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 now we're taking a big step forward.
In November 2018, we will travel to 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
Joe’s father, Air Force LTC John F. Stuart,
was killed near Hanoi just a few days before Christmas, on December 20, 1972. He is
still listed as Missing in Action. “I’m going
on this trip because it’s a great opportunity
to see the place my Dad was last known
alive, to experience the sounds, see the
people, see the country that my Dad encountered while deployed. I think
meeting the other side is a blessing, to
have the time to expand family by coming together and sharing a loss and experience
that only other sons and daughters who
lost their fathers can understand and feel.
It doesn't matter what side you came from.”
Bonnie and Barbara Brumet (below) 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.”
Susan’s 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.”
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 she’s looking forward to going back, this time with her sister,
Bonnie (above). “I visited my Dad's crash site on Easter Sunday in 2008 and learned firsthand the extent of the loss from his crash.
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.
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.”
Ron’s father was PFC Ronald Reyes
(USMC1st battalion/9th Marines),
who was killed on a hill overlooking
Khe Sanh on March 30, 1968. "I was
born on February 28, 1968, in the
middle of the Tet Offensive. My dad
found out that I was born two weeks
before he was killed. I know that he
at least saw a picture of me. I went
on the inaugural 2 Sides Project trip
in 2015, and served as navigator to
make sure we got to the exact places
where our fathers died. I want to
make sure this group finds their
sites, too. Plus, the spring rolls in
Vietnam are pretty awesome.”
Jill is the daughter of Cdr. Donald Richard Hubbs, a pilot who served in the United States Navy. March 17, 2018 marked 50 years since his aircraft launched from the USS Yorktown in the Gulf of Tonkin and disappeared during a mission while flying off the coast of North Vietnam. Jill is also the producer of the documentary film They Were Our Fathers which aired nationally on PBS stations and showcases the stories of other sons and daughters who lost their fathers in the Vietnam War. And she was one of the first sons and daughters to travel to Vietnam in search of answers, way back in 1993. “I was worried about how I would be received by the people I met in North Vietnam. Perhaps our Vietnamese hosts were anxious about meeting us as well. Our countries had fought against each other, but we felt no animosity towards each other. What we shared in common was the tremendous cost of war to every day citizens and families, loss that had impacted generations from both countries. Now I want to return to Vietnam with other sons and daughters – 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 his memory is to be a bridge to friendship, peace and understanding between the people of our two countries.”
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, etc. 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 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."
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."