Her name is Nguyen Thi Thanh. She
is one tough and dedicated woman. I say 'is' because I refuse
to believe she is dead. I want to believe she survived the
take-over and is either still in Vietnam helping people
or managed to get out and is living in the United States.
The above photograph is a Polaroid.
Why Polaroid? The answer follows.
FLC (Force Logistics Command) was
created from the supply and support regiments of the 1st
and 3rd Marine divisions. All supplies for these divisions
went through FLC. This is where the Polaroid film came from.
Whatever excess supplies we received
at FLC was distributed to units at FLC. In the case of any
extra photo supplies they were given to the FLC photo-lab.
We ended up with several dozen rolls
of 35mm Kodak slide flim as well as Kodak slide film chemicals
for processing. Since slide film wasn't used for any official
assignments this film was given to the photo staff to use
at it pleased. We also used the film to trade for supplies
we needed. This included steaks and beer. We also got the
photo-lab air-conditioner repaired using Kodak slide film.
The Polaroid film was something else
all together. Why? Because we didn't have a Polaroid camera
at the lab. We had to go to Special Services and check one
out. When they asked what we were going to do with the camera
we really couldn't tell them. That was because we didn't
Steve Addington came up with the solution. We took the
camera and several packs of instant film, maybe 30, and
went out to our favorite village.
We picked up Nguyen Thi Thanh on
the way and when we got to the village we approached the
chief and asked if they wanted some portraits taken? We
took a couple of pictures of the chief and when he saw the
results he was overjoyed. I don't think they had ever seen
an instant picture.
I then spent a couple of hours taking
photos of any one that wanted a picture. Many of the villagers
went and got dressed up in their Sunday best. I took the
pictures and Steve had the job of coating the finished prints.
This picture of Nguyen Thi Thanh
is the only one I saved from that trip.
The second photo on
this page shows a young Vietnamese with several of the
I'm still trying to determine the
name of the village. Someday I hope to return to Vietnam
and visit this village and see if any of the instant photos
still exist. You never know.
more information and photographs of this woman over