George Allen / EducateMHC Blog Mobile Home & Land Lease Community Advocate & Expert

March 27, 2023

Largest Enemy Weapons Captured During Vietnam Conflict

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 11:04 am

Blog Posting # 735, Copyright 7 April 2023. EducateMHC

This blog posting is a radical departure from the manufactured housing and land lease community fare I’ve shared with you weekly for the past 14+ years. Events described here date back 54 years, to when I was a young lieutenant of U.S. Marines serving a 13 month tour as a combat engineer in the Republic of South Vietnam. Had many adventures during that time in my life, but those chronicled here were among the most harrowing. Nothing graphically gruesome however, as I was penning these letters to my wife Carolyn and toddler daughter Susan; certainly did not want to unduly alarm or depress them. The letters you read here are among 400+ I sent to Carolyn at that time. I’m now transcribing them into a 600+ pages Allen Family Journal, copies of which will be prepared for Susan, her brother Adam, as well as Carolyn and me. GFA

My autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven!contains more stories and photographs from my combat tour in RVN. To order, visit or google the book title.

George Allen

Largest Enemy Weapons Captured During Vietnam Conflict

An Excerpt from Chapter 12 of the Allen family Journal, subtitled,

‘My 13 Months in the Republic of South Vietnam during 1968 & 69’

Introduction. There were several defining moments during my combat tour in Vietnam as a lieutenant of U.S. Marines. First, as a combat engineer officer, participating in the breakout from the infamous Khe Sanh combat base. Then, training in Japan & Okinawa as an Atomic Demolitions Munitions (‘ADM’) technician, for secret deployment into North Vietnam if need be; and, during February 1969, participating in Operation Dewey Canyon, in the Ashau Valley adjacent to the Laotian border. During that latter period I was the shore party battalion’s primary rigging officer, preparing slinged and cargo net external loads for helo-lifiting into and off mountaintop Fire Support Bases (‘FSBs’) manned by grunts (infantry), and Helicopter Support Teams (‘HSTs’) from shore party companies*1

22 February 1969

Hi My Love,

            (Well into the letter) Wasn’t going to tell you what I’m about to, but I’ve been candid and honest and open about my work over here, so there’s no reason to keep something like this from you until it’s over or canceled.

            A few days ago, one of our grunt (Marine infantry) companies, out on the Dewey Canyon operation, captured two large enemy (Russian) field artillery pieces – originally thought to be 122mm howitzers (5,500 pounds each), but were determined to be 122mm field guns (14,500 pounds apiece). Yesterday I received ‘hints’, and today almost ‘definite word’, that, in the next couple days, I’ll be dropped into the jungle in the vicinity of the guns. Then, have to clear a landing zone around them, rig the guns for helo-lifting, and hook them one at a time, to a hovering CH-53 or CH-54 ‘flying cranes’, for retrograding back to Vandegrift (‘VCB’)  or Quang Tri forward combat bases . I don’t think I have to tell you this could be a pretty hairy experience, but I’ll do the best I can to get them out. To give you an idea about the size of these weapons, they’re larger and heavier than the 155mm howitzers you’ve seen in photos.

23, 24, 25 February 1969

            (Portions of these letters are missing) Before we quit for the afternoon, we started stripping all the gear we could from the first gun – to make it as light as possible for the flying crane. The guns are really interesting, as all writing on the guns is in Russian; and a lot of the accessory gear (firing lanyard, intact 122mm rounds and firing tables) was still here when I arrived.

            Just learned these are the biggest enemy weapons captured during the Vietnam conflict! They will probably be sent back to the states as war trophies once I get them lifted out of here. Would have lifted the first gun out this afternoon, but the engineers still have trees to fell around the guns, as the CH-53 & CH-54 need a lot of room to hover over heavy loads.

            Well hon, it’s so dark I can hardly see to write any more tonight.

            It’s now the morning of the 24th and a long night it was. Seven of us slept under a poncho lean-to positioned over our fighting hole. Along about 2300 hours (11PM) the ‘shit hit the fan’, as we became the brunt of an enemy ground attack. Don’t know how many gooks there were, but the air was filled with bullets and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades). The attack (firefight) lasted about 30 minutes before the enemy broke contact and withdrew. Don’t know how many of them we killed, but we had a few casualties ourselves.

