In 1989 I packed my bags and moved to an office in Northern Kentucky just opposite Cincinnati. It was not important to me at the time, but Cincinnati had just established a Sister City relationship with Kharkov, on Ukraine’s northeastern border with Russia.
I was a former Army lawyer, and traveled throughout Asia because of my job position with the Army’s new command structure in Japan, making it the overriding command for all of US Army commands along the Pacific Rim (except Korea.) Our headquarters was a chopped- down version of the Pentagon. I had several job functions; chief of criminal defense, command legal assistance officer, and even SJA of the 9th Corps when they did field war games in a secluded area along the DMZ with North Korea. We were locked away in bunkers, both above and underground, and our new lawyer- boss in Japan, a full colonel, Harvard man, didn’t like the idea of sleeping on a cot, or showering with soldiers, so he sent me instead.
That was how I became “pals” with our 3-star CG, Lt General Welborn G Dolvin, who played chess with me in our underground command bunker a mile or so away from the DMZ.
I have a nice color one of this phot, which he sent me, with a nice note, when he retired in ’75
He liked me, and often sent me to work off-the-books with the troops, because of my relationship with them. (For one, I ended a longtime practice of troops buying-selling of high quality liquor brands (Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker Red) to local Japanese vendors in the Tokyo area. It was genuinely organized crime, those soldiers cleaning out Class 6 stores every paycheck, then reselling the bottle for 10x what they paid for them. (Every soldier had a numbered card, and a limit on whiskeys, Johnny Walker, Napoleon Brandy, which Japanese customers would pay many times the going price, in local bars and restaurants, and at the single-shot rate.)
Marijuana wasn’t especially a big deal with Army cops then since the Air Force owned that market via their air bases from Thailand, with daily flights. So Army CID was invested in busting up the whiskey ring, and they hated me because I defended all the guys they busted, and got lot a number of them off, usually because of faulty search warrants. The CID’s colonel assumed I was an advisor to “the mob”, or so I was told by some of their front line cops.
Gen Dolvin and I chatted about this problem in that IXth Corps bunker in Korea, and I suggested that it probably wasn’t illegal to sell empty bottles of Johnny Walker Red to anyone in Japan. (I had attended functions where host Japanese generals would pass over empty bottles of the bottles our general had given their staff. One aide collapsed in tears at a function at a tea house in Tokyo, and it was said the aide would take that bottle home, then fill it with that cheap Japanese swill, under the knowledge (then…I doubt now) that guests would never know the difference. It would give him great face. So, to many Japanese officers then, it was a $200 gift. With Gen Dolvin’s blessing I went back to the wheelers-n’-dealers in the black market and suggested they work a network of collecting empties. Risk free. And everyone up and down the supply chain would be happier. They could sell empties for a few bucks, to nite clubs or individuals, and shortly that black market dried up, in the process, causing the Army CID to lose a sizeable portion of their work load.
And the fault was mine.
I think the CID commander believed I was involved in the Thai marijuana business anyway. (I offered a polygraph test to show that I wasn’t, but got the last word anyway, when a new CG was named replacement for GenDolvin, who announced his retirement when Westmoreland died, and that his replacement was a general who hated Dolvin because he had used his CID colonel to investigate his misuse of his personal aircraft for his wife’s buying trips throughout Asia.) Yes, this was the same CID colonel who hated me, and had privately accused me of being part of the drug trafficking scheme, but still came to see me.
As members of the IXth Corps, mentioned above, and those war games, (it was a big deal…I served both a a JAG officer, with no real role to play in the war games, as well as the G-5 (appointed by Gen Dolvin) whose mission was to deal with refugees along the main routes surrounding the battle area. So I had to sit in on briefings.As soon as we got back to Japan, Gen Westmoreland, Army Chief of Staff, and CG of US forces in Vietnam, and Gen Dolvin’s boss in Saigon, had died. My General flew off to DC for the funeral, and when he returned he immediately put in for his retirement.
That was two weeks before I DEROS’d back to the states…where my next next long gap, 15 years, would wind me through Arizona and the Border, and Kentucky, which would finally direct me to Russia and Ukraine, via Cincinnati in 1990.
And all the officers of IX Corps through a going-away gala for Gen Dolvin, with a wild west theme. The man seated in the center was the Brigadier General senior officer at Camp Zama, a Gen David M Watts, who thought very little of this photo, but agreed to sit on with the staff, anyway. (He was acting CG while we were in Korea for the war exercises.) Nice guy.