1st MIBARS In Vietnam!


 

Faces Through a Wall 


. . . And Other Folks We Saw Along the Way
L v Bang:
 Ti hy vọng rằng bạn sống st sau chiến tranh v được an ton v hạnh phc ngy hm nay, bận rộn với việc gip đỡ để pht triển đất nước của bạn. Ti hy vọng rằng bạn cả hai đều c nhiều con trai - con gi! Ti nhớ bạn v cảm ơn cả hai bạn cho tnh bạn của bạn trong một thời gian di trước đy.

Photo Credit: MIV

Above: Not Everyone In 1967 DaNang Was Stressed By Hostilities


Hi Neighbor! . . .

Immediately below are informal portraits of what was assumed to be a family living in a house next to the officers' billets in a residential neighborhood of downtown DaNang.  During infrequent encounters, always at this opening next to what seemed to be, based on the continual odor of wood smoke, an outdoor kitchen, the children were open, curious and friendly.  The protective matriarch (top row), however, always seemed to be in or near the "Yankee-Go-Home" mode.   Their names were never known, nor whether they were all one family, or how many lived behind the wall.  No men were ever seen at the windows.

Judging from scraps of information gleaned from modern-day internet directories of the city of DaNang and pictures taken by recent tourists to Quang Trung Street, it seems that hotels and higher density housing now occupy the space where both of these buildings stood in 1967.  One cannot help but wonder what happened to these folks after the fall of DaNang and where they are today.  But forty years after the fact, these pictures seem to confirm that while American soldiers were looking through windows of culture and war to make some sense of the Vietnamese, the Vietnamese were looking through windows of their own, trying to make sense of Americans and a war that was costing them so much.

A Journalist Remembers 

"She crosses a busy street, resplendent in her best ao dai . . .  She is delicate and shy and unworldly on the outside, but her backbone is of the finest steel, her courage unquestioned.  . . .  A Vietnamese proverb says that when war strikes close to home, even the women must fight.  They fought on both sides during the ten-year American war.  In the North, the Communists mobilized more than 200,000 women for service in the regular army, militia, and local forces.  . . . True power in Vietnam always . . . wore a delicate ao dai."

Joseph L. Galloway, Under Fire: Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam, Catherine Leroy (Ed.), 2005, Random House, New York, New York.

All Photo Credits: MIV


On the Street . . . 

The woman below, left, demonstrates the mild manner and easy smile of many Vietnamese.  She is wearing a non la, the iconic rice grass conical hat of the Vietnamese.  The passerby at right is dressed in the traditional Vietnamese ao dai.  It consisted of a dress split high on each side (the "ao") worn with pants (the "dai").  A humorous poem circulated among GI's at the time spoke in rhyme to the beauty of the Vietnamese woman and reflected the author's longing to see one ". . . with the ao but without the dai."

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV


And then, there were the kids on the streets, below in this double-frame print.  From ragamuffins to street hustlers to children like these -- friendly, curious, clean, groomed, well dressed and willing to please a photographer by transferring the sun helmet to the head of the little tyke  -- the kids were everywhere.  When in pairs, they were likely siblings, with the younger perched on the hip of the older -- looked after and always included in whatever was going on.

Photo Credits: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: Daryl Tucker, "B" Detachment, Reproduction Section, 1967-1968

Except for the absence of men of military age, the streets of the cities of DaNang and Saigon -- and their people -- carried on an everyday life of relative normalcy.  Clockwise, At Left:  the food service worker, the young woman watching the hustle and bustle of the sidewalks from behind a barbed-wire fenced wall, a well-groomed youngster proudly posing for a photograph,  the very privileged owner of a motor scooter, and two women walking -- one dressed in the traditional ao dai, the other in what seems to be a scouting uniform.  Above:  A young man fleeing the fighting around the I Corps Compound  on the morning of the Tet Offensive pauses momentarily to look up at the "B" Detachment trooper behind the compound wall.

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit: MIV

All Photo Credits: MIV


In The Local Workforce . . . 

In what was apparently a stereotype carried forward from Allied troops in World War II Japan, virtually all Vietnamese women who were not viewed as "eligible" -- and regardless of name, talent, personality, or other individual attribute -- were categorized as, and referred to, as "Momma-san."  The term was applied whether or not the person was a mother.  The woman below at left -- a Momma-san -- worked as a maid at the BOQ [bachelor officers quarters] at 9 Gia Long, in DaNang, a former hotel, keeping rooms tidy and doing laundry.  Bicycles were the primary mode of transportation in Vietnam and, as shown in the photo at right, almost always accommodated more than one rider.  Some bikes were equipped with tiny two-cycle engines in front that used a friction drive to turn the front wheel -- the first "moped" that many Americans had ever seen!

Photo Credit: MIV

Photo Credit:  MIV


. . . and Out At the Club

Between the Officers' Club, the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club, and Enlisted Men's' Club, there was always plenty of entertainment to keep morale up.  It could be startling to encounter an Asian -- most were Vietnamese or Filipino -- band doing contemporary Beatles songs -- complete with British accents as lyrics were apparently learned from records!  But as shown below, most acts included pretty girls, dancing, tights and eventually -- some mild floor work.

All Photo Credits: MIV


Out and About In Vietnam I

Out and About In Vietnam II

Recollections of the People and the Times


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