Son of US Navy captain contributes to postwar relief efforts in Vietnam
(VNF) - The Vietnam-US Society on July 18 held a reception for Thomas Eugene Wilber, son of US Navy Captain Walter Eugene Wilber.
At the reception, General Secretary of the Vietnam-US Society (VUS), Deputy Director in charge of the American Desk, (Vietnam Union of Friendship Organization – VUFO), Bui Van Nghi, expressed his appreciation for what Thomas and his family have done for Vietnam, particularly the presentation of his father’s memorabilia to Hoa Lo museum in the year 2016 and 2017.
Thomas Wilber met with VUFO leader on July 18. Photo: Phi Yen
Speaking to VUS General Secretary, Thomas informed him on the recent establishment of a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded himself, with the name Services & Reconciliation Foundation.
The NGO is a symbol of its founder's strong commitment to contributing to the post-war relief process in Vietnam, with the key mission of helping Vietnam deal with two key war legacies which are Agent Orange/Dioxin and unexploded ordnances.
During this visit to Vietnam, Thomas has worked with the People’s Aid Coordination (PACCOM) to complete all the required procedures to put the NGO into operation in Vietnam.
Furthermore, he also shared with his hosts about his plan of writing a book describing the true experiences of Hoa Lo prisoners like his father. He emphasized that, the book will tell readers the true stories inside the jail, where the prisoners like his father received humane treatment, unlike the distorted stories told by some former army officers. “Understanding about the truth is part of the reconciliation effort,” he said.
At the moment, he is looking for credible sources of references to complete the book.
After hearing his plan, Nghi affirmed VUS’s commitment to assist Thomas in his upcomming plans, including giving him recommendation the on where to find relevant, valid documents, as well as whom he could speak to, like history scholar, veterans, former officers in Hoa Lo prison.
Thomas Wilber speaks in a Vietnam - US veterans exchange in March 2018. Source: SGGP
Navy Captian Thomas E.Wilber's father, Walter Wilber, was shot down on June 16, 1968 over the central province of Nghệ An. His parachute landed in Thanh Chương District. Several days later, he arrived at Hoa Lo rison.
During nearly five years of imprisonment, Capt Wilber was always treated well and he appreciated that, his son said. He actively joined the antiwar movement when he was set free.
Wilber told the newspaper that “he was never tortured and his food and water were just as good as that consumed by the civilians outside the walls of the prison.”
“After four years and eight months, he was returned healthy and happy to our family. We all felt grateful for that.”
“My father was provided with food, clothing, shelter and medical care during his time in Hà Nội. He believed that he was treated well, especially considering the difficult condition of the Vietnamese people during wartime," said Thomas./.
( Phi Yen )