I have been communicating with my Mom and Dad during their visit to Vietnam. It is amazing to me that through text messages and email, I have been staying up to date with their travels. Since they are 13 hours ahead of me, I am often confused because their today is my tomorrow.
Having never been in combat, I will never know what it is like to go visit my former battlefield, but that is what my Dad is doing. I have truly studied the Vietnam War, because it has such an impact on my family. I am just as proud of my Mom and Dad’s trip back to Vietnam as I am of my Dad’s two combat tours.
Here is an excerpt from the most recent email from my Mom explaining the end of their Washington and Lee University organized tour of Vietnam.
The rest of the tour departed for Cambodia this morning together with most of the other tours in the area departing as well, we have Saigon for ourselves with 9,000,000 others of assorted nationalities. We're going to mass this morning just to do it then wander around town for the rest of the day doing those things expected of American tourists. ... .... Yesterday morning, we visited the Cu Chi tunnels close to where Dad spent the last three months of his first tour. Our guide, Thanh, purchased a tree which we planted for W&L, Company B, and all those fallen on both sides of the conflict. It was a moving experience to say the least. Dr. Barton Dick, W&L '62 and a combat Marine physician, Thanh, our guide, and Dad planted the tree together above the tunnel complex. (Thanh described the tunnels as the terminus for the Ho Chi Minh trail.Tomorrow it's on to Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng with a new guide arranged for us by Thanh, Hung. The weather is constant, 90 plus degrees with 90 plus humidity. It's funny, but first time visitors expected something else despite Dad's telling them otherwise - Shirley Shugart 03/06/2010
I think today, but it may be tomorrow (see above) my Dad will walk the battlefield of Soui Tre where he earned his Silver Star, March 19, 1967. Based on my Mom’s email, it will be quite an emotional experience. Just like his first trip, I believe this will be a life changing experience.