Many years ago, I started a non-profit in honor of my friend Dan. His given name was Ted Hupp but I knew him as Dan Walker. He took the name of Dan Walker when he became a sports broadcaster for two reasons. The first was he liked the sound of the name. The second was he didn’t want the government to overtly know who he was. He thought they were still tracking him years after Vietnam for things he had done during that war. He had been in Special Operations. He spoke fluent Vietnamese and he traveled alone through the jungles of Southeast Asia, mainly in Laos, where the U.S. government denied sending troops. He lived in the highlands with the Hmong tribes because his mission was to find the tunnels the Viet Cong dug in Laos and Cambodia in order to move equipment from the North to the South undetected by the U.S. military. He didn’t talk about his experiences very much, but they hung like a noose around his neck when he returned.
He told me of his capture by the Viet Cong. They knew he was important, he said, as he carried sophisticated weapons that the average ground troops didn’t have. It was Christmas 1970; a party of eight Viet Cong captured him. They tortured him, rifle-butted the back teeth out of his mouth, breaking his jaw, which he said was agonizingly painful. Figuring he was too badly hurt to escape, they left him with two guards while the others went in search of more Americans. He successfully freed himself and killed the two, placing their bodies in upright positions to look less suspicious when the others returned. He packed his mouth with mud to lessen the pain in his jaw, and waited for the other six to return, killing them all, assuring his escape. He figured he was a dead man, as he knew there were Viet Cong all through that part of the jungle. He ran, stalked, and rested until he reached a military base. He recuperated. And the military sent him out, again, into the same Laotian jungle.
His story will always stay in my memory. I witnessed firsthand the nasty after-effect of war. Dan had nothing to hang onto upon his return. He was raised Catholic but he no longer believed in God after Viet Nam. He physically came back to the United States, but his soul stayed in the Southeast Asian jungles.
War is the result of greed, stupidity, and lack of leadership. The Chinese book of changes, The I Ching, which is a companion philosophy to The Art of War expresses that “Even if the army acts in the right way, the leaders must be mature to obtain good results.” There have been no such leaders since Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.
I created the Walker/Hupp Fund in honor of Dan. I wondered if he had had a childhood experience at a place like Headwaters Outdoor School would he have had something substantial to hold onto when he returned.
Nature heals. Einstein who understood the universe better than anyone said, “Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better.” I want teenagers, boys, and girls, to have an opportunity to look deep into nature in order to understand everything better, especially when life seems hopeless.
100% of the profit from the sale of of our T-shirt and any donations will go to the Walker/Hupp Fund, which is an affiliate of Upper Reaches. It is a 501-C3 non-profit.