Joe Kolodziejski's USA
Starting Memorial Day and ending on Veterans Day, 11
November 2000, Joe Kolodziejski, of B Company, 15th Engineer Battalion toured the continental USA in a red Astro Van.
Joe covered over 40,000 miles during his 5 month tour of the USA.
Go to Joe's Travels for short stories of where he has been.
See below for a short description of Joe's recent meetings with John Jadryev, B Company and "Mac" McMahon, A Company.
Joe Visited With Mac McMahon Recently
Joe was here in Broad Channel Mon. and Tue. (8/28 - 8/29). My wife, her son Joe and I had dinner at Kennedy’s Restaurant in Breezy Point in Rockaway Beach (Queens, NY). The owner was with the 1st Infantry Division in 68. We had a few beers after dinner and talked quite a bit. Joe left about 10am and continued his trip.
Take care, Mac McMahon, A Company
Joe visited John Jadryev recently
Joe visited me (John Jadryev) in Iowa City, Iowa on 08/21 and 8/22 on his way back east. He looks pretty good but I can't share the digital photos with you now due to technical problems. I've got them on disk but can't get them to attach.
We had dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant owned by "Binh" who prepared some authentic food. I knew that he had served in the South Vietnamese army and barely escaped the country when the south fell. He spent 3 years in the Delta and he and Joe showed each other their wounds. Later, Joe and I went over our personal experiences and how we connected then and now. We were also able to help each other remember some of the KIAs; not just find their names on the wall but put some images and personality with them. I think we have a duty to not let them be forgotten.
I hope to see Joe and others this November in DC and visit the Wall together, especially panel 41c.
Bravo Company, 15th CEB; 8/67 – 9/68.
Joe stopped by my place Friday, 14 July 2000 and dropped
off some photos and short stories of his travels. I have added some of the
photos and all text he left with me.
He was in New Mexico when he got word that he had to give a deposition in New York City - he has a job injury case currently in the court system. That's a 4,000 mile detour. Currently he is headed for the west coast. He will be back in this area in August for his daughter's 21st birthday.
Joe's Travels - In His Own Words
For the latest on Joe's travels, in his own words- who he's met with and where he's been - Click Here
Joe visited Don Anderson in early June. It was a
typical 6 pack meeting at Joe's campsite - at least until near the end of their
As Don tells it - "a raccoon came into the light of Joe's camp and found the dog biscuits I had brought for Boonie and started to drag them off. I jumped up to throw a stick at the 'coon not realizing that I had stepped over Boonies' 20 foot leash. Boonie finally noticed the 'coon and took off after it. The leash caught me just behind the ankles and threw me into the air. On the return trip I landed on my right ankle and shoulder".
Result: one broken ankle.
Bet that 'coon doesn't come near that campsite for quite awhile - not after being chased by a black dog and seeing some white guy doin' flips.
It is Best if Joe Introduces Himself
Have Equipment, Will Travel
6 June 2000 Update:
27 May 2000 Update:
4 May 2000 Update:
I Remember - A
Classic by Joe! -
Select from the links above or scroll through the page.
If you do select from the Index, use the BACK button to return here.
6 June 2000,
Joe arrived at Hamilton Anthony (Tony) Horseman's ranch yesterday. He had met with Sgt Roy Chaney in Kingsland GA a few days before but have no report other than Joe, and I presume Roy also, got tanked and had a great time. Hope to have more "stories" about his meeting with Sgt Chaney and travels to this point in time.
Joe's traveling companion "Boonie" is enjoying Florida after meeting some of the indigenous fauna. If you don't know what that means, neither did "Boonie." Move your cursor over each picture to find out.
Looks like Joe and "Tony Horse" will be heading for the Florida Keys and Joe's schedule will be off by a week. Should have more info and a revised schedule soon.
27 May 2000, Brigantine, NJ - The
Two week tentative travel schedule at the end of this segment.
Joe and his traveling companion "Boonie." What happened to the "Babe" with voracious appetites? And this dog is a male. Double bummer. Joe, 32 years ago you were "humping" the "boonies" - I'd keep a real close eye on your traveling companion, he's sure to get it all mixed up. Be patient, Boonie is just a NFG.
The "Chick Magnet" from the rear.
