Friday, January 22, 2010

One year Later

It has been a year since I returned from my trip to Vietnam. The memories are still with me and it is one trip that I will never forget. Since my return, many events have occurred that continue to remind me of my time with my daughter in Vietnam.
After losing most of my pictures due to an SD card malfunction -- I did recover some-- I was fortunate that Stacy took so many great pictures that I have been able to post on this site. If she was not with me, I would have lost all photographic evidence of my trip.

Our first stop in Vietnam was Saigon, where we attended the wedding ceremony of Doug and An. Since that time, An has come to the United States and after a short visit with her parents in the Chicago area she rejoined her husband and went with him to their Colorado home. An experienced the cold and snow of Colorado, as well as the beauty of the mountains. A few months after arriving, they traveled to New Jersey to meet Doug's family and made a side trip to my home. So, we came full circle, meeting online trough a work relationship, meeting her fiance the same way. Then, we met in person in Saigon and finally closed the circle with a visit to my home. We treated An to her first taste of American barbeque. It was a great visit and I hope that we can do it again.

Another event that kept the memory of Vietnam alive was my birthday dinner at my daughter Mary Ellen's. She prepared a traditional Vietnamese feast with everything from Pho to realistic Vietnamese Spring Rolls. It was very authentic and I enjoyed it immensely. Take a look at

Part two of our journey took us to Hue. It was near Hue, where I spent most of my time in Vietnam at Camp Eagle. When I was assigned to the 101st Airborne, I was a little leery about serving in the Northern part of the country. Our roads were dirt and mud except for Route 1 which was paved. When it rained, the mud was so thick that you could get stuck in it, walking or driving. I flew around the northern part of the country, delivering communications equipment to firebases like Sally and Bastogne, to camps like Evans and Carrol and to other cities like Phu Bai and DaNang. But the excursion that changed the way I saw Vietnam took place on a hot Sunday morning when I visited Kim Long Orphanage. So, after 39 years, I did return and within this blog is a detailed description of our day.

Since returning from Vietnam, I have continued to support the orphanage through donations from friends and family. After delivering almost $900 in person last January, I have been able to collect another $1500 and Sister Chantal has made good use of it. I dislike asking for donations, but at a mention of the orphanage, I get voluntary contributions from some. Last year I received the Christmas Pollyanna money that the cafeteria workers at Central Bucks East High School donated. I didn't ask for anything this year but got a call a few days before Christmas telling me that they had an envelope for me. "What are we gonna do with a $10 or $20 gift to each other", they said. They would rather contribute to the orphanage. Operation Eternal Gratitude at CB East also sold gum in the cafeteria for a few months and contributed the proceeds. I spoke at CB East on Veterans Day and at the end of my speech, I talked about my return visit to the orphanage. Colby Umbrell's parents, who lost a son in Iraq, were generous enough to contribute to my cause, because my words reminded them of what their Son did while he served in Iraq -- He, too, was concerned with the welfare of the children of Iraq.

So, it goes on. If anyone is interested in donating, I wire money as I get a total of $500 or more. Feel free to contact me. And if anyone would like to fund a return trip to Vietnam, I am open to all donations for that as well :).

Kim Long was dormant in my memory for a while, but thanks to a nurse who served in Phu Bai that I met at a writer's forum, I was able to revive its memory and find a contact and return.

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