FACES OF AGENT ORANGE TOWN HALL MEETING SCHEDULE
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Ghosts Of Viet Nam
(C) James J Alonzo
When I arrived in Viet Nam in early 1967, on getting off the plane, I felt I had live here before. As a believer of reincarnation, I had lived here in another life. I was overwhelmed with a huge "Da Ja Vu all over again." I saw many things that were so familiar, especially the ghosts.
Ghosts; Viet Nam now is a different Vietnam than in 1967, 1968, 1969. I remember as being an infantryman for the US Army and fighting in the jungles, 1967 & 1968. I remember the smell of napalm, the jungle, the rust smell of blood, the sounds of helicopter blades. I remember seeing some of my friends die, I remember the dangers of the jungle. I remember one of my men dying after being bitten by a venomous snake. At the time I was told that the snake is known as a three stepper snake, because it can kill you after you take three steps. However, he died two hours later at the Evac Hospital. When I was researching years later, the snake was a Puff Adder.
Ghosts; There are Vietnamese stories about the 'tree ghosts of Vietnam'. Legend has it that wandering spirits around the countryside of Vietnam need a place to live and they take up residence in the trees of the jungle. It is said that if you cut down a tree without asking permission, you will be cursed or you will face bad luck. The people of Vietnam have been known to perform a ceremony asking the entities to leave a tree and to move onto another tree before cutting it down. But then, along comes the Americans in their planes spraying defoliant named Agent Orange, to destroy the jungles.
Ghosts; When I left Vietnam, unknowingly I brought back Agent Orange contamination, PTSD, and residuals from being wounded during a fire fight. At nights, I would wake up in a cold sweat as I battled these Ghosts. Ghosts that will always remind me of the jungle. I will always remember the ghosts.
Ghosts; Over a thousand years, Viet Nam has been at war against foreign countries or kingdoms that wanted to conquer or control Viet Nam. With the many wars, came suffering, torture, tragedies that Viet Nam has witnessed and experienced, Vietnam has many, many ghosts.
Ghosts; I fell in love with a lady in Viet Nam. Her name was Kim, and she and her family were killed by the communists during TET Offensive. Kim was 20, full of life, a vibrant, beautiful, refreshing, delicate flower of a woman. Vietnam was her country,
A country that she visualized as paradise. I asked her if there are ghosts in Vietnam and her response was 'many'.
Ghosts; Soldiers in my company, when on guard duty at night, often claimed they saw apparitions staring at them from some trees in the jungle. One soldier even approached a tree, where he saw one but the ghost vanished in front of his very eyes. He was sure he saw the tree ghosts of Vietnam.
Ghosts; After the Viet Nam war, there are many tourists that visit Viet Nam, some claimed to have seen ghosts. In one area of the Delta, where the Australian troops served and fought in during the war, tourists have claimed they encountered a phantom soldier that was wearing a hat that was flipped over on one side. He appeared to be bleeding from the side of his face and holding his neck as if he were trying to stop the bleeding. They could hear the soldier say in English with an Australian accent: "I need help, where am I?" Then the soldier would walk away fading into a thick tree.
Ghosts; Tourists that have explored the tunnels of Vietnam, have made claims of seeing moving figures in the tunnels. There were so many tunnel complexes in Viet Nam, some very elaborate. In Cu Chi the tunnel system is over 200 miles, with many escape entrances and exits. Near Long Binh base Camp, there was a tunnel complex that was three stories deep, and included a mess hall and hospital.
Ghosts; Could some of those ghosts be the dead American soldiers, that were picked because of their short height and small size and called tunnel rats? Could these ghosts be the American Tunnel Rats who bravely crawled into those underground dwellings looking for VC (Viet Cong)?
Ghosts; How many tunnel rats died tragically by poisonous booby traps? Those poisonous booby traps being bamboo viper, venomous Krait and scorpions placed strategically in places of the tunnels by the VC. If these biological booby traps didn't get them, or the shrapnel from a grenade or a discharged projectile from an AK-47 would have made its mark. Those soldiers in Vietnam that went inside these tunnels were facing death. How many ghosts of the Viet Cong and America soldiers are in these tunnels?
Ghosts; Khe Sanh was an area of hills overlooking part of the Ho Chi Minh trail. 5,000 American Marines were surrounded by over 50,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. (NVA) the job of the NVA was to kill and destroy the Marines, but they failed. Many lives were lost, and now tourists claim they see the ghosts of both sides wandering the area.
Ghosts; Vietnam had many wars, over the last thousand years. The American Vietnam War was just one of those conflicts. With all of the tragedies of Vietnam, I believe there are many ghosts. So when Kim told me that there are ghosts in Vietnam, I believed her.
© Copyright 2012 James J Alonzo All rights reserved.
James J Alonzo has granted Agent Orange Legacy its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.