Lost Treasure…

SUBMITTED february 2015
Don Johnson


My Lost Treasure

I have been a follower of Mr. Fenn’s hidden treasure and Dal’s blog for many years. I haven’t posted in a while. Like all of you I know where his treasure is located. Until I get there I thought I might pass on my own story of a lost treasure.

In 1967 when Mr. Fenn was in the air force flying jets over Laos and Vietnam, I was plowing through mud and jungle with the 25Th Division 4/9 Infantry Division. I was there for 18 months as a dumb kid looking for adventure. (I volunteered). On one day after a daylong march we finally got to our stopping point. It was out in the boondocks ten miles from the nearest small village. We made our defensive perimeter and I started to dig my foxhole for the night. It was slow digging because the ground was hard. I was down about four feet and my shovel hit something metallic. I immediately stopped digging because nothing that deep could be there except an unexploded bomb. I looked at what my shovel hit and I could see one small corner of the object sticking out. I figured it might not be a bomb. My curiosity got the best of me and I slowly by hand began removing the dirt around the object. I told you I was a stupid kid. After about a half hour I was able to pull the object from the dirt. It was all black, flat, metallic, about two inches thick, two feet long and the width about 14 inches. It weighed I am guessing about 45-50 pounds. There was absolutely no rust or other signs of oxidation except for being black. It was in perfect condition. On one side there were three indentations that looked like you could put flat spear heads.

At 20 years old I was in excellent shape and very strong. I decided to carry the metal object with me until helicopters took us back to base camp. I was now carrying that object along with my other 50 pounds of military gear. After about 10 miles and several hours of touting that weight I gave up. I dropped the mysterious object next to a tree about 400 meters from a small village. Before I left it I scraped the back with my knife. It was silver colored under the black. I made several scrapes on the metal and they all showed silver color. I put an “x” on a map where I dropped it. I can’t find my map now. Since I can’t find a simple map maybe my chance of finding Mr. Fenn’s treasure is not good.

I have looked up the history of metal casting and none of the metals used many years ago fit the description of this item. Silver itself is a relatively soft metal and not used for casting. Possibly it was not used for casting and was only a design. It remains a mystery to me to this day.

Don Johnson

58 thoughts on “Lost Treasure…

  1. Thank you for your service Don. I was there a few years after you and Finn. It was the only lottery I ever won.

    It was probably just a piece of a UFO……..did the guys say you were glowing after you got in the huey. 🙂

  2. tHAnK yOU for your service. Making it home to family and friends, those who love you and those who you love is one of the greatest treasures. As Father Time is sneaking up on us all I realize that one of my greatest treasures is my time. My prayer…Oh Great Spirit, allow me time to love….and be loved. Amen.

  3. I’ll keep a lookout for the object for you next time I am out in mud and jungle, Mr. Johnson. Oh, I wanted to ask… Did you ever stop being dumb? Would you do the same thing today? Good luck in your endeavors, DJ.

  4. Thanks for your service and for sharing your story. I wonder if anyone ever found it. A local might be using it as a nice foot stool now.

  5. It would be interesting if you could post a illustration or drawing of this object….. ?

  6. Cool story Don. Thank you for helping to keep us safe and happy! It just wasn’t meant to be. I have found a couple of different treasures (to me) in my life, but for different reasons wasn’t able to keep them. I still have the memories of them and enjoy thinking about them. I’m glad you made it back safely and kids will be kids.

  7. There’s a certain feeling you get when you know you’ll never know the answer to something you want to know. Intriguing find. Thanks for sharing your experience as a twenty-year-old.

  8. Must have been a bad @$$ with some serious moxie walking ten miles with 45 lbs extra, 95 lbs total – props man!

  9. Good story. I also had a low lottery number. One of the best things I ever did was refuse to fight in Vietnam. I worked as an orderly in a hospital instead. I believe America’s best and brightest went to Canada.

    • WS, I am sorry you feel that way. That is a slap in the face to all that fought and lost. But this is “the land of the free” and you have the right to a public forum to state your belief.

    • Over the years I have met many folks who managed to avoid the war that Goof and Forrest and Don and many others fought and 58,000 Americans died in. Many are good friends. some are as screwed up as the rest of us.

