Scrapbook Two Hundred Fifty Four…

October 9, 2020
by dal


ff p

For twenty years the military played a significant role in Forrest’s and Peggy’s life. The relevance did not end when Forrest retired from the Air Force in 1970. He was an accomplished combat pilot…and of that he was proud. He was also a humanitarian…caring deeply about the lives of humans. He was careful in trying to balance, on one hand, the killing and destruction borne in his role as a combat pilot, against the sage and human desire to honor and assist those around him. In many ways he was still a pilot long after he gave up flying; in the way that mentors always assist and push others to be as good as humanly possible.

I’d like you to look at a piece of film that Forrest and I sat down and watched in early 2014.  This is 24 minutes of gun camera film from Forrest’s missions in Vietnam. Listen to Forrest’s voice. I believe he was proud of his skillful ability to destroy enemy targets, and at the same time, regretful of the inevitable pain and death to civilians that came with his best efforts.

Forrest was both a realist and a humanitarian. When watching the evening news with him I would often hear him whisper…”Why can’t we all just get along?”

There is more explanation in the film’s description on the video page.


Please look HERE for the video.


Forrest was a compulsive record keeper. These are pages from Forrest’s personnel flight log. He kept these in spiral notebooks while he was in Vietnam. These come from Chris LaFrieda’s collection of material. You will remember that Chris is the guy that organized the search for Forrest’s plane some 50 years after Forrest was shot down in Laos. It’s a great story.

You can find that story HERE

There is a guide to the “pilot language” contained in the below photos. The guide is at the bottom of this page…just before the comments.

You can click on any photo to make it larger and easier to read.

IMG 2087
IMG 2081 IMG 2082 IMG 2083 IMG 2085


Forrest kept a mission log or flight log of every mission he flew in Vietnam. The entries were generally made as soon as he got back to his hut after a mission, while the details were still locked in his brain. 

At the top of the page is the date and the mission number. Below that are the callsigns and aircraft numbers of  all the pilots in the flight. There is also a radio frequency that they all used to communicate. This frequency changed for each mission so that the enemy had a harder time trying to listen in.

Then there is a list of mission particulars by abbreviation.

Forward Air Controller. This person, in a separate aircraft, ensures that attack aircraft hit the intended target and do not injure friendly troops. Forrest often refers to them by their call sign. The FAC is generally on target before the flight arrives and gives the flight final instructions about what is happening on the ground and last minute details of the mission including if there are friendlies around, where they are and where the enemy is located. 

Target. Usually coordinates and a description. The coordinates are military coordinates as delineated on a military map, These coordinates have no relationship to the world coordinates that civilian maps use.

Bomb Damage Assessment. This is Forrest’s assessment of the mission success or bombs that hit the target compared to the number of bombs deployed.

Rendezvous. This is the staging area where all aircraft in the flight meet up to begin their mission. A rendezvous point is necessary because the aircraft take off one at a time and are not immediately together. After take off they head for the rendezvous point where they all meet up get any updates and head for the target.

Usually lists the take off time and then the time on the target and the time they left the target.

Forrest also sometimes mentions the weapons he was carrying. CBU-34 means a type of Cluster Bomb Unit. These are the small bomblets Forrest talks about dropping. They are the size of a softball and there are hundreds in a container. Once the pilot opens the container the bomblets fall out. Different bomblets are designed for different missions. Some are anti-personnel. Some are incendiary. Some are designed to destroy bridges and other infrastructure…etc.

An F-100 could carry many different weapons from dumb bombs to smart rockets to cannisters of bomblets to napalm. The weapons they ultimately carried were determined by the target they were going after.







Recycling Mistake

by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit


The 40mm anti-aircraft autocannon has been a popular weapon in many of the wars since 1930, when it was invented by the Swedes. It was certainly used in the Vietnam War, and in great numbers. Here is what the brass MK2 shell casing looked like after its explosive projectile was fired from the 40mm cannon.

Bottom of casing

An enterprising Vietnamese merchant in the little hamlet of Tuy Hoa acquired some of these brass casings and started turning them into lamps, vases, beer mugs, and other oddments.

Finished vase is nine inches tall

He employed three or four workers who reshaped and polished the canisters. There was a ready market in American GIs who wanted a souvenir to take home. The Viet Cong soldiers were not happy with their countrymen fraternizing with the “Yankee Imperialists,” so they raided the store, killed everyone inside, and confiscated the inventory, which they sold individually on the black market.

This vase, given to me by my crew chief, now resides behind some books where I don’t have to look at it unless I want to, and that’s not very often. It’s not on my list of most favored objects. f


The War Kids

December 28th 2014

The Vietnam War was terrible on civilians, especially the kids. Those who champion fighting cannot open their mouths without adding to the sum of human suffering.

Peggy sent two large boxes of clothing for me to take to the local orphanage, and it was just like her to do that. When the director started passing out shirts and pants and shoes, and socks, you should have seen the smiles all around.



