From Our Archives: A War Story

Arizona Highways Archives

Veterans Day is tomorrow, November 11. In that spirit, we'd like to share this letter and photo. They appeared in the June 1966 issue of Arizona Highways, during the Vietnam War.

As if you didn't know, your magnificent magazine gets around, although even you must be surprised now and again by the latest evidence of its universality.

The other day, while hitching a hop and passing the inevitable extra hour in the quonset hut terminal of the Cam Ranh Bay airfield, I came upon the scene preserved in the enclosed negatives.

Outside the F-4's were screaming in and out, to and from strikes both north and south of the dividing line of the tortured little country of Vietnam. The room was filled with 101st Airborne vets, all reading paperback novels bearing bosomy blondes on their slick covers, and over to one end of the rows of wooden benches, a dozen Korean marines in camouflage fatigues sat chattering and perspiring. Everyone was miserable in the close, humid airless tropical heat. All — save one.

He was Capt. Yong Il Shin, medical doctor for the Republic of Korea Marines. Dr. Shin was cool and preoccupied, lost in a land 8,000 miles away, where pyracanthia berries glisten in the tinselled night, and snow flocks the firs of the peaceful days. Dr. Shin was reading your Christmas edition of Arizona Highways, a copy of which somehow had found its way halfway around the world to exactly an opposite climate.

Congratulations to you and Highways, the only thing in history to make the Vietnam climate bearable!

Don Dedera
Saigon, South Vietnam

(At the time, Don Dedera was a columnist covering the conflict for The Arizona Republic. He later served as editor of Arizona Highways.)

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