March 1999

      March of 1999 I made my third trip back to Vietnam. I was asked by some of the Manchus to try and find the site of the March 2, 1968 ambush. After much driving and asking questions we stopped at a small government office in Quoi Xuan…It was something like a county records department. The manager was a young man of about 25 and knew about the ambush site. He said the bridge we were looking for was a short distance outside of the village. After about a 1/2 mile drive we pulled up in front of the bridge and I got out of the car. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon dark cloudy skies. I was expecting a wooded area but its pretty much open except for a area that the government man called the battlefield. This is to the right hand side when you cross the bridge. I took some pictures from the middle of the bridge and walked across it. When I reached the other side I felt chills run up my back. I feel them right now as I think about it. I didn't feel this way when I first saw Cu Chi or Nui Ba Din again…..This was a strange feeling knowing I was the first Manchu across that bridge in 31 years…… I walked over to the right hand side of the road and went down the side of the bank to the canal. There are parts of a old wooden bridge down there under the concrete bridge. I’m not sure when the concrete bridge was built but it looks like it could be 20+ years old. I went to the other side of the road and there is a small food stand business. I took some pictures looking back at the bridge from that direction and walked down the road from the bridge for a 100 feet (north/northwest direction) took some more pictures and looked out across what they called the battlefield…

      Of all the places I’ve been in Vietnam I don't ever remember being left alone. Everyone was looking at me as usual but for some reason no one approached me. Maybe its because we were out of the big city and country people are more reserved. Maybe they just could tell I wanted to be left alone. Even my friend Hien stayed back. I started walking back towards the bridge and I was looking down at the street. I knew that many of my fellow Manchus had died right where I was standing. It's a feeling hard to explain………Thinking back when I was 19 and all the living I’ve done since. And then thinking of the men of Charlie Company who's last look at this world was of a bridge and the quiet peaceful road that lay on the other side.........Willy

                           

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