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My Dad’s Book: Why Viet Nam?

by Renee Daniels King, ACS

My Dad wrote a very controversial book about his experiences as a soldier, foreign service officer and Tech-Rep in Viet Nam … Undaunted by my Mother’s angst, that the Army might take away his retirement or send him to prison for treason, and numerous literary rejection letters … he published it on his own in 1968.

Why Viet Nam by Orel Mason Daniels 1968. CLICK IMAGE for LARGER VIEW.

These pictures inside the front cover convey the diversity of my father’s work in Viet Nam from 1957-1966.

He would be so proud to have his story told on this website featuring other people who had the opportunity to live is this beautiful country before the war.

Why Viet Nam? by Orel Mason Daniels. Inside cover pictures. CLICK IMAGE for LARGER VIEW.

My Dad loved the Vietnamese people, their culture and their country. We had always intended to return to Viet Nam, but we never made the trip. He died 4 years ago at the age of 91. He served in the Army in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam.

He was active all of his life. He played tennis and was a pro bass fisherman. He wrote 3 books and was writing a 4th when he died. He built our family home in Tennessee modeled after a doll house I received for Christmas when I was 5. I asked him if he would build me a real house like it some day. He answered yes and kept his promise 10 years later. And, he built an adobe house in the Texas desert when he was in his 80’s.

Maybe the pictures will jar your memory Sandy.

Orel Mason Daniels.

Sandy what was your Dad’s name?.

My Dad’s name was Orel. But most people just called him Dan.

UPDATE March 20, 2013: Because of Copyright issues the book can’t be converted to an eBook at this time. I’m in the process of making the few remaining print copies available to Saigon Kids. I’ll let you know when they are ready for distribution. – Renee.

The book is out of print. I’ve sent a copy to Bob to make into an eBook that will be available to those who would like to read it. When the eBook becomes available, we’ll let you know here on the blog.

47 comments to My Dad’s Book: Why Viet Nam?

  • Tom Hanna

    Our fathers name was George. He was a Lt. Col. when we were over there.

  • Tom Hanna

    I would love to read your fathers book.

    • Tom – Renee has a copy of the book on the way to me by snail mail. Once I receive it, I’ll convert to digital format to make it available to everyone on the blog (those that want to read it anyway).

      Bob

  • Renee Daniels King

    Tom…I will be glad to share…Wouldn’t my Dad be surprised to see where his book ended up…Thanks to Bob and all he has done and will continue for Saigon Kids…Isn’t Bob amazing?…Renee

  • Renee Daniels King

    In rereading his book, I realize I made a mistake when I said Dad was in VietNam from 1959-1966…He actually went there with the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1957…So he had an even broader view of the war than I remembered…Renee

    [Renee – Correction made above – Bob]

  • Tom Hanna

    I did a search and found one copy of your fathers book listed at the Pentagon library.

  • George Baggett

    You can bet I want to read it. As I noted the other day, many families were fully aware of some of the things happening in Vietnam after WWII. My book, “Youth In Asia” is fiction, but I did a great deal of research to tell as much of the story that could fit. It was published as we were heading to Iraq and Afghanistan with fervor built to discount those who questioned the mission, and so a book questioning the standard line of Vietnam was of little interest at the time. Since my book is now available for Kindle, it is cheap to read.

    I can hardly wait to see what Mr. Daniels said.

  • Hi Rene….so much want to read your dad’s book as I am always looking for info to put together the puzzle. I am going to Columbia, SC to the University library for an October 23rd event for my father. He gave all his papers to the U South Carolina library and they are honoring him as a veteran on that day. I tried to buy your dad’s book on amazon with no avail. Let’s stay in touch. Love, stevie

    • Stevie – The book is out of print. We’ll be making it into an eBook soon to make available to those who want to read it.

      Love your website and the work you are doing to help people with healing.

      Blessings
      Bob

      • Harrison Shaffer

        Wondering about the status of “Why Vietnam?” by Orel Mason Daniels. Thanks.

        • Harrison – It is in the process of being converted to an eBook (pdf). It will probably be a bit before it is converted and made available as it takes about 30 minutes per page to scan, edit, format, compile, etc. So for a book of this size it will take about 50 to 60 man hours to complete the conversion. Since I only have 1-2 hours of free time a week to work on things for Saigon Kids – it does take a little time to complete all the various projects. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the Saigon Kids that have the skills and are willing to assist with all the various projects.They have all contributed more than their fair share of time, talents, skills, efforts, and in some instances money, assisting with Saigon Kids projects. Once the book conversion is complete it will be made available here on the site.

          Bob

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Renee,
    I wish you could thank your dad for his courage in writing and printing his book. My husband and I look forward to reading it.

    My father was U.S.Naval Attache from “58-60 and spent countless hours writing reports to Washington following his solitary trips up north, along the coast of V.N. by train, and after his sorties to the delta in the dead of night with our chauffeur doing reconaissance and gathering data.
    Dad always wondered if anyone in Washington ever read his reports, or whether they just began gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere.