      At the time I never formed any resolve about whether or not we were doing the right thing by fighting in VN. I was wrapped up in it and it was difficult to be objective when I was wearing a uniform and sporting white sidewalls and didn’t really blend in with the society of free-lovers and long haired students on the “outside”. It may have been the only time in my life that I experienced something even close to “racism”. If you were in the military you simply could not blend in with the folks on the outside. Therefore it was easier to side with the others who looked like you and also did not fit into the “free-love” and “peace” generation that I may have been a part of but was not accepted by.

      American GIs were certainly segregated in the late 60s and early 70s. Society took a stand against the war and ultimately against the war machine…and many were against those who went off to fight in it. For the most part GIs stuck to themselves and as a result only knew what the rest of society was up to by reading the papers. Often we felt isolated and abandoned by our own age group. There was a wall around us that kept us alienated from the world we were supposedly fighting for. It was a strange and uncomfortable relationship. Most draftees could not wait to do their two years and get back into what they had been forced to leave. Volunteers had a longer period to live inside their green machines. Not all of it would be war but the segregation remained constant.

      When I got out after four years and started college in 1970 I found that I had to defend my “stupidity” for joining the military for the first time. I remember sitting in a classroom again at 22 years of age and listening to an 18 year old spout off about how anyone who joined the military was a threat to a free society. I could not believe what I was listening to. The next four years of my life were filled with a lot of hostile resentment and a number of brawls that with my lack of communication skills seemed the only way to make my point about not being “stupid” and trying to honor my young friends who never had a chance to fall in love or watch the trout rise in a stream at dusk before their lives were terminated for reasons that I wanted to believe were honorable.

      The politics of the war evaded me but the loss never did. I tried hard not to get involved in the political questions. They were much to hurtful. Like many of my generation I lost good friends and may have been responsible for others losing their friends..maybe it was needless but if that were the case I simply didn’t want to know about it. I liked the idea that all those thousands of young men lost their lives for something important…something good…otherwise, how could there be goodness? You can’t just sweep 58,000 lives under the carpet and say they were “just stupid”.

      Today, the evidence against the importance and the goodness of that war is overwhelming. It is still hurtful and when I look back at what those of us who survived have managed to enjoy in spite of the burdens many still carry I think about the 58,000 who have not had a chance to love life.

      For all these reasons I hope that this blog does not become a place where we carry on this conversation about Vietnam veterans vs the rest of society. There is no solution to the lost lives, the pain, the injustice or the values of those who went, those who died and those who never went.

      And besides there are streams to be watched and rocks to be turned over and sunsets to be admired for the sake of those who never got too.

      • Another great post,Dal.Sadly they just dont make many ppl like you guys anymore.Troops should always be supported no matter if you agree with the reasons or not.I chuckled at you whoopin up on frat boy butts in college.You seem really nice,and soft spoken from utube videos i watched, it was hard to picture that.Thanks for your service and sacrifice.

      • Dal, your humbly spoken words of truth honor the brave, patriotic men who laid down their lives in Vietnam Nam.

        Our nation was built and has been preserved by the brave. America’s leaders falter in wrong decisions, but individual soldiers and veterans should be thanked and honored for bravery and patriotism.

        Thank you Dal, Forrest, GOG, Pirate, Don Johnson, Michael Hendrickson..
        et al.

      • Dal,

        Well, for someone who once had a “lack of communication skills”, you have become not only an eloquent communicator, but also conveying your thoughts in a very logical way. And although I may not always agree with you, I do always know right where you are coming from and that is also why I have at many times thought you have a good chance at finding the chest as well.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, “you always make a lotta sense pal”!! 🙂

      • Thank you Dal. The futility of arguing over war should be obvious. I think as we age we become more aware that there are many sides to any questions and no real right answers.

        Thank you to all you brave men and women who served, we all owe you.

        Now come close so I can give you a touchy feely hug! 🙂

        • Dal –

          It’s a shame to me that when Vietnam veterans returned from service they were treated with disrespect. No one in the US is properly told the history of war in the world’s viewpoint enough to understand it’s role in a creating a more free society.

          At least now I can walk into any Little Saigon in America and see the results of your efforts in those lives which are 2nd and 3rd generation beneficiaries of your service.

          Thank you for sharing bravely.

      • Well, I’m not afraid to stand up and say I support our troops then and now. Fortunately, I live in a community that feels that way and still believes in God and country. I was brought up that way and feel it is right and nothing will change my mind to it. Once again, thank you to all who serve/served! I appreciate being free.

