VNAF Photos 's Design

VNAF PHOTOS section -

VNAF Photos 's Design


You probably heard of the so called "Vien Bao Tang Toi Ac My Nguy" or "Museum of American Atrocities." Due to the new partnership with "uncle Sam", today the words "American Atrocities" in its name has been deleted, but the content is just the "SOS." Left abandoned after April 30, 1975, most of the display was ARVN weaponry hardware. Some were even touched up to make them look like American armed forces' equipment (you guys modelers knew better than anyone else).

So if you have a chance of traveling back to Vietnam, don't wast your time and money to visit that museum of "bull", or even bother to take the pictures of those poor, rusted war machines. Read the article below by a Vietnam Vet who has seen the museum then you know why, but before doing so let's check out the photos of Communist Warsaw Bloc weapon (not Viet Cong weapon at all!). They are the real "McCoy," tons and tons of them, "hot" confiscated in the battles during war. Free admission! :0) Will add up more photos when available!

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     ......Jan 11th

Well, here I am with time to kill in Saigon, so I thought what the hell, I know it won't be fun exactly, but may as well go see the War Museum. (Formerly known as the Museum of American Atrocities, but renamed a few years back to be a bit more attractive to the tourists.)

It has several sections placed around a large courtyard, and with lots of big equipment in the courtyard. (A Huey, two fighter jets, spotter plane, two tanks, another armored vehicle, a 175mm cannon, some other artillery, a bunch of bomb casings, etc.) The first hall is the Hall of Historical Truth, and has a lot of pictures from the earliest US involvement in Viet Nam, a lot of charts of how many planes and tanks and rifles and damn near every military supply item you can think of were used in the war or given to the ARVN. It has one wall with all the insignia of major US units serving in country. (Took a snapshot of that.) Then there's a long hallway with a couple hundred pictures from the war, some blown up very large. I looked at the first one and recognized a Larry Burroughs shot that won a prize, and then as I glanced around I recognized more and more of the images. They were all from the major display of war pictures that has been touring the US for the last several years, in fact I helped put them up at the library of the university in downtown Raleigh two years ago. By the end of the display I came across the plaque from some group in Kansas that had contributed the whole display to the museum.

They had a whole wall display of the names of all the commercial photojournalists who died in SE Asia, and I stopped to tell the guide at the desk that it's an incomplete display, since it doesn't list any of the military photographers and correspondents who died there too. She, of course, could have cared less. But I was wearing my old OD Marine cover, and one of the other guides, an older guy with white hair, came up and asked if I was a Marine in the war. He was an interpreter for a US unit in Chu Lai, and ended up at the battle of Hue. Like all the former Southern soldiers, he went off to the camps, but being only an E-6, only had to spend 3 months there. But he couldn't get a job for years afterwards, because of the official discrimination, until finally they wanted people who could speak good English and also French for the museum, and he has worked there since. (And very, very happy to have a regular job after all the years of being very poor.)

I went on to the other halls, where the pictures and stories started going directly to three main themes. These are: terrible effects of napalm and white phosphorous on people, with a bit on flechette wounds and grenade wounds thrown in for good measure; how the bombing of the North damaged residential areas and schools and hospitals (strongly implied to be totally deliberate); and of course, how Agent Orange is responsible for every birth defect, cancer, and skin disease in all of Viet Nam from then right until now.

And not to be forgotten is the big picture of the naked little girl running down the road burned by napalm, but at least it doesn't say it was a US plane or pilot (it was all ARVN, and the bomb hit a bunch of their own troops as well, and there was no US advisor even on scene). I couldn't help myself, opened my big mouth and told the horrified Australian tourists staring at the picture that she now lives in Canada as a refugee. That got me very strange looks, so I shut up and went away. I figured there was no point in mentioning that napalm was used by the NVA to barbecue a whole Montagnard village, and that collateral damage to civilians is a tragic but totally normal part of warfare.

Nor, of course, would pointing out that the 40,000 tons of bombs dropped on Hanoi and Haiphong killed fewer than 1500 people, and less than 2% of the bomb strikes were off target and hit civilian areas, do any good. It's their dance hall and they get to pick the music that's played.