            Now we’re sitting here waiting for the weather to break so I can get those guns out. I expect the flying crane will arrive around 1400 hours (2pm). So I’ll likely be spending another night out here.

            Sorry ‘bout the quality of my penmanship this morning, but wet paper does not help much. We are thoroughly socked-in right now and a light drizzle is falling. Boy it sure is desolate out here. Not a lot more to tell you right now dear. Of course I love and miss you something terrible. Can’t wait to get home to you and darling Susan (daughter).

            Well, it’s now 1400 hours. Since writing you this morning I’ve rigged both big guns (just hope they fly OK) and survived yet another firefight, but more on that later.

            These guns sure weren’t the easiest thing to calculate and rig. We finished stripping the guns of armor plate and accessory gear to make them lighter. Then I had to figure out the rigging. This is what I came up with: from the donut-shaped nylon lifting ring, two 16’ slings out to the end of the gun tube (barrel), two 17’ slings out to the end of each of two trails, and two 5’ slings on each side of the guns to the wheels and axles.

            Know where I was when the next firefight started? Sitting out on the very end of the long gun tube (barrel), straddling it as I attached the heavy nylon slings. A couple Marines were sitting on the trails and gun carriage to counterbalance my weight on the tube…when the gunfire started. My men dove for cover – while the tube and I hit the dirt.

            One of our OPs (observation posts) radioed in a while ago and reported seeing enemy troops and elephants loaded with gear. Also this afternoon, one of our patrols found the firing sites where these guns had been located, and uncovered numerous bunkers, two gun pits, and many documents. Really an outstanding find.

            Stopped writing for a minute, to take a look at the captured gear. Manuals (all in Russian) for the big guns, gas masks, 50 caliber ammunition, and a personal diary. Some of my buddies out here tell me, that during the assault, grunts saw individuals who were definitely not Vietnamese – much much larger in stature, and heard talking and hollering in a foreign language – sounding like Russian.

            Well love, I’ve got a bit of a headache, so I think I’ll close for now. Darling, I do love you so very much and wish I could be home with you and Susie right now.

            It’s now the morning of the 25th. Slept like a rock last night. Hit the deck at about 1930 hours and didn’t stir until about 0730 this morning. No firefights or incoming rockets or artillery rounds last night – at least none I heard. Was really tired, but feel great this morning, except for bad news I just heard. Seems someone back at VCB does not feel the ‘flying crane’ can lift out the guns in one piece (I disagree); so now an ordnance team is on its’ way out to dissemble the guns for lift out. I really think that is going to be more trouble than it’s worth; first off, any manuals we have on the gun (and these are few at that) are written in Russian; secondly, we don’t have the necessary tools to dissemble them; and finally, even if we can get the tubes separated from the gun carriage and trails, the barrel alone (5-6,000 pounds) is going to play havoc as we try and manhandle it off the carriage. Looks like I could be here at least today and tomorrow awaiting disassembly.

Right now we’re just sitting around waiting to see what the weather will bring: either ordnance guys to take the guns apart or a crane to lift the guns out intact.

Know what? I love you lots! Really I do. Sure wish I was on my way home to you;

I miss you and little Susie so very much..

            Hi again love. It’s about noon and not much has changed since I wrote earlier this morning. Had one CH-53 fly in this morning and drop off the ordnance team. Now they’re hard at work on the gun. Wish them luck, as those guns are going to be a bugger to take apart.

            Remember the small U.S. and Pennsylvania flags your mother gave me? Well I taped them to one of the guns, before preparing them for retrograding.

            Back again. It’s about 1800 hours and guess what? The guns and I are still here. In fact, the only helicopters we saw today were emergency resupply birds bringing in water, chow, and ammunition.

            The guns are now rigged and ready to go. It’s just a matter of getting big enough choppers out here to lift them in four lifts, plus a fifth for the large nylon cargo net containing gun gear and ammunition.

            (In the meantime) The ordnance Marines told me if I could get a CH-53 into the area where the guns are, the tubes and carriages could be helolifted out. Well I got on the radio and had a resupply bird fly over from fire support base (‘FSB’) Cunningham to pick me up to go to Quang Tri or Dong Ha. Well the pilot, after getting me aboard chickened out, due to heavy ground fire (another firefight), and would not pull the tube out. He flew me back to Quang Tri where I reported to the Battalion CO and obtained a jeep so I could go to Dong Ha. At Dong Ha I went to see Colonel Sexton, General Davis’ Chief of Staff, about getting more birds out to the Ashau Valley for the guns pickup. The colonel then sent me to see Colonel Jobe, the division air officer, who authorized CH-53s and a CH-54 to fly out and pull the guns out. My job then was finished; I’d rigged the guns and arranged for retrograde. I must have cut a less than professional appearance however, as I appeared before both colonels in my field-worn uniform, pistol belt and helmet.

