Ha Tinh Vietnamese Soldiers

In 2013 I met Thu the daughter of Hao while I was in Ha Noi. She was very curious about me when she met me and found out I was an American Soldier. We had long conversations about my life during the war and my work in Vietnam after the war. She had heard many stories about the war from her father and his friends who came to their home. After our first meeting she talked to her parents about our conversations and what I was doing now for the children of Vietnam . We communicated by email and I helped her with some English language grammar. We met a few more times in next two years. In messages she started to refer to me as “Daddy” and asked me if it was okay for her to call me daddy. She told her parents that she called me daddy. Her Mom told her to love me the same way she loved them. I told Thu I wanted to meet her parents and they invited me to come to their home.

It was an amazing experience for me living in their home and village which is very simple any where everyone is a rice farmer. Villagers heard about my visit and would come to Thu’s home and invite us to visit their homes. We had fruit and vegetables from their garden every meal.

There were many stories told by the veterans about their time during the war. Some of them suffered from the affects of being exposed to Agent Orange and were unable to have children. One Veteran asked me “What was the purpose of the USA coming to Vietnam”?  Some Veterans said they did not want to fight in the war but they were drafted to fight by their government .

Veterans of the wars know the truth about war. We have suffered the same. Our families and friends have suffered because of what it took away from us. We came home but something was missing. Something died deep inside us. We just want to pay the fine and go home but its not that easy. We have to forgive our enemy , our government  and most of all ourselves. Meeting former soldiers of Vietnam is a special experience for me. Looking them in the eye and shaking hands and hugging. We are saying its over we can be friends now. You can live under my roof and eat my food and I trust my daughter that you are a good person. Hao and his wife were gracious and generous hosts and invited me back for the TET holiday  in 2016.

This photo was taken at the home of Major General Hao Dinh Nguyen in Ha Tinh. I lived in his home with his family for one week in May 2015.

IMG_8591Hao lived inside the Phong Nha cave for one year during the war. They stored military supplies in the cave that were transferred to Quang Tri and the DMZ.( Demilitarized Zone) which divided the north and south of Vietnam.IMG_3063Hai Nguyen brother of Hoa and a Veteran of the war.
IMG_3076Thuong lives in Ha Tinh and is good friends with Hao and a Veteran of the war.IMG_3073Hao is 66 years old and is still able to climb coconut trees.IMG_3078

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