The author stops for a photo on Hill 37, home of the Third Battalion of the First Marines in 1969, 20 miles southwest of Da Nang. The photo he is holding is of his father’s unit on the same hill. (Bob Shaw)
The historical trip to Vietnam by a group of US Marine veterans coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Marines landing in Vietnam.
One of the group’s tour guides was Chuck Meadows – the captain who led the first Marines across the Perfume River to the ramparts of the massive Citadel on the first day of the lunar New Year festival (Tet) offensive.
In the article, the author revealed the reason why he wanted to make a tour of Vietnam during which he visited historical places of interest such as the capital city of Hanoi, the central city of Hue and the Khe Sanh combat base.
“We loved the city of Hue, the historic cultural, educational and imperial capital of Vietnam. The core city is mostly unchanged from the war days and bustling with activity,” the author said.
Cultural connection or disconnect was also touched upon in his article: “Vietnamese people love Americans. The dollar is the only currency I used, our music is omnipresent, and English is taught from the fourth grade on.”
“Dozens of schoolchildren approached us to practice English and share their huge admiration of the United States. The veterans in our group were stunned by the friendliness of the people.”
What amazed him most was the large number of motor scooters darting around.
“Everyone visiting Vietnam is amazed by the number of motor scooters darting around. Hanoi, a city of more than six million people, has over four million, and the photos of the scooters carrying families, farm animals and deliveries were priceless.”
The author expressed his admiration for how diligent the Vietnamese people are.
“I was surprised by how industrious the Vietnamese people are. Rice farming is a massive amount of work, but everyone in Vietnam always seems to be multi-tasking. Each student seems to have two to three side jobs,” he said.
The author also talked about his fondest memento with his dad, “In the basement of our home when I was growing up in Dale City was a photo of my father’s battalion leadership in front of an old French fort. I’ll treasure the photo of my dad’s unit and me in front of that fort.”
“Now, I tell everyone to visit Vietnam to see the most beautiful country on Earth, full of vibrant, hardworking people with a bright future,” he added.
American GI’s photos capture the other side of war
VOV/The Washington Post