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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

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.

cablecars.jpg

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.

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

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9 Responses to “Back to the future on Black Virgin Mountain”

  1. JOHN COPPINGER

    i WAS WITH b-36 mgf IN aUG OF 67, I VISITED THE TOP OF NUI BA DEN IN sEP ON A RESUPPLY RUN OUT OF THE CITY OF tAY nINH, IT WAS VERY IMPRESSIVE AND WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED IN MY THOUGHTS. i WaS STATIONED AT tRANG sUP BEFORE WE MOVED ON TO lONG hAI, NEAR vUNG tAU. tAKE CARE AND gOD bLESS OUR SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN

  2. Bob Maines

    I served at the top for 4 months in 1970. In 2010 I still, for some reason, find myself missing it. I have read many articles written by pilots and grunts of the awe they found in viewing and being near it. The duty was harsh and long hours, but the reward of “being there” overshadowed both. My old polaroids from the top are fading, and dread the day I can no longer make out the images. There were no better sunrises and sunsets than from the Top. We experienced some war there, but we watched so much below. The pagoda and my boulder bunker are viewed in photos I’ve seen published by others. What a great reminder. What a place and what an experience. For whatever reason, this daily memory seems to never fade. I was privileged to be there.

  3. Patrick

    Anyone who served with II Field Forces during 1960-1970?

  4. Dave Davis

    I was assigned to the 588th combat engineers. I spent a lot of my time at the base

  5. Bruce

    I served all over the III corps area as a commo chief in several artillery bases.I remember seeing the mountain during the day and seeing it lit at night from flares etc.Out retrans was set up there so that we could get radio transmissions back to Phu loi or Cu chi.We were grateful for the men up there as we werer hit many times especially at FSB Lanyard and Fsb Pace.Were it not for them many of may not be here today.

  6. Dan Efird

    I arrived in RVN May 67, I went to NBD June67 assigned to 587 Signal. NBD was under the control of the SF (A324). There was some CIDG and about 20 are so GIs at the time. All of us pulled guard duty. Making sure the CIDG were awake. I left the mountain in Jan 68. And returned May 68 and lefted the last time Sep 68. I enjoy reading what other men write about the NBD for alot of it I was there and know what it means. defirdjr@triad.rr.com

  7. TOM THOMAS

    Hi I was at Nui Ba Den 1968 to 1969 I was a Heavey Eguip, Mechanic any one out ther remember Me? 362 Engineers. I remember some names Joe was my Room Mate Cox was a buddy sargent Robbinson .I lost all contack do to a Fire we had.Lost all pictures and phone and Addresses.Email me tomdeb51@yahoo.com

  8. Nancy Wilson

    Greetings;
    I am retired Army now working in film and TV industry production in Atlanta. I am also a writer. I am interested in writing a piece that focuses on the disappearance of SFC Dallas R. Pridemore.

    Mr. John Coppinger, I have found your posts on several websites regarding SFC Pridemore. I would sincerely appreciate it if you could take the time to talk to me and share a first person account of what happened to SFC Pridemore. This is a story that must be told. I feel an extraordinary and unexplainable attachment to SFC Pridemore.

    My email address is nancynwilson@hotmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you for your time and attention,
    Nancy N. Wilson, M.Ed., MAPW
    SFC, USA (Ret.)

  9. Harry Harvey

    I served with the 567th S&S Bn, HHC. Was it Tay Nihn, RVN from about April 1967 until April 1968. We spent our first month in DaNang. We also had a Bakery Platoon in Cue Chi. We occupied an area previously was used by a contruction Bn. They constructed a bar with picture glass behind the bar. we only allowed the 25th Inf lt Inf Bde to drink in our bar. Most of them stopped by after a 90 days mission in the jungle. I served as a bartender after duty hours. I was a Company Clerk and also served as the Mail Clerk for the Bn. Left country on April 3, 1968.

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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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