Voyages to Vietnam – Crews

First voyage to North Vietnam (Haiphong)

(Descriptions by fellow crew member Horace Champney)

Capt. Earle Reynolds, responsible for all matters related to the ship: its fittings, provisions, navigation, safety cargo, crew and schedule. [He] is reputed to be cantankerous and difficult.  But Earle really has a deep tenderness and a saving sense of humor, and he can tell bad ones on himself.  He became to me a likeable man, after I learned to bend a bit with what came through as sharp, often thoughtless and unjust authoritarianism.  After all, the long established tradition of the sea makes the captain of a ship an absolute dictator—quite necessary for the safety of the ship and her crew. [Note by Earle’s daughter, Jessica: Dad was not usually “cantankerous and difficult.” He was still bruised three years after his divorce from my mother.]

Bob Eaton (First Mate) is a tower of strength as a knowledgeable and experienced sailor. [Eaton served as captain on the succeeding two voyages to Vietnam.)

Phil Drath (56) is a kind of lovable Joe Palooka who was conquered by a Quaker pacifist wife many years ago and metamorphosed from all-American football player, prize fighter, outdoor adventurer, through Fellowship of Reconciliation, conscientious objector, Quaker, stage by stage to his recent and almost successful stint as a peace candidate for Congress.  [B]uilding contractor and yachtsman.  [Dick Faun adds that Drath was one of a group of Quakers who went to Mississippi in 1965 to help rebuild over 30 Negro churches.]

Elizabeth (Betty) Boardman is perhaps closer to the Quaker-leader type than anyone else on the crew. She exudes abundant upbeat energy and sparkle and she has extensive Quaker background and organizing experience. . . .  Betty may be a bit impulsive, but the whole mission is one grand impulsive venture. . . an activist and mother of 6 from Madison, Wisconsin, Betty was the only woman to sail all the way to Vietnam. Afterwards, Betty wrote a frank and very personal account of the 3-month journey, The Phoenix Trip: Notes on a Quaker Mission to Haiphong.

Dick Faun went along to produce a documentary movie, “Voyage of the Phoenix” for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In his film, Faun says of himself, “I am not a Quaker, not a pacifist, not even at all convinced the voyage would bring peace in Vietnam any nearer.”

Bill Heick, Dick’s cameraman.

Ivan Massar, 42,is a quiet, non-dominating Unitarian in his forties.  A professional photographer.  He served in the U.S. Navy and was decorated for service during World War 2.

Horace Champney At 61, I am the senior member of the crew.  I mind the wheel while the younger members of the crew scramble over the reeling and slippery deck in the spray-filled darkness handling sails and by the grace of God managing to stay aboard. [Of Champney, Dick Faun says, “He is a psychologist by training, a printer by trade. Involved in peace for 20 years, he dedicates himself to strategies and tactics of peace with the diligence of a general involved in all-out war.”]

Akie Reynolds (25), Earle’s second wife, is meticulous almost to the point of ritualism. Much of her routine is completely out of step with rough men struggling against the sea day and night. (Akie was dropped off with friends in Hong Kong so she would not jeopardize her Japanese citizenship over an American issue.)

Carl Zietlow is not a Quaker.  AQAG (A Quaker Action Group) dispatched him to Phnom Penh to negotiate for us with the North Vietnamese officials.

 

First voyage to South Vietnam (Da Nang)

(Description by John Braxton; additions in brackets by Jessica Renshaw)

[Actually heading for North Vietnam] On this leg of the voyage, the crew consisted of Bob Eaton, 23, the skipper who had been first mate on the Phoenix’ first trip to Vietnam; Beryl Nelson, 22, first mate, who had experience as a harbormaster on the Great Lakes; Kyoko Koda of Tokyo, 25, who had some experience with sailing small sailboats, and me.  My only experience on a sailboat was a half-day cruise on a small sailboat owned by John Pixton, a Philadelphia Quaker who thought I should have SOME sailing experience before this big voyage!

[Here’s where it gets complicated. Summaring Jo hn’s account: In Hong Kong, they were refused entry to North Vietnam but received permission to take  medical supplies to South Vietnam instead. They  headed for Da Nang, having added 4 new crew members:  George Lakey, 29, a leader of AQAG in Philadelphia; Harrison Butterworth, a college professor from Ohio in his mid-forties; Marianne McNaughton, a Philadelphia Quaker in her early twenties, and Chris Cowley, an English peace activist who had been living in Japan.

[When they reached Da Nang that permission to enter and unload supplies was revoked–at which point crew members “Lakey and Butterworth jumped overboard and swam towards shore.  [Capt. Bob Eaton said Butterworth ‘took off swimming like Tarzan in a movie.’] George was almost immediately picked up by South Vietnamese navy personnel and returned to the Phoenix.  Surprisingly, Harrison out-swam his would-be captors, and made it to shore,” wrote Braxton. [He was flown back to the States by officials there.]

[The Phoenix, still not allowed to land, were in Cambodia on the way back to Hong Kong when] we got the word that we could go to North Vietnam during the Tet Lunar New Year bombing pause.  We quickly re-supplied, leaving Cambodia on Christmas day, and sailed back to Hong Kong as fast as we could, by way of North Borneo. [They shipped the supplies to South Vietnam by freighter.]]  [Brackets within brackets. I told you it got complicated!]

By January 24 we had re-loaded the medical supplies for North Vietnam. . .

Second voyage to North Vietnam (Haiphong)

[So the 1st trip to South Vietnam became the 2nd trip to North Vietnam.

[The same crew, minus Harrison Butterworth, sailed through U.S. Seventh Fleet, under fire, to Haiphong]. . . Having turned over the medical supplies to Red Cross officials . . . We finally arrived in Hong Kong on February 13th, safe and sound, mission accomplished.

[I think that’s how it went but you’ll have to ask John Braxton.]