You can't miss his Astro van. The lower bumper has some references to "Hanoi" and someone named "Jane." I wonder who that is? Too bad the picture is out of focus, you'll just have to see it when Joe is in your area of the country. Or at the 15th Combat Engineer reunion in Washington, DC this coming Veterans Day.
Joe stated his journey 27 May 2000 at the VFW Post 6964 in Brigantine, NJ, which has three outstanding murals on one outside wall, shown above.
VFW Post 6964 Post Commander Ralph Laltrella giving Joe a hearty
And so the journey begins.
4 May 2000
First travel update:
On the 27th of May, I will be at the Brigantine VFW. (New Jersey) .They have a great mural on the outside of the post. The next day I will be in DC for Rolling Thunder, if you are there and see my red Astro van, stop by and say hello. I will then travel leisurely down the coast stopping by to see Tony Horseman, a two tour vet of the the 15th. We will be traveling down to Key West together where I expect to sip Marguerites on the beach at sundown. This should be the middle of the first week in June.
Note: I assume you will be stopping to see SGT Roy Chaney in Kingsland GA. He lives near the FL state line. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org - Web Master.
I will then head up along the Gulf coast to Columbus GA and over into AL to see Larry Cash another 15th vet. While in his neighbor hood, I will drop in on Dave Grieger. Dave is not from the 15th CEB but he is a disabled chopper pilot and supplied me with most of my patches pins and bumper stickers. He has a nifty web site http://www.DandGEnterprises.com check it out.
Afterwards I am not sure of the route I will take, but I want to listen to the blues on Beale St. in Memphis, visit the crossroads where Robert Johnson played guitar against the devil. and then hear the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. I also want to ingest enormous amounts of Cajun food.
I will then be visiting Bobby Kilgore a brother vet from East Texas. This should take me to the end of June. While in Texas I intend to remember the Alamo and walk down the streets of Laredo.
Other must stops include the sitting atop a mesa in the Monument Valley and watching the sunrise over the North rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
I will take a meandering trip up the West Coast and back and forth across the continental divide. I want to drive down the strip in Vegas after dark. see the Golden gate bridge in a fog, watch the surf in Big Sur, drink a beer under a giant sequoia tree and surf fish on the Olympic Peninsula.
In the Dakotas I will pay my respects at Mt. Rushmore and awe a t presidents you look up to rather than down on. I will also visit Deadwood where Wild Bill Hickok is buried and drop in on the biker rally in Sturgis in the middle of Aug.
I will then come East to make my daughter's 21st birthday in Syracuse NY. on the 27th of Aug. From there I will do a circuit of New England and then go West to make the Vietnam Veteran's Reunion in Kokomo Ind. If you have never heard of it then I strongly advise you visit their website at www.hcvvo.org. This will be my first time but I have been hearing about it for years it is supposed to be the best rally of it's kind in the nation. That will be the middle of Sep.
I will finish up with a counter clockwise tour of the nation's heartland, including a visit with John Jadryev in Iowa. returning back east through the Ozarks and the Smokies with a stop at the Grand Old Opry finally up the Shenandoah Valley dropping in on Paul Kasper one of the co-founders of this website, finishing at the 15th Combat Engineers reunion at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veteran's Day.
If this sounds vague, at this point it is necessary. It allows me to make adjustments in my schedule based on vets who contact me while I am on my way, and allows for the unforeseen. Five months and twenty to thirty thousand miles is a lot of planning, especially for someone who thinks organization is a dirty word and a wrist watch is a trinket for the anal retentive.
I am a firm believer of what they taught me in the Army, KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. I know the sun will rise in the morning and set at night, if I get something done in between, it was a productive day.
Joe's Equipment List
As Cary Grant said in Gungha Din, "I'm an expedition. Make way for the expedition." Making this trip requires a certain amount of gear. The "Mission" is to go camping for five months with all the comforts of an Arab prince while operating on the budget of one of his camel jockeys.
As has been mentioned my transportation is a six-year old Astro van. Used, but I hope, not too badly. For a tent I picked up a K-Mart special for about $80. It's not a Moss four season mountaineering shelter, but if it falls apart Nov. 12, I will be satisfied. I also picked up a cheap screen house for nights when it is too hot for a tent.
