From:  Stacy Takacs

   Dated:  March 15, 2021

Subject:  More on John Steinbeck IV 

Hi, Marc. Sorry you had to pay so much for shipping, I could have lent you my copy for free. It’s an interesting read, and tells a slightly different story about the drug situation. Not sure how much of that is about posing and how much is truth. I’ll be interested to hear what you think. He does mention, as many of the/you AFVNers have, a conscious decision to minimize (not censor, but minimize) information that might harm morale, like downplaying news of stateside protests and race riots, anything that might be disruptive if dwelt upon too much. I find this element of self-restriction—and the logic for it—very consistent and also very interesting. It definitely complicates simplistic understandings of terms like “censorship” or “news management” since it’s all so bottom-up, unofficial and, I think, well-meaning. 
Stacy Takacs (aka that chick who’s writing a book about AFN.

    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Bobby, 
The book I mentioned, "Steinbeck in Vietnam", alludes to him taking time to visit his son and, likewise, there was no sense of animosity mentioned there either as I recall.


Crystal, 2016. Passed away shortly after from Pakinsons.

    From:  Nancy Smoyer

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Marc, 
I'm sure you know that their legendary disappearance includes not only those in the media but many/most veterans as well.  A very sad event which I wondered if he was referring to one of them as well. 
Nancy

    From:  Forrest Brandt

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Gary Gears set up a meeting with John IV for me at the Continental in February of 69. I had just read his father’s obit in the foreign edition of Time and disagreed with their claim that Steinbeck had lost touch with America. I proceeded to gush about all that I had learned from reading his father’s books and how important they were to me. He let me finish and then calmly, firmly, stated, “Yeah, but you didn’t have to live with the son of a bitch.” 
Forrest


    From:  Nancy Smoyer

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

There has been discussion o here about John Steinbeck and AFVN. The recent issue of the VVA Veteran has a review of a book about Steinbeck Senior, saying this at the end of the review: 
John Steinbeck had “an ugly falling out,” as Souder puts it, with his younger son. Not long after John IV had come home from the war, he was busted for marijuana possession. He claimed the dope was not his, a jury believed him, and found him not guilty. Not long after that, John IV testified about drug use among the troops before a congressional committee, and took the occasion to speak out against the war. 
That did it for his father, who abhorred peaceniks and the sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll Sixties mentality. “They should have jailed you,” Steinbeck told his youngest son. And then, Sounder writes, “Steinbeck never spoke to him again.” 
I don't know if the book overall would be of interest to you all, but it's  Bill Souder’s engagingly written biography,

Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck. 
Nancy


    From:  Doug Offenbacher

   Dated:  March 15, 2021

Subject:  Apologies 

I had heard somewhere that John had a daughter prior to marrying Nancy. Never knew more than that. Nancy already had two kids who came with her to the AFVN reunion in Indianapolis. I had been in contact with her before that because of a John memento left in my desk at the station. After Marc’s email, a Google search turned up an image of John, Crystal Eastin and Sean Flynn at www.pinterest.fr/pin/517632550916960684/. And then a snapshot taken stateside with John, Crystal and her dad, Blake. A little more looking reveals that John and Crystal were an item in VN while working together as journalists and had a daughter, born in Viet Nam. Daughter’s name, Blake, after her dad. Interesting article about Crystal, http://www.salem-news.com/articles/april102016/crystal-brown-remembered-tk.php, good reading, even if it gets a bit off-topic. 
Not that any of this has relevance to any of us, but the John IV body of facts keeps growing, and now a page of possible interest has been deleted (?). That demands looking into by any investigative measure. Besides, what else do old guys have to do with their time? The link above could be the missing page, facts are facts and Blake (last name Smyle) is the only living grandchild of John Steinbeck, the legend. As far as I can tell.

Steinbeck's Sons - Thom and John IV 

January 2021

    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Doug, 
Do you know if the friend of John's whom you referred to was either Sean Flynn or Dana Stone? Their disappearance is legendary among civilian reporters and photographers.

    From:  Doug Offenbacher

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Never met John at the station, he was gone when I got there (Jul 68). His older brother Thom was at the station during my stint. The guy I replaced had been John's buddy and left the name plate from John's “AFVN Plaque” in a desk drawer. I held onto it for years and eventually returned it to his widow, Nancy (John died at 44 in 1991 during back surgery). I later met her at the Indianapolis AFVN reunion, very nice person. While in VN I shared a room with Gary Gears (Kyson Annex), in the next room was Thom. When John and a friend returned to VN as civilian journalists, John stayed with Thom for a few days. Got to know him then, seemed OK, like a regular guy with lots of plans. His friend crossed over into Cambodia looking for a story and, as I recall, never returned. There was friction in the Steinbeck family later as John began writing a "Tell All" family history. He died prior to finishing so Nancy completed it. Title: "The Other Side of Eden." Out of print now but used copies on Amazon. 
Doug Offenbacher


    From:  Doug Offenbacher

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Marc, 

Neither name is familiar – there were a few non-military types coming by while John was there, never knew who they were or if the guy who went missing was among them. There was another AFVNer rooming with Thom at the time, Harvey Geminder. He’s not in this group but we stay in touch. I’ll ask him if he remembers anything about the visit. 
Doug Offenbacher

    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbeck in Vietnam 

Here's the book cover for "Steinbeck in Vietnam"

