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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Archive for December, 2007

Once more, with feeling

December
28

Edited 4/15: Based on a lot of feedback we’ve gotten from readers just discovering this blog, I’ve now formatted it so that all the entries are on this page; no need to click “Previous Entries” anymore – just keep scrolling down to read the whole thing.

Edited 2/18: We’ve just launched a permanent veterans affairs blog, “At Ease!” Click here to visit it.

I wanted to wrap up this blog with one last slideshow, more or less summarizing our father-daughter, veteran-journalist return to Vietnam last month.

I’d like to keep covering military and veterans issues, so keep an eye on LoHud.com next year for a permanent blog. In the meantime, Return to Vietnam will remain online, so you can keep posting comments or sending in suggestions for future coverage. Readers can also revisit The Journal News editorial and six stories about our journey by clicking on the headlines listed under the Links menu on the right-hand side of this screen as you scroll down through the previous entries.

Thanks for following along.

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Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 4:09 pm |
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Jennifer Weaver’s return from Vietnam

December
27

I recently heard from Jennifer Weaver, the 22-year-old woman who had decided to stay on as a volunteer at the Go Vap Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City after her parents and the rest of her humanitarian tour group returned to Seattle. She’s back home now, and here’s what she’d like Americans to know:jen-and-katie-chau-5.jpg

“These kids will steal your heart. It is easy to get attached to the healthy newborns, but spending time with some of the more disabled and sick children makes you realize just how wonderful they are and how much they love getting individual attention. Attention is something that many American children take for granted, but over here having time to play with other people is the highlight of each child’s day.

I found that the three things most of these children need most are health care, education and individual attention. Actually, because the orphanage is home to so many very sick children, I think it would benefit a lot from a connection with either a medical school or a doctor’s group in Saigon that could send well trained (probably volunteer) doctors to the orphanage to check up on the children regularly (as a long term thing, not just short term). The kids right now are receivingsick-ward-3.jpg medical care that is sufficient to keep them going, but better care that emphasized preventing fatal and chronic conditions would greatly increase their QUALITY of life. At the moment, Go Vap just doesn’t have enough staff to provide that kind of care because every time a child goes to the hospital, one of the caretakers has to go with him or her and stay there with the child. That takes a person away from the children still at the orphanage. So they could use a group of doctors that are willing to come and check up on the children regularly…

Kim was right that the best things to give are equipment and time (and I will add one to that – skills. While we were there, there were people training staff on how to deal with certain disabilities or volunteering their time as a physical therapists or psychologists, and that was infinitely helpful). Money is not the best thing to give because like all in counties, there are good people and there are corrupt people in Vietnam. Time and equipment, unlike money, are very likely to get to the intended recipients.

Overall, though, the experience was both touching and eye-opening, and I hope to go back again in a year or two to visit the children that are still there.”

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Thursday, December 27th, 2007 at 7:54 am |
| | 4 Comments »

Return from Vietnam: Then and now

December
19

In the previous post, my father recalled surprising his family with his first return from Vietnam 40 years ago. babathen.jpgAs he explained, it wasn’t the smoothest transition, but several of the veterans we traveled with last month and others we’ve spoken to recently had far more challenging homecomings, including taunting cab drivers, dismissive family members and lots of physical/mental health problems. Of course, he also had the (dubious) benefit of coming from war-torn circumstances himself, and that significantly colored his family’s perspective of the Vietnam War and aftermath.

Anyway, he considered himself lucky.

It’s now been a month since my father’s second return from Vietnam.

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For him, this experience brought some closure on his war memories, but also gave him new memories – of a country at peace. And, instead of losing friends, this time, he came home with new friends, too. (And a few left behind, but in a good way.)

Click on the audio link below to hear my father’s thoughts on his first and second returns from Vietnam.

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Check back Dec. 28 for the final slideshow version of our story.

