Monday, December 6, 2010

November 9-10, 2010

November has been a busy month for us. To start it off, Anh and I got married. Actually, we got 'officially' married in March but didn't have the party until November ninth. You aren't considered really married until you have the celebration with family and friends. We had friends from the US come over and also some American friends who live in Bangkok come for the occasion. This plus a number of our Vietnamese and foreign friends living in Da Nang made for a great wedding party. 

The day following our party was November 10, the Marine Corps birthday. So of course, another party was in order and there was no better place to hold the party than on China Beach. There were eight of us in attendance, six Vietnam veterans, one Iraqi vet, and a Vietnamese man who hung out with the Marine CAP unit in his village when he was a boy. In traditional form, we had an NCO cut the cake then offer the first piece to the oldest Marine present (Suel) and the second piece to the youngest Marine (Sam).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vietnam:Beyond War

Several years ago I published a book titled Vietnam: A Second Look. It is a photo book about my thoughts and feelings as a veteran returning to Vietnam for another look at the places where I had been during the war. Well, I've been working on a new one and it's starting to shape up. My new book is titled Vietnam: Beyond War and will be a collection of thoughts and photographs on what it's been like to live in Vietnam. Though it is still far from being finished, here is a preview of what this new book should look like. You can click on the images to get a larger view of them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back in Town

I've been a pretty busy guy for the past several months so I have neglected to post anything new on my blog for a while. I guess it's time to get caught up on things.

First and foremost on the list is I got married! Yep, that's right! I married Anh on March 31 of this year and we are happy as can be. We haven't had time to celebrate with a wedding party yet put are trying to get that set up now. Looks like it could be in November when many of our friends are back in country. I will keep you posted.

I had to return to the US the first of July and was there for six weeks getting my house in Colorado ready to rent. It looks like I may be in Vietnam for a while but don't want to sell my home in the States. It's not a good time to sell right now and besides, I love my house there. While I was 'home' I took time to go to Kansas and visit my mother then went to Charleston, S.C. for my Marine Reunion. Those things are always a hoot. It worked out well because my sister and her husband live in North Carolina, which is not too far from Charleston, so I drove up to see them as well. All in all, it was a busy time but very much worth it.

I am back in Da Nang, Vietnam now and trying to get acclimatized to the food, weather, pace of life, and married life. It is good! Da Nang seemed to change so much just in the time I was away. There is so much building and energy going on over here that things change on a daily basis.

Anh and I are gearing up for what looks to be a busy next few months. We have several tours scheduled and several friends coming over to visit. Some of my kids may even get over here before Christmas. I can't wait to introduce them to Anh.

I haven't been taking many photos lately but will try to get some new pictures up soon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ho Chi Minh Trail

Once a network of supply routes for war and destruction, the Ho Chi Minh Trail today offers one of Vietnam's most beautiful experiences. This magnificent road, running the length of the country from the Chinese border to the Delta, winds through the mountains and valleys along the Cambodian and Laos borders. Though the road is surfaced and wide enough for cars and small trucks, only a few vehicles travel this route. It is a motorcyclist's dream.

It takes about twenty minutes to get through the traffic and chaos of the populated cities before you head west across the rice fields and into the mountains. The roads are unmarked and there are very few places where English is spoken. But for those who have a sense of adventure, it is an experience to remember.

I have traveled the trail between Da Nang and Hue at least six times now (all the way to Khe Sanh a couple of times) and am still in awe of the beauty and wonder of it all. It's a four day trip through the mountains and jungles, skirting the Laos border, offering a unique view of the mountain people and their way of life.

There always seem to be magic moments that come along when you least expect them. On one trip, we passed by an old veteran with one arm who was needing a ride to the next village. Of course, we couldn't pass him by so we gave him a lift and had a couple of beers with him once we reached a local watering hole.

I've started working for an outfit that will guide you through the trail, either driving a vintage, Russian Minsk bike or riding on the back of an experienced driver's bike. I usually take my own bike for the long trips. I like it because it has more padding in the seat. Of course, I wear a helmet and proper riding attire on the road, not as shown.

We offer day trips around Hoi An or four and five day trips up to the DMZ. We wind our way through areas where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place. It's pretty incredible to cool off in a fresh mountain stream where armies once clashed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Nick served with 3/27 Marines in 1969 and hadn't been back to Vietnam since. Like most vets who choose to return, he was a little anxious and uncertain of what he was looking for. But he did have places he wanted to see again and he brought a photograph of a Vietnamese friend that he wanted to try to find. In the company of
his cousin, Larry, he came to Vietnam to get in touch with his past.

Nick contacted me through the Internet and asked if I could help him find some of the places he was looking for; Nui Kim Son, Hills 55 and 65, Tu Cau Bridge, Go Noi.. Most of the places he wanted to see were within a couple of hours drive by motorbike and I was familiar with the areas.

First on the agenda was to try to locate the man in the photograph. Nick knew the man when he was stationed near the small village of Nui Kim Son at the base of Marble mountain. We pulled the photograph out and showed it to a lady where we had lunch. The next thing we knew, it seemed like half the village was crowded around out table. No one could identify the man but Nick had an extra copy of the photo and left it with them. The next day, a woman was waiting outside of Nicks guesthouse and told him they had found the family. We were taken to the family house and learned the man in the photo had died several years back. We were able to meet with the man's children and wife though. We were led upstairs to the family shrine and burnt incense to the man's spirit. We did have success in locating the areas Nick wanted to see. Like most who return to Vietnam, he couldn't believe how much everything has changed. What were once Marine strongholds were now villages with paved roads and satalite dishes on the homes. There is a Vietnamese monument on the top of Hill 55 now and chilie pepper farms cover Hill 65. Go Noi seems so much closer to noisey highway 1. Tu Cau Bridge is still there but is being prepared to be torn down. Only motorbikes and bicycles use it now.

After seeing the old stomping grounds, we caught the train to Hue. With the exception of inside the Citidel and a few isolated buildings, nothing remains of the devestation of Tet of '68.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Year of the Tiger

Tet, the Lunar New Year is upon us. Throughout Asia, people celebrate by remembering their ancestors, brightening up their houses, visiting friends, and partying. It's a ten day affair of good times much like a combination of our Christmas, New Years, and Memorial Day all rolled into one. The streets are filled with flower vendors and music. This is The Year of The Tiger.

Outside, a young man burns offerings to his ancestors. Money, shoes, suits of clothing both modern and traditional, all made of tissue paper, are completely consumed so that they my enter the spirit world to be joined with the loved ones who have gone before.

Inside, the old woman sits before the family shrine with incense and prayers to her husband and children who have passed. She is ninety-six years old and has traveled 600 miles from Saigon to visit her family house where she raised a family of ten children and twelve other family members during a time of war. Her hands and her frail body are records of the hardships but her eyes tell a story of love. I wish I could speak with her and hear her stories.

Five of her daughters have come to celebrate the new year with her. Together, they prepare a feast before traveling to the countryside to visit the family tombs. The road through the cemetery is dirt and full of rocks, making it difficult to push the wheelchair but the mother does not complain. It may be the last time she is able to make this journey. Thankfully, a man with a motorbike offers to ride her back to the car.

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Year 2010

I went back to The States over the holidays and froze my butt. Damn, it was cold (-6 F /-22 C) while I was there. and we had snow! I had a great time with my family while there so the cold was bearable. All of my grandkids have grown since I last saw them. Here is a picture of Cody and Alex with their new umbrellas I brought them.