HANOI, VIETNAM—Forty years ago, on April 30, 1975, Nguyen Dang Phat experienced the happiest day of his life. South Korea’s contingent was bigger than that of … Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam by Nick Turse. Many of those persist to this day. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but looking closely, I saw stairs leading into the ground and realized he … War Stories on DVD as told at the 2006 VHPA Reunion. It’s the story of Vietnam’s destruction and self-destruction, as seen through the eyes of a woman who was once a girl growing up in a community and family corrupted by war, who, as a teenager, became a refugee in Saigon living among both American and South Vietnamese soldiers. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories W.D. This, he argues, is illustrated in presidential speeches, from President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s to President Barack Obama today. The tunnel rats encounter. Introduction to RE: Vietnam -- Stories Since the War. October 4, 2020 — 11 Comments. Even when such images do emerge, their impact is diminished, Nguyen said. I along with about 30 other 19-yr- old males had to gather at the armory in Kalamazoo, … “The aftermath of the Vietnam War meant that no longer could Americans be self-confident about either their military prowess or their good intentions,” said Nguyen, describing the conflict as “deeply divisive.”, “I think of it as a civil war in the American soul,” he said. The Vietnam War was the prolonged struggle between nationalist forces attempting to unify the country of Vietnam under a communist government and the United States (with the aid of the South Vietnamese) attempting to prevent the spread of communism. War Stories on DVD as told at the 2007 VHPA Reunion. “Bill” Ehrhart joined the U.S. Marines when he was 17. “Here that wasn’t clear to me, and what was worse, people like me were the ones being killed. No. I would like to say a special thanks to everyone who helped me turn this documentary into a reality, from the people who graciously shared their stories, pictures, and poetry; to the friends who helped me translate. Ross agrees, noting that footage similar to that showing military coffins being unloaded from troop ships, which appeared on the nightly news during the Vietnam War and helped sway public opinion against the war, was banned by President George H. W. Bush — a ban that endured for 18 years during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It was 1981, and unbeknownst to his parents — refugees from Vietnam who fled to the U.S. six years earlier with their then 4-year-old son when Saigon fell to the communists — Nguyen had rented Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now to while away a solitary weekend while his mom and dad worked long hours at their neighborhood grocery store in San Jose. A well-meaning American soldier from the 7th Marine Regiment tries to comfort a distraught Vietnamese child by giving her a doll, near Cape Batangan, Vietnam, 1965. The Chinese dubbed the American unit, “Golden Dragons,” because of their fierce fighting spirit. “I was struck by Gen. William Westmoreland’s statements in the documentary that ‘Orientals’ don’t have the same respect for life as Americans. Read stories from diverse points-of-view about how the Vietnam War era has affected our sense of self and our place in the world. There’s easy listening and uneasy listening, and we have the hardest time doing the uneasy listening to the voices that don’t flatter us, that don’t self-justify us. Luong was 9 years old when he escaped the ravages of war-torn Vietnam with his family, just a day before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese on April 30, 1975. From there, Luong and his family, along with thousands of other Vietnamese refugees in danger of communist reprisals, made their way to the U.S. under Operation Frequent Wind, a political asylum program. Gen. Viet Luong also takes issue with this effort to rewrite history. The rift Gustafson felt within himself that day was an echo, he realized, of the division he now knew existed within his country. My Worst Day in Vietnam. Where the Ashes Are: The Odyssey of a Vietnamese Family, Nguyen Qui Duc (2009) … Former Vietnamese Soldier Shares His War Stories for Friendship. Well, that's one side of the story. In one single battle in Quang Tri – the border between North and South Vietnam and the most attacked city during the war – the bombs used had the destructive power of 7 nuclear bombs in Hiroshima. It’s only a matter of time, Gualtieri notes, before the sympathy it evokes is overshadowed by more recurrent and powerful images of terrorists. War Stories on DVD as told at the 2007 VHPA Reunion. These books do. “Only 20 percent was to keep South Vietnam from falling into Red Chinese hands, while 10 percent of our war aims were committed to helping the South Vietnamese enjoy a better, freer democratic way of life,” he said. Nov 4, 2020. Vietnam Stories. It was 1967 and Gustafson was 13 years old. One day, I saw my neighbor Jerry slowly climbing out from somewhere below his backyard. Here's what he told us. While Nguyen says the U.S. is not unique in the way it remembers and forgets its wars and those involved in them, it has nevertheless focused on the Vietnam War almost exclusively as an American war in terms of its cost — to American lives and unity, and with respect to damage to the American psyche. Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images. “So it’s very hard to recast it as a noble struggle between people with different ideologies because there was nothing noble about that war.”. War Stories on DVD as told at the 2006 VHPA Reunion. Although the Kurdi image went viral, it did not have the impact of the napalm girl in mobilizing people and governments to find a solution to the refugee crisis, or to end the conflict that is causing such suffering, argues Sarah Gualtieri, associate professor of American studies and ethnicity, history and Middle East studies. Please explore selected contributions on this page. “It’s very difficult for me to view the Vietnam War as anything other than an ugly conflict that should never have occurred,” Luong said. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, the young boy watched, mesmerized, taking in the drifting smoke and the rhythmic chopping sound of the United States military helicopters silhouetted against the hellish scene of destruction unfolding on the TV screen in his family’s cozy California home. Thirty-nine years later, he pinned on his first star as he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. But the Kurdi photograph, although equally heartbreaking, is more complicated. I still remember the formation of marine helicopters coming in to rescue us. It’s a shame, because although there are many excellent books written by American authors about the conflict, they don’t give you an idea of how a Vietnamese person saw the war. Stories from Vietnam. This is the first in a six-part series about the stories and sacrifices of local men and women during the Vietnam War. Vietnam War Books: Nonfiction An Intimate History of Killing by Joanna Bourke. Not a single punch is … We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. The Vietnamese refugee success stories are plentiful, but let’s never forget about those who were not so fortunate. We sent a writer out to Vietnam to speak with Nguyen Hoa Giai. It also went a step further, explicitly describing the war as one of “noble sacrifice” — a perspective on the war that has also found favor among Republicans. He cites Last Days of Saigon and certain combat documentaries. Here are 10 of the most read USC Dornsife…, Explore USC’s unseen gems. Before The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, many readers didn’t know any authors or books written from the Vietnamese perspective. Nguyen argues that the impact of such images is now reduced due to the desensitization caused by the rise in terrorism and our exposure to widespread graphic imagery in movies, video games and terrorist videos. Vietnam Dustoff. In 1974, with … Escaping by boat, many found freedom in foreign land, many were captured and … There Was No Rules At All. Yet, in movies and the media, they weren’t positively portrayed.” Luong feels the suggestion that somehow they didn’t do their part or were a bunch of cowards who didn’t defend their homeland, is very painful to his father’s generation. “Looking at the last years of that conflict and talking to some of the very few remaining U.S. advisers in Vietnam, we learn that the South Vietnamese fought for the most part heroically. It didn’t want to risk being accused of a lack of patriotism, so it avoided putting out films critical of the war until it was over,” Ross said. For many, the horrors of the Vietnam War were — and still are — unforgettably distilled in one unbearable image: that of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the 9-year-old Vietnamese girl running naked in the collective eternity of our imaginations down a road, wailing in agony. Luong first saw Apocalypse Now in his late teens. When the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ played they sat down,” Gustafson recalled. The story of Linda Thong, while horrific, is not unusual. “Democratic thinking teaches you to see things from multiple perspectives, to trust no single point of view.”