The Vietnam war started
in 1959 and officially ended on April 30th, 1973. The American soldiers,
however, still stayed in Vietnam until 1975 when Saigon crumbled and the north
completed its siege against the south.
There were many American
men and women who were involved in the second Indochina war because they were
part of the US armed force or were forced to fight for Vietnam. On the other
hand, one woman named Mary Anne Bell went to meet her boyfriend at that time
(1968) and ended up living in southern Vietnamese village for 10 years.
Mary Anne Bell was 17
years old, just out of Cleveland Heights Senior High. She is a tall, big-boned
blonde and had long white leg sand blue eyes and a complexion of a strawberry
ice-cream. She had all the features you would look in a glamorous, young and an
innocent … girl, but still she set an ideal for women that they can to fight
After she received a
letter from her boyfriend, Mark Fossie, asking her to come to Vietnam, she
landed in the Saigon US, 6 weeks later. She soon got curious about how things
work for soldiers and initially started off by asking questions to the soldiers
regarding the things outside the military base, weapons etc. Soon she got to
learn about guns, ambush, survival and adapted to the surroundings really well,
having a quick mind helped her learn the strategies and techniques of war fast.
Later, began to help around the base, when causalities came in she wasn’t
afraid to get her hands dirty. After a while, she made an attempt to become a
soldier by dropping the full- American attitude, for example- stopped wearing
makeup, not wearing culottes.
“I went on an ambush,”
she told me, “there were nights where I just did not go back to the base”. From
that Mary Anne described, she seemed to have totally changed her mindset of
Vietnam. Later on, she told me how she wore the same sweater whenever she would
go on missions in the woods.
On being asked to
comment on her personal life, she didn’t say much but showed an apology letter
that was sent to her by Mark Fossie, after he got to know that she had been
back to Tennessee for a couple of weeks.
So glad you made it back
alive. I waited months for your news. I have sent this letter to your parents
when I heard that you came back. I still haven’t heard anything from about you,
I hope you are fine.
Listen, about the camp, I am really sorry
about the way I acted towards you. I should have trusted you, but honestly with
all the men around you, and the way you acted around them, I just lost my mind.
With all the men hung up by the terrors of the war, I am pretty sure they all
got to hook up with you. I know it is because of your bubbly personality.
Little flirtation really didn’t bother me, because that is how much I loved
you. However, with you being the only attractive female there, I just wanted to
protect you, and keep you safe. I know all the guys fell for you especially
Eddie Diamond. The thought of you sleeping with other men just made me
paranoid. Mary, war changes people you know, I am constantly feared of death,
and you were the last thing I wanted to lose. All those men, including the
Greenies, have changed throughout the course of a war, people aren’t what they
were used to be. You should definitely know this because you have changed the
I was shocked when I heard the news that
you were in an ambush with the Greenies that night. I know you were slightly
adapting to the military lifestyle, but I never imagined you would get involved
in the actual military. That day when I brought you to the village I should
have never taught you about, ambush and guns. Partly, I do blame myself for
losing you, even though it is really no one’s fault. The day you came back from
the ambush, I started to realize you have changed. You had bush hat and filthy
green fatigues while carrying an M-16. You didn’t even try to explain yourself.
You just step back in the camp like nothing had happened. Have you ever
considered my feelings! I tried to control you, which was my mistake making you
more resistant to going home. Then you left with the Greenies and never came
back, well in a sense I lost you forever.
I hope you will respond to my letter, maybe
we could even meet someday. I really miss you and I’ll always love you with all
my heart and I don’t think that I will ever be able to move on in life without
you. I hope we will still remain, friends, as you are the only one in the world
who understands me the most. Take care and God bless!
Sincerely, your friend
On being asked how she
managed to return back from the woods after she was thought to be dead for so
long, she explained every detail of her survival, she was scouting in the
jungle on a late night expedition, but there was a sudden enemy movement that
prevented her from going back to camp. She decided to camp in the woods for a
couple of days and wait for help. For three weeks, she tried out every
possibility to get near to the base and eventually there came a point where she
could do nothing. The only thing she was left to do was to try her best to stay
safe and healthy in the woods for long period of time and hope for good. While
she had nothing to do she ended up thinking about how she had changed, how she
became distant from her family and high school and her aspirations changed to
become a military soldier.
Eventually, she couldn’t acquire more food
and insects in the woods she had been spending the nights (in the nearby area).
She starved for a few days and in the end, she finally collapsed and fainted,
lying on the ground exposed. It wasn’t until later when she woke up and saw a
Vietnamese woman smiling at her and handing me a bowl of soup with a plate with
some herbs heal faster. Turns out the father of this family saw my body one day
when he was hunting, distinguished that she was still breathing, but instead of
killing the enemy, he brought her into his home and saved her life. She was
very grateful to the family and felt obliged and therefore, she started helping
them with their house chores which were the least she could have done for them
as a payback for what they had done for her. She had to say a quick goodbye to
the family because the VC were going to come to the village to camp and the
family guided her a safe track, back to the military base.
I did successfully find
the base camp, with my fellow soldiers in awe when they saw me. “We listed u
M.I.A. already, how the f**k did you survive out there?”
She replied: “Vietnam
Shortly afterward she
didn’t want to stay in war and so she asked for a deployment back here in
America for some time.
She liked the war but after
she thought so much in the woods she decided not to go for wars anymore cause
her views towards war had changed and believed that killing people wasn’t a
good idea; she decided to peruse adventure sports and expedition to keep her passion.
She says that these years she has changed the most after learning so much from
Her another main aim was to
promote equality amongst men and women in the world and therefore change the
stereotype that women are more passionate about things and therefore can fight
wars equally as men.