Christmas at Cu Chi
Like Ed Frank, most Vietnam veterans I’ve talked to have interesting birthday/holiday stories about the war. Dan Griffin, executive director of Westchester County’s Vietnam Veterans of America, has a good one about a light-up Christmas tree his family sent him, which soldiers took turns looking at on Christmas Eve by going into a muddy foxhole, one by one. (The light would have alerted the Viet Cong to their position.) He gave the tree to a random helicopter pilot resupplying them on Christmas Day; decades later, he found the pilot again when the guy randomly shared the story at a veterans’ event!
My father had been in Vietnam for nine months when he “celebrated” Christmas at Cu Chi. His sister sent him three miniature Santa Claus figures and a small tree, which he put on top of his desk at the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Replacements School.
It wasn’t much of a Merry Christmas, of course. Click the audio link below to hear the letter my father wrote to a friend, describing his feelings about observing the holiday while fighting in the Vietnam War.