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the Interpreter

Her name is Nguyen Thi Thanh. She is one tough and dedicated woman. I say 'is' because I refuse to believe she is dead. I want to believe she survived the take-over and is either still in Vietnam helping people or managed to get out and is living in the United States.

The above photograph is a Polaroid. Why Polaroid? The answer follows.

FLC (Force Logistics Command) was created from the supply and support regiments of the 1st and 3rd Marine divisions. All supplies for these divisions went through FLC. This is where the Polaroid film came from.

Whatever excess supplies we received at FLC was distributed to units at FLC. In the case of any extra photo supplies they were given to the FLC photo-lab.

We ended up with several dozen rolls of 35mm Kodak slide flim as well as Kodak slide film chemicals for processing. Since slide film wasn't used for any official assignments this film was given to the photo staff to use at it pleased. We also used the film to trade for supplies we needed. This included steaks and beer. We also got the photo-lab air-conditioner repaired using Kodak slide film.

The Polaroid film was something else all together. Why? Because we didn't have a Polaroid camera at the lab. We had to go to Special Services and check one out. When they asked what we were going to do with the camera we really couldn't tell them. That was because we didn't know ourselves.

Again Sgt. Steve Addington came up with the solution. We took the camera and several packs of instant film, maybe 30, and went out to our favorite village.

We picked up Nguyen Thi Thanh on the way and when we got to the village we approached the chief and asked if they wanted some portraits taken? We took a couple of pictures of the chief and when he saw the results he was overjoyed. I don't think they had ever seen an instant picture.

I then spent a couple of hours taking photos of any one that wanted a picture. Many of the villagers went and got dressed up in their Sunday best. I took the pictures and Steve had the job of coating the finished prints.

This picture of Nguyen Thi Thanh is the only one I saved from that trip.

The second photo on this page shows a young Vietnamese with several of the Polaroids drying.

I'm still trying to determine the name of the village. Someday I hope to return to Vietnam and visit this village and see if any of the instant photos still exist. You never know.

I have more information and photographs of this woman over here.

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