Happy Holidays – and especially – Peace on Earth.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 at 12:00 pm |
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A mother’s heartache, a son’s return

December
18

My paternal grandmother was, to be blunt, a tough old bird. She survived several wars, was widowed twice and worked many blue-collar jobs in rural Greek villages, then in New York City, to support my father and three other children before she could finally retire to her dream house in Marble Hill.

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when my father said that the only correspondence she sent him in Vietnam was a newspaper clipping, upon which she had scribbled this William Blake poem:

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My mother groaned, my father wept

Into the dangerous world I leapt

Helpless, naked, piping loud

Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

My father hadn’t told his mother when he would be arriving home in March 1968 – he didn’t want anyone to worry about his travel arrangements, and he also wanted it to be a pleasant surprise. Click on the audio link below to hear his story.

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Check back tomorrow morning for the final entry in this blog – for now, anyway.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Tuesday, December 18th, 2007 at 7:00 am |
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Back to the future on Black Virgin Mountain

December
17

Near the end of our trip to Vietnam last month, our group visited Nui Ba Den, the Black Virgin Mountain. My father, Howard Goldin and other veterans on our trip who had been stationed in the Cu Chi – Tay Ninh area remembered seeing this high hill every day, which is about the only thing that still looks familiar in the area. This landmark prompted a lot of conflict, they recalled, because American troops were stationed at the top for strategic reasons, but could only be resupplied by helicopter due to the VC guerrillas hidden along the paths up the mountain.

As if the huge Louis Vuitton store across the street from our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City wasn’t enough evidence that capitalism has come to Vietnam after all, this former battlefield is now being turned into some kind of water park.

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We boarded cable cars (with advertisements on them!) to get to the pagoda at the top, and the construction workers waved up at us as we took the 15-minute ride up to the peak.

Click on the audio link to hear my father explain a little bit about this mountain – he had to talk quickly, in between blasts of Disney-esque music coming from the speakers!

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Once we got to the top, however, we were transported back to the Vietnam War – we could barely make out a few of the caves where the VC guerrillas once hid and even had a makeshift hospital. And then, I spotted a sign of the past meeting the future: someone – another returning veteran, no doubt – had carved what appears to be an Army serial number into an old tree.number.jpg

The scars of war, indeed.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Monday, December 17th, 2007 at 8:00 pm |
| | 9 Comments »

Three letters from home, two dog tags, and a P-38 can opener under the tree?

December
17

Besides his M-16 rifle, the other indispensable item that American soldiers carried in Vietnam was the small P-38 can opener needed to open the C-rations, the meals they ate in the field. Like other soldiers, my father wore his P-38 on the chain of his dog tags, which hung around his neck, so he wouldn’t lose it. He treasured his trusty little P-38, but he lost it sometime after returning to the States, once he didn’t have to wear dog tags or worry about C-rations anymore!

While we were Christmas shopping at the West Point PX last week, my father found the gift he didn’t know he wanted: another P-38 can opener, right there in the sporting goods aisle.

“It’s like finding a long lost friend!” he exclaimed, while I looked at him like he was, um, crazy.

He took it home and made a nice display of the can opener, his dog tags, and his old 25th Infantry Division hat. On an Army blanket, of course! Hey, it’s green – and we’ve got that Red Cross 1967 gift bag as the red…

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C-rations were phased out in favor of MREs (meals, ready-to-eat) almost 20 years ago, so the troops in Aghanistan and Iraq probably don’t carry can openers. “Now the P-38 belongs to the ages,” my father said.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Monday, December 17th, 2007 at 5:00 am |
| | 1 Comment »

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Merry memories of a Red Cross Christmas present

December
16

While digging through his Vietnam War letters, photos and other memorabilia, my father came across a faded red cloth bag. This brought a big smile to his face, and he shared the following (rare) happy memory from Christmas 1967 in Cu Chi:

“The Red Cross ladies and volunteers came around and handed out to soldiers small red cloth bags that contained some toiletries and candy and other items,” he recalled.

