Vietnam Vet

Old Apr 5th, 2008, 08:55 PM
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Vietnam Vet

Taking my dad to Vietnam (he's 73) so he can revisit some of the places he knew during his two tours in the war. One of his friends (Vietnamese American) told him he should wear his Vietnam Veteran cap while in HCMC. He said they love to see US vets return.

I told pop that I don't think that's such a good idea. It's obvious that we're American and there's no call to advertise that he fought in the war.

Thoughts or experiences along these lines???

thanks in advance.

type to you later....
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Old Apr 5th, 2008, 09:02 PM
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We visited Vietnam 5 years ago and were amazed how they Love
Americans!! Once when we were visiting an historical site a group of young students surrounded us with smiles and questions. Our guide told us that that would not have happened if we were Europeans.

Even thought they refer to it as "The American War" the guides told us that we are people like them.
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Old Apr 5th, 2008, 09:19 PM
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Very interesting 'impacked'. I heard that the Vietnamese people were very friendly and to be honest, it sure would be nice to make some new friends. Most trips abroad find me explaining my position on US politics before being considered a friend or ... not.

It's always exciting and I LOVE traveling!!

type to you later....
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Old Apr 6th, 2008, 12:59 AM
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I guess in going back to Vietnam there will be both good and bad memories for your dad - the same as I would guess that for people in HCMC there would be good and bad memories in seeing such a cap. So, I think maybe the cap is better left, not because you're American but because many different people live in HCMC now - people from North Vietnam doing business etc who may have different memories. Who am I to say, but maybe its best to just go and enjoy your travel without badging youselves as anything other than people coming to see a country that one of you once knew but that will now have changed quite a lot too.
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Old Apr 6th, 2008, 01:40 AM
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Agree with janey. And it won't be just northerners with memories - as your father would know, the Viet Cong cadres were almost all southerners, many from Saigon. The Vietnamese are a courteous people and treat people as they find them, irrespective of nationality. I'm guessing here, but if Europeans have a problem it may be because of the stand-offish behaviour of some French tourists.

Many Australian vets have returned and quite a few have ended up sharing a few beers with old VC vets.
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Old Apr 6th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Blessed,

After reading the previous posts - I do a agree with them that perhaps he should leave his cap but not his feelings behind.

I also wanted to tell you that after visiting the "American War Museum" I walked out because it was too emotional and left my husband inside. When he came out he found me having a great conversation with some locals (even after they realized I was American and had to leave the bloody pics.)

I'm sure you and your Dad will have a great vist.
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Old Apr 6th, 2008, 09:03 AM
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I'd leave the hat at home. People will know pretty quickly that you are American. Leaving the hat off means your father can disclose that he fought in VN when and to whom he wants, rather than advertising the fact.

I was interested that in Hanoi, a number of VN pointed out to me businesses that were owned by returning (American) VN vets.

Anticipate that your father may have many emotional reactions to returning to VN. Has he been treated for PTSD? If he has, I'd suggest that he talk with his therapist about his return. If he hasn't, he might want to contact his nearest Vet Center to talk about his trip. For those who are emotionally prepared, the trip to VN can be enormously healing. For those who are not prepared, the emotions can be disturbing and overwhelming.

Also, there are some things your father may prefer not to see - photos of war atrocities, chunks of shot-down planes, etc that are in some museums.
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Old Apr 6th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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I would leave the hat at home,although Vietnamese are very friendly. It is a country of young people who don't have many memories of the war or are busy living their lives in the present. I found only 1 old gentleman in Hanoi when told by his granddaughter I was an American who did not seem too happy to greet me.
I found many young people wanting to practice their English and telling me what they knew about our country.
I made a trip with a veteran-a helicopter pilot in the war- on my 2nd visit there. It was a difficult trip for him I could sense at times. We were able to go to exact places he was based which was a real experience for him and me. We did not visit the War Remanant Museum in Saigon which I found even disturbing to me on my first trip.
A lovely country with wonderful people. Sure your dad will enjoy this visit.
Always interested after returns especially to hear how veterans found the country.
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Old Apr 24th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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FYI folks,
Just so you know, my dad did NOT take his veteran cap. We had a really nice time and spent all 10 days in Saigon. We met many expats that work there or were visiting there. Quite a few were vets from the war - Americans and Aussies alike. Pop didn't have any trouble with memories - he was a medic on his two tours during the war - and we found where he used to live and work. With our guide, we talked to just about every 'old' person in the neighborhood he lived in the war and actually found some folks that remembered his old land lord and some of his good Vietnamese friends that he had when he was there so many years ago. Pop really got a thrill out of that. We visited the war museum and dad did an amazing job of keeping his cool. 'to the victor go the spoils and the victors get to write history as THEY see fit' One of our guides on the trip to the Cu Chi tunnels gave the standard "North Vietnamese" history and quickly became enamored with my dad and me. There didn't seem to be many other black americans there besides the two of us and once folks (VN) learned that dad was a vet, they really wanted him to tell his story and how things 'really' were. Our guide had many side conversations with us and admitted that his dad was South Vietnamese and fought alongside US soldiers and spent three years in the 're-education' camps after the war. Our guide also told us of his education and the huge disparity between the stories from his father and the 'history' he learned in school about the war. He knew that atrocities occured on both sides of that war - of any war. Smart young man. In any case, the other members on the tour found out that dad was very familiar with the Cu Chi tunnels first hand back during the war and then pop became the guy that was asked many questions. I think dad really liked being able to tell his side of what happened to him and his fellow soldiers. All was done with respect and dignity and without hatred and malice. I was pretty darn proud of my pop. (He's 73 and I'm 46)

We did meet another American that always wore his vet cap and he comes over to VN every year and spends about one month each time. Of course, I hit some interesting night spots and met expats and VN locals alike. Dad was tired and went to bet around 9ish and I went out til about 2ish or so most nights. What a fun city for a guy that wants to get out and explore the night life WITHOUT taking the young ladies up on their offers of 'friendly service'. Amazing to me how many people do that though. Chalk that up to being naive. I just don't get that whole activity and how common it is. It just isn't my bag. With a loving wife at home in the US waiting for me, I just can't partake.

Thanks again for your comments and support. My wife and I are going back next year and will visit Saigon, Nha Trang, (Hanoi) HaLong Bay and Angkor Wat. We can't wait!!!

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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 06:56 AM
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I'm so delighted that you and your father had a great time in VN. How wonderful for your father to have that experience. I'm glad he had the opportunity to talk with VN people and to re-visit places.
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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 07:16 AM
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It sounds like you both had a wonderful time - brilliant!
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 09:12 AM
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Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about the trip. As an American going for my first trip to Vietnam (and Cambodia) it has brought up lots of memories of the war years and prompted a lot more reading -- even if I lived through the time.
If your father hasn't read Nelson de Mille's "Up Country" he might really enjoy it. It was rcommended on either this forum or Trip Advisor and was a great read (in "thriller" form) about a veteran returning to Vietnam.
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Old May 10th, 2008, 04:31 PM
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WONDERFUL trip report. Thank you. You truly are blessed!
For vets and people interested in the feelings of a returning soldier, i'd recommedn "Lost Soldiers" by the wonderful historical novelist--and now US Senator--James Webb.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 04:56 AM
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Thanks for sharing with us. I am always interested how vets respond to Vietnam. Not everyone is as positive as your dad, but then people are different personalities with various experiences.
Happy to find you enjoyed this trip so much you will go back.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 06:23 AM
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When I visited Vietnam two years ago a common statement from Vietnamese was 'we can forgive but we can't forget'. I found it a very mature attitude considering what was done to their country.

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