I went with two other vets on a tour set up by "Nine Dragons Tours." However, I would go with Fernando De Pierris' group if I ever wanted to go back again. [Contact information for Fernando can be found on his web site. His tour is half the price with better accommodations. He plans on going back in June of 2001.]
What a trip! I was apprehensive at first, to say the least. I guess what I will remember the most is that my mind went back to 1970 and then forward to 2000 and then back again. I knew from current pictures of others that there would be very little left of "our war". Yet I also knew I had to see for myself. I'm glad I did.
I guess I will remember the people along the way most of all. There was only three in our group: myself, a marine who was in recon, and an army supply grunt. All of us got to see where we spent our youth!
I went to the Tra Bong Road which is south of Chu Lai on the way to My Lai. Mien (our guide) found the firebase at the end of the road. Nothing was left but a few concrete bunkers. We then went to Camp Reasoner in Da Nang (for the marine) but it is now a Vietnamese base. We found LZ Sharon for the grunt. It was on the road to Dong Ha. He took out his fatigues and bush hat when we got there - (I've got to admit I got worried a bit) - and had us take his picture.
We met a woman in Dong Ha who used to work for the Americans in DaNang. She had to move to Dong Ha for her "well being." She is also Catholic, which doesn't help her situation in Vietnam. Her husband was an ARVN. We invited her to our Hotel for dinner. She showed us pictures of her and her girl friend when she was 18 or 19. What a knock out! She still looks good at 50!
Our guide on the Mekong River trip was also very memorable. She was about 28 years old. She had the three of us in a trance. She was fun to listen to and fun to be around. We gave her US$5.00 each before saying good bye. We all agreed that her husband was a very lucky person.
The three of us got along very well, considering. Most of all, I think that Mien made the trip. What a great guide and new friend!
Howard Manger's pictures can be found at these locations:
Pictures of Vietnam in 2000
Copyright 2000 by Howard Manger
All rights reserved