A group of war journalists touched down in Vietnam Friday, the latest wartime group to return to Vietnam and to the scene of their wartime experience thanks to a nonprofit foundation specializing in reuniting soldiers with their battlefields.
Vietnam veteran Bill Reynolds, who serves as The Signal’s Director of Veteran Affairs, was with the group of eight combat reporters – all US Marines – who covered the Vietnam War when they set foot in Vietnam Friday.
“Preparing for the emotions that are sure to come as I visit my old battle grounds with fellow Marines is already beyond my expectations,” said Valencia resident and wartime journalist Jim Hacket.
The extraordinary reunion was made possible by a group called the Greatest Generations Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to honoring America’s veterans.
The foundation sent vets back to battlefields in both the European Theatre and the South Pacific Theatre. And, last year, began sending Vietnam vets back to the battlefields of Vietnam.
Reynolds was among the first group of returnee vets to return to Vietnam in April 2016.
The vets on that trip described their experience as deeply personal and profound.
The group of war journalists visiting there now is the first of its kind to be given the opportunity by the same foundation.
Veteran journalist Eric Grimm, of Colorado Springs, said about setting foot in Vietnam: “I was surprised at the urbanization and the modernization of Danang from my days operating in this area.
“The Vietnamese have been most industrious this past 49 years,” he said.
Returning to the scene of battle was “surreal” for Captain Dale Dye, of Los Angeles.
“It was probably one of the most surreal experiences of my life,” he said, upon arrival in Vietnam.
“There we were at Danang Airport last night in the midst of unarmed soldiers in green uniforms and red collars.
“It brings back so many vivid memories of me and fellow Marines trying to kill as many as possible, and them gunning for us. Yet, here we are in an urban setting, laughing and enjoying ourselves.
“Just surreal, “ he said. “I know these feelings will intensify when we get into the bush,” Dye said.
Steve Berntson, of University Place, WA, said: “When we got in last night I was in absolute cultural shock with neon lights everywhere. When I was last here in 1967, the sky was lit up with red and green tracer rounds.
“Now, we’re laughing and joking having a great time,” he said.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt