Happy Memorial Day to all active duty military personnel and veterans. This is a special day when our country offers a thank you to all military personnel, active duty and veterans.
I am a veteran or the Vietnam War. Forty six years ago I was living in the jungle of Vietnam, several miles outside of the city of Zuan Loc at the Blackhorse base camp. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and my unit, the 27th Engineer Battalion, lived at the base camp. Talk about a life changing event, the Vietnam War was such an event. The Viet Cong would plant mines, now known as IEDs (improvised explosive devices) along the road between the base camp and the city of Zuan Loc. My unit would send small groups out around sundown to hide in the edge of the jungle near the road to try to ambush the Viet Cong when they came out to plant their mines. We would hide near the edge of the road all night waiting for them to come do their work. Most nights we would lay in silence waiting but they would not come. The next morning we would return to the base camp for another day of work. Often mines would be found on another section of the road where they had avoided our trap.
I was one of the lucky ones who returned from Vietnam and went on to have a successful business career. Too many of my fellow Vietnam Veterans either didn’t return or returned with scars that have affected them to this day.
My heart goes out to all my fellow vets.
Twenty five years after my tour of duty in Vietnam, I was working for The Dow Chemical Company, living in Hong Kong. The U.S. embargo of Vietnam was still in place but the government was considering lifting the embargo. I was chosen to visit Vietnam to evaluate the business opportunities for my company in Vietnam after the embargo was lifted. The country of Vietnam was so backward economically at that time that my analysis concluded there were no significant business opportunities and would likely be none for many years to come. The good news was during that visit I managed to arrange a visit to Zuan Loc and the area where Blackhorse base camp had been. A small village had replaced the base camp, and I spent some time with the Mayor of the village and his daughter. They invited me into a building that was used for village meetings. The Mayor and I had tea while his teenage daughter played the piano for us. It was a very emotional experience.
In 1997, I again visited Vietnam, This time I was working for another company who was in the power development business. Vietnam was trying to attract foreign investment, and one of their needs was more electricity for the country. The company I was working for had successfully won a bid to build a new power plant in Vietnam in the northern part of the country, northeast of Hanoi. We opened an office in Hanoi and over the next year I visited the country several times to participate in the negotiations with the Vietnamese government to build the power plant they had awarded us the right to build. On one occasion, John Kerry, our current Secretary of State, visited Hanoi while I was there, and I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with him discussing the power plant project. At that time he was a Senator and he used his influence to try to assist our efforts. We had lunch one day with the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, who was a former POW from the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, I can no longer remember his name, but we had a very interesting conversation during lunch. After more than a year of negotiations it became evident that the Vietnamese government was unwilling to agree to practical terms needed to successfully finance and build the power plant. We finally closed our office in Hanoi and more on to other countries were there were more realistic opportunities. I have not been back to Vietnam since.
Now I have written my first fictional novel, “Life of a Double Agent”, which includes a few chapters where the lead character, Jim Hunt, is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam, while he is also an undercover agent for the CIA and China’s MSS. Writing this part of the book brought back a lot of memories of the war.
I encourage anyone who reads this blog posting to consider buying my book, which is available as an e-book, in paperback and in hard cover. It can be purchased at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or by visiting my website, http://www.lifeofadoubleagent.com. It is an easy read and hopefully you will enjoy it.
Again, Happy Memorial Day.
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