            I drove back to Quang Tri, where I explained to my Battalion CO what I had done; he seemed pleased, so then all we had to do was sit back and wait to see what would happen. Result? As of 15 minutes ago, the guns arrived safely at Quang Tri LSA. Mission accomplished.*2

End Note.

  1. More detailed descriptions of this historic capture and retrograde of Russian artillery pieces can be found in the short stories, ‘PUC Beer’ and ‘Pluck, Politics & Shore Party’, both contained within my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven, available for purchase via & the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN. Also, the late Donald F. Myers’ book, YOUR WAR MY WAR, ‘A Marine in Vietnam’, 2000. Suggested passages: p. 59, & pp. 347 – 355; where Myers describes the assault that captured the guns: “…what eerie thoughts the enemy must have had as this rebel-rousing, reeling, cursing, insane group of Marines came at them in a John Wayne style charge. I have a feeling if I saw this berserk group trotting towards me, waving and shooting rifles, many of them with bayonets affixed, and screaming bloody murder (& some loudly singing the Marine Corps Hymn), I may have been inclined to break and run. And that’ just what the enemy did. I glimpsed shadowy figures bobbing and weaving at a distance away from our advancing force.”
  • Today, one of the two guns is on display in the USMC Museum in Quantico, VA. The other one? Well, there’s an interesting story to tell, someday, about what became of that one. Hint? Has something ironic to do with the Russian conflict in Afghanistan.

All of which was just described here, occurred more than 50 years ago. For some, if not many of us, who fought in Vietnam, the memories – at times, are now distant and dim; but at other times, near and clear. I’m grateful to be alive today, enjoying life with Carolyn, the adulthood of Susan and her brother Adam and their spouses, as well as their six children (our grandchildren), and now, three great grandchildren.

TODAY, 29 March 2023, is National Vietnam Veteran Day. Take a moment to recognize, thank, and ‘Welcome Home’ Viet Vets you know. Trust me; they will sincerely appreciate the sentiment!

George Allen, LtCol USMC (retired)

March 25, 2023

‘And Just Whose Job Is It Anyway, to Market MHs?’

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 4:48 am

Blog Posting # 734, Copyright 24 March 2023. EducateMHC

Parallel Perspectives. HOUD-Code manufactured housing is federal –regulated, performance-based, factory-built housing! And land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities & ‘mobile home parks’) comprise the investment real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC alone is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and text resource for these two business models! To input this blog or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815, email, or visit to order  Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry The sole professional property management text in print today!); SWAN SONG, a history of land lease communities and official record of annual MH production totals since 1955; and, my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven – my combat adventures in Vietnam & business career in MH & communities.

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master, Emeritus member of MHI, RV/MH Hall of Fame enshrinee, and retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines.

‘And Just Whose Job Is It Anyway, to Market MHs?’

Have you ever given much thought as to how to answer that simple question? During the past four plus decades my answer has always been, ‘Everyone who sells manufactured homes to would be homebuyers/site lessees (i.e. siting in land lease communities)’. A veteran state MH association leader recently shared the following insightful (lightly edited) comments with me:

“Only one of four HUD-Code manufacturers in this state supports our consumer-facing website, and NONE of the independent (street) MHRetailers do, yet they all benefit from it!*1 This bewilders me! States with rejuvenated websites like ours are making great progress, but it’d  be great if we could go even further – and get some ‘big guns’ to see the need to contribute. “

OK; but then follows, these two shocking albeit ‘telling’ observations: “We have been told by manufacturers it is not their job to advertise. They see the retailer as their customer, and retailers often don’t want additional business. It is a very strange dynamic.”

So, after all these years of up and down production of new manufactured homes, it all boils down to this: No one really wanting to take responsibility for marketing, let alone selling ‘more product’! Appears this is the proverbial Achilles’ Heel of our industry! (i.e. the sole unprotected part of our business model that makes us susceptible to influences negating our profitability!*2

If so, little wonder the recent ‘National MH Awareness’ program was and is dead before arrival!

