Back To Vietnam
One year ago I joined a group of our Vietnam Veterans on a wheelchair trip to Vietnam where I saw old adversaries become new friends and that simple acts of kindness make the world a better place for both the givers and receivers. Let’s keep these thoughts in mind as we enter the holiday season. Below are a couple of brief recollections from that trip from two Veterans that traveled with us, Joe Callaway and Gary Pforr.
Joseph Callaway entered the army as a private in 1965 and, after being commissioned as an officer through Infantry OCS (Officer Candidate School), served in Vietnam from December 1966 until July 1968 as an infantry platoon leader with the 9th Division, a combat advisor to the first Thai regiment deployed to Vietnam, and as a staff officer with the 5th Special Forces. Joe is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley, and his peers supported him in his decision to return to Vietnam 54 years later.
Joe recalls his evening in Hue,
“Particular noteworthy was the fabulously memorable dinner we had with about 20 former NVA (North Vietnamese Army) soldiers that started solemn and stiff but evolved (after voluminous beer consumption) into riotous revelry! Singing, beer can crushing, handshaking, and hugging between soldiers who once wanted to kill one another. Most poignant, but memorable, was when one former NVA soldier told one of our group, ‘I’m glad I didn’t kill you.’ Our member responded, ‘I’m also glad you didn’t kill me.’”
Gary Pforr, another VVDV member traveling with the group observed,
“Participation in the distribution of wheelchairs by the Wheelchair Foundation was the most emotionally moving experience of our journey. Despite Vietnam’s widespread economic development and improved standard of living for most, it’s evident that many physically and mentally disabled persons, along with their parental caregivers, have been left behind and live in poverty. Some middle-aged parents transported their adult children to the distribution events literally on their backs. The appreciation and gratefulness they expressed after receiving their wheelchairs were emotionally heart wrenching.”
Thank you for your support and for making us better global ambassadors,