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Collection Title: Frobenius (Courtney L.) Vietnam Research Collection

Collection Number: M 396

Dates: 1948-1996, bulk dates from 1968-1970

Volume: 1.75 cubic feet

Provenance: Materials in this collection were generated and/or collected
by Mr. Courtney L. Frobenius.

Donor: Donated by Mr. Courtney L. Frobenius via Dr. Andrew
Wiest between 2001 and 2002

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Mr. Courtney Lynn Frobenius was born on April 11, 1948 in Hays, Kansas, (Ellis County). His parents were Bruce Richard Frobenius and Charene Lucrica Utt. His father was born in Lincoln, Kansas (western Kansas) and his mother was born in Downs, Kansas (central north Kansas). Courtney’s father was from a long line of Germans, but his grandfather married, Cecil Pratt, a woman from Michigan with a B.A. in Music granted in 1912 by the University of Michigan. Courtney has two brothers, Richard Michael Frobenius and Charles Patrick Frobenius. According to Courtney, “One retired from the post office and the other went fishing in Alaska.”

Courtney attended Brookhurst Elementary School and Fremont Junior High School in Garden Grove, California. He then went to Sycamore Junior High School and Anaheim High School in Anaheim, California. He was the editor of the humor page for his high school newspaper. The high school was desegregated during his senior year. Also during his senior year, Courtney says that the body bags of the class of 1965 began to come back from Vietnam. He graduated in 1966 in a class of 1,000 students.

Courtney served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1971 where he rose from the rank of Private to Captain. In December 1968, the twenty-year-old Second Lieutenant joined Bravo Company, 3/60th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division as an infantry platoon leader. On June 10, 1969, after five months and 20 days in continuous combat, he led his platoon through a minefield to save downed pilots who were being closed in upon by a North Vietnamese company. An explosion that sent Courtney skyward. He landed on his tailbone and was unable to hear. The medic, “Doc Harnek” of Moses Lake, Washington, was instantly upon Courtney and informed him that he had been hit in his right leg by two large pieces of shrapnel. Courtney was transported to three different hospitals, the 3rd Surgical Hospital in Dong Tam, the 29th Evacuation Hospital in Can Tho, and the 7th Field Hospital at Bien Hoa near Saigon, before eventually being evacuated to the military hospital at Camp Oji, Japan. He spent three months recuperating and learning how to walk again. In August 1969, Courtney returned to the United States. One year later in July 1970 Courtney, now a captain, received his orders to return to Vietnam. He returned to Vietnam in September 1970 where he advised a Vietnamese Ranger Battalion (the 43rd) in the Mekong Delta and was People’s Self Defense Forces (PSDF) Advisor for the Phu Yen Province, MAVC Advisory Team 28, in II Corps. Later, he was the Regional Force/Popular Forces (district/provincial) Advisor. In September of 1971, after five years in the military, at the age of 23, Courtney requested and received an honorable discharge from the Army.

Courtney received many awards for his service in Vietnam. He received the Combat Infantrymen's Badge, Airborne Wings, Ranger Tab, and Purple Heart. He also received five valor awards, the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars with “V” Devices, and an Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device. For Courtney, one of the greatest honors he received was being commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry when he was just 19 years old. Courtney is truthful about his awards, “I did nothing which any other member of my command didn't do.”

After completing his service in the Army, he went to Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, where he majored in English, foreign languages (Russian and Spanish), and philosophy from 1971 to 1976. He also attended Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana where he majored in aviation administration and political science. He graduated with a degree in political science.

He managed airports after graduating from Wichita State University: Hulnam Field Airport (1977-1979) in Terre Haute, Indiana and Hollywood Burbank Airport, where he was Deputy Director (1980-1982). He rebuilt the entire airport and transitioned it from Lockheed ownership into public ownership. He also worked at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona (1982-1983) as Airport Manager. Courtney also owned an advertising company, Frobenius and Associates, for ten years. He did advertising for clients in the Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California Markets. In 1994, Courtney established Vietnam-Indochina Tours, which takes veterans and others to Vietnam and the Indochina region.

Courtney met Trang My Tran (Vietnamese order, Tran My Trang) in 1996, while he was in Vietnam. Trang was born in 1963 in Saigon. Her home was bombed the day before Saigon fell in April 1975. Her family lost everything. Her father served with ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) as an English interpreter. After the war, Trang completed high school and went on to a university. She then became a high school Russian teacher. She began to study English after the Doi Moi policy was implemented in 1987. Courtney and Trang were married on March 25, 1997 on the banks of the Saigon River.

Courtney has one child from a prior marriage, Julianna Kathryn Frobenius. She was born in Sydney, Australia on December 28, 1980. Courtney says that Julianna had to live through his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and that she was the reason why he did not give up on life.

