Goodbye Vietnam

The group is dispersing after a flight from Hanoi through Seoul. Some flew to Los Angeles, others to San Francisco.

We came from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Illinois, and we leave in various stages of exhaustion, euphoria, relief and sadness.

Vietnam is a peaceful country of welcoming people and great prices for tourists.

Its vestiges of the American war remain in old buildings pocked and blackened by mortars and machine gun fire but most buildings were built — and most of the population was born — after the 1970s.

Our war is behind them as we still struggle with the emotional fallout.

In final interviews with several of the veterans, most said they unloaded some of the weight they carried, but our local veteran, George Haught of Monaca, said he will carry his pain through the rest of his life.

“This was something I needed to do at this point in my life, but whether you ever have closure is debatable.

“I still wonder, though, why me? Why did I make it out when so many others didn’t?”

Read more about these stories in the Post-Gazette in the near future.