The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa on December 7, 1965 · Page 2
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The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa · Page 2

Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, December 7, 1965
Page 2
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Spent Two Years In Asian Jungles Gerry Downey Of Algona Had Guerrila Task IOWA CITY, IOWA - A young man from Algona who considered college a waste of time as a teen-ager is now involved in graduate study at The University of Iowa. Why did he change his mind about college ? .Gerry Downey attributes his change of attitude to what he saw and learned in two years among tribesmen in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Downey of Algona. After returning from a stint of training semi-nomadic clansmen of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Viet Nam in guerrilla warfare, his awareness of the problems facing these people prompted him to go back to school to study the politics and . history of the area. What he said was a lack of understanding on the part of Americans for the plight of the Southeast Asians also Influenced his decision. His change of plans started developing in 1957 when, after graduating from Algona High School, Downey enlisted in the U. S. Army. At Fort Bragg, N.C., he spent two years as a member of the Special Forces and was among a small group studying guerrilla tactics. Because of his army training, he was hired by the federal government In 1959 to help train the semi-nomadic peoples of the Indo-Chinese peninsula to protect themselves. He lived among the tribesmen, talking with them In the northern Laotian dialect he had learned prior to leaving the United States. From firsthand observation and his four years as a political student at the U of I, Downey has concluded that the main cause for the turmoil in the Indo- Chinese peninsula countries is the condition of a large number of people trying to catch up with the rest of the world in technical, medical, and governmental know- how. "In my opinion, these countries, as well as other underdeveloped nations, need time to solve their problems," Downey said. "By 'time', I mean close to 75 years. At present a natural maturing process looks unlikely, for the area is being pushed by ambitious nations willing to exploit their restlessness. "Communist China - one such nation exerting a tremendous amount of pressure - is infiltrating the peninsula daily .'It's • an easy task for the Chinese to remain unrecognized in South Viet Nam and other peninsula countries because they resemble the natives." While in Laos with a group of American civilians, Downey observed at close range the culture of the people, "There are two general categories of population existing side by side - tie s .'mi- nomadic clans and the stable land-owning farmers. The clansmen, with whom we worked primarily, are excellent allies and fearful opponents because of their skill in self-protection learned through jungle living, and also because of their mobility. "The close-knit organization Of these semi-nomadic peoples also lends itself to ^raiiUog i n LAOS, CAMBODIA, THAILAND AND VIET NAM, the countries located on the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, are pointed out by Gerry Downey, a graduate student at The University of Iowa whose parents live in" Algona. Downey spent two years on the peninsula training semi-nomadic peoples in guerrilla warfare before entering the U of I as a freshman political science major in 1961. While in Southeast Asia he lived among the tribesmen, talking with them in the northern Laotian dialect he had learned before leaving the United States. His experience on the peninsula five years ago prompted his decision to go back to school. He hopes to pursue research in the field of international relations in Southeast Asia while doing graduate work and to some day teach political science on the college level. guerrilla warfare. Each clan is formed according to generic grouping under a central leader who enforces strict discipline. While these clans break down into even smaller villages housing approximately ten families, the clansmen communicate with other settlements by drum signals. The leader is always accessible. "For strategic reasons, we worked primarily with the groups settled along the Ho Chi Minn Trail, the supply line from China to South Viet Nam which was started in the Indo-Chinese War." When asked whether these clans tended to weaken the central governments of the Indo-Chinese countries, Downey asserted that they definitely do. He continued, "The South Vietnamese are probably the most nationalistic of all the countries on the peninsula, but strong allegiance to the clan often overshadows loyalty to the nation. In many of the outlying areas, the' people consider the government simply as a tax collector. "In my opinion, the main force that binds the Indo-Chinese people together is a strong dislike of the Chinese inhabitants of their countries. When the area was still under colonial rule, thousands of Chinese settled in the peninsula, assuming tight control over the economy. The clansmen still consider them foreigners and resent their comparative wealth acquired through shrewdness and usury." Downey added, "The recent dissatisfaction with Chinese control stems from a vague but growing realization of the progress in the fields of medicine, technology and government enjoyed by other countries. While the semi-nomadic peoples are almost primitive, they want these benefits. Although they receive foreign aid, it comes