via press release:
VIETNAMESE FAMILY RECEIVES SOLDIER’S DIARY 46 YEARS AFTER THEIR FATHER’S DEATH
U.S. Marine Asks the PBS HISTORY DETECTIVES to Return the Battlefield Diary
CAY VILLAGE, VIETNAM – SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 – Vu Dinh Son was barely one year old when his father, Vu Dinh Doan, was killed while fighting for the Liberation Army. Now, 46 years later, Son has his father’s battlefield diary in his hands. “Through this diary we have been able to learn everything about my father’s memories and thoughts during the past, from before he went into battle, and how he died.” (The People’s Army Newspaper)
Investigators for the PBS series HISTORY DETECTIVES traced the diary to a small farming town in northern Vietnam where they found the family and the grave of the soldier who wrote the diary. The full story of the Vietnam diary airs on PBS stations Tuesday, October 2 at 8/7c. (Check local listings.)
This diary’s journey began in 1966 when US Marine Bob Frazure found the tiny red book on the chest of a fallen Vietnamese soldier. Along with pages of writing, the diary held an identification card, currency, and a photo of two young women. For decades Frazure held onto the book with mixed feelings. He shared his dilemma with Marge Garner, whose brother was killed in Vietnam. Marge brought the mystery to the HISTORY DETECTIVES.
Prior to a recent headline-making trip to Asia, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta contacted HISTORY DETECTIVES and asked permission to return the diary to Vietnam in a diplomatic ceremony. On June 4th Secretary Panetta presented the diary to Phung Quang Thanh, Vietnam’s Minister of Defense, in exchange for letters found on the body of a U.S. soldier.
Vietnam officials held the diary at the Military History Museum of Vietnam. On Friday, September 23, at a packed ceremony in Cay Village, Vu Dinh’s hometown, military officials turned over the diary and its contents to a tearful Vu Dinh Son.
“This person took these mementos from my father, but in any case now he has returned them,” says Vu Dinh Son. “For that we must thank him, because someone else would have just thrown these things away.” (The People’s Army Newspaper)
In the audience sat the two young women in the photograph included with the diary, now 46 years older. They were members of a local militia at the time.
Vu Dinh Doan’s widow learned of the diary just a few weeks before she died. In a letter the HISTORY DETECTIVES share with Bob Frazure and Marge Garner, Doan’s widow told her children, “The fact that this man held on to father’s papers and sought to return them, proves that the one who survived is a good man, a moral man.”