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By On June 19, 2018

He went to Vietnam in 1961 as a missionary and never returned

Tuesday

Jun 19, 2018 at 5:35 AM

Dalton area resident Daniel Gerber was kidnapped in South Vietnam. He was there serving his military requirements, but as a conscientious objector.

KIDRON In 1961, during his second year of college, Daniel Gerber felt he had a calling.

Raised on a family farm east of Kidron, the Dalton High School graduate looked to his Mennonite faith. He believed it was time to serve God in the church's volunteer service.

The Mennonite Central Committee in 1951 had established the Pax Program. Church members believe war is against God's teachings and they created a program that allowed church members to serve their country as conscientious objectors and help others.

Gerber's older brothers, David and Jim, had served by working at medical facilities in the United States. Danie l Gerber was willing to take an assignment overseas.

The Mennonite church loaned Gerber to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which helped at hospitals, schools and churches worldwide.

Gerber boarded a freighter in August 1961 for a month-long sea journey to Vietnam. A man of peace, he was going to a war-torn country. He never returned.

Missing in action

"We'll see him in heaven," Barb Steiner, Gerber's sister, said of her brother.

Gerber's siblings long ago accepted he died, although his death never has been confirmed.

There are no details. The family doesn't know a date. They don't know if Daniel died because of illness or was killed by his captors.

"We don't know anything official, what happened to them or when," said Steiner, who lives near Dalton.

Gerber volunteered for three years of service as a maintenance man for a Christian and Missionary Alliance medical center outside th e city of Ban Me Thuot in Vietnam's central highlands. He also taught locals about farming.

He was one of three people abducted from the center, which treated people suffering from leprosy. Also taken were Archie Mitchell, a long-time missionary with the Alliance who had been in Vietnam with his wife and children since 1948, and Dr. Eleanor A. Vietti, who treated patients. Viet Cong soldiers also took medical supplies and a truck.

Left behind to later tell the story were Mitchell's family and several nurses, including Ruth Wilting, a Cleveland woman. During his eight months in Vietnam, Gerber and Wilting had fallen in love and were planning to marry.

Among thousands sent to facilities the Alliance operates around the world, more than 20 have been martyred, but Gerber and the others taken are the only three volunteers classified as missing, said Kristian Rollins, an archivist for the Alliance.

It's been 56 years with no official report. "Th ey're still technically missing," Rollins said.

When the Vietnam War ended, roughly 2,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were listed as missing in action, as well as more than 40 civilians who were in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos for business or working as missionaries and journalists.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, in a May 31 report, lists just under 1,600 individuals as unaccounted, with 31 civilians on the list.

A family of faith

Daniel Gerber was the third of six children born to Nathan and Elvina Gerber. The couple raised their children on a 73-acre farm the Gerber family has owned since 1822. The property remains in the family. David and Leora Gerber, the oldest son and his wife, still live there as does the family of their oldest daughter, Karen.

The farm served as a sprawling playground for the Gerber children, Steiner recalls. During summer evenings they would play a modified version of baseball in a grassy area betw een the house and barn. Winters were spent sledding.

There were nights when Daniel didn't make it outside with his siblings. Sometimes it was evening dishes, Steiner said, but more often it was because he was reading. The Gerber family read and studied the Bible as part of their daily Mennonite faith.

After graduating high school in 1958, Gerber worked for a year on a neighbor's farm to earn money for college. He spent one year at Goshen College in Indiana, then transferred to Hesston College in Kansas.

But after two years of college, Daniel believed he had a calling to voluntary service, according to an article in a 1978 edition of The Ohio Evangel, a Mennonite church publication. He applied to the church's Pax Program, following brothers David and Jim. Later his younger brother, Norm, would serve in the states with Pax, while the youngest brother Aldis served in Mexico, where he married and still lives.

The attack

Although Ban Me Thuot was in a region infiltrated by Viet Cong, which opposed the government in Saigon, the volunteers at the medical center believed they were safe. They were in the country to help others and believed they would be left alone.

