Vietnam War veteran finds his way home after 50 years

Veteran Le Giang Nam (L) sits inside the house of his brother Le Nguyen Lan in Nghe An Province in north central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Hai

A head injury erased his memory but his children were able to discover where he was from thanks to a Facebook post.

The small house of Le Nguyen Lan in central Vietnam has been crowded with well-wishers over the past few days who have come to celebrate his reunion with an older brother they thought had been killed during the war in 1968.

Le Giang Nam, his brother, left their home in Nghe An Province more than 50 years ago and has never returned until now.

The reason is that Nam suffered a severe head injury that resulted in amnesia.

Now in his brother’s home, the tall, thin man walks around slowly and needs to rely on a hearing aid to communicate.

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In 1965 when he was 19 years old, Nam joined the Vietnamese forces in Quang Tri Province, 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of his hometown.

In late 1968, the climax of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), he was seriously wounded and lost consciousness.

He was captured “by the enemy” and taken to their base in Da Nang, more than 150 km away from the battlefield.

“I managed to escape but I was lost and did not know how to get back to my comrades.”

The head injury running down his cheek affected one of his eyes and ears, while slowly destroying his memory until he could not remember exactly where he was from.

He traveled even further to the south and reached Binh Thuan Province, where he received help and treatment from a farming family, and ended up marrying their daughter.

Nam settled in Binh Thuan and started a new life.

Due to a head injury during the war, Veteran Le Giang Nam now has to use a hearing aid device so that he can communicate with other people. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Hai
Due to a head injury suffered during the war, Veteran Le Giang Nam now has to use a hearing aid so that he can communicate with other people. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Hai

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He has eight children and it was them who encouraged him to talk about his past and helped him find his roots based on what he could remember.

They posted his story on Facebook and asked for help. Earlier this month, the post reached the son of Lan, Nam’s brother.

The cousins who had never met each other verified all the information, and Nam returned to Nghe An, the place he left more than half a century ago, last weekend.

“That day, I was over the moon, but it was also so sad because my mom and two of my siblings have passed away. And my first wife, the one who always wanted me to find my way back to my hometown, also died two years ago,” Nam said.

Comforting his older brother, Lan said his family received a death certificate from authorities that said Nam had died on October 31, 1968.

Since then they have commemorated his death anniversary every year.

Despite having found his long-lost family, Nam said he will return to his home in Binh Thuan because that is where he has built a new family.

Authorities in Nghe An have confirmed that Nam was honored as a war martyr in 1968, so they will be asking for guidance from central authorities on how to deal with his case. – VNExpress



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