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My two-day lapse in posting is due to either painfully slow connections or nonexistent internet access. It's now February 26, 2010 (my birthday), 11:00PM Hanoi time, and I'm just back from a reception with the U. S. Ambassador to Vietnam, and a late dinner.  Tomorrow's early AM flight to Ho Chi Minh City means I won't have time to post anything later tonight or early in the morning; however, I was able to upload one of the several videos I shot during today's emotional reunion between Governor Joe Kernan and the villagers who were at the scene when he was shot down 38 years ago -- including some who tried to kill him, and some who helped save his life. This has been one of the most profoundly emotional days of my life and a birthday I'll never forget.

You will see in the attached video: the then-7-year-old boy (man in white t-shirt) and his family who were in a bomb shelter under their home at the time Joe landed unconscious in their yard; the man whom it's believed may have actually shot Joe down (with the beret hat); the man (in the green shirt) who was, himself, in the Vietnamese army at the time, and whose father -- because he had a son in the Vietnamese army -- helped whisk Joe away from the angry villagers who were trying to beat him; and other villagers who were on the scene in 1972 and who remember both the incident -- and Joe Kernan -- very clearly.

I hope to be able to post more tomorrow (fingers crossed for a faster connection in Ho Chi Minh City) including exclusive video of Governor Joe and Maggie Kernan being interviewed by the Vietnamese media, and the extremely emotional reaction of some of the group as they met and reminisced about the event that took place in their tiny village over a quarter century ago.

Vietnam is a vastly different place then it was even 15 years ago when I was last here. However, the Vietnamese people are the same warm, kind, friendly, respectful and cheerful people I remember. The compassion many of these villagers showed Joe Kernan after he was shot down, and the warm and emotional welcome he and Maggie received from them today, are a testament to their inherent goodness.

As this country moves rapidly forward into an unknown but surly exciting future for all it's people, that inherent goodness will be the bedrock upon which generations of Vietnamese children will build their own lives. And no country deserves such a brighter future more then Vietnam.

More tomorrow from Ho Chi Minh City.

Hanoi, Vietnam
26 February 2010

NOTE: The past two days have been packed with activity, including a detailed briefing by the Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, and other embassy officials, conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, dinner at the home of one of Hanoi's best-known chefs, and a day and night on a private Indochina Sails junk sailing around the stunningly beautiful and truly magical Halong Bay.

I'd like to personally thank Mike Cloonan, CEO of the phenomenal Innovative Immersions, for the outstanding itinerary he's put together for Governor Kernan and our group. (Our complete itinerary, with photos of a previous trip to Vietnam by Mike, is currently posted on Mike's corporate website)

 


Comments

Jeff Baker
02/26/2010 12:27pm

Joe,
Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing your wonderful journey.
Jeff

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