Civil war had been raging for years in Vietnam. In 1961 and 1962, U.S. forces were helping the South Vietnamese government combat Viet Cong rebels who were supported by North Vietnam. The U.S. had troops in the country advising South Vietnamese forces and transporting them in helicopters and planes. The U.S. also supplied weapons for South Vietnamese troops.

The evening of May 30, 1962, Gerber and Wilting were walking near the medical center's grounds when soldiers approached. They bound Gerber's hands. More soldiers grabbed Mitchell and his family, while another group found Vietti.

The soldiers warned Mitchell's wife, Wilting and the other nurses to wait until morning before leaving. It was the last time Gerber, Mitchell and Viett i were seen by Alliance volunteers.

It was the next day when Nathan and Elvina Gerber learned from the Alliance about the fate of their son. The missionary group and Mennonite church worked with U.S. and foreign government agencies, as well as the international Red Cross, hoping to find and rescue their volunteers.

U.S. military in the area searched, but they were concerned any rescue attempt would lead to the death of the captives.

In July 1962, there were unconfirmed reports the captives were treating wounded Viet Cong soldiers. But there also were reports the three had been killed.

"We had quite a few rumors, but they were never substantiated," Steiner said.

A glimmer of hope came in the spring of 1968. A foreign journalist traveling with the North Vietnamese reported a captured medical missionary was running a hospital. In May, a captured Viet Cong soldier said he had worked with the three captives.

In mid-May 1968, The Canton Reposi tory and other newspapers in the region carried stories that Gerber, Vietti and Mitchell were confirmed to be alive. They were said to be with two other missionaries who had been captured in January 1968 near Ban Me Thuot.

News that Gerber was alive followed trying times for the Gerber family.

Just two weeks before the report, the family's father, Nathan Gerber, was killed in a tractor accident on the farm.

Earlier in the year, during the Tet Offensive, Viet Cong once again attacked the leprosarium. Ruth Wilting still served as a volunteer and was killed along with other nurses.

Wilting had visited the Gerber family in October 1966.

"We accepted her as one of us," Steiner said. They exchanged letters and shared in the hope that Gerber would eventually return.

Not listed

While the reports in 1968 offered hope, it faded as the United States worked to end its involvement in Vietnam.

Late in 1972 word came from Vietnamese tr ibesmen that Mitchell and Vietti were alive, but Gerber had died.

When the Hanoi government provided names of prisoners of war in February 1973, Gerber, Mitchell and Vietti weren't on the list of people to be released. They were presumed dead.

David Gerber said he's read several books about Vietnam, including first-hand experiences of some who survived. He's certain his younger brother died.

"It's jungle over there. You can't expect anybody would live when they're persecuted, tortured."

Steiner suspects once the war ended the Viet Cong decided they no longer needed Daniel and his companions and simply killed them.

She trusts in God the situation ended as it should.

"It taught me what it is to have faith in God," Steiner said. "You trust him for everything."

Reach Edd at 330-580-8484 or edd.pritchard@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @epritchardREP

Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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By On June 19, 2018

Guardsman from Waco helps recover Vietnam War service members' remains

United States-led joint operation

Courtesy photo provided by the Department of Defense

A United States-led joint operation aided in the recovery and repatriation of three American service members on April 15, from the Quang Ngai province in Vietnam. Recovery Team Two was one of four teams and was made up of 15 military members from all branches and one civilian archaeologist. Included in this group was Nebraska Air National Guard Tech Sgt. Michael Wellman, a native of Waco. (The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement).

VIETNAM -- A United States-led joint operation aided in the recovery and repatriation of three American service members on April 15 from the Quang Ngai province in Vietnam.

The three service mem bers, whose identities will not be disclosed until families are officially notified, went missing in action more than 40 years ago during the Vietnam War after the planes they were flying crashed during a mission.

Nebraska Air National Guard Tech Sgt. Michael Wellman, a 155th Air Refueling Wing aircrew flight equipment technician who is trained as a crash investigator, became the first National Guardsman selected to participate in recovery efforts of this type.

“Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) selects its members from a pool of certified crash investigators,” said Wellman, a native of Waco, Nebraska. “Up until this point they have always selected from active duty service members. When I was notified of this assignment, I didn’t have to think twice about it. This was a great opportunity and a chance to bring closure to some families.”

With assistance from the Vietnamese government and with the help of eyewitness testimonies, the recovery teams Wel lman worked with were able to narrow their search to four locations.

“The Vietnamese kept really good burial records,” Wellman said. “Interpreters also interviewed villagers to gather information on possible crash sites to search.”

The four crash sites the teams were searching were from F-4 Phantom and A-4 Skyhawk aircraft.

“Searching crash sites that involve supersonic jets makes the task extremely difficult,” Wellman said. “A lot of the times you are looking for teeth or some type of personal belongings, such as dog tags, watches, boots or helmets.”

In all, the trip was two months long, March 3-April 15, with 36 nights spent in the jungle searching recovery sites.

“This was a very rewarding and somber experience,” Wellman added. “Everyone involved was very motivated and had a great attitude.”

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The recovery mission was overall a success, with three service members honored during a repatriation ceremony before the signing of diplomatic documents between Vietnamese leadership and the United States. Repatriation is the process of returning someone to their own country, and the signed paperwork officially allows the transfer to take place.

“The members were then placed in a casket draped in a flag and flew back to Hawaii,” he said. “Once the flight arrived in Hawaii, the remains were placed in a DPAA facility where their DNA was matched against a database. Once there was 100 percent confirmation of their identity the family members were notified.”

The DPAA was established in 2015 and has since been conducting recovery missions of personnel who are listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.

“A lot of people don’t know that this mission and agency exist,” Wellman said. “I want to bring awareness and educate people of this mission. They are always needing help and I am sure that people would volunteer. I think bringing someon e home to their family is huge.”

Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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By On June 19, 2018

'The Wall that Heals' â€" Vietnam War Memorial replica â€" coming to St. Paul this week

A traveling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington will be on display in St. Paul later this week.

“The Wall that Heals” comes to Minnesota via the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and will highlight the yearlong “Minnesota Remembers Vietnam” initiative by Twin Cities Public Television. The replica will stretch across 375 feet of the State Capitol grounds from June 21 through June 24.

The traveling memorial’s size, a three-fourths replica of the original, leaves an emotional impact, TPT project lead Katie Carpenter said. It lists the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. military killed during the war, and visiting the replica should be about providing impactful and varied ways of learning about the Vietnam War, Carpenter said.

Bruce Richardson, a St. Louis Park native and Vietnam War veteran, echoes Carpenter’s assessment.

“I think it’s the greatest anti-war memorial ever built,” he said. “When you see 58,000 names on a wall, it’s a very humbling experience. That’s a lot of people who should not have died.”

Richardson’s West Point class of 1967 has 29 names engraved into the wall.

Richardson’s visit to the memorial in Washington had a lasting impression on him, he said. He works as an advocate for veterans’ mental health care and suicide prevention efforts.

The wall is transported via a trailer which doubles as a travelling museum. The trailer carries digital displays, information about Minnesota’s fallen, artifacts left at the D.C. wall, uniforms and a staff to help visitors find names and give context about the wall’s design.

It will be situated in front of the State Capitol near Minnesota’s own Vietnam War Memorial. It will be available to the public 24 hours a day during its time in St. Paul.

From locally produced documentaries th at tell the stories of Minnesota veterans to an online platform where nearly 800 Vietnam veteran stories have been posted, the intent of the TPT project has been to foster engagement and shine a light on Minnesota’s stories about the war.

To celebrate the wall’s arrival, TPT helped create an event called “Epilogue” to remember and honor stories of the Vietnam War through live music, art and storytelling at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul. The event will take place Saturday, June 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. and feature music from JD Steele and the MacPhail Mill City Choir.

