One great moment in traveling

June 20th, 2011 by John Morris

The 2004 flight to Vietnam was long and tiring. I watched movies and stayed slightly buzzed thanks to Chilean red wine.

As the plane approached Ho Chi Minh airport, the attendants handed out customs paperwork. This information would be needed when we hit the final security line separating us from Saigon. I realized I didn’t know the address of my son’s apartment. I guess they need to know this stuff in case they need to find me. Scary thought followed. I decided to put down what I remembered and hope for a forgiving agent.

We deplaned and entered the baggage area like so many lemmings. With baggage in hand, I proceeded toward customs. As I turn a corner, I saw the most welcomed sight. There was a young Vietnamese man holding a sign reading, “Mr. John Morris”. Seeing my name on a placard at the airport is an experience I have long coveted. At this moment, I was somebody; I was Mr. John Morris, important traveler.

The man is Tran Hieu Thuan and sent by my daughter in law, Yuri to navigate me through the maze that is the airport. He took over immediately and steered me and my bags to a special counter apparently saved for travelers important enough to have a guy holding their names up on small signs.

Tran Hieu Thuan and I breezed through the part where I didn’t know where I was staying thanks to a judicious wink and nod at the agent. Without such help, I was probably destined to spend time in the no man’s land of the holding area.

He stayed with me as we tried to clear the reception area which seemed to be having a pep rally. A women’s professional basketball team had arrived on my plane, and they were being greeted by fans ten deep around the entry way.

At one point, I saw my son, Adam’s head bobbing up and down in the crowd. my Vietnamese Man-Friday steered me swiftly through the crowd and to his side. My vacation with my son and his wife had begun. I said good-bye to my new friend, Tran Hieu Thuan.

Later, Adam, Yuri and I had a dinner party, and we invited Tran Hieu Thuan to be there as my thanks to him for his invaluable help this day.

Tran Hieu Thuan now follows me on this blog. I want him to know he’s a good man. One day I hope to see him again.

If he comes to America, I’ll meet him at the Philadelphia airport.

I’ll be sporting a sign with his name on it.

Being Mascherino

June 15th, 2011 by John Morris

I say I’m Italian, and some people are confused. I have my father’s Irish good looks and venerable last name. Be not too confused, my Mom’s Italian and that’s a really good deal.

I was raised Italian in an Italian neighborhood: Downingtown’s Johnsontown. Each day, my friends and I were watched over by a platoon of little old Italian ladies. They would report any of our transgressions to our parents – after smacking us one first. They also made sure we had something to eat. Such was the way I was raised.

Recently, my cugini – cousins- have decided to gather every two month for an evening meal. No surprise there. No reasons are needed either; we just want to do this.

When we gather, it’s as though time had not passed at all since last we met. The teasing continues; old stories are rehashed, and there is always family news to make us feel a higher connection.

Jimmy Mascherino is the oldest first cousin. This gives him some status but not much. It is his daughter, Bernadine who is really the best of all examples. She attends all family functions; is always pleasant and possesses one of those mega-watt smiles. As a Nurse, Bernadine looked after my Dad’s during his decade of hospital stays. Such kindness is not forgotten.

Bernadine is a spot-on example of the type of really fine people my cousins are. Simply put, she and I don’t have much history, but what there is, works.

As we were growing up, the age gap kept us on different tiers. She was closer to my younger sister, JoAnn’s age. It wasn’t until we started talking as adults at family reunions did I learn what a true gem she is as a person.

If you’re lucky, you have a cousin like her.

I have dozens, and each one is special.

June 14 lecture notice

June 11th, 2011 by John Morris

 This posting was co-authored by Stephen Goldman, MD and John Morris..

To help our communities better understand how war affects its survivors, the Chester County’s Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 436 is hosting an evening lecture by a leader in the psychiatric profession, Stephen A. Goldman, M.D., FAPM, DFAPA.

You and your associates are invited to attend this lecture, which will be held on June 14, 2011 at the Valley Forge Christian College’s Kremples Theatre, 1401 Charleston Road, Phoenixville, PA. The lecture starts at 7:30 P.M – admission is free, but seating is limited to 300.
Dr. Goldman is an international consultant in medical product safety, with extensive experience in academic/clinical medicine, public health, federal medical product safety regulations, and the pharmaceutical industry. An Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, he is a Fellow of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (FAPM) and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (DFAPA).
In his landmark study, Dr. Goldman has followed a remarkable group of wounded Union servicemen in war and peace to examine the great influences, positive and negative, of combat and military service on Veterans’ lives. This major issue of our time will be the focus of his presentation.
More information on Dr. Goldman is available at
A recent radio interview, in which Dr. Goldman discusses Veterans, in particular those from the Civil War and Vietnam, can be accessed at, clicking on “Psychological Ravages of War”.
For more information: contact John Morris at




The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.