After years of searching, a Vietnam veteran war soldier from Australia finally managed to find the family of the soldier he had shot dead to return the soldier’s belongings.
Ian Williamson never dreamed of going to war. However, he was still 20 years old when he was obliged to join in defending his country. While in present teens are enjoying their life by spending time with friends, or playing slot online games, Williamson spent eight months in the jungle inland Vietnam at that era.
There, the man from Perth participated in Operation Overlord – a two-week military operation in Phuoc Tuy, 35 kilometers from southeast of Saigon.
Now, Williamson, with the support of his daughter Amanda – a lieutenant colonel in the Australian Army, returns to Vietnam. They traced the footsteps of the past and tried to face the burden he was carrying on his shoulders for 4 decades.
“Nothing can stop me now,” Williamson told ABC News on Monday (10/19/2015)
“I want to do it, and I think it will be perfect,” he said again.
Vietnam June 13, 1971, Willamson soldiers took the lives of their neighbors in Vietnam. That moment was when he had to save his own life.
But since then, the shadow of the soldier’s death has haunted his life.
“I can see the movement between the trees, 30 meters from the distance that was on patrol,” recalls Williamson, now 64 years old.
“I stopped. I looked at the object that was constantly moving. Up to 20 meters in front of me, I’m sure he was an enemy soldier,” he explained.
“He was carrying an AK47 rifle, and for a moment I saw the weapon, I immediately raided with my gun. I stopped after half a second, and the smoke disappeared, then I tested again with the remaining bullets,” Williamson said.
“I saw his body on the ground. He was on his back. The Medical Team checked, and he was dead. I realized that a block of wood hit him.”
“On the one hand, I’m relieved, and he died so fast. No need to suffer.”
The soldier was stripped of his clothes and weapons by the Williamson army and then buried. The commander gave the compass and hammock taken from the soldier.
“I said, ‘Thank you, sir,’ I put it in my bag, and for 44 years was there.”
Two Years of Looking for Warrior Families
It took two years for Williamson and his son Amanda to look for the soldier’s family to return his belongings.
“In my opinion, this is one way to say, from our family to your family, we have taken good care of these items for 40 years,” said Amanda, the veteran princess.
“The war brings tragedy for everyone and for all families. This is a real way for us to apologize by returning the items. Hopefully, they will get comfort,” he added.
Williamson himself was not upset when he decided to return the items.
“I think I can arrange this heart, but before departure, let alone on the plane, something pierced this heart,” Williamson said.
“I was not that tough and really affected my life,” he said again.
Williamson’s visit to Vietnam was thanks to Ngo Thai Thuy Hang, founder of Marina, a Vietnamese NGO that traced Vietnamese soldiers who were lost during the mid-60s war.
Within weeks, the agency was able to get information about who the soldier was: Sergeant Nguyen Sy Huy, who was shot and killed by Williamson at the age of 24 at the time.
Willamson had to go to Thanh Hoa Province, 200 kilometers south of Hanoi, to meet the soldier’s family and former soldier’s fiance.
In a blue-hearted moment, Williamson and Amanda were welcomed by the family. Hammock and compass changed hands.
“I certainly have no right to imagine how sad you all went through this and lost Huy,” Williamson said, crying.
“I really hope to help and make your mind rest, and maybe Huy’s spirit will be happy,” he added.
In this moment of surrender, Huy’s sister, Nguyen Sy Dinh, was no less emotional.
“To this day, I have nothing to say but thank you,” Nguyen stammered.
“However, we still have one more hope, how can we find my sister’s body and bring it here? This is our hope,” he pleaded.
Even with Huy’s ex-fiance, Nguyen Thi Tho. He incessantly wiped the tears from his cheeks. He told me how miserable his lover never went home. It took ten years for him to be able to marry another man.
“40 years ago, when he left, he promised to come back. I have been waiting so long,” Thi said, crying. This 68-year-old woman could not contain her emotions anymore when she received things from her brother.
Thousands of Vietnam soldiers are believed to be still missing. This is one of the stories of two families who were tortured because of the war.
“I’m happy, really,” Williamson said with relief.
The Vietnam War is a war in which the Australian Army has been involved since the war began until it ended. This is the longest war followed by the Kangaroo Continent compared to other wars, from 1966 to 1975.
More than 60 thousand troops have been deployed to help allies of the United States, including soldiers recruited from conscription.