Many of the children were missing body parts, but it didn’t hamper their spirit or their enthusiasm.


Contributing to the children was a rewarding moment for Peggy and me, although at times I had to grit my teeth and look away. But I know that what we did left an indelible stamp on some impressionable clay, and that made it all worthwhile.

Scrapbook Ninety Six…




War Trophy or…?

I made my first flight during the Vietnam War on January 18, 1968. The action was heating up and when the Tet Offensive started twelve days later I had already flown fifteen combat missions in the F-100.

My palatial hootch at Tuy Hoa where I lived for a year, a pilot on each end.

My palatial hootch at Tuy Hoa where I lived for a year, a pilot on each end.

Tet was the big push by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Regulars to take over South Vietnam and push America and her allies into the beautiful South China Sea. The last attack in that offensive was on February 10th. During the intervening eleven days 14,000 Vietnamese civilians were killed and 24,000 were wounded. I have maintained my sanity over the ensuing years by telling myself that none of them were in my target areas.

Sometimes the war interfered with farming.

Sometimes the war interfered with farming.

At 0300 on the morning of 31 January, Tuy Hoa, where I was stationed, was hit hard. I was jolted awake by the sound of explosions and machine gun fire. I didn’t know what to do. We weren’t allowed to have fighting weapons in our living areas, so I climbed on top of my hootch where I could hide and watch the action.


A Viet Cong who thought about coming through the concertina wire.

Enemy sappers breeched the base perimeter and threw satchel charges under our airplanes. Wings and tails were blown high into the black sky. The light from huge fires allowed our security forces to see enemy troops running around. Most intruders were killed but many disappeared back into the night.

One of our cargo planes in need of maintenance.

One of our cargo planes in need of maintenance.

About 0900 the fighting was over and we started taking inventory. The warm-eyed Vietnamese woman who did my laundry; a pleasant person whom I liked and gave soap to, was killed coming through the concertina wire. She was a Viet Cong soldier. Identifying her body was almost beyond the reach of my imagination.

It was a frightening scene at our Command Post, with AK-47s, hand grenades and rocket launchers littering the sand all around. I retrieved a small flag from the body of a Viet Cong soldier who didn’t make it through the razor wire. Our intelligence officer said the flag was one that had been hand-stitched in silk by a local Vietnamese family who was selling them as souvenirs to the GIs. The flags weren’t official, or issued, and had nothing to do with the war. All of that changed when the Viet Cong raided the small shop, killed the family, and took their inventory of flags.

War trophy or...?

War trophy or…?

So now, forty-six years after leaving the Vietnam War, I have successfully unremembered many details of my involvement. But I still wonder if my small 32-inch flag is a legitimate trophy from that conflict, or just the peaceful symbol of an unfortunate family that was caught in the middle, trying to make a living. What do you think?


Scrapbook Thirty Nine…


ffdesk045 copy

From Forrest-

The Thrill of the Chase has been on the market for several years now and thousands of individuals and families have jumped into search for the golden treasure. Irene Rawlings, who has a radio program in Denver, first promoted my book, then introduced me to Margie Goldsmith. Margie is the Manhattan girl who snatched the torch from Irene and started writing about the treasure: three times in the Huffington Post, full page story in the Robb report and in the United Airlines Hemispheres magazine. Sparks started flying and I have received 1,200 emails from that story. My book rushed out of print and has since been reprinted three times. I owe those girls a lot.

Then there’s Dal. He’s a frustrated searcher who hides behind a white mustache and lives on a little island where he makes videos and pushes information. I sometimes send him things to place in the cyber file, hoping to correct some of the misconceptions and misapprehensions that always surface when many people seek the same goal.

I am separated from the action now, but am interested in hearing from the players. With the hindsight of reading 21,000+ emails, I see hundreds of people worrying about where someone else is looking. Searchers are rushing to take advice from those who don’t know.

Beware of those who say they’ve found the treasure, and there are at least 31 of them out there. My silence will never be a hint.

Let me summarize a few real emails for you:

A man said he found the treasure and the bracelet that I wanted back was a rusted tin can, so he sent it to me in the mail.

A mayor in a small town wanted to know why I hid so much money that could have been spent building a pool hall to keep teenagers off the streets at night.

A preacher needs the treasure so he can go on vacation because his parishioners are too poor to pay for it.

All sorts of people need open heart surgery, hernia operations, an oxygen bottle for aunt Phyllis “because she smokes and can’t breath.”

Houses are in foreclosure and I could be a hero to so many people.

Some say I am unreasonable because I won’t tell them exactly where the treasure is. “There is no closure from our trip.”

Some want to know how deep the treasure is buried.

Mr. Dunham from South Dakota took his wife and four boys into the mountains looking for the treasure. They didn’t find it but he said they gathered fire wood to justify the trip.

