I’m smiling as I think about and remember my counterpart, T.U. Dai.  Nguyen Van Dai…

Americans will intuitively pronounce it correctly.  Those literate in Vietnamese will miss a diacritical mark that makes this a hard D…rather than a soft Yieee.

I’m about to purchase a t-shirt from a company that creates and sells to sentimental veterans.  This specific t-shirt depicts the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, awarded to men who served as advisors under MACV.

I’ve written extensively about Dai and our friendship.  He was a soldier; he was a warrior.   In all our time together, it never occurred to me to submit Dai for a medal.  He already had two Bronze Stars…and he was Vietnamese!  (We don’t just hand out OUR medals to allied soldiers, unless they have seriously distinguished themselves.)

No question we shared many dangers.  I think we also shared a perception about our jobs, our responsibilities.  A lotta stuff we did was dangerous…but always “our job”.  And he never, to my knowledge ever submitted me for any award.  Nor needed he to…But he knew the regard I held for his soldiers and their well being…and they knew as well.

We share this medal.  Awarded not for any individual deed…but for service.T1777T.U. Dai, my counterpart and my brother (2014_01_23 19_03_15 UTC)

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