What say you? Let me know via

End Note.

  1. The contemporary trade term ‘independent (street) MHRetailer’ was coined by Iowa-based industry consultant William Carr, soon after the turn of the 21st century.
  • Achilles’ Heel. “From the legend that the Greek hero Achilles was made invulnerable by being dipped in the river Styx by his mother. However, the heel, by which his mother held him when she dipped him, was unprotected.” Webster’s Dictionary.


We recently informed you of the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (and Texas MH Association) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy’s (‘DOE’) manufactured housing energy standards scheduled to be effective as of 31 May 2023. Well, here’s the latest on that matter.

“The DOE is proposing to extend the compliance date for the manufactured housing energy standards until DOE’s future enforcement procedures take effect.” In the case of singlesection MHs this would occur 60 days after publication of DOE’s final enforcement procedures; and 180 days, for multisection MHs. In the meantime, watch for DOEs’ Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (‘NOPR’) to be published in the Federal Register. Then YOU & I have 30 days to submit comments on  the proposal.

Also be aware, MHI is in favor of energy standards proposed by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (‘MHCC’) currently under consideration by HUD – with this response expected by June 2023.

Speaking of MHI; in blog #732 we erroneously referred to MHI’s office address as being in Alexandria, VA.. Its accurate location is in Arlington, VA. Sorry ‘bout that! GFA

Heard of or Read Works by C.S. Lewis?

On Writing (and Writers)’, A Miscellany of Advice & Opinions, edited by David C. Downing. This is a very new book (2022). My interest? I’ve read Christian apologist’ C.S. Lewis writings during much of my adult life, and long respected his intelligence and ‘way with words’.  While most well known for his Narnia Chronicles, he authored 40 other books on a variety of topics. What follows here  are a few of many salient quotes collected here from letters he penned to family, friends, and fans over the years.

“…I would not know how to advise a man how to write. It is a matter of talent and interest. I believe he must be strongly moved I he is to become a writer. Writing is like a ‘lust’, or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.” P.33 (1963)

“What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, as long as we write continually as well as we can.’ P.13 (1916)

‘Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.” P.21 (1916)

“I hope, by the way, you always write by ear not by eye. Every sentence should be tested on the tongue, to make sure that the sound of it has the hardness or softness, the swiftness or languor, which the meaning of it calls for.” P.96 (1957)

And I could go on, but you get the idea. There is a portion of the 191 pages book that focuses on writing for children. Not my passion, but good stuff if it interests you. And C.S. Lewis, in this book, encourages the practice of re-reading books in one’s library. Good advice, but difficult to do when there’re so many new titles out there to read.

And Finally…

My plan is to use blog # 734 (31 March 2023) to share an excerpt from Chapter 12 of ‘My 13 Months in the Republic of South Vietnam during 1968 & 69’ (Culled from 400+ letters sent home). I’ve already shared, in previous blog postings, how we prepared for actual battle in Vietnam; and recently, my (humorous) concerns about poor table manners upon returning home from RVN. This time around, however, the firefight stories are true and serious, not graphic or gruesome – since I was writing home to Carolyn and daughter Susan. Hope you enjoy the read.

Infamous Historic Quote

“My fear is if North Korea nukes us, Trump is gonna get us into a war.” Maxine Waters.

Now, to my way of thinking, that’d be the equivalent of being ‘a day late & a dollar short’.

George Allen, CPM, MHM

March 17, 2023

Alexandria, VA., MHI & Affordable Housing

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 6:00 am

Blog Posting # 732, Copyright 17 March 2023. EducateMHC

Parallel Perspectives. HUD-Code manufactured housing is federally-regulated, performance-based, factory-built housing! And land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities & ‘mobile home parks’) comprise the investment real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC alone is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and text resource for these two business models! To input this blog or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317)881-3815, email, or visit to order Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry (The sole professional property management text in print today!); SWAN SONG, a history of land lease communities and official record of annual MH production totals since 1955; and, my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven – my combat adventures in Vietnam & business career in MH & communities.

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master, Emeritus member of MHI, RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee, and retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines.

Alexandria, VA., MHI & Affordable Housing

Alexandria, VA., is home to the Manufactured Housing Institute. MHI is home to the manufactured housing industry’s perennial national advocacy and lobbying effort to have its’ type factory-built housing, and land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home community) development, accepted in local housing markets nationwide as truly affordable housing!

