Vietnam Then And Now, Who’s To Help?

Have you been to Vietnam recently?Stern and Stern - Nomex - Oct 2013277px-Vm-map

Richard Barth, who was an Army lieutenant at 25 years old, when he flew Huey choppers in active combat in the Mekong Delt, is now on a mission to fix a big problem. Richard Barth learned about the region’s challenge and struggle with unexploded bombs and landmines while he was doing some research to help recall some memories of what happened since he was encouraged by his family to write a memoir. And that included his stint in Vietnam as a chopper pilot.

Unexploded Landmines In Vietnam

Barth is now using a one-man show he has created to help fund the removal of the unexploded landmines in Vietnam. He said he never understood the extent of the problem until he read a news article that as per Vietnam’s estimates, it would take another 260 years before they are able to find and remove all the landmines. And if the same thing happened to the Americans, being in the same position as Vietnam, where every day someone gets killed by the landmines, Barth said the American people will definitely be incensed and wouldn’t stand for something like that. Unfortunately, the Vietnamese did not have any choice.

Barth’s One-Man Show

“Shadows from Can Tho” made its debut screening on August 16 and 17, at the Multi-Use Community Cultural Center in Rochester. The net proceeds of the show were donated to MAG or Mines Advisory Group, a non-profit organization tasked with clearing affected areas in Southwest Asia.

Stern and Stern - Nomex - Oct 2013 120px-VietnamCombatArtCAT07BrianHClarkChopPickupBarth’s Vietnam Experience

At 68 years of age, Barth still has his Nomex flight suit which he wore as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam war when he served a tour in-country from 1970 to 1971. Barth wore the same flight suit in the debut episode of Stern and Stern - Nomex - Oct 201352046f28962dd.preview-300“Shadows from Can Tho”.

In Vietnam, Barth flew Huey “slicks”, the troop-carrying choppers that became icons of the Vietnam War. His mission then was based on the theory that firepower is the way to suppress guerilla warfare. And that theory resulted to wide-scale bombings, artillery fire bases and rockets.

Through his one-man show, Barth was able to share his memories of the experience he had in Vietnam back then. He believes that what the country is seeing now – all the violence, government intrusion and terrorism, is actually clear proof of “reaping what we sow”, rooted in the 15 years that the United States was involved in the region before the country pulled out of Southeast Asia in 1975.

Bringing The Issue And Awareness Out

The stories in his memoir are his own personal experiences and the point of the book is to try and bring this issue and awareness out so that people as individuals and a society can deal with the mess the country left behind more effectively.

Inadequate Efforts From The US

The United States spends about $3.2 million annually and like anyone else, Barth considered the amount as a pittance because Southeast Asians are still dying in the meantime. And no one should feel good about that spending. Barth visited Vietnam with MAG in March of this year, 2013 and saw a Vietnamese cutting brush and who discovered an unexploded M-79 grenade round. According to Barth, this illustrates the entire problem. Farmlands in Vietnam are still marked with craters from an aerial bombardment.

Personal Mission

When he came back from that trip, Barth had but one decision made – and that is to be more involved with the landmines removal efforts in Vietnam. This, he said can be for his own mental and spiritual well-being. With his mind and heart set to his mission and crusade, Barth is bent on seeing this through. Barth is determined not to walk away, given the resulting legacy.

Barth plans to return to Vietnam in 2014 to teach English at a university there.

 

It’s such a noble mission, isn’t it? We all can be part of that mission.

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