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The Last US Soldiers Left Vietnam 50 Years Ago Today!

Reblogger Paul D. Diaz, EA, MBA
Industry Observer with Paul D. Diaz, EA, MBA BK 602473
Original content by Jim Paulson DB-17066

Did you know that March 29th is National Vietnam War Veterans Day?  How do you even being to approach this topic?  Happy National Vietnam Veterans Day just doesn't seem right.  Do you offer condolences to those that lost friends and family during that war?

I lived in Vietnam during that war.  I spent 3.5 years there.  However, my experiences were totally different than most. I actually started Kindergarten in Saigon at the Phoenix Study Group. My father worked for an international engineering and construction company, Morrison Knudsen International.  He didn't want our family separated when he was transferred to work on the massive RMK-BRJ contract.

I loved the country, the people and the food.  I do have a few unique memories to share however:

  • I didn't realize till recently that I am in fact a Privileged Old White guy since this was a private school.
  • My dad asked my brother after the first day of school "How was it?" My brother replied "Dumb!" Some of the teachers were Catholic Nun's (although we were not raised Catholic) and they told my brother to call them sister.  He replied "No, my sister lives in Oregon." Hence, it was "Dumb".
  • Our maid had a son that was my age so I would accompany them shopping.  Her olive skinned son came home looking the same and yet my skin looked like a lobster due to my horrible sunburn.
  • One day at school, a helicopter accidently dropped a case of tear gas grenades into the campus.  It is hard enough to get elementary aged children to line up single file at the water fountain . . . it is even harder after being tear gassed!
  • During the 1968 Tet Offensive, military intelligence anticipated some problems so we let them use our house as a lookout and we went on a family vacation to Thailand.  When we came home, we had lots of bullet holes in our house; paintings knocked off the walls and an unexploded mortar in the back yard.  My father had it removed, de-actived and turned it into a GI Joe fort complete with a flashing red light when you opened the hinged door. For some reason he wouldn't let me take that out of the country when we moved to Korea.
  • We would go to the beach to relax and it was at a US POW camp.  Safest place in Vietnam at the time since we controlled all the guns there.
  • One one trip to the beach, the Viet Cong were shooting up at our military helicopter.  Our GI's thought it would be funny if my brother and I were placed at the hard mounted machine guns returning fire, so we did.  Fortunately, there was so much vegetation that we will never know if we actually shot anyone or not.
  • On another trip to the island, we were shot again and some of the bullets had tracers.  I just thought the red ones were pretty like the 4th of July fireworks.  My mother was worried and scared to death.
  • After we  left Vietnam, we would be asked about different things that we didn't have any knowledge of.  People would say "How do you not know that?" He would reply "Sorry, I was in Vietnam at the time." He used that excuse for way longer than he should have been able to but people didn't know how to respond back.

I still have lots of old photos and old reel to reel film canisters that I will need to watch one of these days.  Then I will figure out which to convert to digital.

For never having served in the military, I spent quite a bit of time in war zones.  I ended up moving all over thanks to my father's job.  I graduated from High School in Iran during the overthrow of the Shah in December 1978.  I was fortunate to have been already planning to graduate a semester early since no-one knew at the time, that would be the last semester of Tehran American School. But those stories are for another day.



Jim Paulson, CRS, AHWD, EcoBroker, GRI, SRES, ePRO, SFR
Owner/Broker - Progressive Realty Corporation
Specializing in Boise Idaho Real Estate