Alexandria, VA., is home to “A proposed redevelopment property (that) recently died after a yearlong fight.”*1 “The brouhaha…shows how the not-in-my-backyard mindset blocks virtually any increase in housing supply, even those that strive to maintain local character while making relatively modest changes.” (I.e. a four-story mixed-use retail and apartment building)

In this particular Wall Street Journal  OPINION piece, penned by Stephen Ford, its’ ten word title speaks equally well to ongoing land use and rezoning fights waged by manufactured housing and land lease communities, and the recent imbroglio experienced by local developer Bonaventure Real Estate in Alexandria, VA:

‘Yes, There’s a Housing Crisis. No, You Can’t Build Here’

After describing the Alexandria, VA., redevelopment project rejection in detail, the writer concludes, “Until some middle ground can be found between not-in-my-backyard and yes-in-my-backyard, neighborhoods…will keep getting more expensive and less welcoming to newcomers.” The very conundrum also high on the priority list of the Manufactured Housing Institute in Alexandria, VA.

End Note.

  1. Wall Street Journal, OPINION page, Saturday/Sunday, March 4, 2023.

Is the ‘National MH awareness’ Program Dead?

As a volunteer committeeperson working on this program since its’ inception last fall, I have heard nary a word about it since our last zoom call on Thursday afternoon, 23 February 2023.

That is, until I received a telling message from an interested party, combining the dismal MH production figure for the month of January (6,951 units reported by IBTS & MHARR) with said program:

“…four consecutive months of progressively worsening year-over-year production/shipment declines (@23.6 %!), at a time when the need for affordable housing and homeownership stands at record levels.”*1 MHARR

The telling message: This “Reminds me of the definition of insanity.*2 If ever we needed an image/promotion campaign it is NOW!” anonymous

Get the point? If what we’ve been doing, or not doing – as an industry and advocate thereof, year after year after year, to promote HUD-Code manufactured housing and land lease community development, is getting us nowhere, except backwards at present, then collectively we are insane! The solution? Up until this last zoom call, that’s what this committee of volunteers attempted to do – ideate, plan & execute a New National MH Awareness Program.

What’s zoomed wrong of late? Frankly, I’m not sure, though I have an opinion. What I do know, however, is this. Until a working group like this includes some ‘heavy hitters’ (e.g. CEOs of one or more major housing manufacturers and land lease community portfolios), and a charismatic, widely-known leader, as an industry, we are Dead in the Water! And if this august group should materialize soon, I think my earlier suggestion of four meetings during year 2023, rings true: at the Manufactured Housing Congress during April, at the RV/MH Hall of Fame during early August, at the annual SECO Conference in Atlanta during September, and finally, at the Louisville MHShow during January 2024.

What do you think about this matter? As before, let me know your ideas and thoughts via email:

End Notes.

  1. Quoting from MHARR’s News Item dated 3 March 2023, and titled ‘HUD Code Production Decline Worsens in January 2023’
  • Definition of Insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” This quote is misattributed to Albert Einstein.

Is a HUD-Code Manufacturer Shipping New Homes Sans HVAC?

Still researching… awaiting an answer…


“You have a business…you didn’t build that. Someone else did!” Barack Obama

When I first heard and read this amphigorical quote it reminded me of what to expect, all too often, from non-business enterprise types in our society. GFA

March 10, 2023


Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 7:42 am

Blog Posting # 731, Copyright 10 March 2023. EducateMHC

Parallel Perspectives. HUD-Code manufactured housing is federally-regulated, performance-based, factory-built housing! And land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities & ‘mobile home parks’) comprise the investment real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC alone is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and text resource for these two business models! To input this blog or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317)881-3815, email, or visit to order Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry (Sole professional property management text in print today!); SWAN SONG, a history of land lease communities and official record of annual MH production totals since 1955; and, my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven – my combat adventures in Vietnam & business career in MH & communities.

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master, Emeritus member of MHI, RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee, and retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines.


“Would you sell properties in your land lease community portfolio? Working with a private equity group aggressively acquiring communities in your market. They want to know if you’d be interested in selling individual properties, or entertain an offer on the entire portfolio for around $35,000,000 to $40,000,000.?” Yes, that’s the way the real estate broker inquiry read.

