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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Christmas at Cu Chi

November
8

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.

vietxmas.jpg

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.

Download:

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007 at 11:00 am by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Vietnam veterans, Vietnam veterans

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2 Responses to “Christmas at Cu Chi”

  1. Return to Vietnam » Blog Archive » ‘God Bless Bob Hope’

    [...] A veteran, his daughter, their journey « Christmas at Cu Chi [...]

  2. Jim M

    Between the birthday cake and Xmas food, I never got anything that wasn’t in multiple pieces… remember the C-130s or 119s…. they’d open their ramps and skids would slide onto the PSP runway and the planes would taxi, U-turn and take off w/out stopping. Then you found out that most food was originally sent by water… my buddies sent pizza from the neighborhood that would have green fuzz on the edges after 30+ days at sea… still worth fighting over to get a slice. My neighbor, Mrs. Natale sent me pastelles and she did something special to the to make them chewy so they were the star attraction at Xmas ‘67. And, as I remember, 33% of our daily discourse revolved around food… My whole team loved Mrs. Natale.

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About this blog
"Return to Vietnam" chronicles the journey of Col. Andonios Neroulias USA (Ret.) of Briarcliff Manor, NY, joined by his daughter, staff writer Nicole Neroulias, to the country he fought in 40 years ago. They are traveling with Vietnam veterans and Rotarians from Rockland County and other parts of the country. Check this blog for daily posts, photos, recordings and slideshows about their experiences.
About the authors
Nicole and Andonios Neroulias

Nicole Neroulias grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY, and graduated from Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has covered religion and city news in Cyprus, Connecticut and California, where she earned several fellowships and prizes, including a national Religion Newswriters Association award. She joined The Journal News in early 2007 and also teaches journalism at Columbia.

Col. Andonios Neroulias emigrated from Greece in 1956 and was commissioned an officer through the ROTC program of the City College of NY. From 1967-68, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division, whose main base was in Cu Chi, known for its intricate Viet Cong tunnels. Among his military awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY.
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