“In Return to Vietnam, Vets Tackle Mess They Left Behind”

Some excerpts from this 2 December 2013 Newsweek magazine article written by Jeff Stein:

A handful of former U.S. servicemen have moved to Vietnam permanently to clean up devastation left by American bombs and Agent Orange. AP Photo (Courtesy: Newsweek)

It’s not easy to find a turkey dinner in Hanoi, but a handful of Americans and their Vietnamese friends gathered last Thursday over an imported bird cooked for them at a fancy restaurant in the capital’s old quarter, and they gave thanks.

One of them was Chuck Searcy, who was a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Saigon 45 years ago. Another was Manus Campbell, who survived some of the war’s bloodiest fighting as a Marine draftee in Quang Tri Province. Both are nearly 70 now.

While hundreds of Vietnam vets have come back for brief, melancholy visits to the old battlefields to heal their psychological wounds, Searcy and Campbell are different: They and a handful of other former U.S. servicemen have moved to Vietnam more or less permanently to help clean up the deadly mess left by American bombs and Agent Orange, the widely sprayed defoliant linked to birth defects and cancers.

Myra Macpherson, a former Washington Post reporter and author of the 1984 book, Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation, threw a party at her Washington apartment in September for Searcy and Campbell and some of their Vietnamese coworkers, whom she met on a trip to Hanoi last April.

She calls these vets unsung heroes of a forgotten war. “They came as innocent young soldiers and left shattered. Their return, years later, is, in part, atonement for what their country did, as well as a personal heartfelt humanitarian apology,” she says.

“They are truly a courageous band of brothers.”

Follow this link to read the rest of the article about a story rarely told in the U.S. media.


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