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March 29th, is National Vietnam War Veteran’s Day

by Nov 30, 2019

Yesterday I introduced myself to a visitor wearing a Vietnam Veteran’s cap. He was bearded and white-haired, had a few tattoos and looked the part. I asked when he’d been over there? He said “70-71, with the Americal [23rd] Division at Duc Pho.”

Most people probably have a similar image in mind when they hear the term “Vietnam veteran”.

Dan Cameron Rodil spent years in Vietnam and Cambodia during the war. He was a freelance news correspondent. He wrote a column for the Saigon Post, ETCETERA, and the Chicago tribune and a few other newspapers.

In order to properly report the war, he preferred joining the 25th Infantry out on patrol to reporting the war from Saigon. Yet his column in the Post was no less insightful and true to life in that city. I saved this one.

Years later, as North Vietnamese soldiers were approaching Saigon in 1975, and remaining American’s were urgently departing, Dan Cameron Rodil, Paul Arnett (later of CNN) and a very few other news correspondents, remained behind to report.

Ten days later, in the CBS bureau office on the second floor of the Caravelle Hotel in downtown Saigon, a group of young North Vietnamese soldiers entered, demanding the network’s film footage, at gunpoint. The reporters stood firm, but under serious threat, until a North Vietnamese officer arrived to calm the situation.

Dan is probably not the image most people have of an American veteran of that war, neither is the ex-soldier whose experience he writes about so vividly in this column, nor are those many others that we’ll never know. Today, March 29th, is National Vietnam War Veteran’s Day. We remember.