For more information, go online to www.MNVietnam.org/wall.

Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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By On June 18, 2018

In Vietnam's nearly untapped market, foreign retailers dream big

The first Vietnamese outpost of South Korea's E-Mart superstore chain has proven to be a hit with shoppers, and several more locations in Vietnam are expected. (Photo by Atsushi Tomiyama)

HANOI -- Retailers from across Asia are flooding into Vietnam as the country loosens restrictions on foreign companies, racing to bring convenience stores and supermarkets to a market dominated by small business.

Among foreign companies, manufacturers such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics have long seen the value in Vietnam, despite the country lagging behind its Southeast Asian peers in economic development. Now retailers are following suit.

One of the newcomers heralding a major foray into the Southeast Asian nation's retail market is the convenience store GS25, which arrived in downtown Ho Chi Minh City in January.

GS Retail, the operator of South Korea's top convenience store chain, plans to have 50 of the stores in Vietnam by the end of this year and expand its network here to 2,500 locations within a decade. In its home market, GS25 boasts 12,000 stores.

Out the outskirts of the city, South Korea's top retailer, E-Mart, has packed three hectares with a vast selection of foods, clothing and household goods, enticing shoppers to pile their baskets high. Modern sanitary controls for the store's fresh food section are welcomed by shoppers used to the city's fly-choked marketplaces. Based on the success of its first location in Vietnam, E-Mart is expected to open 10 or more locations in the country.

Meanwhile, South Korean conglomerate Lotte plans to increase the number of Lotte Mart supermarkets in Vietnam to 87 from the current 13. An executive at the group calls the country "the most important market in Asia."

Total retail sales in Vietnam reached a record of $129.6 billion in 2017.

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Vietnam has allowed 100% foreign ownership of retail businesses under certain conditions since 2009, two years after acceding to the World Trade Organization. This puts it ahead of Indonesia and others in terms of market openness. Free trade and economic partnership pacts with countries, including Japan, have encouraged further liberalization.

In 2016, the country lowered barriers to opening stores under 500 sq. meters, and foreign convenience store chains flourished. Under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed in March, these companies will eventually be able to expand without any further government screening.

Japan's Seven & i Holdings plans to have 1,000 7-Eleven stores in Vietnam by 2027, and Thailand's B's Mart chain is aiming for 3,000 locations. One resident of Ho Chi Minh City said she hardly goes to the market anymore: "Convenience stores are becoming more numerous -- they're very convenient."

Mom-and-pop retailers and small chains have long dominated Vietnam's retail landscape, and continue to do so to day. Modern grocery retailers -- supermarkets, convenience stores and the like -- make up only 5.4% of Vietnamese food sellers this year, the lowest figure in Southeast Asia.

But as incomes rise, more Vietnamese are willing to pay higher prices for higher-quality foods at modern stores. Vietnam's economy is growing around 7% annually, and per capita gross domestic product reached $2,385 in 2017. In Ho Chi Minh City, the figure is over $5,000.

This spells a major opportunity for foreign chains, as Vietnam only has around 1,000 supermarkets and 2,000 convenience stores at present -- one-20th and one-30th of the numbers in Japan.

The prospect of foreign capital flooding the retail market has alarmed some. "If overseas companies come to dominate, it will be domestic companies and the Vietnamese people who pay the price," said a member of the country's parliament.

But domestic players are not sitting by idly. VinMart+, the convenience store arm of real estate heavyweight Vingroup, plans to quadruple its network to 4,000 stores by 2020. MobileWorld, Vietnam's top cellphone retailer, has built its supermarket business to 375 stores in three years, and targets 500 locations by the end of this year.

Vietnam is in need of several thousand modern retail stores, according to Nguyen Duc Tai, chairman and CEO of MobileWorld. "If we build the stores, we're bound to capture a certain level of market share."

See Also

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  • Corporate Japan shifts from stock options to actual stock
  • Japan's aging fitness clubs brace for tough workout
  • Japan's home-sharing landscape takes shape with new law
Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam