Reeducation In Postwar Vietnam, By Edward P. Metzner Et Al

by Edward P. Metzner et al.
(Texas A&M Press, 2001; 135 pp., $24.95 — ISBN 1585441295).

As I read the book, I was overcome with a flood of memories, e.g., my high school years during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the election of 1964, with its promise by the winning candidate of “no wider war,” and my service in Viet-Nam with the 199th Infantry Brigade. All of this was followed by several years of allied battlefield victories, internal rancor, and finally, in April 1975, we were unwilling witnesses to the fall of our allies in the Republic of Viet-Nam.

Throughout the war, we were fed a steady drumbeat of nonsense from those who wanted a communist victory, i.e., that our allies were nothing more than a “corrupt and repressive regime,” while the other side consisted of patriotic nationalists who only wanted “freedom” from foreign oppression. I knew from studies prior to my service in Viet-Nam that communism was (is) the most evil political system ever devised by man. I happened to have been stationed in Long Binh, near Honai village where the majority of the villagers were North Vietnamese Catholics who had fled from the north in 1954 during what turned out to be a brief intermission between the first and second Indo-China wars.

I always knew before, during and after my service in Viet-Nam that our cause was just, but horribly handled, with the truth mangled by those who wished to deliver our friends into the hands of the communists. From the mid-60s to April 1975, one could not open a newspaper or watch the TV news without hearing a horror story about our involvement in the conflict. All the while, never was heard a discouraging word about the “liberators.”

The narrative on our friends Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc and Le Nguyen Binh was both riveting and sad. Their stories were a discourse on human bravery and the indomitable human spirit. My emotions ranged from sadness to shame to horror at their years-long plight after the war, and the horrible, cruel treatment meted out to them and to so many other Vietnamese patriots who fought and too often died for what seemed to be, at the time, a losing cause.

I am ashamed that we, as a nation, allowed these good people to be abandoned to the not-so-tender mercies of the communists. The subsequent “reeducation” in slave labor camps with the many deaths due to disease, malnutrition and general harsh treatment give the lie to the apologists for Uncle Ho that life would be much better in a reunited, communist Viet-Nam. Likewise, the massive exodus by the boat people, along with the thousands of anonymous deaths at sea, speak of the desire for all people to live freely, and to live away from the criminal monstrosity known as communism.

May the good Lord bless the work of Colonel Metzner and our valiant Vietnamese friends for their contributions to the war on communism which, at this writing, is almost, but not completely, over.