I spent the day yesterday in Studio A at Maryland Public Television (MPT) in Owings Mills, Maryland. I was there to participate in MPT’s first-ever flea-market. At a table prominently positioned near the entrance, my books were on display, with Last of the Annamese front and center.
Every MPT staff member I encountered knew me and greeted me by name. I was astonished. I finally asked one young woman how she knew who I was. She told me she had accompanied the MPT exhibit on Marylanders in the Vietnam war as it toured throughout the state. It was created to celebrate MPT’s three-hour documentary first aired in 2016 rebroadcast last night. I was one of the sixteen Maryland Vietnam veterans featured in the film. The young woman recognized me from the eight-foot banner on me and my time in Vietnam—each vet was honored with a banner.
I’ve told the story before here about how MPT misidentified me: “When they first interviewed me in 2014, my connection with the National Security Agency during my years in Vietnam was still classified. So I simply didn’t mention who my parent organization was. MPT found photos of me in various uniforms [I was operating under cover and posed as a soldier or Marine] and finally concluded that I must have been an army officer. They produced eight-foot banners on each of us vets to be displayed in their travelling exhibit. Mine shows two of those shots of me in an army uniform and proclaims that I was an army intelligence officer.
“After the final declassification of my work in Vietnam in 2016, I informed MPT of my true status. It was too late. The documentary was already scheduled for broadcast in June. The traveling exhibit, still touring throughout Maryland, shows me as an army officer.”
Several of the visitors who stopped by the table recognized me. As far as they knew, I was an army officer in Vietnam. I didn’t disabuse them.