    • I gave it serious thought Wabi…..but I couldn’t turn my back on my country even though I was being forced to kill Communists in an idiotic body count war by a big government Marxist (Lyndon Johnson) to hide his agenda.

      So I decided to single handedly drive the United States Army insane. I made a pretty good dent in that pursuit. I’m sure there are still some old Sergeants sitting around in a VFW hall someplace talking about me. I was a tough kid with the temperament of a Cotton Mouth and twice as fast that grew up in a war zone; the Army just made it legal to shoot back. As horrible as war is the Army probably saved my life. I had completely different perspective and focus when I returned.

      It’s odd to me that a lot of the whiny deserters and protestors that wanted freedom and hated “the man” and big government ended up being the big government progressives of today.

      I don’t want to start a political debate; that was just my experience.

      • Not only did we keep the best and brightest but also the bravest, boldest, and most loyal. Those are the guys I want protecting me. Thank you all for your service and sacrifice. (By guys I mean gals too.)

        Mr. Johnson, I enjoyed your story from long ago. I wonder what that was. You sure were strong.

  10. Don, thanks for sharing your interesting story. Someone suggested drawing a pic to illustrate what you found–I would urge you to do so because someone might be able to help identify what it was that you found. The overall shape is discernible from your description but I can’t quite visualize the indentations–where were they placed and what were their size? When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, I found all kinds of stuff that I wish I had held on to. We moved a lot so every few years I had to purge my “collections”. My dresser drawers were always full of rocks, pottery chards, some arrowheads, feathers, interesting sticks–anything that caught my eye. My clothes were on the floor of my closet, door closed of course.
    Please share more info about your find! I love good mysteries.

    • Don, Thank you for sharing I would also be interested in seeing a drawing of what you remember the object to look like… I think a lot of us here like a good Mystery… And thank you very much for your service…

      • would love to hear of your adventures,unfortunately not as x citing as yours ,just trying to get new clues !!!

  11. Hi Don,
    That was a cool story… It reminds me of when I was a kid I found a nice arrow head shaped meteorite in AZ… My Dad has always kept it for me, and won’t give it back. When I ask him, He gives me a store bought one, and I said…Nope, I want my original one. He always changes the subject…

    Moral of the story… We know the general places where our lost things are, but somehow have obstacles and getting them back is a lost challenge.

    I still remember finding that meteorite to this day in the Petrified Wood Forrest in AZ… But now its gone. Hopefully when I am cleaning out my Father’s house someday..We will be reunited again. Just space and time, right!?

    Happy Trails,

  12. Don – I wish for you to have a dream that reveals an important clue to unlock the mystery of your location so you can return and find your treasure.

  13. Thanks for sharing your intriguing find. Curious how the metallic object ended up buried so deep. And for that matter how long it had been there. And of course what the heck was it… why was it made… what was it used for… where did it come from… why did it end up there… who crafted it… who were the people before you that had handled it… how old was it… did an explosion push it into the earth that deep… did someone purposely bury it… was it buried by time… was it buried by the worldwide flood…? You sure got my brain a whirring. I think it is likely that there must be at least one person in time past who probably knows some if not most of these answers. On a side note I did glean an interesting lesson from your adventure. That ‘Heavy Loads’ can sometimes even get the better of the best of us. Also, I was never much Fonda Jane. Maybe it’s cause she was… Oh never mind. I am grateful for your service in spite of the politics of that time. God always works things out for the good, we just need to keep hanging in there to see it. I hold with Forrest… I wish that some people would just leave everybody else alone.

  14. Thanks for sharing your mystery, Don. 🙂

    There are many views on wars and specific wars. Don’t judge one another, who’s right, or who was wiser. Each did what they believed was right. Everyone paid a price. The wise man leaves it all in the past, because one cannot change any of it. Everyone learns from the things in the past. Today we need to have compassion for everyone!

