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Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
David L. Bedard served in Vietnam in for one year, returning home in 1970. He knew he was a different person even though no one else seemed to notice. Quan Loi had changed him. Years later, he decided to find a quiet place in which to write this book. He chose Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. It was the perfect place for solitude; a place where he could confront the ghosts of the past. Bedard readily admits that his “experiences are not unique other than he has put his on paper.”
Bedard shares his memories of his stint in Viet Nam. Quan Loi was once a rubber plantation, with a golf course, swimming pool, and house. The war had turned it into a military base with a runway. The hootch was made livable by utilizing empty ammo crates as desks and shelves and mosquito netting to protect the soldiers from the insects. The outhouse was sanitized daily by burning the barrel of feces with kerosene. The soldiers at Quan Loi were warned to “wear their helmet and carry their rifle with them at all times.” There were rats. The creatures were bold in their search for food. Dr. Bedard recalls watching them night after night. The soldiers did not always know whom to trust. Even an innocent looking barber could turn out to be the enemy.
During the Viet Nam era, young adults were sent to fight a war. Those that returned would never be the same. Dr. David L. Bedard shares his poignant memories. I Remember Quan Loi stirred deep felt emotions in my soul. I had friends that also served. When these brave soldiers came home, they were not welcomed as heroes. Nevertheless, I will digress no farther into that topic. Bedard is a talent writer, in I Remember Quan Loi. He reminds us of what life was like for the many military persons that served their country. The photographs enhance the pictures he paints with words. I found one story particularly stirring. Bedard and his unit had just returned to the states. They saw a unit of young soldiers ready to ship out, obviously scared, yet they did not reach out to each other. I intend to pass this book on to my husband. I recommend I Remember Quan Loi to all Americans, for we have tried too long to forget.