One of the many unfortunate by-products of war are orphans. The orphanages near our base at Phu Cat, Vietnam were visited by the base chaplains who brought sustenance in the way of food, clothing, and other goods, as well as spiritual support. GI volunteers often accompanied them, bringing their own small supply of treats for the children. I went along on several of these visits.
The experience was both enlightening and saddening. On one occasion I brought a tin of hard Christmas candies my mother had sent. The clamoring children literally ripped the buttons off of my shirt as I tried handing them out.
The saddest part of these visits was watching the children vie for the attention of the American GI’s; hoping against hope that they might be adopted and delivered from the hell that was their lives. The ones with missing limbs and other war scars, stood humbly back as the “less damaged” children jockeyed for position. Those memories are forever etched in my mind.