Monthly Archives: March 2012

Montagnards


“mountain people”

The only time I saw Montagnard villagers during my Vietnam tour was at LZ Buttons (Song Be). Perhaps the group was brought in from the jungle for questioning. I remember how primitive they all looked.

The real natives of Vietnam were the Montagnards. All they needed were a grass hooch, a banana tree, and a crossbow; they didn’t give a damn who ran the country.

Montagnard village during the Vietnam War

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

In the final days of the Vietnam War in 1975 and immediately following, 1,000,000 Vietnamese refugees were evacuated from Vietnam and resettled in the United States. And in keeping with a 1960’s promise, 150,000 Hmong tribesmen of the US “Secret Army” in Laos were evacuated to our country in 1975. Yet only 3,000 Montagnards, our most distinguished and loyal ally, have reached the U.S. The Central Highlands of Vietnam is the ancestral homeland of the Montagnard tribes, a peace loving people with an ancient tradition of living in harmony with nature and the cosmic forces. But their great forests and rich lands became a battlefield for communist ambitions and opposing powers, compelling their involvement in two successive wars that raged for nearly three decades. Physically, the Montagnards are darker skinned than the mainstream Vietnamese and do not have epicanthic folds around their eyes. In general, they are about the same size as the mainstream Vietnamese.

Group of Montagnards are lining up for inspection

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Montagnards Photo by Talmadge Cain 1st BN 50th Inf, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 1968-1969

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Vietnam War Movies


No American conflict has been as big a gold mine for movies as Vietnam.

When “Apocalypse Now” was released in 1979, I took special interest in this movie. It featured my unit, 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall)

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like victory”

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