Off Beat: Story on Vietnam vet gets lost in translation

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Enemy machine-gun fire doesn’t sound as perilous when it’s described as “belligerent glow.”

It’s another case of a message lost in translation.

A recent Columbian story about a local veteran apparently went through a translation double-dip from English to Vietnamese and then back into English.

When Vietnam vet Aaron Rich received an Army Air Medal during an assembly at Cascade Middle School, the story quickly wound up on a website in Vietnam.

Most English sentences include at least one word that has multiple definitions. That’s what influenced that Web version, likely translated on a best-guess basis.

During the mission, pilot Don Torrini, said, “There was a lot of enemy fire,” which came out: “There was a lot of rivalry glow.”

Former company commander Don Ruskauff recalled flying over thick jungle: “You could be engaged by ground fire,” which became: “You could be intent by belligerent glow.”

If he needed to relieve himself during a refueling stop, he couldn’t even head for a latrine, Rich said. “I stepped on a skid and let it go.”

Which became: If he indispensable to soothe himself during a refueling stop, he couldn’t even conduct for a latrine, Rich said. “I stepped on a movement and let it go.”

Torrini said eight members of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company attended the ceremony because Rich was part of “a really tight team.”

Which became: “a really parsimonious team.”

Salute from Snoopy

Snoopy’s Veterans Day salute to a popular war correspondent in our Nov. 12 “Peanuts” comic strip caught John Raynor’s eye.

The Navy vet was at the Pacific island Ie Shima, where Ernie Pyle was killed by a sniper on April 18, 1945.

Raynor helped take supplies to the beach of the small island near Okinawa; on the return trip, they took the wounded to a hospital ship.

“It was very sad,” the Camas resident said. Pyle’s focus was always the foot soldiers, “and he was going where the fighting was.”

Raynor won’t forget the guys who did that fighting.

“Young American boys who found themselves doing things they never imagined — fighting for their lives on dirty little islands with strange names that no one had ever heard of,” he said. “Much more romantic to capture a Paris or a Munich or a Frankfurt.”

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.