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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

27 April 1975

Brothers and Sisters:

An old military comrade in Salt Lake City reminded me that this coming Sunday will be the anniversary of a very important (although little known) date in the history of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.

On 27 April 1975, the Saigon Branch held its last sacrament meeting, prior to the fall of the Republic of Viet Nam, three days later, on 30 April 1975.

Under the harsh tyranny of the Communist victors, there followed many years of darkness and terror for that little band of Vietnamese Mormons.

Years later, a mysterious letter arrived at Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

It was from a Vietnamese member inquiring about their former home teacher.

As a result of that inquiry, the Vietnamese Allied Saints Assistance Association (i.e., VASAA)was organized by a small group of Latter-day Saint military veterans seeking to assist their Vietnamese brothers and sisters.

Over the years, the name of the organization was changed to Veterans Association for Service Activities Abroad, but the acronym remained the same.

Also, the mission of VASAA expanded, to assist Latter-day Saints, and those of other faiths, in several Third World nations, plus providing humanitarian assistance.

At no time, was VASAA ever a part of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.

That was necessary, because VASAA could go where the Church would not be allowed, and VASAA could do things which the Church was unable to do.

In connection with this, I highly recommend reading OUT OF THE TIGER'S DEN, an article in the June 1989 issue of ENSIGN magazine.

Yesterday, the local full time missionaries came by for a visit.

Elder Betteridge is from Winnemucca, Nevada, and has just begun his mission.

His senior companion, Elder Gurney is from Kaysville, Utah, and has only been in the mission field for a few weeks.

I told them all about 27 April 1975, and VASAA, and showed them my copy of the Church history book, SAINTS AT WAR: KOREA AND VIETNAM (which has ME in it - - - on pages 358 to 360!).

I also informed them of the breaking news stories about the raids on the YFZ Ranch in Texas, and showed them reports in the DESERET NEWS (including my own published comment).

I wanted to treat them to supper in the mess hall here at the Ol' Soldiers' Home, but they had another appointment.

However, we did watch the most recent recorded broadcast of MUSIC AND THE SPOKEN WORD.

Then, before leaving, they requested I sing a couple of traditional Scottish songs which I had just learned, CALEDONIA, and THE SKYE BOAT SONG.

Their visit really made my day!

So, mark this coming Sunday on your calendar, Brothers and Sisters, and please do remember our fellow Church members who continue to reside under repressive regimes in far distant climes.

Thank you.

John Robert "SAIGON" Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

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