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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

The cycle of life: peace, war, peace, war, peace…

November
29

A motorcycle is the best way to get around Ho Chi Minh City’s buzzing streets. My father and I experienced this for ourselves, courtesy of Bao Anh, Vietnam veteran Bernie Duff’s girlfriend and partner in humanitarian work. Hurtling through the crowds, ankle to ankle with other riders, dodging the random pedestrians, bicyclists, taxis and trucks crossing our traffic signal-less paths … was an exhilarating experience. Somehow, we didn’t see a single crash; all the drivers seem to know just what the other motorists are going to do, though we rarely saw anyone checking a mirror or even wearing a helmet.

It’s like swimming with the sharks – on the back of a shark. Then again, maybe it’s what tourists think when they see Grand Central Terminal during rush hour.

Short-term adrenaline rush aside, it surely amazed my father’s 24-year-old ghost to see him, 40 years later, grinning his head off on the back of a motorcycle expertly steered by the daughter of a North Vietnamese military officer!

bababike1.jpg

Another interesting aspect of this ride, however, is that it also brought one of his Greek Civil War stories full circle:

“When I was about five years old, I spent the summer at the mineral spas in Kaiafa, where my mother used to work as a maid. A local policeman would come around every day on his bicycle, and put me on the front and give me a ride around the hotels. It was a special treat.

One day, he didn’t show up. After a few days, I asked why. They told me he had been killed by Communist guerrillas.”

My father doesn’t remember this policeman’s name, but says he’ll never forget how much fun those bicycle rides were … almost as much fun as riding on Bao Anh’s motorcycle.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 at 8:15 pm 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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3 Responses to “The cycle of life: peace, war, peace, war, peace…”

  1. Andonios Neroulias

    I hope one of these days to learn how to ride a bicycle, and this way stop depending on others to give me a ride. I guess it is never too late to learn new tricks.

  2. Boink Blogs

    [...] cycle of life: peace, war, peace, war, peace… Nicole Neroulias put an intriguing blog post on The cycle of life: peace, war, peace, war, [...]

  3. Doc Bernie Duff

    Bao Anh is so proud of this picture! She was very happy each minute spent with you and your Dad, Nicole, as was I. We look forward to your next visit now!!

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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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