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Vihn, a Vietnamese Vet

by nate on October 6, 2009

This is Vihn. A 65 year old Vietnamese Vet. He led us around the DMZ for a day and shared with us his story and perspective.

Vihn was 18, living in Hue south Vietnam when the US involvement escalated and he joined the American forces as an interpreter. From 1965-1975, Vihn worked directly with top military officials, transcribing thousands of top secret documents for men such as General Westmoreland, and Colin Powell.

He witnessed My Lai Massacre, as an entire village was slaughtered without cause by American troops, a turning point for support of the war. He was also with the American troops as they tried to pass through “Horrible Highway” a fleeing route for many South Vietnamese from Dong Ha in 1972, which was heavily attacked by the North and thousands were killed. He did not speak much of these memories, and it didn’t seem appropriate to ask too many questions as he continued to chain smoke his cigarettes, and stare off in the distance.

We asked his about life after the war, in which he told us about his 6 months in a detainee camp. It was hard labor, deep in the jungle. The detainees had to support themselves, by cultivating the land during those months. He kept quiet about his US involvement to stay alive. “No English. No complaints.” was Vihn’s survival technique. He was released early (typically 3 years)  for good behavior, after signing papers and making an oath to be a good citizen.

The city of Hue is beautiful now, but was bombed by all, as it kept changing hands during the war. Here ‘s  a news clip from 1968.

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