Bob Connor’s journey to locate the remains of Vietnamese soldiers from the Vietnam War is a poignant tale of reconciliation, humanity, and the power of individual efforts. Join us on December 4 to talk with Bob about the transformative impact of his mission, as well as the broader context of U.S. veterans collaborating with their former enemies for a shared humanitarian cause.
Bob Connor, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, embarked on an unexpected mission triggered by a seemingly casual Google search. While assisting his granddaughter with a school project, he stumbled upon a photo of Bien Hoa Airport from 1968. In a heartfelt post, he described a mass grave of approximately 150 Vietnamese soldiers who died during the Tet Offensive. This post set off a chain of events that would lead to an unprecedented collaboration between American veterans and their Vietnamese counterparts.
The response came in the form of an email from Che Trung Hieu and Colonel Mai Xuan Chien, seeking Connor’s help to locate the mass grave. Driven by a desire to rectify the past and facilitate reconciliation, Connor returned to Vietnam in March 2016. His meeting with Colonel Chien and the subsequent collaboration with Colonel Martin E. Strones led to the discovery of the mass grave at Bien Hoa Airport, marking a significant breakthrough in the search for missing soldiers.
Colonel Mai Xuan Chien emphasizes the importance of connecting with U.S. veterans and the Department of Defense to obtain information and documents crucial to finding mass graves. The success in locating graves at various sites, including Bien Hoa Airport, Tan Son Nhat Airport, and provinces like Dong Nai, Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Binh Duong, and Binh Dinh, showcases the positive outcomes of this collaboration.
Bob Connor’s personal dedication to this cause goes beyond a quest for closure; it becomes a symbol of humanity transcending borders and former enmities. The collaboration between American and Vietnamese veterans, driven by a shared goal of repatriating fallen soldiers, not only brings solace to grieving families but also signifies the evolving relationship between the two nations.
In the closing paragraphs, the summary reflects on the profound impact of these efforts, emphasizing the role of individual veterans as catalysts for healing and reconciliation. The reburial ceremony in Vietnam becomes a powerful symbol of closure and a testament to the enduring spirit of cooperation between former adversaries.
Bob Connor’s journey, catalyzed by a simple Google search, emerges as a transformative narrative of compassion, understanding, and the pursuit of peace, echoing the sentiments expressed by Spencer Matteson: “To the families of the martyrs, all I can say is I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the families that lost loved ones (Vietnamese and American), in a war that could have been avoided.”