    Following the year my husband spent as an Infantry Officer in Viet Nam from ’69-70, he also wondered if anyone bothered to read the intelligence Dad had gathered ten years before.
    So much valuable information shared by brave men,yet unread by politicos and military. One is left to ponder…”what if” and “if only.”
    Suellen
    Saigon Kid’58-60

  • Renee Daniels King

    Suellen..My Dad didn’t set out to write the Great American novel or a Best Seller…He just wanted to be heard…He said that he was always writing reports…Sometimes he knew who was supposed to receive them…Othertimes he did not..When he was with USAID (CIA) he mailed the reports to a P O box in Florida…Makes you wonder if anyone really wanted to know?…Renee

    • marie perry wright

      Renee…
      Did you ever get my email?…
      So nice to see you on here..remember you so well and that southern drawl!!…
      Have a lot of cute pics of some our slumber parties with Patt Jones, and others…Always think of your Johnny Barr when I see Altoona, Pa! what ever became of him!…
      I think I told you that Bill Federer and I reconnected…but very sadly he died a few years later of an agent orange related cancer..
      Hope this finds you well,
      hugs, Marie

    • Suellen Oliver Campbell

      Renee~
      I suppose there were many clandestine reports written during those days many decades ago. Where did they end up and is that box in Florida still filled to the brim with old reports?
      I wish our fathers were alive to assess the world today from their special perspectives. It would be fascinating to hear what they might have to say in retrospect concerning our nation’s current foreign policies. I miss my father’s wisdom greatly.

  • Laurie Methven

    Renee – looking forward to reading it. My Dad was with the CIA and wrote a book that was supposed to reflect the ‘lighter side’ of the agency – as we called it. It started out as 350 pages w/ photos and 10 years and mega edits by the agency later, it was less then 200 pages with few photos…however, I have the original manuscript :). My father was blind by the time it came out so couldn’t promote or do book signings.
    A story that was left out: we were in Jakarta during chinese new year in 1972. My Dad gave my sister and I a calendar and a bottle of wine to present to the Vietnamese embassy since he couldn’t. Now – what is the big secret with this?!?!?!?!
    BTW, his book is “Laughter in the Shadows”, Stuart Methven

    • marie perry wright

      Laurie

      Hope we can connect some time…I remember my Dad (John Perry) often talking about your Dad, his friend Stu…
      It is so weird to all be together here now!….
      be well
      Marie

  • Sarah Rogers

    Do want to read the book as well. I will forever be fasinated with Viet Nam and its history.

  • Renee Daniels King

    Marie..No,I did not receive your email..Please try again…It is weird to be together here…Weird and wonderful…Renee

  • frank

    When I worked for the C.I. A. in the early 70’s, I wrote two reports that went on the “Morning Report” for the White House. One of those reports was pointing out that the “north” had finished there POL pipeline that went out of the north, through Laos and into the “South” just north of Kon Tum.. My finding and subsequent report was considered high priority, but nothing was ever done about it. In 1975, I read where General Giap contributed the North’s win partly to their secret pipeline.
    When I quit my job, my boss said that he had worked for the C.I.A. since 1953. He had often wondered about quitting. He went on to say that you could come up with “hard, cold facts”, but all decisions come down to politics.

  • frank

    Stevie W., Is it possible that I saw you in a USO show? I’m serious, not trying to be funny, but it just seems like a saw you somewhere. If not, I’m sorry, I brought this up. Frank

  • Renee Daniels King

    Thanks to everyone for their interest in my Dad’s book. I know he never imagined it would go “viral.” He wouldn’t even know what that meant as he never had a computer. Thanks so much for all your hard work Bob.And for your offer of help Harrison. Love to all, Renee

  • Renee Daniels King

    Everyone…
    It seems there may be some potential copyright problems publishing my Dad’s book as an ebook…Can’t be too careful…However, I have several copies I would be willing to mail out for shipping and a donation to a worthy cause connected with the Viet Nam War…Does anyone know of such a cause?…Stevie, someone told me you might be involved with such an organization or maybe have an idea?…Please help…
    Renee

  • Frank

    Renee, let me know cost and where to send it and I would gladly get and read a copy of your Dad’s book. Frank

  • Tom Hanna

    Renee. I also would like to receive a copy of the book. Please let know costs, etc. Thanks, Tom

    P.S. The Wounded Warrior Project might be a candidate: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org

  • Renee Daniels King

    Frank and Tom and others..