. This photograph of terrified children fleeing from a South Vietnamese napalm bomb attack on their village on June 8, 1972, became an iconic image of the anti-war movement. At university, his first politics course had him reading the Pentagon Papers. True stories of the Vietnam War. Gustafson, who is fascinated by the politics of memory and whose research focuses on the power of political language and discourse to shape those memories, agrees with Nguyen that those who are pushing to rewrite the Vietnam War as a war of noble failed intentions are winning. Vietnam, Past Is Prologue, probes the legacies of the Vietnam War and its aftermath through maps, videos, and paintings that highlight the voices and stories of former Vietnamese refugees. Follow Us We asked viewers how they experienced the events of the Vietnam era. Vietnam Dustoff. Photo courtesy of Viet Thanh Nguyen. Vietnam War Story: How This Cellar Saved My Friend. “What that means is that we’re personally invested in it,” he said. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK", North Vietnamese Soldiers | © manhhai/Flickr. Wm. we run into the enemy concealed and dug in — death of Thompson — we return, enemy flees — the face of death — Thompson’s body lost at Đà Nẵng — our FO shells enemy night convoy — After Action Reports. The deaths of 3 million Vietnamese and 3 million Cambodians and Laotians during and after the Vietnam War represent horror on a grand scale. “I was completely shaped by responding to Vietnam and it still affects how I teach today,” he said. In fact, he added, according to a secret CIA memo, 70 percent of America’s reason for fighting the Vietnam War was a face-saving exercise to avoid a humiliating defeat to the U.S. reputation as a guarantor. The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now — these films changed our post-war view of Vietnam, recasting it as our very own personal horror story. “Watching that film made me feel like there was no place for me in American culture,” he said. October 18, 2020 — 24 Comments. A Vietnam War Story. The series complements a Maryland Public Television initiative faculty research, alumni, usc dornsife magazine, general interest, topics: And now we’re covering up Vietnam.”. Podcast: Mother Nature and the Infantry Soldier. “That was going to be my subject, not just the war itself, but how the war was regarded.”. Vietnam War Story: How This Cellar Saved My Friend. The building at 727 Tran Hung Dao in Ho Chi Minh City – also known as Saigon – was a building that housed American service members for much of the Vietnam War. “Amid all the Americana, high school students just a few years older than me were carrying a coffin in the parade to protest the Vietnam War. His words are juxtaposed with a funeral in South Vietnam showing a mother, ravaged with grief, throwing herself on a grave,” Gustafson said. Between 1975 to 1992, almost two million Vietnamese risked their lives to flee oppression and hardship after the Vietnam War, in one of the largest mass exoduses in modern history. They were young, half a world away from home, and at war. “The World War II movies I’d watched weren’t horrific, and it was clear who was the good guy and who was the bad guy,” said Nguyen, Aerol Arnold Chair of English and associate professor of English and American studies and ethnicity. Ehrhart, left, in October 1967 near Quang Tri, Vietnam, and today. A Vietnam War Story. However, Nguyen warns there’s a real danger in arguing that any kind of atrocity or war is unique, or more horrific, than any other. BROWSE STORIES. Unlike Nguyen, it had little effect on him. “Covering up” is not a new concept where Vietnam is concerned, argues Steven Ross, professor of history and director of the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life at USC Dornsife. Gustafson, who is writing a memoir about the events of that parade, said growing up during the Vietnam War gave him his first lesson in what he calls “democratic thinking.”, “Tyranny tells people to learn from or respect one voice,” he said. When they landed on the USS Hancock the ship was so big, Luong remembers, that he and his siblings were disoriented. It was 1973 and I was very aware about the casualties of the Vietnam war. My grandmother was a war photographer in Quang Tri. As a literature professor, I teach critical thinking, but it must be supplemented by empathy, the ability to put ourselves in the shoes, the souls, hearts and minds of someone different from ourselves. The story of Hayslip, who grew up in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, is intense, intimate, and ultimately human. Be the first to submit a tribute honoring a vet from the Vietnam War! The Golden dragons also fought in the Iraqi war, a war of similar consequences of Vietnam. Vietnamese civilians killed by US Army soldiers during pursuit of Vietcong militia, as per order of Lieut. Standing on the deck of the Hancock, Luong said, he already knew he would serve in the U.S. military to give back to the nation that had saved him and his family from almost certain death. “I don’t want there to be any softening of the horror,” he said. Refugees often encountered pirates while sailing the dangerous South China Sea. The following is an account of the battle at LZ Bird. In it, the callous cruelty of war is stripped bare and