While on a cruise ship in the middle of the Adriatic Sea, I came across a fellow wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat similar to the one I wear.
Mike’s hat however, was Australian and he served in the Australian Army artillery, roughly the same time frame as when my ship, the USS Porterfield, was providing Naval Gun Fire Support to the fellows on shore.
Mike told me of a post-war visit he made to Vietnam … he was a bit nervous in going back, not knowing what anger, hatred and ill-will he might run into.
He said there was none of that,and in fact the Vietnamese were quite welcoming of him and they also liked the Australians and Americans very much.
“ … Even today, when veterans return to Vietnam, our flag is known to the Vietnamese, most of whom were not yet born when the last of us left their country. A veteran may have a small cloth flag in a book, or a piece of a uniform, or a magazine that shows our flag, and a Vietnamese local will look over his shoulder, see it and say – “Hoa Ky (U.S.), yoi lam (good)” – with a thumbs-up and a big smile. Even after 50 years, our presence and larger purposes there remain respected by many and, in some cases, revered. It is odd to U.S. veterans of this particular war that the former enemy can have more regard for our service than did our fellow citizens when we came home. … “
This is not all that surprising to me given what I have leaned in research for my book I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … and the source materials surrounding the USS Kirk and it’s humanitarian role in the evacuation of tens of thousands of Vietnamese from Saigon.
These stories are a necessary counter to the libels and slanders of now Secretary of State John Kerry who likened US military action in Vietnam to the barbaric and brutal tactics of Genghis Kahn. Why did the South Vietnamese flee in vast numbers towards the Americans rather than welcoming the North Vietnamese invaders?
John Kerry was then, and still is, the consummate opportunist who will seize on the moment to further his own goals and ambitions … he will not let a serious crisis go to waste. That is why he – and not Hillary Clinton – will be the Democratic candidate for President in 2016.
Don Johnson – June 2015