No. 92: Visit Vietnam

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No. 92:  Visit Vietnam


                There is no question that Vietnam holds a beauty unique to it and it alone.  In my opinion, everyone should want to explore Hanoi, the Ha long Bay, Saigon and the Mekong Delta.  Yet, none of these are why Vietnam is on my list.  You see, this country is intricately and infamously linked with my own.  Some call it a war, some call it a conflict and many call it a mistake.  From 1970-71, my dad called it his duty.  He was a gunner on a gun truck called the “Iron Butterfly.” 

                Last August my family had a rummage sale.  A gentleman that was browsing came across a box that had the patches my father wore on his uniform in Vietnam.  The patches weren’t for sale, but the guy made an offer of $25.  I happened to be there and told my mom that they shouldn’t be sold because Dad wasn’t there to speak for them.  She opted to call him and he said he’d entertain an offer.  I made it very clear that whatever this guy offered, I would outbid.  If my Dad wasn’t going to hold on to these patches, I was.  In no way or form was I going to let some stranger buy a part of history that I yearned to learn more about.  In the end, my father opted not to sell them.  He’ll hold on to them and then they’ll be passed down to me. 

                I grew up under the impression that my Dad’s time in Vietnam was something you didn’t ask him about.  For a long time I was afraid to even mention it.  I think it was my mother who told us not to ask my father about anything from his year over there.  I knew that my town lost one son to the war in Vietnam.  He was only 20 years old and had graduated high school with my father.  They were two in a class of around 40.  I went to school with the nephews of the kid who didn’t make it back.  One of them was the spitting image of his uncle.  As I got older, I discovered that my Dad’s love of history included the Vietnam War.  For Christmas and/or birthdays, I would buy him books and movies, but yet, we never talked.  While we have yet to talk about his experiences, we’ve started talking a little bit here and a little bit there.  He’s even added a “Vietnam Gunner” bumper sticker to his truck.  I now know that it is no longer a taboo subject, but I also know not to push it.  Part of me wonders if I’m really afraid to hear what all he’ll have to say. 

                My Dad has indicated that he wouldn’t mind going back to Vietnam.  I hope it is a trip that I can take with him.  Until then, I’ll ask a couple more questions, listen to a few more answers and wait to cross number 92 off of my list. 

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The Iron Butterfly
The Iron Butterfly
photo by: DCBackpacker