the viewer is forced to confront America’s complicity in committing atrocities against the innocent. The traditional historiography of the Vietnam War often avoids reckoning with the postwar history of the Hanoi regime and its human consequences, and Nguyen’s stories are a useful corrective. For the young Vietnamese-American boy, watching Apocalypse Now opened the door onto a very different view of a very different war, one that was to have major personal and professional repercussions. “That Westmoreland, the leader of this war, is engaging in this dehumanization, this prejudice and stereotyping of ‘Orientals,’ shows that either he doesn’t understand anything about Asian culture, or that he is engaging in this dehumanization as propaganda or because it allows him to conduct the war.”, Gustafson still shows the documentary to his students at the end of his American studies class “America, the Frontier, and the New West.”. Nguyen and Gustafson think that while these images of children caught in war can still have an impact, the possibility of them moving us to take action has been reduced. The first episode premiered on PBS on September 17, 2017. Americans are still arguing about the Vietnam War, and the arguments today have changed very little from those that raged when the conflict was in full swing: Was it a good or a bad war? (MORE: Iconic war images shown for first time in Vietnam) The rampage now known as the My Lai massacre … Iraq like Vietnam was a war of so many contradictions… “a war with no boundaries or indications of friend or foe. Twenty years later, that anger was the catalyst that drove Nguyen to write his Pulitzer Prize–winning first novel, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015), which explores the Vietnam War from multiple perspectives through the lens of his conflicted protagonist, an American-educated spy for the Viet Cong. “American self-confidence still hasn’t been restored to the quality it had in the 1950s. The Vietnamese government keeps a tight grip on its version of history, the winners’ side of the story. The question of perspective lies at the heart of Nguyen’s novel and is a vital one for anyone seeking to establish a more balanced, less-biased truth about the 20-year conflict. One gets the impression that Nguyen wrote this book primarily to commemorate and memorialise her interviewees, and the RVNAF more broadly. While President Lyndon Johnson’s government maintained the official line, telling Americans that Vietnam was about saving democracy — that if Vietnam fell to communism, everything else would fall — it knew this to be untrue, Ross said. “Vietnam was the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place.”. No One Really “Survives” a War Intact. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but looking closely, I saw stairs leading into the ground and realized he … ... like many other relics from the Vietnam War era. Though it was a relatively short battle, it was by far the most intense fighting I saw during my tour. “There were platitudes about caring for people in crisis, but the Kurdi image had limited resonance in American policy debates, despite the fact that it circulated so widely in the U.S.,” she said. They appeared, like images of angels from the sky.”. Well, that's one side of the story. “When I saw parents visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., I imagined what it would be like to lose a child, and I broke down and cried. While such images fueled the anti-war movement in the U.S., they served to reinforce Luong’s determination to continue his family’s legacy of military service. Ross stresses that the film studios largely remained silent on Vietnam until after the war was over. “We asked our father ‘Dad, where are we?’ He said ‘We’re on a U.S. carrier.’ We said ‘What does that mean?’ And he replied, ‘It means nothing in the world can harm you now.’”. Vietnam veterans from the northland share their personal stories, in their own words. “That hurts even more than the sense of abandonment,” he said. Referred to as Biêt-Dông-Quân or BDQ, a significant number of Ranger-qualified officers and NCOs served as advisors to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Ranger units throughout the duration of the war…nearly in 2,000 total. October 18, 2020 — 24 Comments. Communist forces had already started shelling the airport when U.S. marines flew Luong, his father — an officer in the South Vietnamese marine corps — mother and seven sisters to a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Hancock . His politics were different from mine, but I knew he had a nephew who’d been killed in Vietnam. