First, we lost our fathers. Then we lost even more.
Some of us lost connections with extended family.
Others lost memories of what our fathers looked and sounded like.
We lived for decades in the shadow of the Vietnam War. But we have taken big steps forward.
In November 2018, seven of us traveled Vietnam to honor our fathers by visiting the sites where they fell,
and to meet with sons and daughters on the other side.
The American Side: Portraits
Barbara’s father, Air Force Captain Robert N. Brumet, was killed on April 9, 1964. The 2018 trip is a return visit to Vietnam for Barbara, and this time she'll be with her sister, Bonnie (right). “My father was considered a military advisor because he was there before the U.S. was officially involved. His casualty happened before the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, and he had a Vietnamese observer with him who also died, as did the family in the home that the bombs hit. I visited my Dad's crash site in 2008 and learned firsthand the extent of the loss. It was very difficult for both sides. I am excited to be with the other trip members and to again visit this beautiful country and its wonderful people.”
Jill is the daughter of Cdr. Donald Richard Hubbs, a Navy pilot. It has been 50 years since his aircraft launched from the USS Yorktown in the Gulf of Tonkin and disappeared off the North Vietnam coast. Jill produced the documentary film They Were Our Fathers, which aired nationally on PBS and showcases the stories of others who lost fathers in the war. Jill was also one of the first to travel to Vietnam, back in 1993. “I was worried how I would be received. Perhaps our Vietnamese hosts were anxious as well. Our countries had fought, but we felt no animosity. What we shared was the tremendous cost of war that impacted generations. I want to return to Vietnam with others – but I really need to, to continue my journey. I want to show respect for my father by laying flowers in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, but the most important thing I can do to honor him is to be a bridge to friendship, peace and understanding between the people of our two countries.”
Bonnie and Barbara Brumet (left) are sisters;
their father, Air Force Captain Robert N.
Brumet, was a career officer who was killed
on April 9, 1964. “I was never upset with
the Vietnamese. They just wanted their
country back from the French. I had an
opportunity to visit Vietnam a few years
ago when my sister went, and realized the
day the trip left I should have gone. I'm
glad I'm getting another opportunity to
see the country where so many lives were
lost. I have heard it is such a beautiful
place. I'm looking forward to meeting
the sons and daughters from the other
side. Our lives were touched in similar,
yet very different ways.”
Nora is the writer and editor of The 2 Sides Project documentary, a film she created
without setting foot in Vietnam. "In 2016,
I had the incredible opportunity to tell the story of The 2 Sides Project on film. It
made me believe more than ever in the
power of storytelling; when we share our human experiences, we can connect, heal
and bring about real change. I never
imagined my life would, in any way, be impacted by people or events related to the Vietnam War. But I've come to know and
love these Gold Star individuals and their families like my own. I've fallen in love
with Vietnam and its people through
footage and photographs. Now, I'm excited
to experience Vietnam for myself. I can't
wait to meet its people, support new
emotional journeys - and live a story
of my own."
Susan is a Senior Advisor to the 2 Sides Project. Her father, James C. Mitchell Jr., was in the Navy and was killed near Cao Lanh City on January 8, 1970. "My Dad's helicopter was shot down two days after his birthday, and two days before he was scheduled to come home forever. I went on the inaugural 2 Sides Project trip, and want to return to Vietnam to bring hope and healing to others who travel the same journey. On both sides, we have yet to fully understand this war, but I believe we will be able to work together to show the world forgiveness comes from meeting the other side with an open mind and heart. I want to be an Ambassador of Hope for future generations to heal from wars. Let peace begin with me and within me.”
Kim Carlson Benner
Kim’s father, Air Force Captain John W. Carlson, was shot down near Bien Hoa on December 7, 1966. Her sister Margot is the founder of the 2 Sides Project.“I am going to Vietnam because it is time for me to acknowledge that our singular and personal experience and loss was shared by so many others in Vietnam. But I am very scared about what will happen on this trip. What if there is anger on their part? The people who we will meet on this trip have suffered so much loss, and their country continues to suffer. Honestly, I don't care so much about the politics, what got us there, what happened before and what happened after, who made which mistakes. I think it is a waste of time and energy to point fingers and blame the politicians. None of us survivors are to blame, we are just what gets left behind to figure it out and move forward and make peace with each other.”
Margot Carlson Delogne
Margot is the sister of Kim Benner (above) and the founder of the 2 Sides Project. Her father, John W. Carlson (Air Force), was shot down near Bien Hoa on December 7, 1966. "Truth be told, I grew up hating all things Vietnam. I was only focused on what I had lost. But slowly, as I got older, I realized that my father's bombs had probably killed many people, and that there were sons and daughters like me on the other side who had lost their dads too. As my anger subsided, I became curious about those children, now adults. What were they like? How had they tried to fill that hole left by their father's death? That's when the idea for the 2 Sides Project came to me. I had to meet them. And I thought others would want to join me. Together, we are discovering how coming face to face with the other side changes your thoughts, your beliefs, and your life."