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 too fight war.
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 my 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 solider by dropping
the full- American attitude, for example- stopped wearing makeup, not wearing
“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 a apology letter that was
sent to her by Mark Fossie, after he got to know that she had been back to
______________(hometown) for 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 or 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 hook up by 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 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 on 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 a 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 about 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 after 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
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 was the least she could have done for them as a
payback for what they had done for her. She had to say a quick good-bye 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 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 saved
Shortly afterwards she didn’t want
to stay in war and so she asked for a deployment back here in America for some
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.