They really outdid themselves on the Agent Orange thing, the displays went on for yards and yards of wall space, lots of jars of deformed fetuses, lots of pictures of kids with birth defects, adults with cancers, etc. No statistics at all, which is the only way you can demonstrate that anything is different from the normal run of birth defects, skin diseases, and cancers that occur in any population. They list birth defects in the north, hundreds of miles from any spray, as AO related.

[Comment- would I say that there are no AO effects on anyone, anywhere? No, certainly not. The final studies indicate a strong possibility of an increase in early diabetes and just maybe prostate cancer, but the contrast between the exposed and unexposed groups is not like between smokers and nonsmokers. Whatever the effects of AO or any other factor in the war, they are not remotely related to what the boys in Hanoi like to claim. It's a basic sucker game to guilt people, the US most of all, into sending more millions to subsidize the fairly lousy state health system they have in Viet Nam. And the assorted tourists buy into it hook, line, and sinker, and it really ticks me off!]

Next came... you guessed it, My Lai. Lots of pictures of that, and a couple of other claimed massacres too, with a big portrait of Bob Kerrey and a list of a bunch of civilians claimed to have been killed by him and his SEAL team in their night raid. I hate the fact that some of these things happened, there is no defending at least a few of the claims of very bad behavior by our guys. The fact that there were comparatively few such crimes and that the policy of the communists was to commit many thousands of assassinations in the villages, not to mention the very organized Hue massacre of several thousand civilians, is never going to register with the assorted Australians, Germans, Italians, French, and others who wander past those displays with staring eyes and shock on their faces.

Thrown in were also some pictures of nasty interrogations, mostly with Vietnamese doing the bad stuff with US guys in the background, but a couple with Americans working on someone. All in all, the 50 yard stroll around that part of the big hall would convince anyone that the Nazis were amateurs compared to the US when it came to being bad guys and hurting innocent people.

There were a bunch of display cases of weapons used in the war, every variety of M-16 you ever heard of, shotguns, a couple of types of bloopers (I only ever saw the original), old French rifles, an M-1, a BAR, a greasegun, etc. Didn't happen to see any pistols.

The second-last building was the "tiger cage" replication, with lots of shots of abused people and sketches of assorted tortures, but if you read closely most of it related to the French and later the South Vietnamese and their interrogation and prison techniques. One mention of an island prison (I never heard of it before) run by the US, where supposedly a lot of the prisoners were badly treated and many died.

And the final building was dedicated to all the support given to Hanoi by antiwar and/or communist groups across the world. Americans featured prominently, but German, French, and every client nation of the old Soviet Bloc (Hungary, Poland, etc, and Cuba too). The picture of John Kerry is no longer on display, last I heard it was taken down somewhere after the beginning of his presidential campaign.

That about did me in, I was very glad to get the hell back out on the street and find my motorbike guy waiting for me.

Oh, and one other thing- from this display you would have almost no idea that any such thing as a South Vietnamese military existed, that they ever fought any battles or had any part of the war. The period of time from late '71 to the fall of Saigon, over three years and hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides, is invisible. They may have changed the name, but this is still essentially the Museum of American Atrocities.

I guess the killer is that I know a majority of the visitors to that museum will go away accepting that what they have seen is all good stuff, right on the money, and the legend of the stupid, brutal American behavior in the war will just go on and on. And of course that means they'll be all the more ready to accept whatever the media say about us in Iraq and Afghanistan. The demonization of the US soldiers will continue to be a normal part of the world's view of us. Not for everyone, no, but for far too many. I wish I had a better answer for this.

Anyhow, that's what's there, so if you go to Saigon, save your $1 entry fee, go see a nice temple or something!...

......As to Viet Nam, whether I can continue to visit is now questionable. Being known to the system and bringing unwanted attention to the poor people I visit is not as beneficial as one would wish to be. On the other hand, maybe if I make better arrangements and stick with hired cars and getting out of Saigon quickly to other areas, I could still do some good. The major goal is to find the needy and put the money in their hands that will make their lives easier, but for many of the men it's so very meaningful to see an American vet bring them the help that I would love to keep doing that. Well, it'll be quite a while before I can consider any of that, meantime it's back to fundraising to replenish the charity's bank balance after dispensing several thousand bucks.

Thanks for listening, so to speak. I'm glad if you found any of this of interest. If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know.

And when you get up in the morning, always recall that you live in freedom, which, like air, we can take for granted, but would miss terribly if it were no longer ours. God Bless America.

A Vietnam Vet