Vietnam Vet Gives Back North Vietnamese Bullet-Riddled Helmet
Above Photo: The helmet, with bullet holes.
John Wast will never forget his time in the jungles of Vietnam, but he’s about to let go of one item that reminds him of that time more than anything.
“I picked it up and tied it to my rucksack later and brought it home, and it has been in my office desk for 45 years,” said Wast.
He’s talking about a bullet-riddled helmet he found lying next to a dead north Vietnamese soldier after the smoke cleared from a 3-day battle. It was August of 1968, and the helmet was Wast’s only souvenir from his year-long stay.
The enemy soldier had scratched his name, Bui Duc Hung, and a palm tree onto the helmet, and maybe more surprising, a dove, the sign of peace.
“I thought about maybe him, leaning against a tree in early night and scratching that dove in really quick, and he did a great job,” Wast said. “If we gave it any thought, they probably didn’t want to be there any more than us. Their lives were harder than ours.”
After 45 years, Wast decided it was time to return the souvenir. He worked with the Toledo-based Dove Fund, Vietnam veterans who raise money to build schools and clean water systems in Vietnam, and found the fallen soldier’s family near Hanoi.
For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War and Adventure Backpacking into the jungles of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
Peter Alan Lloyd
BACK Parts 1 and 2
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