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It seemed appropriate to put the bag on our Christmas tree, or maybe we’ll start using it as a stocking…

The American Red Cross has a long history of helping the troops and their families, whether through care packages or other assistance. To find out more about the organization’s current efforts for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, click here.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Sunday, December 16th, 2007 at 11:00 am |
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A Vietnam veteran/Rotarian Christmas carol

December
15

JoAnn Quattrone, the Orange County dentist who filled several suitcases with life-saving medical donations for Vietnam last month, was one of the honored guests at the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s holiday party last week. Rotarian Ed Frank of Congers, who is also president of Rockland County’s Vietnam Veterans of America, presented her with an award in recognition for her contributions to the humanitarian trip our group took last month. Click on the audio link below the picture to hear Rotarian/veteran Howard Goldin during the presentation.

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Well, it turns out that Quattrone isn’t only a dentist and a humanitarian: she’s also a songwriter! Click on the video link below to watch Howard Goldin, my father and the other reunited members of our group take a stab at the anthem she wrote about the trip. Better yet, read the words first by clicking on the “Read More” tab at the bottom of this post – you’ll need them!

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Read more of this entry »

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 8:30 pm |
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Sister, sister: Vietnamese nun meets her Rockland counterpart

December
15

At the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s holiday party Wednesday night, Sister Therese Minh, a Dominican sister from Ho Chi Minh City, came face to face with her local counterpart: Sister Joseph Mary Mahoney, president of the Friends of Saint Dominic’s in Blauvelt, NY.

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Sister Joseph Mary was invited by Rotarian Voncile Oliver, who had wanted the Dominican nuns to meet. Oliver and the other members of our humanitarian tour of Vietnam had met Sister Therese on Veterans Day, at their dedication of The Rose School, a construction project partly funded by the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s Schools to End Poverty (STEP) program.

Sister Therese is on a two-month fundraising visit to America, meeting with groups of Rotarians, veterans and Vietnamese Catholics to raise money for The Rose School and her order‘s other educational and philanthropic efforts in Vietnam. Sister Joseph Mary said she may be able to get her other sources of support in the Lower Hudson Valley, too.

Click on the audio link below to hear Sister Joseph Mary’s remarks at the holiday party, after talking with Sister Therese.

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Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 12:00 pm |
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More art of the Vietnam/American War

December
14

In his interview tonight on Cosmos FM, my father reiterated his pleasant surprise at how the Vietnamese people very warmly welcomed us and other Americans, especially veterans, 40 years after the war. As I posted earlier, this enthusiasm occasionally caused some cognitive dissonance for us, as we would pass memorials and artistic renderings of the “American War,” depicting us from a far less welcoming perspective.

At the Viet Cong war cemetery near the Cu Chi tunnels, we walked along a huge sculptured wall depicting the Vietnamese struggle in the “American War.” In contrast to the discomfort we felt at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Cu Chi booby trap painting, we found this display kind of funny, given that the Viet Cong guerrillas are shown as quite buff and heroic, and the American soldiers as pretty weak and mean.

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(Click on the photo to view a larger image.)

After all these examples of Vietnam/American War art, the one that probably struck the balance between amusing and unpleasant was this poignant mural, part of several walls illustrating the history of Vietnam. Look at the expression on the American soldier’s face – to us, it seemed confused and shocked by the horrors around him, rather than callous, imperialistic or bloodthirsty.confusedsoldier.jpg

(Click on the photo to view a larger photo.)

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Friday, December 14th, 2007 at 11:32 pm |
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Air (Greek) America – my father’s radio interview tonight

December
14

Our trip to Vietnam seems to have struck a chord with many different communities. Over the past few weeks, my father and I havefatherdaughter.jpg gotten lots of calls and e-mails from veterans, Rotarians, Rockland County residents, fathers and daughters, educators, journalists, students, war history buffs, Vietnamese immigrants and Greek Americans.

