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Dateline: Firebase Bastogne  3 pm 9 Sept.
       On the ride back on QL49 towards
Hue, we would stop and take pictures of FB Bastogne.  Mr. Chien advised me that it would be very difficult to get through jungle and up the mountain because there are still live minefields. I felt bad because I still asked Mr. Chien, please can you get me to Bastogne.  Well, he decided to stop at the new village, Hong Den, to ponder the situation.  Just like anything else, just ask Mr. C. and he will provide!  After talking to one of the local villagers, he informed me that this guy knew a safe path to the top.  So here we go, up the hill one more time.  I do not know the name of our guide, but he grabbed a machete and cut a path for us all the way to Bastogne.  At the top, he shows us where they have cleared mines and where there are still active ones.  The view at the top is the same.   However, the firebase is not recognizable other than that.  The bald mountain to the north and west is still there, but after we pulled out and the VC took over, the base was B-52’d for several days.  However, you could still recognize where the helicopter pad was located.  Now can you see the smile on my face!!?? as in one day I summited both Blaze and Bastogne.  After returning to the cafe where Trina and Mr. Tian waited, I found out that Trina had treated the shy children there with lychee fruit that Mr. Chien's wife had given us the day before for our trip.  Trina and I decided to gift the children 200,000 dong (about $12! -a lot of money for them) to buy candy or whatever they wanted.  These shy children by now had big smiles and were waving as we were leaving.  Of course, Mr. C. had arranged that "real Hue food" back in the city, and I'm telling you we feasted that night!

Hue, early morning, 10 Sept.

       First, we started with another good breakfast with Mr. C. and his brother.  Breakfast was unbelievable, not because the food was great (it was) but because of 3 year old Uro, grandson of the owner Huong.  Could not help but laugh when he started passing out menus when we arrived.  This was followed by his helping to serve the food.  At three, he speaks remarkable English - he can count to 20, sing Happy Birthday without missing a word or note, and tell you his name.  Another big smile for my new day.  Then Mr. C. took us to the kingdom of the Citadel, a complex of temples and buildings where the king of Viet Nam once lived.  There we got to dress up in royal garb and sit on a replica of the throne.  You're sure to love those pictures!!  On our way to the DMZ, we passed by LZ Sally.   George Hunt was correct when he said there is now a cement plant there.

Dateline: Quang Tri - The DMZ that separated Nroth and
South Viet Nam during the war
This afternoon we drove across the Ben Hai River formerly separating North and South.  Upon arriving at the northern end of the bridge, we walked back 1/4 mile on the old bridge, thus crossing from North to South Viet Nam.  We then walked back from South to North and drove another ten miles or so to the Vinh Moc tunnels. There again, we became tunnel rats, but this time I made it to the end.  This work by hand is unbelievable - 1.6 meters high and about a meter wide.  This was an underground village where 350 people lived from 1967 to 1972.  Rooms included family sleeping rooms, wells, a meeting room, a kitchen, and a maternity ward where 17 babies were born (16 of them
still alive today).
     Final thoughts-- I don't know what we would have done without Mr. Chien.  He truly is a great human being, and any request is his command.  I don't care where we are - need an ATM, cold drink, great food, etc - just ask, and you shall receive!  He even called ahead to have a chicken killed for our dinner upon arrival.  I cannot begin to understand how lucky we have been the last four days.

        For now, Drive On.  D.

                              (More to come in future newsletters.)





  DIANA BLODGETT                                         

      MASTER STYLIST                            

        Shear Visions Hair Salon 

                 25 MAIN St., DRYDEN    

 (607)844-8752                              Thurs. 11:00-7PM

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NATIONAL PURPLE HEART   HALL of HONOR                         

 Last November, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor was dedicated.  It is located at the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site near Newburg, NY. 

            “The 7,500 square-foot facility will share the stories of America’s combat-wounded veterans and those who never returned.  The Hall of Honor will collect and preserve the stories of Purple Heart recipients from all branches and across generations.  Their stories will be preserved and shared through a series of exhibits, live and videotaped interviews of veterans, and the Roll of Honor---an interactive computer program detailing the stories of each veteran.  An estimated 600,000 Purple Heart recipients live across the country.

            “The Hall of Honor will be the nation’s sole repository dedicated to the preservation of these stories of sacrifice.  Visitors to the museum can search for stories using several criteria, including name and location, or they can take advantage of special recording booths to add their own stories to the archive….For more information, contact the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site, PO Box 207, 374 Temple Hill Road, Vails Gate, NY  12584; telephone 845-561-1765, or visit the website”   (Copied from The V.V.A. Veteran, March/April, 2007, p. 48.)

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