Saigon Kids Emporium

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December 2017
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by Admin

I know it has been awhile since I posted to the site. But, I’ve been engrossed in my adventure into the world of cancer; and, doing extensive research about it.


First let me say I was deeply touched and overwhelmed with gratitude by all your comments and emails of encouragement and support.


But, words can’t even begin to express how deeply the compassion you’ve expressed has touched me.

I’m truly blessed to be connected with all of you through this site.

So, were am I at in my journey with cancer? That’s a damn good question – LOL.

In a few days I’ll be making a longer Post with more details, but for now will just give you the short version…

Official diagnosis? None yet.
Treatment options available? None yet.


I found it necessary to fire my Lung Specialist Team. I’d selected this particular group mainly because the head of the team has been recogonize for the past few years as one of the top 10 lung specialist in the country.

(Note: You might have noticed above I said I *fired* them. This might seem strange to some of you, but I view medical professionals as *contract employees*. When I have a need for specialized skills or services, I have a choice of hiring qualified on the payroll employees or hiring qualified individuals on an independent contractor basis. Either way, as their employer, if they don’t perform to my standards and expectations I fire them and replace them with people who will.)

When it became evident they were more interested in how many highly profitable tests, scans, procedures, etc. (many unnecessary) they could rack up before issuing a diagnosis, I fired them.

I’ve assembled a new team and contracted with them. They are in the process of gathering up all my medical records and history. Once they’ve completed that and reviewed it they should have enough information to make a diagnosis and provide available treatment options, etc.

This entire adventure has proven very interesting, to put it mildly. One thing that stands out the most is how they constantly bombard you with *fear tactics*… if you don’t do xyz right now you could die, etc. etc. … Really doctor?! Now tell me something I don’t know. Hell I’ve known all my life I’m going to die. I’ve just never known how or when.

Anyway, that’s where things stand at the moment.

I’ll write another Post with the details of my cancer experiences to date (what a mine field), and my research discoveries which I’m certain most of you will find shocking.

Until then …

Rock Onnn…. Saigon Kidssssssssss



Submitted by Les Arbuckle (ACS)

As some of you know, my memoir, “Saigon Kids, A Military Brat Comes of Age in 1960’s Vietnam” will become available on or about this Tuesday (September 12) at Amazon and other booksellers. As far as I know, it will be the first Military Brat memoir ever presented to a large audience and the only one that is not a self-published book.

Let me start by saying that I know I got a lot wrong. I tried to paint a realistic and gritty literary picture of my life in Saigon during the years I was there. But I didn’t start writing Saigon Kids until I was fifty-three years old (fifteen years ago!), and my memory has not gotten any better over the years. I’m not saying ‘this is the way it was” as much as I’m saying, “this is the way I remember it.” Memory is a fickle friend at best, and at worst, a damned liar.

As a life-long musician, I would have loved to be able to include a sound track to go with the book. Music can evoke emotions that no amount of writing will ever touch. When I started writing “Saigon Kids” back in 2002, I often listened to the tunes I remember hearing then, songs like “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain,” “Walk Like a Man,” Little Deuce Coupe,” etc. Whenever I hear those old songs, I can close my eyes and feel the cool air of the bowling alley on the back of my neck, smell the burgers and fries, and hear the crash of the balls and pins. Saigon was a magical place and nothing stirs my memories of that place more than the music of the era.

I’ve changed most of the names in the book with a few notable exceptions, which most of you will pick up on at a glance. But don’t be too quick to assume that you know whom I’m talking about when you follow my characters through a world of hijinks, misadventures, and assorted teenage craziness. In some cases, I’ve made the characters difficult to identify, but if you were there, you might make a lucky guess or two. Then again, you may be dead wrong.

Some of you will like the book, some of you won’t, but in order for any artistic endeavor to succeed, the emotions of those partaking have to be engaged. I would prefer you hate it passionately rather than feel indifferent. But I do sincerely hope you like it and that reading it stirs up at least a few good memories for you the way writing it has for me. We Saigon Kids occupy a unique place in history and I tried to do justice to our absurdly abnormal past.

