My Message Forum
Start a New Topic 

I saw a documentary yesterday about the end of the second world war. British troops went into what was called French Indo -China to accept the surrender of the Japanese occupying soldiers. Earlier General MacArthur had accepted the surrender of the Imperial Japanese Army and that army existed no more. There were Japanese soldiers, in uniform, and armed with no way to get home. The British accepted the surrender of the Saigon garrison, then went about trying to administer Vietnam. The Vietnamese volunteer army, called the Viet Minh, had fought the Japanese, after the colonial French had collaborated with the Japanese occupying army. I don't know why the French colonials collaborated with the Japanese army. Maybe they thought it was better than being a POW? Anyway, Uncle Ho and the Viet Minh wanted their own country and had fought for it. World War 2 had just ended and Joe Stalin had managed to enslave most of eastern Europe. The cold war had started and World Communism was on the march. The British command was told not to surrender Vietnam to the communists. The British had no way of fighting the Viet Minh, so in desperation they rearmed the Japanese troops and put them to work. The average Vietnamese must have thought the world had gone insane. Some 20 years later I was 20 years old, and like about every young fellow of my generation, I stepped off an airplane into this train wreck. I was in the Engineers and I was assigned to build bunkers for the war. I was issued a crew of 9 Vietnamese nationals and an M16 and no tool box. We built bunkers. One of the men that worked for me was named Kim. Kim was a Viet Minh in his youth. Kim was respected by all the other men. TJ tells me that I tell the same stories over and over. Maybe I do. I am grinning. There was a lot that confused me. We had a dish that we ate called Pho. It was pronounced Fa. A few years ago I had lunch in Boise with a cute little Vietnamese girl. We had Pho. When I got home I was telling Red that the Pho wasn't the same. In Vietnam, you got a bowl of warm colored water with a small bone in it and a bay leaf for flavor. In Boise you got a large bowl filled with noodles and meat and a branch of bay leaves. Red told me that the Vietnamese probably fed me all they had and that we were poor and I didn't even know it. Well, I am not a confused skinny kid half way around the world anymore. Now, I have graduated to being an old fat man with stories no on wants to hear. Life is good.