Questions I’m Always Asked (2)

The other question I’m invariably asked is, have I ever returned to Vietnam.

The answer is no.

I loved the country, and I loved the people. I lived with them, worked with them, spoke with them in their own language—be it Vietnamese, Chinese, or French.

But I don’t want to go back. My feelings are so strong that I would actively avoid going back.

I have two reasons. The first and minor one is that I know that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cộng Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam), as the communists now call their country, is a police state. I would only be allowed to go where the government wanted me to go and would only meet Vietnamese under the iron control of the authorities. The native Vietnamese and Chinese would be required to demonstrate how happy and prosperous the people are and how much they love Americans. I’d see no poverty or repression. In short, I’d see a false picture of what Vietnam is today.

The stronger reason is that I don’t want to revisit places that are, for me, filled with grisly memories. The source my recurring nightmares, flashbacks, irrational rages, and panic attacks—my Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI)—is Vietnam. I don’t want to relive the horrors I witnessed and participated in during combat and the fall of Saigon. I don’t need to be reminded. The memories are as strong today as they were when I was there. They never go away. They never weaken. I have learned over the years to face them head on, to cope with them, to mediate my emotions. Returning to the scene of my psychic wounds would serve no purpose other than to sharpen my pain.

My days in Vietnam ended forty-two years ago. Those days are my past. My present in consumed in writing about what happened. Maybe my future will be more peaceful.

2 thoughts on “Questions I’m Always Asked (2)”

  1. I first went back in 1989 after several years of asking for a visa from the SRVN embassy in Ottawa because my wife’s father was sick and dying. We did not make it in time. When I arrive, I was told I was an enemy of the state and could not leave the city limits of T.P. Ho Chi Minh (old Gia Dinh). My wife went home and I walked the city looking for a cousin of my wife who worked as a nurse. I found her.
    After several years of coming back on almost an annual basis (to date), I asked the agent following me if he would take me to his captain. He was surprised but he did it. I told the captain that after watching me for several years had I done anything against Viet Nam. He said no. So I asked him to get me of the enemy list. He did and the government issued me a five-year visa instead of 30 days. I now travel freely around the country to do my research for my books. You can see my books at and type Daniel in their Search.
    I know it is a single party state but it is changing almost everyday. The people has more young people than most countries and they do not want to be bothered with politics and other government affairs. The government has had to loosen the strings quite a bit. It is not perfect but it is getting better.


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