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HER FATHER'S LAND by Jeff Kelly

HER FATHER'S LAND

by Jeff Kelly

418 pages
Ha, a South Vietnamese nurse, joins the Viet Cong after seeing her family home bulldozed to make room for a firebase on the DMZ. As she seeks to reclaim Her Fatherís Land, a relationship with a USAID officer causes a tragic turn of events.

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Category: Fiction:Military:Vietnam
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About the Book
Ha was a nurse in a clinic in Quang Tri City. She was the only girl from the hamlet of Tan An Von Giap ever to escape a rural life. Her father, wanting to save her from a life of toil in the fields, arranged for her to live with relatives in Quang Tri City and get an education. She frequently rode her bicycle the twenty kilometers to visit family back in the hamlet. While there she tended to the medical needs of those in the hamlet that included Viet Cong fighters and lately, fighters from the Northern Army.

Ha was not political by nature, but that changed when government soldiers arrived with trucks and bulldozers to remove all the people and raze the hamlet of Tan An Von Giap. They announced that the people were being moved to a refugee camp. They could only take what they could carry. Their homes, their fields, their animals Ė all were to be abandoned. Those who protested were beaten with truncheons and herded into trucks. But the greatest sorrow was abandoning the graves of their honored ancestors. Tending those graves was a large part of their spiritual life and their daily ritual. For the people of Tan An Von Giap their world turned upside down suddenly and without warning.

With no land to work or animals to tend, Haís father tried making a little money selling cigarettes to passing truck traffic on Highway 9 outside the camp. A soldier from the camp arrived at the clinic with news that her father had been hit by a truck and killed on the highway. Ha rushed to the refugee camp to bury her father and comfort her mother. A month later her mother, suffering from depression and malnutrition, also passed away.

That was when Ha walked away from her position at the clinic and became a full-time Viet Cong. She developed a friendship with a patient named Nhu, a North Vietnamese officer with a minor shrapnel wound in his thigh. The attraction between them grew and they became lovers. It was their secret.

On a night-time mission guiding arriving soldiers from North Vietnam, Ha was caught in an artillery attack and was wounded by shrapnel. The wounds were minor but needed attention. The camp commander decided she should leave the jungle and convalesce in town at the Quang Tri Clinic. Much to her surprise she was warmly received by Doctor Trung, her old boss. When she confessed her revolutionary politics to the Doctor, he revealed that he too was Viet Cong.

Ha and Doctor Trung went to an annual meeting at the USAID compound in Quang Tri to hear their clinic mentioned as a recipient of funding. Haís good looks attracted Marine lieutenant Larry Jones, recently transferred to USAID from the 3rd Marines. While conversing in French, they discovered that Jones had been at Alpha-3, the firebase built on the razed ruins of Tan An Von Giap. This piqued Haís curiosity. Doctor Trung saw little to be gained from the young lieutenant and discouraged contact with him. However, Ha wanted to know what happened to her home hamlet and agreed to have dinner with Jones.

When a switchboard operator, a Viet Cong member working at USAID, secretly monitored a call from the office of a US Congressman asking to speak to Larry Jones, she learned Jones was the Congressmanís nephew. The entire Viet Cong Front was astounded. As the word spread, expanding circles of interest in Larry Jones reached all the way to Hanoi. Contention built between the Viet Cong and their benefactors in North Vietnam, with Ha caught in the middle.

 

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About the Author
Jeff Kellyís first book, DMZ Diary, is a memoir of his 1968 combat tour. Tan An Von Giap was the hamlet razed to build firebase Alpha-3. Kelly thought of those people who lost everything. After Vietnam, Kelly had an airline career, then worked for the UN in Rwanda and Afghanistan.

 

 

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