Until recently, it had never occurred to Vince to return to Vietnam. As a U.S. Marine, he had served the standard thirteen-month combat tour decades ago, collecting a sea bag full of memories and images, both disturbing and exhilarating. When he gratefully climbed aboard his "freedom flight" at Da Nang in early 1969 to go home to the States, he believed he was seeing that war-ravaged country for the last time.
Lately, though, he reflected on his experiences there and had come to realize that those few months had been a pivotal period in his life, forever coloring his perceptions of the world around him and all the people he met afterwards. After Vietnam, he was an entirely different man than the one who planted his first tentative steps in that foreign soil.
The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he had to return to Vietnam, in the hopes of re-acquainting himself with the idealistic young man he once was before the encrustation of natural aging and life experience had piled layer upon layer of useless matter on his body and soul.
And there was another compelling reason for going back, he admitted to himself but to no others. He hoped to find, against all odds, the woman he had loved more than life itself in those dark days. He didn't know if she had survived the war and, if so, where she might be today. He just knew that he had to find out once and for all.