Vietnamese Colonel preserves love for Cambodia via personal photography

A Vietnamese colonel kept thousands of black and white and color photos from 1975-1979; 1979 - 1989 about Cambodia
June 24, 2021 | 16:07
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Vietnamese Colonel preserves love for Cambodia via personal photography
Colonel Nguyen Dinh and documents about Cambodia.

Unforgettable memories

We visited Colonel Nguyen Dinh's house on the eve of the 54th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Cambodia. The thought, not having time to prepare will limit the work of collecting information, but quite the opposite. Colonel Nguyen Dinh welcomed us with dozens of photo albums taken by himself from his years of working and volunteering in Cambodia, each photo was carefully annotated, the documents were handwritten on an opaque yellow paper background preserved for decades. But the richest, most vivid and most practical living document is the colonel with stories and deep reminiscences about a memorable period of the two countries Vietnam - Cambodia of which he himself is a witness.

The story with Colonel Nguyen Dinh begins from the days of defending the southwestern border of the country and responding to a people's cry for help in a disaster of extinction. Colonel Nguyen Dinh shared that when entering Cambodia, Vietnamese volunteer soldiers were welcomed by people from all over Cambodia.

He pointed to a photo taken in January 1979. "When Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and myself went to Cambodia to help liberate the country, I was sitting in an armored vehicle. Entering Cambodia, we thought there were no people, but after a while, when Vietnamese volunteers entered, Cambodians rushed out to greet us. People spilled out on both sides of the road standing and waving. An old man about 70 years old, ragged clothes approached us without saying anything but smiling brightly. We smoked a cigarette with him and hit the road. He patted us on the shoulder repeatedly, nodding, his eyes beaming with joy."

Vietnamese Colonel preserves love for Cambodia via personal photography
Photo taken in January 1979: when Vietnamese volunteer soldiers went to Cambodia to help liberate the country.

Dinh also mentioned how the Cambodians were an asset to their crucial missions. During the war, Vietnamese volunteers were also supported and protected by the Cambodian people. There were battles, many people were injured, the Cambodian people helped hide and take care of them; show the soldiers the way out of the trap.

In the early days after liberation, Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts have always stood side by side with the Cambodian people to restore production and stabilize life. Many Vietnamese officers and soldiers have returned home to collect seeds with Cambodian farmers to plant. Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts jointly raised thousands of Cambodian children orphaned after the genocide, helped build schools and hospitals, and strengthened the people's government.

Sowing seeds of friendship in peacetime

On the morning of June 17, 2018, in Hanoi, the Liaison Board of the Political Department of Command 719 held the first congress, term 2018 - 2023.

The congress announced the decision of the Central Committee of the Vietnam - Cambodia Friendship Association on the establishment of the Vietnam - Cambodia Friendship Association, volunteering veterans of the Political Department of Command 719 (Association). Accordingly, the outstanding task and direction of activities of the Association in the first term (2018-2023) is to encourage members to uphold the image of Uncle Ho's army, promote the good traditions of the Vietnam People's Army, actively build solidarity and friendship between the armies and peoples of the two countries Vietnam - Cambodia in the new period; well perform activities of camaraderie; people's diplomacy. At the Congress, Colonel Nguyen Dinh was elected to hold the position of President of the Association.

Vietnamese Colonel preserves love for Cambodia via personal photography
Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association, volunteer veterans of the Political Department 719 Command and Cambodian students in Vietnam.

Recently, to support the Cambodian people in the prevention and control of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vietnam - Cambodia Friendship Association, volunteer veterans of the Political Department of the 719 Command also donated and supported the country 15 million dong (US$650).

In the 3 years from 2019 to now, the Association has also sponsored 10 Cambodian international students in Vietnam. Colonel Dinh himself is also the "adoptive father" of 3 international students studying at the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences. Asked about the plan when the pandemic was over, he laughed happily: The first thing I will do is take my three adopted children to a party, then go out and visit the beautiful scenery of Vietnam.

“We not only sow the seeds of friendship, we also sow the seeds. In my opinion, it is not only limited to Cambodian students, but should be replicated with Laos, Russia, England or any other country in the world. This is a very good and meaningful model for international friends to understand and love Vietnam," Dinh said.

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