In this case, if the entire property portfolio sold for the amount cited – and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t, the resulting ‘sale price per rental homesite’ would be between $70,000 and $80,000. So, how’d you respond?

To paraphrase this owner/operator’s response: “Not interested. Anyone paying that much for these properties would have to dramatically increase site rent for all homeowners/site lessees, and terminate existing staff they could no longer afford – the very people responsible for making these properties worth the purchase price.”

This sort of inquiry, when falling on receptive ears, is the root of a serious issue facing land lease community owners/operators nationwide! How so? For the first time in years, we’re fighting regional landlord-tenant legislation because of exorbitant rental homesite rates.

And not only that, tone deaf ‘new owners’ of said portfolios seem to believe offering scholarships to a few land lease community residents, or children thereof, effectively offsets opposition to rent increases. Not!

Solution? Not everyone will agree, but if new legislation springs from the effects of this latter day business model, perhaps the Traditional 3:1 Ratio Rule of Thumb will prevail in  practice; i.e. average conventional (3BR2B) apartment rent in a given local housing market, divided by three, suggests an equitable rental homesite rent in the same local housing market.

A Sneak Peek at My Life 55 Years Ago

Some of you know I spent most of year 2022, and now into 2023, working on my third writing project since retirement.*1 Since last April, I’ve been transcribing 400+ letters I mailed home to Carolyn from Vietnam in 1968 & 69. I’m 12 chapters and seven of 13 months into it to date.

Chapter 12 is different from preceding ones, as it chronicles what happened to me during February 1969. At that time I was a lieutenant of Marines and executive officer of a line company in the 3rd Shore Party Battalion; and the battalion’s most experienced ‘rigging officer’*2 February turned out to be the most precarious and dangerous month during my 13 months in Vietnam – but not without some comic relief.

This first ‘peek into my life 55 years ago’ describes a serious, albeit humorous, concern; I was having about returning to civilian life in two or three months’ time. Writing to Carolyn…

“Any family dinners of late? I’m increasingly concerned about my table manners when I return home. Yup, you’re probably going to have to teach me all over again, as I eat combat rations using my fingers and a penknife. While I don’t recall making any noticeable faux pas’ while on R&R in Hawaii with you and Susie, I was as nervous as all get out at the time.

“Boy, I can just imagine my first family dinner back at your mother’s or grandmother’s house. All eyes will be upon me! Mouths will be a-gape as I pull out my trusty rusty penknife and commence to saw through the mint jelly-covered leg of lamb. Breaths will be checked as I gingerly finger the meat, pushing a little gravy around with it; and then, dripping gravy and jelly, slurp it into my mouth.

“Of course I haven’t seen real butter in over a year, so I will unceremoniously scrape the contents of the butter dish onto my plate, and commence to have ‘a little bread with my butter.’ I’ll be careful of course, not to squash the freshly-cooked peas as I pluck them from my plate, using my thumb and index finger as pincers.

“I’m afraid your mother will have to put milk into a canteen before I drink it, as I’m not sure I recall what a glass is, let alone how to use one. And of course, at about this point in the meal, the womenfolk will have collectively passed-out from shock and chagrin; and I’ll be just whetting my appetite.

“Are you sure your folks will want me over for dinner when I get home? You’d better warn and ask them.”

Now things did not turn out that way when I got home, but I sure did think through meal protocols before I dined anywhere for a while.

Next ‘sneak peek’ in this blog? Well, late in February I found myself in the Ashau Valley adjacent to the RVN & Laotian borders, tasked with rigging two huge 122mm Russian artillery pieces just captured, for helo-lifting back to Dong Ha forward combat base.*3 That night the NVA launched ground attacks in futile efforts to recapture these trophies. Firefights I certainly will never forget. Today, one of these canons is on public display at the USMC Museum in Quantico, VA. The other one? A fascinating but classified tale for another time, maybe.

End Notes.

  1. First project was my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven. Second, encouraged by our adult children Susan and Adam, was a year-long StoryWorth writing project (Google it), resulting in a 400 pages case bound tome titled Carolyn & George, featuring a couple hundred short stories we penned describing our childhoods, courtship, and life together over 60 years.
  • First half my 13 month tour in RVN I was a combat engineer platoon commander with the 11th Engineer Battalion, building bunkers, clearing road mines, and more. Last half the tour I was executive officer, then commanding officer, of a shore party company. My specialty? Rigging 105 & 155mm howitzers, bulldozers, generators, and other exterior loads, via cargo nets and nylon straps, for helicopter-lifting to and from fire support bases throughout Leatherneck Square in northwest region of South Vietnam.
  • These were two of the 12 such artillery pieces captured during Operation Dewey Canyon (Google Operation Dewey Canyon for online videos of this battle). While 10 of the cannons were spiked (destroyed by the enemy by rupturing their barrels) before capture, the two I rigged and flew intact back to Dong Ha were the two largest enemy weapons captured during the entire Vietnam conflict.