For the Greek American segment of our audience, my father has been invited to talk about our experience with Dean Sirigos on Cosmos FM tonight. Dean’s “Eye on the Community” radio show, a bimonthly program focusing on the Greek diaspora in the tri-state area, airs at 7:10 p.m. EST.

You can hear it by tuning to 91.5 FM, or listening live on the Internet at www.gaepis.org. The interview is in English.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Friday, December 14th, 2007 at 4:30 am |
| | 1 Comment »

‘Crazy’ Vietnam veterans indeed…

December
13

In hopes of squashing the stereotype of the “crazy Vietnam vet,” I used to have my father visit my social studies classes at Briarcliff High School. He would wear his Army uniform and shiny medals, and give calm, rational answers to all the questions, even including “do you have flashbacks?” and “do you know anyone who went crazy over there?”

Well, all our ground work may have gone out the window yesterday, as we watched Rockland County veterans Jeffrey Keahon of Pearl River and Howard Goldin of Monsey spontaneously shell out almost $18,000 to help get the Rose School finished for about 450 young children living in Vietnam’s central highlands.

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This happened during the Spring Valley Rotary Club‘s holiday party at the River Club in Nyack, after Sister Therese Minh,sistertherese.jpg a Dominican sister from Ho Chi Minh City who has just started a two-month fundraising tour of Rotary Clubs and Vietnamese Catholic groups across America, gave a status report on the school – which needs another $100,000 to get built, due to rising materials costs.

Make that another $80,000, after the contributed “happy bucks” from the Rotary Club members, and then Keahon’s $7,800 and Goldin’s $10,000 matching donation, raised $20,000 for the club’s Schools to End Poverty (STEP) program – The Rose School’s biggest benefactor.

“These guys are nuts,” my father said, shaking his head with admiration, astonishment and a bit of concern. “I hope they don’t have any kids going to college or getting married soon.”

Click on the audio link below to hear all of Sister Therese’s remarks about The Rose School and other projects that Vietnam’s Dominican Sisters raise money to pursue; click on the video link below that to watch the second half of her speech.

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Check back tomorrow for more on Sister Therese’s visit to Rockland County and our reunion with many of our fellow Vietnam travelers.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Thursday, December 13th, 2007 at 5:43 pm |
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The art of war: Viet Cong-style

December
12

As I’ve explained in previous posts, the people of Vietnam are very welcoming to Americans today, but all the one-sided memorabilia of the Vietnam War – the American War, as it’s called there – sends a different message to visitors, especially veterans.

Our cognitive dissonance began in Cu Chi, when we were led by extremely friendly Vietnamese guides … to tourist attractions like this.

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This image is part of a long mural by an exhibit of the many kinds of booby traps for American soldiers that Viet Cong guerrillas set around this area, which is where my father was stationed with the 25th Infantry Division. The one you see the soldier falling into here is a Punji stick trap, a popular attraction at the Cu Chi complex. Click on the audio link below the picture of the model trap to hear my father explain how it worked.

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Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007 at 12:33 pm |
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More interest in veterans returning to Vietnam for the first time

December
11

The first time I remember talking with my father about a return to Vietnam was in 1997, 30 years after he went there as an Army officer with the 25th Infantry Division. We both love to travel internationally, but school, work, weddings, and other family plans kept postponing our father-daughter trip. A decade later, we finally got to Cu Chi, and our personal pilgrimage – along with the stories of other local veterans who decided to make the journey – provided the basis dgriffin.jpgfor my multimedia reporting project for The Journal News.

Many other veterans have also spent years thinking about returning to Vietnam, but haven’t done so yet for personal or professional reasons. They include two men I interviewed last month: Dan Griffin of White Plains (left), and Jim Murphy of South Nyack (right, below). I’m still interested in telling their storiesjmurphy.jpg, and I’m not alone: at a Newswomen’s Club of New York event recently, I met Sheridan Prasso, a reporter for Fortune magazine who has worked in Southeast Asia. She’s a fan of this blog, and also wants to talk to Vietnam veterans thinking about going back to Vietnam for the first time.

