Wherever we traveled to and from, it was always a new experience. One thing that immediately stood out to me is the rules of the road, “The Law of Gross Tonnage determines who has The-Right-of-Way” and “Only worry about what’s in front of you.” This is good information to know traveling abroad and really good while navigating around in Saigon. Holy Shit! I’ve never seen so many people in such a small place. I’ve been to New York City, Chicago, Japan etc. and seen lots of people moving around. These places don’t hold a candle to the movement in Saigon. Saigon is about the size of Los Angles with almost 10 million people living there, and I think they all had some place to go, while I was out riding and sight seeing. It was too much fun riding around the city during the day, looking at all it had to offer. Then doing it again, intoxicated, at night. (OK I probably should leave that part out). There was always something to see, or pictures to be taken, that you don’t see in the USA.
Meeting Jerry, Ski, Dave and practically living with them for the ten days was a very unique experience within itself. I often think about the funny things that happened, and the experiences they shared from being there in ’66. In my little world “I have acquaintances” and “I have friends.” I believe I have some good friends in these guys.
Phong and Ngoc Nguyen — I can’t say enough good things about them. They went out of their way to ensure the trip was successful. There is no doubt in my mind, that if (hopefully when) I go back, I will contact them to plan my trip. My wife and I are talking about a trip to the Sandy Beach Resort in Da Nang in a few years. Hopefully, I will see the Nguyen family, again.
As far as my thoughts on Mike Carey, I think I pretty much let that be known throughout this writing. But I should note that my dad has a great for respect for Mike Carey, and he doesn’t mind telling you. More than once, dad has said if it wasn’t for Mike, I (my dad) probably wouldn’t be here today. Dad points out that there are not too many Marines with (2) two Silver Stars earned in (3) three days. The Major, his wife Chris and daughter Kaitlyn – well, I feel a special bond with them, and, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I got to say about that.”
My ole buddy Paul, well he lives about an hour from me. We try to get together every week or so to visit, cookout etc. Every time we get together we talk about and relive places and events of this trip. For us, it truly was a “Trip of a Lifetime”.
Before closing, if I might be so bold as to give advice to anyone thinking about a trip like this, especially veterans, I would say to keep an open mind when visiting museums and memorials. Look at the pictures, statues and displays, but remember that Vietnam won the war. Everything will be presented from a Vietnamese historical point of view.
The people of Vietnam regained independence, and broke away from China in AD 938, and have never lost a war since. This is a fact, and I’m certain the people are proud of it. So, as you travel through Vietnam. Keep an open mind. This is a beautiful country. Visit as much of it as possible, and don’t let misplaced pride ruin your trip.
Everywhere I went, from Saigon up north to the former DMZ then back south down to Chu Lai, I felt welcomed by the people. The Vietnamese are generally very open and friendly toward American visitors.
Well that’s it, I spoke with the Major the other day, and he told me to get ready because it appeared that the 2011 trip is gonna be full. I think now that the hill is fairly accessible, most of the “Ten Good Men” will want a second attempt at ascending this hallowed battleground know as Hill 362. As for me, I would hate to miss it. I’m sticking pennies in the piggybank, everyday.
The End – Trip of a Lifetime
Danny L. Brickey Sr.
I want to thank both Mike Carey and Jerry Rhein for their guidance and editing skills of this so called masterpiece. If anyone reading this has any questions about Vietnam (not that I’m an expert) or my trip feel free to contact me.