VIETNAM veteran says his enemy is now his friend
Monday, November 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
If you forgive your enemy can he become your friend? For Vietnam veteran Paul Reed, the answer is 'yes'.
In fact, he now considers his former enemy one of his best friends. As News on Six reporter Rick Wells tell us, Paul Reed found a friend, and got his life back.
In early 1968 the North Vietnamese were funneling thousands of troops down the Trung Sun road, we called it the Ho Chi Min Trail. More than two million North Vietnamese hiked the trail into South Vietnam. In March of â€˜68 a unit of the 173rd Airborne ran into a unit of the North Vietnamese Army, they were dug in on hill 1064 in Kontum Province. This was Paul Reed's first taste of fighting. "It was about St. Patrickâ€™s day of '68 some how we captured their base camp. In the base camp I captured one of the North Vietnamese ruck sacks, their backpacks."
They took the items back to their camp and searched them, among the things he found, a flag; most of us knew this as the Viet Cong flag. There were some stamps, money, pictures and a small book, like a diary. " I opened it up and there was beautiful handwriting in Vietnamese, and beautiful bright blue ink, I knew I wanted to keep that, and so..." And so he sent it all home, where it lay forgotten for more than 20 years.
Paul Reed came home from Vietnam, like so many other vets, angry and tormented. His life was a mess, he lost jobs, and marriages fell apart. Then he was reminded of those things he sent home, and that little book. "When I opened it up the handwriting was just as fresh and clear and crisp as it was twenty years earlier." He had it translated and, and the healing of Paul Reed began. The diary, he found, was full of poetry, about love, family and country.
The North Vietnamese soldier he had hated all these years was a man just like him. "But what if I could forgive this fellow, would it be like forgiveness for myself, and indeed it was." The diary was written by Lt. Nuyen van Nghia, and Reed wanted to get it back to his wife and family. So he made arrangements to go to Vietnam and meet them. "One day before I was to go I found out that he was alive, and I got to meet the man that actually changed my life for the better."
They changed each others lives. They went back to their battlefield, they knelt in the jungle and talked about what made them so afraid so long ago, and they forgave each other, and they became friends. Paul Reed has been back to Vietnam three other times and he brought Nghia to the United States once for medical care.
Paul Reed has a web site its, www.webh.com/paulreed/