    Thanks for your interest in my Dad’s book…I will go to the post office to assess postage…Then you can send me a stamped self-addressed envelope…And I will get the book to you…I would ask that you please make a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org (thanks for the idea Tom!)in memory and honor of Major Orel Mason Daniels(US Army Retired)…I think a minimum of $10 is a reasonable donation…But please feel free to give more as you see fit…Does this sound doable?…

    I am looking forward to disseminating Dad’s work after all these years…Thanks to Bob and Harrison for their willingness to help me in this endeavor…And thanks again to everyone who has shown interest…

    Love to all, Renee

  • Ruth Matteson Blackmore

    Renee,

    I’m also interested in your father’s book. Let me know how to get a copy. My father was an Army officer who was sent to Viet Nam in 1960 as a military advisor. I went there in January 1961 along with my mother and two sisters. I was 18 and a senior in high school at the time and returned to Viet Nam in 2009 and loved it just as much as I did while I lived there. Like Sarah, I’m forever connected to Viet Nam.

    Ruth

  • Tom Hanna

    Renee,

    That is very doable. Let me know how to address the donation and the shipping envelope.

    Thanks,
    Tom Hanna – Saigon Kid 1960-62

  • Tom Hanna

    Renee,

    Today I made a donation of $25 to the Wounded War Project in your fathers name.

    Thanks,
    Tom Hanna – Saigon Kid 1960-62

  • Renee Daniels King

    Tom…I am not sure how to go about this…I googled my name and this blog came up…So this is not a secure site…If you check the directory you should be able to find my email address…Please send me your address via email and I will mail you the book…And a copy of the children’s book my Dad wrote about his long-time friend–BB the Black Lab…Thanks so much for making the donation to the Wounded Warrior Project in Dad’s honor…I know he is proud…Thanks for your interest…Renee

  • Tom Hanna

    Bob, For some reason I am not able to sign in to the directory. When I put my email address in I get a message that the system does not recognize it. Please help. Thanks, Tom Hanna

    • Hi Tom – If you’ve not previously *registered* for access to the *Directory* when you enter your email address it will block your attempt to enter. This is done to protect everyone’s contact information.

      Roy maintains the Directory. Please do the following:

      Go here: http://www.saigonkids.com/contact_us.html

      Click on *Web Administrator*

      A send email window will open.

      Send an email to Roy requesting access to the Directory.

      Roy will assist you with Registering and gaining access to the Directory.

  • Deb Martin

    We lived in Vietnam Saigon for 4 years. I remember it was around the years JF Kennedy was assassinated. After we left Vietnam my Mom said my Dad was a spy working for the American government in Vietnam. I recall some one wrote a book called something like my Dad was a spoof or spy in Vietnam. What was the title of that book, who wrote it? It might give me more insite about my Dad. Thanks Deb Spohr Martin.

  • Sandy Hanna

    Were copies ever made of the book? I know there were problems with the conversion but did we ever figure out a way to copy and get from you. Still interested. Sandy

  • Renee King

    Sandy…I have several copies of my Dad’s book…Please email me if you would like one…You can find my address in the directory…Tom is the only person who has contacted me…He made a donation to Wounded Warriors in my Dad’s honor…I sent him the Why Viet Nam book and a complementary copy of a childrens book he wrote about his longtime companion B B the Black Lab…Renee

  • carol cini

    Renee,
    Did you Dad do any CIA work while he was there? Reason, I am writing a book about Dad Walter Cini including our experiences in Saigon 1962-1964. Thanks, Carol Cini

  • carol cini

    Renee,
    I remember meeting you at one of those parties given for new kids in Vietnam to attend. I was the one admiring the paper Chinese lamps on a wall dividing us from another party, when the hand grenade went off on the other side of the wall killing the gentleman on other side. I am writing a book “Life as a CIA Brat” and it has been very difficult to find out what Dad did while we were there from 1962-1964. If you have any information or know of somebody who does, please let me know,
    Carl Cini

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      Dear Carol, I had to laugh after reading your post asking for info about what your dad did in Saigon. Frankly, you weren’t supposed to know as folks with Top Secret clearances were not supposed to talk about what they did or knew. I know that what your dad did back then is old news now, but it might still be classified. Contact the agency and ask for their help. Information does get declassified after so many years unless it is particularly sensitive.

      And that reminds me of a story from when we were in Burundi. I wanted to buy a particular gift for my wife’s birthday and was discussing it with the wife of the Belgian ambassador. She knew what I wanted and where to buy it so she said she would pick me up from my embassy and take me there with her car on Monday which she did. When we were in the car (a standard 4-door sedan with a Burundian chauffeur), she casually asked me of so-in-so worked for the CIA. I told her I didn’t know and even if I did know, I certainly would not tell her. Nope, these lips are sealed about that stuff even today.

  • Carol/Carl… I somehow lost your email…Please resend….I would love to send you a copy of Dad’s book…And maybe we could talk….Loce, Renee

  • Kimberly Gail Wieser

    Hi Cousins! It’s exciting to find you all here. I’m Frankie’s granddaughter, Sandra Gail Daniel’s daughter.

    Thought you might want to know he wrote ten books, mostly unpublished. He made me read them all one week back in the early 1990’s when I stayed with him at his trailer out there by Indian Springs, TX, while my then husband was deer hunting.

    I’d love to correspond and get to know you all. I found this trying to look up the best book he wrote, the one about his dog. I wanted to recommend it for another writer in terms of style.

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