Courtney and his wife, Trang, now reside in Olympia, Washington. Courtney enjoys playing chess, gardening, and continuing his studies in both the Cold War and Vietnam War. When asked why Vietnam was still a lasting part of his life Courtney said, “All of us are touched by things in our lives, which remain the central focus of our lives… There was too much blood, too many awful memories, too much curiosity, and too many questions . . . and a fantastically beautiful land so different from my own that I could never leave this 6 months [behind]: these 6 months of my life became my life.”

Sources:

Case file
Contents of the collection
E-mail correspondence with Courtney L. Frobenius

Other Finding Aids:

Box and Folder List
Photograph Log

Related Collections:

M265 Wheat (Roy M.) Papers

Scope and Content:

The Courtney L. Frobenius papers are a fascinating group of materials that give an in depth look into the Vietnam War and the Indochina region. The collection has been divided into two series.

Series I: Courtney L. Frobenius’ Personal Papers, Letters, and Documents contain materials relating to Courtney’s military service in the Vietnam War. The series includes letters sent to him from various friends and family. Some of the letters express deep concern about America’s involvement in the war and some mention those who did not make it back from Vietnam alive. This series also includes Courtney’s award certificates, as well as his written work on many different topics pertaining to the war. There are also materials relating to the 9th Infantry Division, of which Courtney was a part.
Series II: Courtney L. Frobenius’ Collected Research Materials contains materials relating to Vietnam. The series contains some documents relating to the 1st Infantry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, and U.S. Navy forces in Vietnam. There is also a personal memoir by a Lieutenant General as well as an in-depth look into the Phu Yen province in the “Phu Yen Documents.” Possibly the most interesting part of this series are the oversize photos and maps that were donated. They add to the collection by giving a visual of the area in which this collection centers.

Courtney gathered the materials in this collection over his lifetime. He acquired some of the items in Saigon, Vietnam in the 1990’s, where he lived from 1994-1998. He also gathered materials when he was in Vietnam during the war from December 1968 through June 1969 and September 1970 through September 1971.
Courtney was able to donate his collection to the McCain Archives through a fellow 9th Infantry Division trooper, John Young. Young introduced Courtney to Dr. Andrew Wiest, professor of modern British history and military history and director of graduate studies at the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi. Courtney said, “I donated everything I have regarding Vietnam to USM because Andy is teaching something that is important to our future: if we cannot learn the lessons of past mistakes we will repeat them. Perhaps in some way my collection will aid in that end.”

Box and Folder List

Series I: Courtney L. Frobenius’ Personal Papers, Letters, and Documents
   
Box 1  
Folder 1 List of Documents in the Collection as Described by Courtney L. Frobenius and where they are Located within the Collection (June 2001)
Folder 2 Photographs (1966, 1971)
Folder 3 Basic Training Class Book- Fort Ord, California
Folder 4 Letters to Courtney L. Frobenius from Various Friends and Family (1968)
Folder 5 Letters to Courtney L. Frobenius from Various Friends and Family (1969)
Folder 6 Letters to Courtney L. Frobenius from Various Friends and Family (1970)
Folder 7 Courtney L. Frobenius’ Silver Star Award Certificate (June 20, 1969)
Folder 8 Courtney L. Frobenius’ Purple Heart Award Certificate (June 11, 1969)
Folder 9 Courtney L. Frobenius’ War Ruminations (1994-1995)
Folder 10 Courtney L. Frobenius’ War Ruminations (1994-1995)
Folder 11 R & R Book- Serviceman’s Guide to Taipei
Folder 12 Safe Conduct Pass
Folder 13 North Vietnamese Currency
Folder 14 Army Official History, 9th Infantry Division, Vietnam (Probably taken from Shelby L. Stanton’s book, Vietnam Order of Battle. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2003.)
Folder 15 Octofoil Quarterly Publication of the 9th Infantry Division (1968)
Folder 16 “9th Infantry Division Vietnam 1968”-Art and Photography Booklet (1968)
Folder 17 Operational Report, 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division (Jan. 31, 1968)
Folder 18 Operational Report, 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division (Feb. 1-April 30, 1968)
Folder 19 After Action Report, 2nd Brigade, Operation Troung Cong Dinh, Phase II (April 4-July 25, 1968)
   
Box 2  
Folder 1 Letter by Julian Ewell-Contains Materials Related to Receiving a Presidential Unit Citation for Action in Vietnam, 9th Infantry Division (1964-1994)
Folder 2 Summary of Recommendation for Presidential Unit Citation, 9th Infantry Division, U.S. Army
   
