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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Back to the future on Black Virgin Mountain


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.


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!


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.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007 at 8:00 pm by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Vietnam veterans, Vietnam veterans



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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