    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Nancy, 
Thanks for the info. I've taught Steinbeck in one of my college courses before, so will pick this up. In 2012, a book called "Steinbeck In Vietnam: Dispatches from the War" was published. He'd been asked by LBJ, who had befriended Steinbeck, to report on the war, which he did for Newsday, a Long Island, NY daily. 
At that point, Steinbeck was very much in favor of our war effort, which his dispatches reflect. This was `66-`67. He did not turn against the war until some years later. I found it a fascinating read myself. However, it was panned in Vietnam magazine by a reviewer who, himself, had been a member of the civilian press corps. 
Marc


​John, Crystal and Sean

    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  January 25, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Doug
Thanks for all this! Carl's (Robinson)  recently published book "Bite of the Lotus" is supposed to be a very good one. 
Marc Phillip Yablonka


    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  March 16, 2021

Subject:  More on John Steinbeck IV 

Hi Stacy, 
Thanks for the offer that "might have been'! I'm such a slow reader though, you would have grown impatient for your copy of John IV's book's return, I'm sure! 
For more on John IV, you may want to pick up a copy of Carl Robinson's new book "The Bite of the Lotus." Carl was with USAID in Vietnam and then jumped ship and worked for the AP. He's American but lives Down Under with his Vietnamese wife. He was in Vietnam several years. `64- 75. 
Marc


    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  January 25, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Doug,
Please let me know if you find out whether it was Flynn or 
Stone. Like Nancy, I'm curious. Sean Flynn was actor
Errol Flynn's son, and Dana Stone was on assignment for
CBS if memory serves. 
Marc Phillip Yablonka

AFVN Group Conversations

    From:  Doug Offenbacher

   Dated:  January 25, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Haven’t been able to connect with Harv yet but tried to put some pieces together from what I remember and what I could find on line that might corroborate something. Hard to say who it was who came by to visit John while he was hanging with Thom but my guess is it was Sean and/or another of the young-correspondents crowd. If you read this article published 19 Nov 2019, written by Carl Robinson (one of that crowd), it will enlighten you on much went on in the news game that we military types had no idea of (at least I didn’t). This and other sources on line point to John and Sean being together in Saigon around May of 69. That fits my window. The reason was the wedding of mutual friend Robinson to his Vietnamese wife. About that same time John and Sean became involved with the Coconut Monk on Phoenix Island in the Mekong Delta. All this places them in each other’s company during John’s brief visit I described earlier. The later disappearance of Sean and Dana Stone (Apr 70) is also discussed here with some authority – and despair – by Robinson. It’s probably as close as anyone will ever get to the truth – which may be good. The truth is likely ugly. https://www.afr.com/world/asia/out-of-their-fathers-shadows-in-vietnam-with-flynn-and-steinbeck-20191021-p532n8 
Video of Flynn in Cambodia on Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/ARwB7-vDg9xTs6M6pbPFBnlmhFQXojICQUpzIyjxyaAoF5uXonc8IOg/


The following is of the Steinbeck sons​​ with Sean Flynn  and a Buddhist Monk on Phoenix Island.

Blake Eastin, Crystal and John, dated Aug 70

    From:  Bobby Sullivan

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

Did any of you know that Steinbeck IV helped us build the TV station in Saigon in 1966?  Assembling all that equipment in a short time was no small task and we didn't have enough technicians.  I interviewed quite a number of troops who applied to our ad.  I "hired" him even though he wasn't as skilled as I would have liked but he was a big help to us. When his father visited him I saw nothing to indicate that there was any animosity.  Nor did I ever know of any drug use by him or anyone who worked with us. 
Bobby S.


    From:  Dick Ellis

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks 

I replaced John in July of 1967 and he was not very friendly.  His father had just completed his visit and everyone at the station in Saigon kept saying, “Don’t worry, all he does is walk around and smoke pot!”  I crossed over (OJT) with him for about two weeks.  I received more “new-guy” help from Joe C and Preston Cluff than anyone else.


    From:  Patrick McDonald

   Dated:  January 24, 2021

Subject:  Steinbecks AFVN 

Doug
For a few weeks in the spring of 1967 I was assigned to Hon Tre Island off of Nha Trang. John Steinbeck was part of the Crew. When I left he gave me a ride to the dock so I could take the ferry over to Nha Trang to go to my next assignment. When the boat arrived, John walked over and assisted a man with his luggage who was getting off of the boat.  He had not told me he was meeting anyone.... but it was his father and they hugged and seemed like there was no problem. 
As far as weed, John rolled his own and never shared.  I am a cigar smoker and his smelled like "Swisher Sweets" a funky cheap cigar brand.

Pat McDonald  (Lt. Mac)​


    From:  Marc Yablonka

   Dated:  March 14, 2021

Subject:  More on John Steinbeck IV 

All, 
Recently some of you were commenting on John Steinbeck IV. Ironically, a friend of mine who was a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent based out of the Press Center in Da Nang, sent me the link below today about John IV and his girlfriend, Crystal. There is also a link to a story about Sean Flynn. Just click on Sean's pic on the right side. 
In addition, I recently scored a copy of John IV's  book "In Touch". Have just started reading it. Seems like it's going to be a good read. Cost me a whole $4.62 from Amazon. But I could not figure out why the shipping charge was $10.20....until the book arrived in the mail. Posted from Switzerland! 
http://www.salem-news.com/articles/april102016/crystal-brown-remembered-tk.php