Series II: Courtney L. Frobenius’ Collected Research Materials
   
Folder 3 1st Infantry Division-Fundamentals of Infantry Tactics (1968)
Folder 4 Platoon Medic: Excerpts from a Book by a Platoon Medic in LTC David Hackworth’s Batallion, 1st Brigade (March 25, 1969)
Folder 5 Typescript of "A Personal Memoir, An Account of the 2nd Brigade 101st Airborne Division, Sept. 1967 - June 1968,” By John H. Cushman, Lt. Gen., USA (Ret.)
Folder 6 Draft of “A Personal Memoir, an Account of the 2nd Brigade 101st Airborne Division, Sept. 1967-June 1968,” By John H. Cushman, Lt. Gen., USA (Ret) (1967-1968, July 8, 1996)
   
Box 3  
Folder 1 Command History River Assault Squadron FIFTEEN, Overall Naval Reports on the Riverine Assault Force, and U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam Monthly Historical Summaries (1968, 1969)
Folder 2 “Combat Leadership: A Problem for Vietnam” By John Westover (Dec. 8, 1965)
Folder 3 Report on 1968 Sinking of USS Westchester County (Feb. 7, 1993)
Folder 4 The Phu Yen Documents
Folder 5 List of Phu Yen Documents
Folder 6 Phu Yen Documents-Part 1
Folder 7 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 2-5
Folder 8 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 6-10
Folder 9 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 11-15
Folder 10 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 16-20
Folder 11 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 21-25
Folder 12 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 26-30
Folder 13 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 31-32
Folder 14 Phu Yen Documents-Parts 33-36
   
Box 4  
Folder 1 Map (ca. 1956)
Folder 2 Life Magazine (Jan. 19, 1948)
Folder 3 Photographs (oversize)
Folder 4 Magazine and Newspapers Given by Jerry Yonko
   
Oversize Materials: Mapcase
Folder 1 Maps: AO Group-Ben Tre Province, South of Dong Tam
Folder 2 Maps: The DMZ Hue Group

Photograph Log

M396-1 Courtney L. Frobenius, age 23
  7” x 3 ½” B & W ca. 1971
  (Box 1, Folder 2)
M396-2 Basic training class photo at Fort Ord, California. (Courtney Frobenius-2nd row from top, 1st on the left)
  8” x 10” Color Nov. 3, 1966
  (Box 1, Folder 2)
M396-3 David Frobenius’ (cousin of Courtney Frobenius) graduation picture
  2 ½” x 3 ¼” B & W 1969
  (Box 1, Folder 2)
M396-4 French restaurant somewhere in Saigon
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-5 The Ben Nghe Canal which goes from the Saigon River to Cho Lon. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in upper right
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-6 The “collaborators.” The Vietnamese opportunists who collaborated with the French, Saigon
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-7 Turn of the century colonial soldier
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-8 Continental Hotel (right). Notre Dame Cathedral spires in background.
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-9 The My Tho train station
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-10 French doctor giving vaccinations at the Cho Lon Chinese Hospital
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-11 The Ngo Man (Noontime Gate) in Hue at the turn of the century well before its restoration
  15” x 12” B & W ca. 1900
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-12 The colonial post office in Saigon
  15” x 12” B & W ca. 1900
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-13 Tall ships in the Saigon River
  15” x 10” B & W 1868
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-14 One of the connecting smaller canals to the Ben Nghe canal in Saigon
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-15 One of the connecting smaller canals to the Ben Nghe canal in Saigon
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-16 Picture taken from the Dragon House (Ngha Rong) looking down river on the Saigon
  15” x 11” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-17 A rendering of Saigon as it was in the late 19th-century. The Ben Nghe canal is in the lower left
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-18 Perhaps a similar ship in which Ho Chi Minh left Saigon in 1911
  15” x 12” B & W ca. 1900
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-19 Perhaps a similar ship in which Ho Chi Minh left Saigon in 1911
  15” x 12” B & W ca. 1900
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-20 The Continental Hotel
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-21 A Vietnamese nun and her charge in a rickshaw
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-22 Vietnamese lady
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-23 Khmer or Cambodian musicians
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-24 The Siagon River where it passes the Ben Nghe Canal. The Hotel De Ville (City Hall) in the top center of photograph
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-25 Some Tonkinese ladies
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-26 Construction of a road to Lam Son north of Hanoi to the Chinese border
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-27 A house in Annam in the Distict of Binh Thuy. The home of a wealthy family
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-28 Vietnamese musicians
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-29 It was possible in the early days to go from the Saigon River directly to the Hotel De Ville via canal, later the canal was filled in
  15” x 10” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-30 The Hotel De Ville in earlier days
  15” x 9” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)
M396-31 The My Tho train station
  15” x 12” B & W  
  (Box 4, Folder 3)

 


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Revised: October 13, 2004