The Vietnam war started in1959 and officially ended on April 30th, 1973. The American soldiers,however, still stayed in Vietnam until 1975 when Saigon crumbled and the northcompleted its siege against the south.
There were many American menand women who were involved in the second Indochina war because they were partof the US armed force or were forced to fight for Vietnam. On the other hand,one woman named Mary Anne Bell went to meet her boyfriend at that time (1968)and ended up living in southernVietnamese village for 10 years. Mary Anne Bell was 17 yearsold, just out of Cleveland Heights Senior High.
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She is a tall, big-boned blondeand had long white leg sand blue eyes and a complexion of a strawberry ice-cream.She had all the features you would look in a glamorous, young and an innocent …girl, but still she set an ideal for women that they can too fight war. After she received a letterfrom her boyfriend, Mark Fossie, asking her to come to Vietnam, she landed inthe Saigon US, 6 weeks later. She soon got curious about how things work for soldiersand initially started off my asking questions to the soldiers regarding the thingsoutside the military base, weapons etc.
Soon she got to learn about guns,ambush, survival and adapted to the surroundings really well, having a quickmind helped her learn the strategies and techniques of war fast. Later, beganto help around the base, when causalities came in she wasn’t afraid to get herhands dirty. After a while, she made an attempt to become a solider by droppingthe full- American attitude, for example- stopped wearing makeup, not wearingculottes. “I went on an ambush” she toldme, “there were nights where I just did not go back to the base”. From thatMary Anne described, she seemed to have totally changed her mindset of Vietnam.Later on, she told me how she wore the same sweater whenever she would go onmissions in the woods.
On being asked to comment onher personal life, she didn’t say much, but showed a apology letter that wassent to her by Mark Fossie, after he got to know that she had been back to______________(hometown) for couple of weeks. ” Dear Mary, So glad you made it back alive. I waited months for your news. I havesent this letter to your parents when I heard that you came back.
I stillhaven’t heard anything from or about you I hope you are fine. Listen, about the camp,I am really sorry about the way I acted towards you. I should have trusted you,but honestly with all the men around you, and the way you acted around them, Ijust lost my mind. With all the men hung up by the terrors of the war, I ampretty sure they all got hook up by you.
I know it is because of your bubblypersonality. Little flirtation really didn’t bother me, because that is howmuch I loved you. However, with you being the only attractive female there, Ijust wanted to protect you, and keep you safe. I know all the guys fell for youespecially Eddie Diamond. The thought of you sleeping with other men just mademe paranoid. Mary, war changes people you know, I am constantly feared ofdeath, and you were the last thing I wanted to lose. All those men, includingthe Greenies have changed throughout the course of war, people aren’t what theywere used to be.
You should definitely know this, because you have changed themost. I was shocked when Iheard the news that you were on an ambush with the Greenies that night. I knowyou were slightly adapting to the military lifestyle, but I never imagined youwould get involved in the actual military. That day when I brought you to thevillage I should have never taught you about, ambush and guns. Partly, I doblame myself for losing you, even though it is really no one’s fault. The dayyou came back from the ambush, I started to realize you have changed. You hadbush hat and filthy green fatigues, while carrying a M-16. You didn’t even tryto explain yourself.
You just step back in the camp like nothing had happened.Have you ever considered about my feelings! I tried to control you, which wasmy mistake making you more resistant to going home. Then you left with theGreenies and never came back, well in a sense I lost you forever. I hope you will respondto my letter, maybe we could even meet someday.
I really miss you and I’llalways love you with all my heart and I don’t think that I will ever be able tomove on in life without you. I hope we will still remain friends as you are theonly one in the world who understands me the most. Take care and God bless! Sincerely, your friendMark Fossie. On being asked how she managedto return back from the woods after she was thought to be dead after so long,she explained every detail of her survival, she was scouting in the jungle on alate night expedition, but there was a sudden enemy movement that prevented herfrom going back to camp. She decided to camp in the woods for a couple of daysand wait for help. For three weeks, she tried out every possibility to get nearto the base and eventually there came a point where she could do nothing. Theonly thing she was left to do was to try her best to stay safe and healthy inthe woods for long period of time and hope for good. While she had nothing todo she ended up thinking about how she had changed, how she became distant fromher family and high school and her aspirations changed to become a militarysolider.
Eventually she couldn’t acquire more food and insects inthe woods she had been spending the nights (in the nearby area). She starvedfor a few days and in the end, she finally collapsed and fainted, lying on theground exposed. It wasn’t until later when she woke up and saw a Vietnamesewoman smiling at her and handing me a bowl of soup with a plate with some herbsheal faster. Turns out the father of this family saw my body one day when hewas hunting, distinguished that she was still breathing, but instead of killingthe enemy, he brought her into his home and saved her life. She was verygrateful to the family and felt obliged and therefore, she started helping themwith their house chores which was the least she could have done for them as apayback for what they had done for her. She had to say a quick good-bye to thefamily because the VC were going to come to the village to camp and the familyguided her a safe track, back to the military base.I did successfully find basecamp, with my fellow soldiers in awe when they saw me.
“We listed u M.I.A.already, how the f**k did you survive out there?”She replied: “Vietnam savedme.”Shortly afterwards she didn’t wantto stay in war and so she asked for a deployment back here in America for sometime. She liked the war but aftershe thought so much in the woods she decided not to go for wars anymore causeher views towards war had changed and believed that killing people wasn’t agood idea; she decided to peruse adventure sports and expedition to keep her passion.She says that these years she has changed the most after learning so much fromthe world.
Her another main aim was topromote equality amongst men and women in the world and therefore change the stereotypethat women are more passionate about things and therefore can fight warsequally as men.