The early Vietnam war years through the eyes of a U.S. military brat: In May of 1962, Naval Chief Petty Officer Bryant Arbuckle flew to Saigon to establish a new Armed Forces Radio Station(AFRS). Next to follow were his wife and three boys, Leslie among them. Saigon Kids is the candid, recondite slice of fourteen-year-old military brat Les Arbuckle’s experience at the American Community School (ACS) during the critical months of the Vietnam War when events would, quite literally, ignite in downtown Saigon. In 1963, Saigon was beautiful, violent, and dirty – and the most exciting place a fourteen-year-old American boy could live. Saigon offered a rich array of activities, and much to the consternation of their parents and teachers, Les and his fellow military brats explored the dangers with reckless abandon running from machine gun fire, watching a Buddhist monk burn to death, visiting brothels late at night or, trading currency on the black market.

Coming of age in the streets of Vietnam War torn Saigon: When Les first arrives in Vietnam, he is a stranger in a strange land, expecting boredom in a country he doesn’t know. But the American social scene is more vibrant than he expected. The American Community School is a blend of kids from all over the globe who arrived in Saigon as the fuse on Saigon was about to ignite. As the ACS students continue their American lifestyle behind barbed wire, Saigon unravels in chaos and destruction. In spite of this ugliness – an ever-present feature of everyday life — Les tells his story of teenage angst with humor and precocity.

Coming of age tale with a twist:The events leading up to the Vietnam War provide an unusual backdrop for this coming-of-age tale with a twist. Saigon Kids will also make a perfect companion to the documentary film (sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts) currently in production. The film chronicles the lives of “military brats” living in Saigon in the volatile years from 1958 to 1964.

About the Author

In the years between his birth in 1949 and his nineteenth birthday, Les lived in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, New Mexico, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Hawaii and Vietnam as a dependent of the US Navy. His father, Bryant Joseph Arbuckle, was a Chief Journalist who managed the Armed Forces Radio Station in Saigon, Vietnam, from June, 1962 until June, 1964. After a stint with the 50th Army Band at Fort Monroe, Virginia Les attended the Berklee College of Music (BA) and New England Conservatory (MM). He is a professional saxophonist living near Boston, Massachusetts with his wife, Joyce Lucia. He has performed with a variety of musical acts including The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Lou Rawls, Bernadette Peters, The San Diego Symphony Summer Pops Orchestra and The Artie Shaw Orchestra. His recordings for the Audioquest label and he is featured on the recordings of well-known jazz musicians Kenny Barron, Mike Stern, Cecil McBee, John Abercrombie and Victor Lewis.


Submitted by Donal O’Callaghan (Friend)

ObituariesI am a friend of Steve Johnson.

Friends of Steve on this site may be interested to know that Steve has passed away, a few days ago (on or about September 8, 2017), after a 4-year battle with colon cancer.

I would love to hear from those who knew Steve, to share stories of his times in Saigon.


Donal OCallaghan, Cork, Ireland


by Admin

A long time, since the 1960s, very good Chinese friend and former business partner sent this to me.

“The best man was not long life enough to live. But, on the contrary, the Heaven was not fair without protecting the good human beings.”


By Admin

A quick update to my previous post.

As of yesterday the unofficial diagnosis is in.

It’s not good!

Additional test and evaluations are being completed by specialist. They well be finished by August 8th. Official diagnosis will be made at that time.

As it stands now the unofficial opinion is I have Stage 4, Small Cell Lung Cancer. The most aggressive type. The only treatment option available is Chemo. Time wise I’ve got from 1 month to a max of 6 months.

I’ve already started putting my affairs in order.

I’ll post another update once the official diaginois has been issued.

Until then …

Rock Onnn… Saigon Kids


“In the end all we are left with is memories.”