Dear Natalie: Letters Home from ‘Nam

Sgt. Pete was trim, good looking, well tanned and never shut up once.  That’s how I remember my seatmate on the “Freedom Bird” flight home from Vietnam on June 4, 1971.  He seemed happier than a lark to be leaving the war.  So who wouldn’t be?Read More

So What’s A Chu Lai Anyway?

Chu Lai was my home away from home during the Vietnam War. Though you likely never heard of it, Chu Lai was much much more. What happened in and around Chu Lai turned out to be emblematic of the misery and tragedy of the entire war.Read More

Hanoi Hoopla: The Shin Splint Summit

Say what you will about President Obama.  But at least he kept it low key and metaphysical.  When he was in Hanoi, he had the good sense to chill among the people, sipping beers with Anthony Bourdain in a hole in the wall Bun Cha joint.Read More

Tet 2019: Vietnam in the Year of the Pig

All of the new friends I made traveling throughout Vietnam last year are in the midst of celebrating Tet 2019, the Lunar New Year. Many gave me a glimpse of their cherished holiday rituals. Some are traditional and some are new. And all are simply wonderful.Read More

Christmas in Vietnam: 12 Days of Darkness

“The bastards have never been bombed like they’re going to be bombed this time.”                  –President Richard Nixon, 1972   The idealized Christmastime night sky is a star-studded obsidian wonderland, pierced by a gleaming heraldic star of hope peaceRead More

Thank You For Your Service

So what DID you do in the war, Daddy?  This is the time of year that folks say to countless thousands of veterans:  “Thank you for your service.”  I respond, usually, by saying “Thanks for your support”. Frankly, I don’t know exactly what that means. ButRead More

Hanoi Hilton and the Nobility of John McCain

We each have a defining moment in our lives.  For John McCain, there was more than one. You might say my one encounter with the late Senator John McCain (1936-2018) was off-the-wall.  It certainly wasn’t face-to-face. It came at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum in HanoiRead More

The Bourdain Legacy: What We Ate in Vietnam

No mention  of food in Vietnam is complete without a heartfelt nod to the trail blazing of Anthony Bourdain.  I dedicate this post to his memory. As “George Washington Slept Here” signs are the folksy cliche of US inn travel, “Anthony Bourdain Ate Here” designations areRead More

American Women Who Served in Vietnam

Today, Memorial Day, or anytime you salute those who served — in Vietnam and elsewhere — also remember our sisters who went to the field, and some who did not return.   Night-walking The Wall—the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC—was eerie.  Not at all theRead More

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