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.