Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Memories Of Vietnam

Most of what you'll encounter on this site deals with piracy and maritime security, but I've spent decades traversing the globe as a journalist, filmmaker and gadfly, exploring all manner of things. In the course of those travels, I've been honoured to meet a number of people with whom I've kept in touch over the years, something that isn't always easy. Today I received word from one of those individuals that his father has died after a long battle with cancer. This colleague - he wasn't really a close friend - is Vietnamese-Canadian, born here after his parents fled their homeland during the Boat People exodus. His family came from just outside Hué, and his dad was a major in the ARVN who saw, I'm told, a lot of action. I only met the man once, many years ago, and was surprised at how little animosity he bore the foes he once battled, even though they were his own people.

In this man's honour, I present a few images from my time spent in Vietnam almost a decade ago. I was in Quang Tri Province at the time, filming a documentary around sites like Khe Sanh, the Rockpile, A Luoi , the A Shau Valley, Dong Ha, Ben Hai and Vinh Moc. Unbeknownst at the time, I was driving past his youthful stomping grounds each day, as I went back and forth to my hotel in Hué. I have never forgotten the beauty of a peaceful Vietnam nor its diverse peoples, or the unique way they dealt with a 10,000 day war. Which is different from other nations, such as Canada, from which about 30,000 left to fight in Vietnam, including a brother-in-law.

But I'd rather remember this man's homeland berefit of conflict. May he rest in peace.

On the ferry over the Perfume River

Kids near Khe Sanh (note old dog tags worn on left)

Wartime detritus salvaged by locals near Khe Sanh

UXO clearance on the Ben Hai River

Monument at the Truong Son National Cemetary

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