In the spirit of journalistic cooperation – not to mention creating good karma! – I’m launching her request into the blogosphere. Click here to visit her Web site, including some of her business stories about Vietnam. If you want to get in touch with her, e-mail sheri@sheridanprasso.com.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 at 6:00 am |
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First Vietnam, now Rockland: VVA gives out toys to needy kids

December
10

The adults we met in Vietnam thanked us profusely for the donations of life-saving medical devices, vitamins, clothing and school supplies our group collected and distributeddebbiebeanie.jpg to orphanages, schools and villages last month, but of course it was the gifts of Beanie Babies, yo-yos, volleyballs and other toys that brought joy to children everywhere we went.

Hoping to bring some smiles to local faces this month, Debby Roland-Frank (left) of Congers and other friends and members of the Rockland County chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will give out toys and host a Christmas party on Dec. 13 for underprivileged children at the Rainbow Connection Child Care Learning Center in Nanuet, NY.kidbeanie.jpg

VVA Chapter 333 will supply snacks and drinks for the party, where members will hand out about $1,000 worth of donated toys for children whose parents make a combined income below $15,000.

Last holiday season, VVA333 members gave gifts to more than 80 kids at the annual event, along with 120 families in Haverstraw.

Anyone interested in helping out or getting more information can leave a message for VVA member Howard Goldin at (845) 371-7605.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Monday, December 10th, 2007 at 8:01 am |
| | 2 Comments »

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Shiny, happy people laughing…

December
8

In the weeks since we’ve returned from Vietnam, many readers have asked us how the people of Vietnam really feel about Americans, especially U.S. veterans.

Obviously, we didn’t understand what people were saying when they were speaking Vietnamese, and maybe we’re naive, but it certainly seemed we were quite warmly welcomed everywhere we went, even at a former Viet Cong guerilla’s restaurant and an orphanage where children have disabilities linked to Agent Orange exposure and other remnants of the Vietnam War.

It was fairly obvious that my father was an “American War” veteran, given his age and the fact that people either asked outright or he told them in response to the frequent question of “have you been to my country before?” But still, everyone had a big smile and a peace sign – a frequent greeting gesture, though perhaps just to Americans! – for us.

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Here are some lovely ladies my father wanted a photograph with while we were waiting to get into part of the Cu Chi tourist complex. (By the way, our guide told us the girls were giggling infectiously because it’s considered very odd to have three people posed like this – maybe it’s an unlucky number, or just uneven? Can anyone out there in the blogosphere explain this?)

So, the people on the street definitely seemed to feel very good about Americans. As for the feelings we got about being Americans … a bit of a different story. Check back later for more on that.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, December 8th, 2007 at 8:57 am |
| | 4 Comments »

Climate, currency may inspire a re-return to Vietnam

December
6

On this freezing New York winter day, with my nose turning fuchsia and my father bundled up like South Park’s Kenny just to do some yard work, we needed a photo like this to remind ourselves we were in sunny, warm Vietnam – standing on the top of the Black Virgin Mountain – just a few weeks ago.

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Butch Sincock, a Vietnam veteran who runs MilSpec Tours, said more veterans have been returning to Vietnam in recent years because as they retire, they have more free time and money, and some of their physical and emotional wounds have healed, or at least formed scar tissue. Some are also motivated because their children are now adults who can share in their journey. All of the above apply to my father, but as he begins contemplating a re-return next year, he tells people the hot climate and the fact that everyone there takes U.S. dollars are also excellent reasons to visit Vietnam…

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at 7:12 pm |
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‘Tis the season to remember your veterans

December
5

My father has joined Westchester County’s chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America just in time for the holidays and a new local VVA tradition: Chapter 49 has decided to join Wreaths Across America, a national nonprofit organization that aims to lay wreaths on all the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.