  15. Nice story Don, I guess only digging up that artefact a second time will reveal it’s true identity..

    Keep looking for that Map!

    p.s. if you were as fit as you looked in Miami Vice, then I’m not surprised you carried that case so far 🙂

  16. Thanks for all the Brave that have and are serving! Dal, Goof, thanks for sharing your stories, I know it brings back bitter memories. I was at the age to be drafted the first year that they stopped the draft. Felt lucky then but have always felt that I missed out a lot by not serving. My dad and both brothers served in the Air Force. It brings tears to my eyes when I here the National Anthem. We have such a great country that so many people don’t appreciate. It makes me mad when watching a sporting event and half the players or drivers don’t take off their hats or put their hand over their hearts. That’s what freedom is I guess. God Bless America and our military!

  17. Never give up on Looking fo FF’s Treasure, Just think,” if you never would have dug that thing up and touched it, I wouldn’t have something to Imagine at this very Moment . I can imagine your curiosity, the thrill that you felt and the anxiety of trying to dig faster and faster to find out what it was that you were digging up. and the thrill of maybe not knowing exactly what it was but the thrill you got from getting closer and closer till finally uncoving it, and touching it. and maybe it was lost or burried by another person years before lying in wait for someone else to discover it and to be in awwe of the (Discovery) of it. Doesn’t really matter what it was, as long as it was “something” to you. I have a Stick that i found yrs. ago, Yep just a stick, and doesnt seem or even look special to anyone else, but it’s my stick, i found it. and it’s a memory to me. 🙂 and even though you never knew what it was that you found, I think it was still kind of a Treasure in and of itself, after all it was a treasured memory to you of some sort, and it’s story is told by you, 🙂 What a Great story. Thank You so much fo sharing it with us. And Thank You fo fighting for Me,for Us.. Alissa Renee

    • 🙂 It’s still very legible, Fennatic. Thanks for sharing. Treasure hunting is truly exhilarating. The Thrill of the Chase! Thank You Forrest Fenn, Sir!

  18. During the Civil War the soldiers on both sides had a saying that went like this :
    ” A rich man’s war, and a poor man’s fight”.

  19. So Mr. Don Johnson, I’m sure over the years you have aquired many of a beautiful thing.

    You have asked Forrest how he aquired the Dragon Bracelet and The Big Persian… Other than this mysterious “silver object” that was left on the jungle floor, what else have you acquired in that lovely home of yours???? I’m sure there’s another interesting story.

    BTW… How would you like to be on the journey that finds the treasure of Forrest Fenn in real time? Reply here!!!!

  20. Golly James, you have an excellent memory? , This is not my blog or my treasure hunt. Dal was nice enough to post my story even though it was on the cusp of being relevant to the chase. Dal and Forrest are the ones that can tell some stories. Dal was a volunteer that spent four years in the marines and spent at least a year in Vietnam as a correspondent/photographer. A Brownie camera was his speciality. Dal told me once about eating 20 year old K-rations. They stopped making them in 1947. I think only a marine would do something like that.
    Thanks, but pass on the offer, I hate to share. You have a good day Mr.James.

    • Mr. Don… Thanks for the response. You made me chuckle with the “I hate to share” comment.

      Everyone on here has a good story to share every now and then… Doesn’t matter who you are; life experiences of others are always interesting in and of themselves. Forrest has proven this in his own genius way.

      I personally love to here about others and what they’ve been through… Helps a person grow in a healthy aspect IMHO. That’s part of how great this blog is of Dal’s.

      If one stops and listens to others and their words and then continues to process the story, comment, or conversation… A lot can be learned.

      Stay blessed all!

  21. K-rations. Hershey made candy bars included in ration kits. Cant imagine eating a 20+yr old candy bar.

  22. Don

    Enjoyed the read. When do you plan on finding the Fenn treasure? Have you sent any solves over to Forrest, if so then it might be you at 200ft.

  23. Don,

    Thanks for the story of “your treasure”. I was in the same theater at the same time as your with the 11th Cav and spent a lot of time in Lai Kei and surrounding areas. My question to you is: why did you not share your load with your buddies rather than leaving your discovery behind? There is no way you would be able to get back to it. Sounds to me like the term “grunt” applies well to you.

    Welcome home, brother.

  24. Ditto Don & Bill on Lai Kei. I infused to the 4th in Apl 67 from the 9th and changed patches from 4th to 25th shortly thereafter. All these years later three guys who stomped the same ground are now looking for treasure buried by a guy who flew overhead in the same damn war. Hola brothers & welcome home.

  25. Don

    Things tend to cool down after dark. Behind you there in the shadow. BOO! Great story, thanks for sharing.

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