Elk Grove Citizen Newspaper - Lifestyle
Elk Grove, CA
June 13, 2003
Actual Text of Article:
(I have made several editorial corrections to information.)
By Lance Armstrong
Citizen Lifestyle Editor
documentary film called "In The Shadow of the Blade," which revels
many military stories of U.S. Vietnam veterans throughout the nation, (had a
segment only) was recently aired on CBS television network. Among the
individuals featured in the program (not shown on TV but in the film) were local
Vietnam veterans Marvin Cord and Bill McDonald.
The documentary, which
was the result of three years of planning , offers in-depth interviews with
veterans and other individuals associated with the Vietnam War.
One such segment of
the film presents the story of Cord's role in the life of a wounded Vietnamese
baby. Cord who first enlisted in the Navy in 1966 following a brief stint on a
football scholarship at Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska, spent four
years working as a submarine corpsman.
"I really liked the
Navy," said Cord. "The scholarship didn't work out for me, because I spent more
time chasing girls than studying, so I joined the Navy. After getting out of the
navy though, I started to miss it."
According to Cord, who
lives on the northern edge of Elk Grove, he had been working several odd jobs
following his releases from the Navy. It was during one particular odd job,
however, that he was inspired to return to his previous profession. "I was
helping an old man clean out his garage and he said, "If I'd been smart, I would
have stayed in the service," said Cord. "That comment really inspired me, so it
was not long before I called them (The Navy) back and re-enlisted." This time
Cord served 17 years as a nurse supervisor.
Although Cord served 10 months in
Vietnam, it was his last few weeks in Vietnam that attracted the attention
of Arrowhead Film and Video, the documentary's production company.
During his final month in Vietnam, Cord was
sitting in a religious mass when he heard the priest announce that a Vietnamese
baby had been saved in a village, which was thought to be void of life. That was
until three American GIs located a small baby that had been lying in its dead
mother's arms for three days.
The baby, which had suffered abdominal and
knee wounds caused by shrapnel, escaped death by the narrowest of margins. The
tension of its mother's arms had created enough pressure to stem its bleeding.
Although it was not common practice to provide immediate medical attention for
civilians, filed nurse Donna Rowe felt compelled to bend the rules.
The baby's wounds were
stitched, and she was baptized a Catholic and was given the name Kathleen
Fields, after the old Irish hymn, "I'll take You Home Again Kathleen," and for
the fact that she was treated in a field hospital in Saigon.
After the mass, Cord, who had
already adopted three children who were living in the United States with his
wife, spent much of his remaining days in Vietnam attempting to adopt the child,
his persistence finally paid off. Following talks with attorneys, the creation
of a birth certificate and passport, a special petition signed by South Vietnam
President Nguyen Van Thieu and a lot of determination, Cord was finally granted
permission to adopt the baby.
In the documentary, a
crew of Vietnam veterans, including Bill McDonald, travel 10,000 miles in
a restored and battle-scarred UH-1H "Huey" helicopter to perform interviews in
42 locations across the mainland United States.
During their travel, the
flight crew landed in Atlanta, where they unexpectedly met Rowe, who showed the
crew photographs of the baby that she had saved. Rowe stated that "Baby
Kathleen" had been adopted vy an American GI, but she had no idea about her
Five months later, a
message was sent via e-mail to the documentary's Web site, with a message
stating, "I'm that baby Kathleen!"
documentary was already considered completed, one last episode was added to it,
when Kathleen, Rowe, medic Richard Hock, Cord and Kathleen's adopted mother,
Sally Gibson, reunited at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
"Filming the reunion
between Kathleen and Donna Rowe put the finishing touches on an amazing trip,"
said McDonald. "Overall, the way I see it is that we were the symbolic
veterans serving for all veterans, because we couldn't take everyone!"
Today Kathleen, 35,
lives in Downieville with husband, Billy, and her three children, Shawn,
Maryanne and Jordan. And Cord, who moved to the Calvine Road area with his
wife, Lori, in 1988, went on to adopt two more children and is a grandfather to
seven children. For McDonald, who is also a writer of poetry and short
stories, his recent travels aboard the Huey inspired him to write a book about
spiritual experiences of war and peace , called "A Spiritual Warrior's
Journey." The book is scheduled to be sold through major bookstores as
early as December.
For more information about McDonald's book or upcoming airings of "In The Shadow
of The Blade," write to e-mail address
Angelnet@citlink.net or visit the Web site