Public Comment

New: Letters

Thursday September 22, 2011 - 06:34:00 PM

Conn Hallinan's Article 

I would add "the domino effect" to Mr. Hallinan's lists of war phrases: "If Vietnam falls to the communists, all of Southeast Asia will fall." I was a U.S. Army officer stationed in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive mentioned in the article. In 2006, I returned to Vietnam with my wife for a visit. (We also visited Cambodia and Laos.) Each of our Vietnamese guides asked if this was our first trip to Vietnam. I said I was here during the war. Our Saigon guide told us that he was in the South Vietnam army and was stationed with the U.S. Marines in Danang. After the U.S defeat, he tried twice to escape, but was caught both times. He spent 2-1/2 years in prison. Now he is an independent tour guide. He then proceeded to point out all the sites of the U.S. occupation, most of which were demolished torn to build office buildings and housing. Our Hue/Hoi An guide asked me if I had left any children behind. A bit of an indelicate question, especially in front of my wife. I said no. Later we learned that he would have offered to assist in finding these children if I had said yes. Our Hanoi/Halong Bay guide told us her father was in the North Vietnamese army and lost his leg in a landmine explosion. He still suffers pain. It seems a lot of Americans, French, and Australians come back to the scene of our collective misadventures. Vietnam even offers tours to important war sites, such as the DMZ, the Cu Chi tunnels, and the so called Hanoi Hilton where Senator Bill McCain spent seven years. And no, all of Southeast Asia did not fall after our defeat. 

Ralph E. Stone