One man said the Forest Service is mad because treasure hunters are making them do the job they are being paid to do.

There were 160 tents on government land in New Mexico where a tent had never been before and the Forest Service had to take rangers away from very important jobs to patrol and keep people from digging and cutting down trees.

Eight year old Marva Jane caught a cold while standing out in the rain looking for “billions of dollars in gold.” Her mother wants to know if I will pay for the family health insurance.

One cute little girl (who sent me her picture)wants to know if the Hope diamond is part of the treasure.

Thirty-two women want to marry me. I usually ask for photos and whether or not they have an airplane.

Another is concerned that if the gold gets wet it will rust and lose it’s value.

Some think the bronze chest will melt if it gets hot in a forest fire or a hot spring, and the gold will spill out.

One man, who claimed a few months ago that he found the treasure is now saying the story is a fraud and that I never hid it.

A few have asked if Mt. Rushmore is the right blaze.

One lady is worried that the gold coins are getting old and won’t be worth as much when she finds them.

An Indian saw the pre-Columbian gold frog in one of the photos in the book and said frogs are bad luck and that’s why no one will ever find the treasure.

A New Mexico archaeologist criticized me because a deer might trip over the “box” and hurt its leg.

NY cops caught a guy digging in Central park near the Alice in Wonderland sculpture because he heard that I could quote some of Lewis Carroll’s book.

Searchers are worried about the gross number of Babe Ruth candy wrappers that are littering the pristineMontana forest, and wanted to know if I feel bad about it.

A family wants to know where they can rent a boat to cross Lake Tahoe because they think they see blaze on the other side. “Our binoculars are very good.”

A college student wanted to know if I made an environmental impact study before I “dug the hole and put the jewelry vault in it.”

If Margaret’s husband goes looking for the treasure one more time she’s going to divorce him and take the kids. She’s holding me personally responsible.

Two guys got into a argument over a parking spot in Jackson Hole but discovered they were both looking for the treasure so they went out searching together the next day.

A lady wants to know how far her teen age son can walk out into Grebe Lake. “Are there any alligators in the lake and if there are, does Yellowstone control them?”

Another is mad because she was told not to slide down the Firehole River falls with no clothes on.

A few searchers are concerned that the treasure has been found, and asked if I would trust them to go see for sure? They promise not to tell anyone.

A New Jersey couple said their son got lost in the mountains and think he deserves the treasure chest for risking his life.

A seemingly sober searcher from Cimarron said God told her the treasure was two feet deep in the pond beside my house and wanted to know if it would be all right for her to look if she brought her wet suit.

Several people have asked where they could register to look for the treasure and if it was OK to search on Sunday.

One 73 year-old man said that if he was younger he could “line the clues up” and wanted to know if that counted?

A boy said that if he found the treasure his parents would probably make him split with his sister, and wanted to know if I could help.

A man heard that I wanted the bracelet back and asked that I deposit $50,000 in his bank account to assure that I would be an honest man when he found the treasure.

A stalker rang my gate bell on and off for two days. When I dialed 911 and the police caught him he said all he wanted to do was “search my yard and look in my garage.”

A man from Arizona refused to leave my property and when the police came he tried to attack a female officer. He was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed.

A man said his car was unreliable and asked that if it broke down in the mountains, would I come and take him the rest of the way to the treasure.

More than a few people have said they know where the treasure is but are in wheel chairs. They want to know if I will bring the treasure to them.

A man called on the phone to say that he had found the treasure. When I asked him if hot water had discolored the bronze chest, he said, “Thanks for telling me,” and hung up.

I get many emails that have no text, just coordinates or the name of a Town or place.

Someone said they went to where the treasure had been and wanted to know why I moved it.

The great preponderance of folks who are searching seem to be the typically good honest people who relish in memories of their adventures, especially when their children were along. I enjoy getting photographs of the people and where they have looked.




Scrapbook Thirty Eight…


Back in May Forrest posted a story on his blog called “Wars Last Forever”. It’s the story of a Vietnam Veteran’s jacket that was sent to Forrest for safekeeping earlier that same month. Forrest wasn’t certain what to do with that jacket and asked for ideas from his readers. That started a rush of comments. Not all of them very respectful. A commenter by the name of Dale Joritz has been particularly emphatic, some have said vile and ignoble. In Dale’s recent comments he called Forrest a liar and claimed Forrest didn’t even have the jacket.

Below is Forrest’s solution to the disposition of the jacket and a couple of photos that clearly illustrate that Forrest is certainly in possession of that jacket. If you’d like to read the story behind the photos below and learn about the history of that jacket, head to the story on Forrest’s blog here:

Forrest replies:

“I just wanted the Vietnam veterans and their wives to know that I had the jacket dry cleaned and am in contact with a former member of the 101st Airborne who knows the real history of those involved. Tracing its history has been a rewarding journey and it will go to a deserving home. ff”