I had an old cast iron griddle, and I bought a porcelain kettle, I still have to pick up a coffee pot and cast iron frying pan. I got a Coleman portable fireplace; I can use it as a bar-b-que and with its screen I can have a fire when and open fire might not be the smartest thing in the world.
For the rest, I have a low-priced sleeping bag, some old blankets if it gets cold and couple of tarps some coolers and that's about it.
I also decided I needed a traveling companion, I first considered finding a twenty-three year old blond with voracious appetites, but I realized I would be on life-support before I left the first campsite. I settled for a dog that was on death row at the Atlantic County Animal Shelter. They told me his mother was a black lab and his father came from a very fine neighborhood. I was going to name him Elwood P. Dowd after Jimmy Stewart's character in "Harvey". After a couple of days I came to believe this dog was a combat survivor having made his way on the mean streets. He also showed signs of canine PTSD, so I decided he deserved the name "Boonie."
See the B Company page for some of Joe's photos from Vietnam
Joe Kolodziejski in His Own Words
Joe then and now
Like many veterans of the Vietnam War, I feel isolated from those around me. Even close family members are unable to understand the memories and emotions, which I am forced to deal with every day. Not sharing the same experiences as us, they have no basis for understanding. Trying to explain it to them is like trying to explain a toothache to a duck.
The VA has declared me 70% "dinky dau". This is OK with me; I sometimes think being a bit crazy is the only thing that keeps me from losing my mind. John Jardyev, a fellow vet from B Company, recently suggested to me, if we spent one hour a day for the past twenty-four years thinking about Viet Nam, we served a second one-year tour of duty, and the second was harder than the first. He was dead on right. (Thank you John).
I have come to realize PTSD is not the only reason for our isolation. A common thread among Veterans is the system of principles and ethics, which we brought back with us. Loyalty, Courage, Integrity, Patriotism and, most of all, Honor are coins of great value to the average vet.
Many people around me are incapable of understanding the deep, passionate love I have for my country, and they therefore can't understand the intensity of my anger when I see them treating, so shabbily, that which I hold so dear. However, when I talk to my fellow vets, I find that I am not alone.
Recently, I went back to college for a year. The young people I met seemed only concerned with how much money they were going to make and how fast they were going to do it. When the Clinton scandals came to light, they did not understand why the President's behavior or morals should be an issue. I was treated like a funny old man who got upset over nothing.
The exceptions were the children of vets. It seems we have been successful in passing on our sense of right and wrong. We have, for better or worse, become the keepers of the flame.
My personal isolation began to end when I found the 15th Combat Engineers web site. I, finally, was in contact with fellow vets.
William Shakespeare, in Henry V, has the King giving a speech to his men before the battle of Agincourt on the Feast of St. Crispin. They are facing impossible odds against the French. He tells how, in years to come, they will gather together on St. Crispin's Day. They will roll up their sleeves to show the scars of battle. He calls them "We few, We happy few, We band of Brothers".
Over the next five months I expect to see this country I love and to visit with my happy band of Brothers. I want to look in your eyes, shake your hand, swap stories, drink Jack Daniels and see the sunrise in your part of the country.
So when you are walking your perimeter, keep an eye out, a friendly will be coming through the wire.
And whatever your "challenge" is, the password is "Joeski".
Joseph Kolodziejski – 30 April 2000
By Joseph Kolodziejksi: 6 May 2000
Coming home in '68: after the Tet offensive
Going to a peace rally: not as a participant
Hearing chants of Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!
Seeing Viet Cong flags
Being waved enthusiastically
They were anti-war: like cheerleaders are anti-football
They were cheerleaders for the other side
The side that was killing Americans
They were anti-violent as they threw rocks at police
And set fire to campus buildings
They were for freedom of speech
Unless you disagreed with their party line even slightly
Then they shouted you down
Thinking the only things missing
Were brown shirts and Swastikas
They were for the workers
But sneered when they saw one with an American flag
On his hard hat
They hated capitalism
But stampeded back to college to get their MBAs and BMWs
And become tax accountants and stockbrokers
As soon as the draft was over
The deafening silence when the fighting was over
And the many South Vietnamese people who were then killed
In the name of peace
The thousands who risked starvation and drowning
On flimsy and overloaded boats and rafts
Who risked robbery, rape and murder at the hands of pirates
To escape the glorious People's Republic
And the heroic forces of the People's army
And, I remember
No one protested for them