he was curious about Tim's camera and even invited us to go view his operation where he was trying to turn old discarded tires into oil. (There was a shortage going on then.)

We didn't scare him or Premier Ky off but the refugees never did settle on Wayne's land in Arizona and Ky ended up running a liquor store in southern California.

But it was a great week for some visiting newsmen from Arizona.

* - Tim is now a vice-president of a different television station, apparently still trying to rise to this level of grandeur.


  1. Wow. Pretty damn cool. Appears you've done been there and got the t-shirt.
    I saw Ky twice in Vietnam, once with his wife who was wearing the same black airman's suit with crossed six-shooters on her shapely hips. Can't say he shook my hand.
    Great pictures of you with The Duke.

  2. Great post. It's fun to see the historic shots. I think Tim has already eclipsed Premier Ky by miles. In fact he probably would have been a better Premier. Then too so would have been the Duke.

  3. At première vue, I though it was an Indien village. I had been to Vietnam, not my favorite country, 1 year after the oppening. But I coul'nt not learn any word of the langage. Very difficult.

  4. Ky's boss Thieu ended up in Foxborough Ma. Died in Boston in 2001. Lived as a recluse, no interviews, didn't work. He had gone from Vietnam to Taiwan to London to Foxborough.

    You should have asked "The Duke" to take you out on his converted mine sweeper "Wild Goose" sister ship to Costeau's "Calypso"

    One of my sales guys in SoCal worked at Ky's liquor store in Santa Ana while he was in school, said he was cold and arrogant.

    Great pix.

  5. How exciting to see you sitting there with The Duke.

  6. "Whispering Hope Ranch" too in Payson is another matter.
    Being a Newsman is sure full of Great Encounters! Hope you are making an album with pictures and stories attached to them.
    "The deer hunter" was on TV very early this morning but I promised myself then (in the 70's) never to watch it again.... should I keep my promise?

  7. Must have been quite an experience meeting The Duke. :)

  8. What a great opportunity to meet Wayne and the Premier. Two years ago I took a boat trip around the Newport Beach harbor and the harbor map pointed out John Wayne's old home there. So I can picture where you are sitting. And of course, there's that huge statue of him at the airport that bears his name.