primarily in the form of goods .which they don't know how to utilize. "I saw one dramatic example of this lack of education. A baby was given an overdose of penicillin by an inexperienced native village doctor. We happened to be staying in the village at the time, and had to decide whether to give the child adrenalin as an antidote. We realized that if he died after taking the medicine, we would be blamed and would lose an entire clan of allies. We did administer the antidote and, fortunately, the baby lived. "Their religion further shows the primitive nature of the people. They practice animism, a worship of material objects such as rocks and trees, which they believe have souls." Downey observed that few people starve on the Indo-Chinese peninsula because the population is much sparser than in most Far Eastern countries and the land is extremely productive. While living with the natives, he ate their food, which he called "adequate, consisting primarily of jungle fruits, thick soups, rice, poultry and buffalo steak. A few of the 'delicacies,' such as raw bugs, I passed up. "Although the natives are often considered primitive," continued Downey, "they are extremely artistic. The drums they use to send messages are decorated with the pictorial history of the particular clan, some dating back 1,500 years. They also make their own jewelry and in some clans the necklaces of the women illustrate the migrations of their ancestors," Downey, who admits that he learned more about the people of Southeast Asia through personal contact than he could have through books alone, hopes to communicate his ideas to others by teaching political science on the college level Algeria (la.) Upper DM Metnoi Tuesday, December 7, 1965 and family. They were enroute home from Iowa City where they spent Friday and Saturday with Mrs. Stoffel's mother, Mrs. Frank Cink, Algona, a surgical patient at University hospital. Connie Sinnwell, Des Moines, and Mike Sinnwell, Chicago, spent the weekend here with their mother and also visited their father, Joe Sinnwell, Mercy hospital, Ft. Dodge. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Erpeldlng were Sunday evening callers with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Mueller in Whittemore. Mr. and Mrs. Nick Reding, Algona, and their granddaughter Jolene Reding, Los Angeles, visited relatives here Sunday and Monday. Miss Reding, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cletus Reding, Phoenix, Ariz, is an airline hostess. Mrs. Irene Bormann and Sharon spent several days last week in Sioux City with Sister M. Delores and with Charles R. Kollasch. Mr. Kollasch of Whittemore, a medical patient in St. Vincents hospital in Sioux City, is the father of Sister M. Delores and Mrs. Bormann and has been a patient the past month. Alphonse Berte has returned home from Mercy hospital, Ft. Dodge, where he was a surgical patient the past week. Joe Sinnwell, surgical patient in Mercy hospital, Ft. Dodge, since Nov. 18, is expecting to be released this week to return home. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Erpeldlng, and Peter spent Thanksgiving in Des Moines with their daughter and sister Jo Ann and also attended "Holiday On Ice." Jo Ann returned home with them Friday evening for the weekend. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Morrissey and daughter, Des Moines, spent Thanksgiving weekend in the home of Mrs. Morrissey's parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Berte and other relatives and friends. Cecelia Gales, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Gales, observed her llth birthday Nov. 28 with a birthday party at her home with classmates and cousins attending the gathering. The afternoon was spent playing games and bingo followed by lunch and birthday cake. John Wagner and Sandra Lusk, Phoenix, Ariz., spent the Thanksgiving weekend here with John's parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Wagner and other relatives and friends. Brother Donald McGuire from St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchinson, Kansas, is spending a two week vacation here with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. T. McGuire and other relatives and friends. Friday, Brother Donald and his brother Richard McGuire, visited their sister, Sister M. Adeline in Dubuque. Mrs. Dan Gidley returned Monday via plane from Fort Dodge to her home in Colorado Springs, Colo, after a week's visit here with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Reding and other relatives and friends, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Chicoine, Jefferson, S. D., were weekend visitors here in the Reding home. Mrs. Chicoine is a daughter of the Redings. Carol Erpelding left Sunday for Denver, Colo, where she is employed after a 10-day visit here in the-home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Erpelding and family. Mr. and Mrs. Mike Stoffel, Willmar, Minn., were Saturday evening visitors here at the home or Mr. and Mrs. Paul Erpelding OFFICE SUPPLIES — Business forms, office furniture, filing equipment and supplies, at The Upper Des Moines Pub. Co., Algona, across from new Municipal parking lot. MARKETS Market off rhb price* paid on Saturday at your Co-op Elovator GRAIN Now Corn ..... No. 2 Whit* Oats Doe. - Jan. Boons ;„ in 1.07 .68 2.50 out out 1.11 .72 WHITTEMORE COOP. ELEVATOR HOtAKTON BIANCH COOP tad ^Golden Sun Feed. Tel* 295-5*14 For top performance CO-OP >, fuel oU, oil* and lubricant* ____ 295-7021 CLOSED SATURDAY AFTERNOONS - IXCIPT DURING HARVEST TIMS,

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