A friend recently sent me a list of 20 significant statements made by well-known individuals. I plan to include just one of them at the end of the next several weekly blog postings….

“We just have to pass Obama’s Healthcare bill to see what’s in it.” Nancy Pelosi. To which one doctor is said to have replied, “That is also the perfect definition of a stool sample.”

SECO 2023

10 – 13 September 2023 in Atlanta, GA. More information to follow! See you there? Hope so!

March 6, 2023

The ‘Five Ls’ of Housing* Non-affordability

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 7:40 am

Blog Posting # 730, Copyright 3 March 2023. EducateMHC

Parallel Perspectives. HUD-Code manufactured housing is federally-regulated, performance-based, factory-built housing! And land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities & ‘mobile home parks’) comprise the investment real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC alone is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and text resource for these two business models! To input this blog or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815, email, or visit to order Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry (sole MH professional property management text available today); SWAN SONG, a history of land lease communities & official record of annual MH production totals since 1955; and, my autobiography, from SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven – my combat adventures in Vietnam, & business career in MH & communities.

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master, Emeritus member of MHI, RV/MH Hall of Fame Inductee, and retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines.

The ‘Five Ls’ of Housing* Non-affordability

National Association of Home Builders (‘NAHB’) chief economist Robert Dietz says “…the real estate market is facing a ‘structural deficit’…caused by a shortfall in what he calls the ‘five Ls’: labor, lumber, locks, lending, and legal burdens.” Specifically, 1) a persistent skilled labor shortage, 2) fluctuating raw material costs, 3) increasingly expensive OEM appliances and parts, 4) rising interest rates on housing loans, and 5) large regulatory cost burden.

According to a National Association of Realtors (‘NAR’) spokesperson, (Housing) “supplies have declined to near-record lows, falling below one million units in December 2022….As a result, the U.S. is estimated to face a shortage of 3.8 million to five million homes, and that figure is growing.” Why? According to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), “Combined sky-high rents with higher home prices with rising interest rates with too few homes on the market.” How high rents?, in December, found the “…median monthly rent increased by 4.77 percent year-over-year to $1,978.” And when we apply the traditional 3:1 Rule of Thumb, for estimating land lease community rental homesite rates in any local housing market (In this case, using the national average), we calculate $690.00/month as a possible reference point.

A final related thought on the subject. “…many of the challenges facing the national real estate market also include the 1) age of housing stock, 2) the pressing need for energy retrofits and 3) residential properties that address seniors’ mobility needs.”

End Note. This material quoted from the 15-21 February 2023 issue of THE EPOCH TIMES, in an article titled ‘Affordability is ‘Greatest Challenge’ in Housing market: Experts’, on page A3.

Are you reading THE EPOCH TIMES ? You should be. Unlike most other secular news media platforms, this weekly newspaper eschews liberal political views espoused elsewhere and simply reports the Big Picture news, with details, ‘thinking readers’ value!

‘National MH Awareness’ Program Update

Eight interested parties met via a Zoom call from 4PM till 5:30PM, the afternoon of 23 February 2023. The group was comprised of four association executives, two freelance consultants, one corporate manager, and one retiree (me).

While we had been instructed beforehand, by ad hoc leader Ken Corbin, to come to this meeting with specific objectives in mind to share with the group – this did not happen. Rather, consensus was that, to date, we have no clear vision as to the nature and direction of a National MH Awareness program, and no present plans on how to arrive at that point.

After much discussion, it was clear the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) already has resources in place to help state associations and members improve home marketing, land use planning, and combating local regulatory barriers to affordable housing. Concern was expressed that the work of this group might unnecessarily duplicate and lessen the efficacy of MHI’s efforts.