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The national ceremony will take place at noon Dec. 15. At that time, Chapter 49 will also lay wreaths at Lasdon Park, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the other military memorial statues on the Somers, NY property.

Dan Griffin, Chapter 49’s executive director, also told me the group plans to hold its 20th annual candlelight vigil at the park on Dec. 23. The VVA members will light candles along the Trail of Honor and read all of the names of the 214 Westchester County residents killed in the Vietnam War.

“We hold this holiday celebration for those who did not make it back from ‘Nam,” Griffin said.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 9:09 am |
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More returns from Vietnam: MIAs, volunteers

December
3

As I wrote in my story last week, there are still nearly 1,800 Americans listed by the Department of Defense as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, including 124 from New York.

As Vietnam veterans and their former enemies have shared information in recent years, those numbers have gradually decreased. Thanks to ongoing excavations prompted by interviews with North Vietnamese soldiers,  Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) has just announced the remains of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Maurice H. Moore, of Baltimore, Md., missing in action since 1968, have been identified and will be buried with full military honors tomorrow.

On Friday, the DPMO also announced the identification of the remains of U.S. Air Force Maj. Robert F. Woods, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Air Force Capt. Johnnie C. Cornelius, of Maricopa County, Ariz. Both had also been missing since 1968.

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This Bernie Duff painting, “Price Tags,” came to mind when we heard this news.

It’s an interesting, perhaps appropriate coincidence that these fallen veterans finally flew home nearly the same time as two of the volunteers we met last month: Kim Browne, the British woman who was one of the last babies airlifted out of Saigon in 1975, and Jennifer Weaver, the recent college graduate from Seattle. Both spent the past month volunteering at the Go Vap Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City. (I imagine that they’re pretty jet lagged – my father and I are still recovering! – but I expect to have some updates on their overall experiences soon.)

By the way, Kim told me to make sure to let readers know that if they want to help kids like Wang and Hien at the Go Vap Orphanage and other institutions in Vietnam, it’s better to give time or equipment, not money. Not sure why that is – but I’ll let you know when she gets back in touch.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Monday, December 3rd, 2007 at 2:10 pm |
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The face of AIDS in Vietnam

December
1

Today is World AIDS Day. (I always remember this, because it also happens to be my birthday.) UNAIDs estimated 260,000 people in Vietnam were living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2005, about 0.5 percent of the population. About 13,000 people died of aidsdalat.jpgAIDS-related illnesses that year.

While traveling in southern Vietnam last month, we noticed a lot of HIV/AIDS education signs and billboards everywhere, though the virus still seems to be somewhat taboo. Our guides said that people infected are usually quarantined – children relegated to separate orphanage wards, hospices created in undisclosed locations – but things have gotten much better in recent years.

Vietnam veteran Howard Goldin, of Monsey, and some of the other travelers from our group had visited the Mai Tam drop-in center for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS last year. Howard was anxious this year to find out what had become of this 8-year-old girl – the same age as his granddaughter – who had a particularly upsetting story:
aidsgirl8.jpg“Her father got AIDS through the use of a dirty needle and died before she was born, but had infected her mom. Our little girl was born with AIDS, growing up in a rural village that has no knowledge about AIDS. Last year, her mother died and the villagers – thinking they would get AIDS by being near this child – took her to a rubber plantation far off and left her to die. She was rescued and brought the to Mai Tam center and given several months to live. …

In checking about her status this year we found out that she is no longer with us, her pain is gone.”

On our last day in Vietnam, our group presented the Lovers of the Holy Cross with a $500 donation toward the congregation’s work with AIDS patients and education in Ho Chi Minh City. Click on the audio link below to hear the sisters welcoming us with a song.

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The group of Seattle Rotarians we met earlier in our trip, led by Son Michael Pham of Kids Without Borders, also found some hopeful signs in the efforts to prevent and treat AIDS Read more of this entry »

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, December 1st, 2007 at 1:36 pm |
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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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