Millions of people died during the anti-US war in Vietnam. Generations of Vietnamese people are still suffering from the war’s consequences. Since the two countries normalized ties, efforts to heal the war’s aftermaths, locate soldiers missing in action, clear unexploded bombs and mines, and clean up dioxin contamination have been a high priority of bilateral cooperation.
From foes to friends
Since the war ended, 720 remains of the American soldiers missing in action have been repatriated to the US. The US government and war veterans’ organizations have worked closely with Vietnam to uncover information about Vietnamese soldiers missing in action.
Recently, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc presented a documentary film about the search for the remains of US naval officer James B. Mills, who died during the war in Vietnam, to his sister Ann Mills-Griffiths, who is Chairwoman of the Board and CEO of the National League of POW/MIA Families. Ms Griffiths said the gesture was is meaningful to her family and to other families searching for US servicemen missing in action in Vietnam.
Ms Griffiths said, “My family, my parents included, never really thought it was possible. It’s always a thread of hope but we never thought it was possible. I was surprised and happy when I found out the news. So it’s a very good feeling to know that he actually died that day, September 21, 1966.
I think overall the feeling of the family is and what has caused this issue to be so dominant to the Americans is ending of the uncertainty and knowing what happened, knowing for sure he died. It’s a lesson to the world of what former enemies can do to work together like this and bring the relationship to where it is today between the US and Vietnam.”
Ms. Griffiths is one of many Americans whose relative’s remains have been returned. Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of National Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh said “The US Department of Defense has acknowledged our help in locating US soldiers missing in action. This reflects our humanity, sense of responsibility, and desire to build trust with the US.”
Future Vietnam-US cooperation
Settlement of war consequences is one of the key areas of cooperation between Vietnam and the US. The two countries have focused on locating soldiers missing in action and decontaminating the Da Nang and Bien Hoa airports. Both nations agree on the importance of cooperation in this field while enhancing ties in trade, security, the environment, and climate change.
American leaders have promised to cooperate with Vietnam in settling war consequences.
The symposium “Settlement of war consequences: Path to reconciliation and future cooperation between Vietnam and the US” will be another step to build trust and strengthen ties between Vietnam and the US.