Get to Know My Family
My son was born two months early and weighed just over 3 pounds. He is named after my brother Craig. My nose and lips are as big as head. His little arms were the size of my fingers.
The nurses were so kind and thoughtful to Carol and myself. Craig was in intensive care sleeping in an incubator. They taped pictures of fish and outdoor activities on the outside of the plastic bubble to the machine. One of them bought him a little plastic fishing pole.
VIETNAM VISIT 2002
I was reading the book Semper Fi Vietnam thirty-three years after Craig was killed in Vietnam. Towards the end of the book, it described the battle that claimed my brother. It pointed out the longitude and latitude. I was shocked! In an instant the decision was made to go to this very spot in Vietnam where my brother was killed over 3 decades ago.
Upon arriving in Vietnam, I very quickly discovered how wrong I was for the past 30+ years. I was ashamed of my hatred for these people that I did not know or understand. I soon saw that they are beautiful, happy people and yet one of the poorest on earth.
I visited several orphanages while touring Vietnam. I had stashed cash through clothing in my luggage when packing for the trip, as I was way beyond the legal limit to enter the country. No one at customs ever found it. My plan was to gift this money to children orphanages. I learned that the Catholic run orphanages would use the money for the children. The government run orphanages was a different story. Any money I gifted would most likely go in someones pocket and never reach the children.
When I met the Sister in charge, at each orphanage I visited, we usually would tour their facility. I then would present them with the cash, usually $1,000 to $1,500 for each one I visited. The reactions where always way beyond my expectations. These angels on earth would kiss my hand and bow so gracefully. It actually embarrass me to a degree as these Sisters were far worthier then me. They were so humble and thankful for the gift.
The Mountain People: My Heroes!
I had read about “The Mountain People” of Vietnam. The Montagnard people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam lived in the mountains and hills and were very tough people. These tribes of warriors fought side by side with our military foot soldiers. The reports were that our soldiers admired their toughness and the veracity in which they fought the war.
I set off early one day to find a tribe of Montagnards in the hills. I flipped one of my interpreters $40 the previous day and asked him to go get me some candy. He came back with a huge amount of candy. We had to hire two more men to pack it up in the mountains with us on our trek.
Make notice of the old women in her hut. When I took this photo it was very dark inside her home and I did not see all of the children behind her. When I got back to the U.S and was looking through the snapshots I discovered this. Look at their faces and expressions.
We are helping the chief hand out candy. I prepared a speech for these people about their family and ancestors who fought in the war. It was reported that nearly 50% of their fighting soldiers died. I told them that the US soldiers admire and honor their courage and toughness. I went on to thank them, that coming and meeting them was very important to me. Every few sentences I paused so my translator could recite my message. At the end of my talk all were cheering and clapping with big smiles. I recall the very proud looks and expressions on their faces. The entire attitude and demeanor escalated to a festive celebration.
I spent several hours in the morning with these people and sure did learn a lot. It was time to say our goodbyes and my interpreter informed me the chief wanted to me to be the guest of honor at their dinner that night. I was deeply touch and accepted. Shortly after my acceptance I heard this god awful screeching and squealing. Here comes two men packing a pig in a cone shaped basket with a board across his back side that was keeping him in the container.
They handed the chief a long thin knife and held an old metal pan under the pigs throat and with a quick surgeon like movement he stick the pig and the blood flowed from the pig into the pan. Not a drop missed the target. An entire team moved in and in very short order it was processed and cooking in a pit with coals and wet leafs. They cooked our pork dinner for several hours as it steamed under the leafy material. It reminded very much of a Hawaiian luau.
I recall they washed the intestines out and stuffed them, like a sausage, with a mixture of rice, seasoning’s and the blood that had been caught by the pan.
Everyone got a small piece of pork, rice, and some type of green vegetable.
Main meeting center for the community of Mountain People. The buildings were built on stilts for when the rains came and to protect the residences at night from the tigers prowling at night.
My conclusion was that the Vietnam War was a travesty. The Americans citizens were conned into believing that communism was taking over the world and was a major threat. This was successfully came from our own government politicians who was in the pocket of big business for weapons, arms and munitions. North Vietnam nor communism were not taking over the world. It is of my opinion that South Vietnam was the “bread belt” for the entire country and the North needed the South to supply the food for all the Vietnamese.
This war killed over 58,000 of our boys and wounding many more. Lets not forget the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that gave their lives. The entire country was bombed to hell and back. It was a senseless act of brutality. It is my opinion that this was was not over Communism but actually over the profit of war for certain companies in the USA and the benefit of certain politicians.
Looking back now, as it has been fifty years and communism is not flourishing, but actually declining. It is crumbling slowly and does not carry near the fear it did as when I was a child.
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