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, thousands of so-called "boat people" fled Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, often in small overcrowded ships that were barely seaworthy. Viet Thanh Nguyen as a small child in Vietnam with his mother, Linda Kim Nguyen, at a rubber plantation in Ban Me Thuot in 1973. The Vietnam War is a 10-part American television documentary series about the Vietnam War written by Geoffrey C. Ward and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Luong was 9 years old when he escaped the ravages of war-torn Vietnam with his family, just a day before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese on April 30, 1975. Watching it changed the 10 year old’s destiny, setting him on the path to becoming a USC Dornsife professor and a Pulitzer Prize–winning author. 085: Footloose and Lucky. October 4, 2020 — 11 Comments. Carter described the Vietnam War as one “of mutual destruction.” While no one denies the tragedy of the 58,000 American dead, that figure pales next to the 6 million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians who died during the war and its aftermath. Three Vietnam War Veterans Share Their Stories W.D. Obama’s 2012 speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war continued to focus squarely on American soldiers with virtually no mention of Vietnamese fatalities. by Duong Thuy Nguyen. If you are a veteran, know a veteran, or are related to a veteran, and would like to place a personal story on the Online Veterans Tribute, please mail it to: American Veterans Center 1100 N. Glebe Rd. The Chinese dubbed the American unit, “Golden Dragons,” because of their fierce fighting spirit. A Vietnam War Story. Podcast: Mother Nature and the Infantry Soldier. Steve, California, 1970. We have such trouble seeing the ugly sides of America. These stories from the Vietnam War will break your heart. Communist forces had already started shelling the airport when U.S. marines flew Luong, his father — an officer in the South Vietnamese marine corps — mother and seven sisters to a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Hancock . The Incredible Story Behind a Haunting Picture of a POW in Vietnam Captured U.S. pilot major Dewey Waddell is guarded by a militiawoman with a gun and a bayonet on a rice field. The Golden dragons also fought in the Iraqi war, a war of similar consequences of Vietnam. Here's another: They were a bunch of scared (mostly) young kids fighting in a massive conflict for very personal reasons. “The fact that 6 million people died during a war was actually not unique during the 20th century. Free shipping for many products! “That’s the ethos I was raised with — that as ugly as war is, it’s important to sign up to defend your country.”. My 10-year-old mind had no way to make sense of drugs, psychedelic rock, murder, atrocity, massacre and Playboy bunnies. If you are a veteran, know a veteran, or are related to a veteran, and would like to place a personal story on the Online Veterans Tribute, please mail it to: American Veterans Center 1100 N. Glebe Rd. Of … For me, the seed of that came from Vietnam.”. The Fog of War: The Vietnamese View of the Ia Drang Battle: ... Navy flight training video during the Vietnam War. “What we learned from Vietnam is not to show pictures of war,” Gustafson said. As his protagonist puts it: “This was the first war where the losers would write history instead of the victors.” For not only America’s understanding of the Vietnam War but the world’s perception of the conflict has been shaped almost exclusively by the viewpoints of Americans — by American soldiers, politicians and journalists, and by the makers of American culture — while Vietnamese perception of the most deadly combat in its history has largely been ignored. As we recognize the 50th anniversary of this tragic conflict, USC Dornsife scholars challenge this one-sided perspective, re-examining the legacy of what even the Vietnamese refer to as “The American War.”. It was a war movie that was horrific, and that placed me at the center of that horror. The Fog of War: The Vietnamese View of the Ia Drang Battle: ... Navy flight training video during the Vietnam War. Between 1975 to 1992, almost two million Vietnamese risked their lives to flee oppression and hardship after the Vietnam War, in one of the largest mass exoduses in modern history. Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. The … America hadn’t seen images like that before, so it had tremendous shock value. Follow Us We asked viewers how they experienced the events of the Vietnam era. “They made me feel absolutely torn and very committed to the cause in South Vietnam,” he said. The U.S. military has estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died in the war. We try to get students to listen to those voices, even when it’s challenging.”. Yet we must not forget, Nguyen reminds us, that 6 million Jews and 20 million Russians died during World War II, and that 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered during the Rwandan genocide. “When that image of Kim Phuc came out it was 1972. 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