CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Six veterans who served their country during one of the most turbulent times in modern history are returning to Vietnam.
The group decided to go back decades later because they haven’t seen the country since the war and are looking forward to seeing how it has changed.
“I’m going back to see how everything has changed. It’s become a a tourist destination if you can believe that,” Jim Huntz said.
Huntz was a helicopter crew chief with the Marines.
“Like anybody else who was there in combat, you have memories burned in your memory of that,” he said. “I don’t have any ghosts or dramatic nightmares or anything like that, but it’s just going to be an opportunity to go back and try to see the way it was. But from what I’ve heard, it’s transformed into paved roads and street lights.”
John Borychi drive reconnaissance missions for the Marines during the war.
He said, “We’re going to land in Hanoi and cruise around what they used to call ‘Leatherneck square,’ the northern part of I-Corps, just south of the DMZ. Because that’s where we were.”
Even during a time of war, Borychi says he can remember how beautiful the country is.
“When I was there, I said I’d like to go back,” he said. “I would just like to see the countryside. I was a motor transport, I drove all over the place and I would just like to go back and enjoy while there’s nobody shooting at me.”
The veterans are going on this trip through a group called “Vietnam Battlefield Tours.”
“There’s just a lot of battlefield history that we’re going to get to experience. Climb some of the hilltops that were former battlefields. They say the Vietnamese welcome us with open arms and there’s a different generation there. The population is younger. They weren’t even alive during the war, so they look to us tourists for information about the war,” Huntz said.
He added, “I have a lot of memories, but no resentment to the people.”
A history professor from Hilbert College is traveling with these veterans on their return trip. Veterans interested in returning to Vietnam can learn more on this website.