In-depth stories about some of the women in Regret to Inform are located at the Widows of War Living Memorial.
From the U.S.:
Norma Banks, Vallejo, CA
"He really didn't like the idea of having to kill, but he really didn't have ... any choice."
"Sometimes the effects of war don't happen right away. It isn't just the war is here and it's over. It starts when it ends."
Charlotte Begay, Chinle, AZ
"He wanted to be patriotic. He wanted to help. But once he saw all the killing of all the group, the Vietnamese just looking like him--the same skin color, the same height. That really made him think, what is he doing here?"
Lula Bia, Window Rock, AZ
"I only received three letters... and he said that he really didn't want to say anything about what was going on, he didn't want to depress me or worry me... I often wondered about that, I often wondered about what did he have to do."
"They didn't find his body, they said just the remains of his body and they identified it, his body by his dental plates, and the remains were just put in a plastic bag, and his uniform was on top of it. I still have hope, maybe somewhere he's alive there."
April Burns, Felton, CA
"I wanted to stop him [from going to Vietnam] and I tried to. And I decided, smash the right hand... I lifted and I was going to do it, and then I, I just couldn't..."
"One day I went out and there was this letter. And I thought, maybe, well he's not dead! Oh... they made a mistake, you know this is proof, and then I read the date on it, and I realized."
"He insisted on going, you know, he had this crazy notion that he always wanted his son to be proud of him. And I would tell him: he is proud of you. One day he came home, and said, 'I enlisted'."
"That night, there's a telegram and the telegram read: 'This is to inform you that your husband, Private, First Class, David Reves Castillo had been wounded.' And it tells me that they had amputated the left leg above the knee, removed the right eye, he's still in a coma, and he has shrap-metal in the brain. And I contacted my physician, and he told me, 'Grace pray... pray he dies.'"
Diane C. Van Renselaar, Corte Madera, CA
"I don't think he wanted to be an aggressor. I think he was unwillingly cast in that role the moment he started flying missions over North Vietnam, and I think he knew it."
Barbara Sonneborn, Berkeley, CA
"I remember before Jeff left we talked about how afraid I was that he would get killed. We never talked about the fact that he would have to kill people, maybe even a child. I realize we hadn't ever talked honestly about what war means."
Xuan Ngoc Nguyen:
"I was fourteen at the time, and that's when the war actually touch my life, the bombs were dropping in my house. I was confused, why are they burning down my house, my neighbor's house? Then everything from then on, nothing was black or white, it was all gray, just like the smoke."
"It's so fast, gun was blasting, and all I see is blood and body parts all over the place... then I looked the opposite direction where the gun come from, it was American soldier shooting at my cousin. I remember the way his eye looked and to this day when I run across American man who was in Vietnam during the war I look to see if I can find that eye again, because he has the horrified look in his eye as much as I do."
Nguyen Thi My Hien, MD
"The bomb dropped on top of the house, trapping my husband in the shelter. After the bombing, the people on the ground heard his cries for help. But the debris was so heavy it took hours to reach him, and he was already dead. And to think, as a doctor I saved so many lives, but I couldn't save his..."
"All the younger women had to run and hide. They were afraid of being raped."
"When I was young, I had hatred in order to defend my country and my people. Now there are not many days left in my life, and there is peace. I can see that we are all the same, people there and people here. But if the war had not ended, the younger generation would be fighting just as I did."
Truong Thi Huoc
"My sister had a newborn baby. And it wasn't safe to stay in the house. So she had to take the baby and mingle in with the dead bodies. Like a ghost, she came out from under those corpses, but then she feared the planes would shoot her. If you weren't dead, you weren't safe."
Phan Thi Thuan
"...if the wind blew the tree, they chopped down the tree. If the cow moved, the cow got shot... And the chicken, duck, pig--anything alive was murdered."
Nguyen Thi Hong
"I'm deeply touched by your visit and by your concern. I would like to send with you all the beautiful scenes that happened today. And please take it home to your people. And I hope there will be a good result--to help Vietnam heal the wounds of war. But the road from here to there is very difficult. But please try. And not just for us, you do that for yourself. And it will make us feel better that you tried."
Truong Thi Le
"So you see, nine members of my family lost their lives. I feel anger when I am talking to you now, when I'm telling the story... because you know... all the members of my family, I mean nine people, were killed without even having anything for breakfast."
Phan Ngoc Dung
"The city police force, under American advisors, came to search my house and arrested my husband, my sister, and my daughter. My daughter was just over three years old. They said, 'If you do not tell your husband to testify and collaborate with the Americans and the Saigon authorities, don't you know that they will bury your mother and your daughter alive?'"
"Of course, in the United States...sisters, mothers and wives also feel pain when children and husbands are lost in war. But we lived in the country where the war was going on. The death and destruction were so horrible, so painful. We hope that there will never be war again, not anywhere, so that nobody, especially women and children, will have to endure that pain, that misery, ever again. It is very, very painful."
Le Thi Ngot
"My son would ask me why his father did not return. When he was older he would ask, 'Why did my father die?' I couldn't find the answer for my son. All I could do is hold him and cry. I also want to ask you if the children, sons and daughters in America, do they ask their mothers, 'Why didn't my father come home?'"
From the U.S.
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