Two positive opportunities, relative to National MH Awareness, were described. Dr. Lesli Gooch of MHI has been invited to address the National Housing Conference, with emphasis on manufactured housing. And is working with 15 state associations to enhance their online presence. The unasked question, in my mind, was “Why aren’t all state MH associations on board to improve their representation of manufactured housing and land lease communities nationwide?

What’s next for this group? Here’s my thinking on the subject. Disband the group and start over; or, let time pass and see who ‘steps up to the plate’ to inspire and lead the next iteration of a National MH Awareness program. In my opinion, if and when the process begins anew, it should be led by a widely-known and charismatic manufactured housing executive (e.g. from one of the Big Three-C HUD-Code manufacturing firms) – or if they’re not interested, be sensitive to the presence of such an individual on the national scene. Then, restrict group size to a dozen members, with majority being bona fide business owners (e.g. independent-street-MHRetailers & land lease community owners/operators), along with a representative from MHI staff, and a couple state MH associations. Plan four in-person public meetings for this group, 1) at the annual MHCongress in the spring, 2) RV/MH Hall of Fame induction banquet during the summer, 3) SECO conference in the fall, and 4) Louisville MHShow mid-winter. Make this an industry-wide event! Though more difficult to control, it facilitates ‘buy in’ by everyone associated with manufactured housing and its’ sectors.

‘Mobile Home Freedom Program’

There’s a new manufactured housing relocation and placement program in Michigan! The ‘Mobile Home Freedom Program’ is sponsored by Mobile Home Freedom, a non-profit organization, led by Martin Boisture (810) 397-0946.

First off; just penning the above title and opening sentence rubs me wrong. Unless there’s a good reason (Like wording mandated by resource documents – as in this case), I prefer to speak and write about manufactured housing, NOT ‘mobile homes’. So, with that said….

Here’re some select passages from a colorful brochure distributed by Mobile Home Freedom, with this attention-grabbing headline: “IF THE PARK YOU LIVE IN JACKED YOUR RENT UP A CRAZY AMOUNT, FOR NO REASON, MOVE!” And then the sales pitch begins…

“Helping Mobile Home owners to have the FREEDOM to live where they want.”

“…we can bring valued seasoned residents to your (land lease) community to fill your vacant sites and homes.”

“Our (Mobile Home Freedom) program allows homeowners and renters to partner with one of our participating MH communities.”

Options described by Mobile Home Freedom?

1. “When you add up the TOTAL COST of filling one of your vacant sites with a new home in MI, ready to sell or rent, the cost will be at a minimum of $60 per sq. ft.” Would like to see the documentation and calculations that led to this conclusion.

2. “Bringing (in) a pre-owned home, ready to sell or rent, the cost will be approximately $30 per sq. ft.” Hmm. Same editorial comment. Single or multi-section resale home?

3. “The Mobile Home Freedom Program can facilitate the move of an owner-occupied home on to one of your vacant sites, the cost will be approximately $12 per sq. ft.”

“We also facilitate moving residents who are currently renting homes in other communities to your communities. They are great prospects not only to rent your homes, but also to purchase your homes.” This sounds like raiding lessees in one community and sending them to another.

And finally, this caveat couched as exclusivity. “If your community is interested in applying to participate in the MOBILE HOME FREEDOM PROGRAM, please contact us. There will be a limited number of participating communities per each geographic area.” Hmm. Wonder how that exclusive selection will be made?

This is One Pithy Sentence About MH!

In a recent communique from the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’), dated 23 February 2023, titled: ‘Latest Wake-up Calls for the Industry on consumer Financing & Discriminatory Zoning’, Mark Weiss pens, in part:

“…affordable HUD-Code manufactured housing cannot fulfill its’ statutorily-recognized role as a prime source of affordable homeownership so long as new (land lease) communities cannot be developed and new homes cannot be financed, due to continuing zoning and consumer financing discrimination that is already prohibited by federal law….”

Well put Mark. In my opinion, everyone with personal and corporate interest in manufactured housing and land lease community business models should memorize the above sentence, then make it a point to read the entire communique – available via (202) 783-4087 and

Remember, as an industry, we only produced and shipped 112,886 new HUD-Code homes during year 2022. This was the highest level since year 2007 or 15 years ago, when we produced and shipped 96,769+/- new MHs. Why the (+/-) notation? To acknowledge MHI calculates annual MH production and shipment totals different than everyone else. Since year 2013 however, annual figures like these have been verified using Institute of Business Technology & Science (‘IBTS’) data paid for by HUD.


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