May 27, 2008

My Dad's Vietnam 1966

My dad was served as a doctor in the war we call the Vietnam war, the war the Vietnamese call The American War. He was there from 1966 to 1967. My dad's Kodachromes—there are hundreds of them—were my first sense of 'the other side of the world'. Many photos are of empty landscapes. There are shots taken from the backs of jeeps. The barracks. A whole roll is devoted to a praying mantis that lived in his dorm.
There are many shots of red dirt roads and palm trees. The palms and the red dirt must have made some deep psychic impression because during my trips there as a backpacker, my first impression was of a kind of overpowering and almost haunting dejavu. His photos largely turned away from the horrors he experienced. In the year he served more than 6,000 Americans died. 12,000 South Vietnamese died and 61,000 North Vietnamese. More than 30,000 were wounded. The hospital where he worked was one of the busiest in the country. When I was growing up we would sometimes talk about that year during long Texas car rides, but his answers to my questions always seemed like riddles to me. They still do.



Related: Quiet Sunday, Telegrams and Polka Dots

posted at 12:03 AM by raul

Filed under: family lore

TAGS: memorial day (1) vietnam (2) war (3)


05/27/08 01:15 AM

These are some of the most fascinating photographs I've seen in quite some time. I'd like to see more.

05/27/08 03:01 AM

These photos are full of history. They remind me of photos my own father took in Indonesia.Maybe it was the syle of taking phoos then, or the expectations about representation, but they seem to be without attitude. (It's a very painful time in my memory. I lost a friend in Viet
Nam. )
By the way, there is a very interesting essay your father might like to read in Atul Gawande's book, "Better", about the medical insights gained in Iraq- radical new treatments of casualties ..)

05/27/08 08:44 AM

thanks for sharing these images, and yes, would be really great to see more

05/27/08 10:48 AM

absolutely stunning. more please!

05/27/08 02:53 PM

very cool photographs.
and, if i may, i would like to add my name to the growing list of people who would like to see more...

05/27/08 03:58 PM

Amazing. Thanks for sharing these personal looks at a different time and place with us.

06/02/08 12:41 PM

these are great. i would also love to see more.

06/06/08 05:31 AM

These are so intriguing. Put me down for more.

10/04/08 02:35 AM

Does anyone have pictures from Laos? I am doing a ten year photo project about the modernization of Laos, starting from 2001 to 2010. It is a document concerning the transitions of Laos from being a totally reclusive body (in 1999) to the stated goal of becoming a fully modern country by 2012. Modernization and global interests are impacting traditional life in Laos at an alarming rate. Culture is changing fast, and traditions will be lost. My goal is to document some of those traditions, though I know that it is not really a valid endeavor for an outsider to accurately depict the true realities of those many and varied cultures. Still, any input would be helpful in my attempt. Thank you if you have anything to add.

10/04/08 11:22 PM

I have no Laos pictures, but it sounds like a worthy cause. I've been doinging something similar in parts of rural China and Tibet over the last twenty years.

07/19/09 11:46 AM

My husband died in Viet Nam in September 1966. He was a door gunner on a medivac helicopter serving near An Khe. They were on a mission to rescue an injured Viet Cong soldier when their helicoper was fired at as flew low in the trees and everyone on board (including the wounded man) were killed. Just curious where your father serve since it was the same time period my husband was there? I enjoyed the pictures and would like to see more. Thank you.

07/19/09 12:34 PM

This is the same period My dad was over there from Summer 66 to April 1967. He was in several locations but his main locations were near the Cambodian border and later in the big field hospital near Ben Hoa...

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