Mike Semrad was at Fort Hood, Texas, when he got the news.
A fighter pilot and one of his best friends, 1st Lt. Michael Klingner, had been shot down.
Like so many others who lost friends and loved ones during the Vietnam War, Semrad was devastated.
Decades later, Semrad has produced a CD of Vietnam era songs.
Proceeds from the sale of these CDs will go toward maintenance and improvement of the Fremont, Dodge County Vietnam Veterans Perpetual Living Memorial in Clemmons Park.
The CD called, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” is dedicated to all Vietnam War veterans. It costs $10.
“I interviewed about 20 Vietnam veterans who were in country and asked them for their favorite songs from that time,” he said.
The result is a CD that includes songs such as: “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” It also includes Billy Joel’s “Good Night Saigon” with real sounds of helicopters flown during the Vietnam War.
Semrad said the CD was developed because Al Martinez of Fremont with the Disabled American Veterans, asked him to do a music project with proceeds going to the memorial.
The memorial includes a gazebo with the names of people from Fremont and Dodge County who were killed in Vietnam. It also has a large flag pole and a plaque with their names and dates of service.
Semrad – himself a veteran—said the CD was produced at no expense. A mini grant through the Fremont Area Community Foundation took care of song writing credits and production.
That way, all proceeds can go toward the memorial. A number of Vietnam veterans sang the songs on the CD for no compensation.
“Jerry Stingley and I have a band called Pink Stingray and he and I both sang on the CD along with Vietnam veterans and other musicians,” Semrad said.
Singers include Bob Letheby and Larry Downey, both Vietnam veterans, Stingley’s son Wes and former Fremonter Chris Moluf.
The CDS are available by contacting Semrad through Facebook or his email at email@example.com or phone 402-720-4554.
Two CD release parties also are planned and the public is invited. The first will be from 4-7 p.m. Sunday at Tin Lizzy Tavern, 1682 E. 23rd St., in Fremont.
The second will be 4-7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Doe’s Place, 148 N. Main St., in Fremont.
Pink Stingray will play songs from the CD at both parties.
“I will be contacting all regional veterans offices such as the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and American Legion and inviting them to each of the CD release parties,” Semrad said.
Through the mail, CDs may be purchased for $14, which includes shipping and handling. Checks should be made out to Mike Semrad and sent to 2132 N. Clarmar Ave., Fremont, NE 68025.
For Semrad, the CD is a way to honor veterans and Klingner.
“We all think of him often and the CD contains many of his favorite songs,” Semrad said.
Semrad added that a CD with country music might be produced later.