America’s ambivalence about the Vietnam conflict began with the photograph of a monk, engulfed in flames, sinking to the pavement on a Saigon street, and another image, capturing the moment a uniformed officer fires a bullet into the head of a man in a plaid shirt, and still later, a naked girl, screaming as she runs from a cloud of black smoke.
Like so many fathers being celebrated this weekend, Lieutenant colonel Donald C Lundquist served his country in battle. In 1967, the army assigned Don as executive officer of a squadron protecting a jet fighter base at Chui Lai from the Vietcong. Don found a novel way to stay in touch with his wife Ruth and his young daughter, Jacqui, who were living with Ruth’s parents in Germany…Jacqui Lundquist doesn’t remember her father, but she came to know him through the more than 300 letters and hours of audio tapes recorded in his hooch in Chui Lai.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hands out coins to members of the crew as he visits USNS Richard E. Byrd in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, on Sunday. Panetta toured the former U.S. air and naval base in the bay, becoming the most senior American official to go there since the war ended.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is trying to send a message during a weeklong trip to the Asia-Pacific region: The U.S. is back.
Panetta continues Monday to Vietnam, where he's hoping to build stronger defense ties. The trip began Sunday with a historic return to a key crossroads of the Vietnam War: Cam Ranh Bay.
Panetta boarded a little ferry boat Sunday in the beautiful natural harbor north of Ho Chi Minh City. On board, he asked about his destination: the USNS Richard E. Byrd, a big supply ship docked on the other side of the bay.