By Agence France-Presse Viet Cong veteran Vo Ban Tam remembers the first time he crossed paths with John Kerry on the banks on the Bay Hap river, a day that ended in bloodshed. Almost a half-century later, the now 70-year-old Mekong Delta shrimp farmer locked eyes with the U.S. Secretary of State on Saturday, January 14, and they warmly grasped hands in mutual respect. Kerry returned to the Vietnam waterway at the end of a visit to the Communist nation, less than a week before he was to leave office, searching for the spot where he won a Silver Star for bravery as a young U.S. Navy lieutenant. On February 28, 1969, as the skipper of Swift Boat PCF-94, Kerry was patrolling when Vo Ban Tam’s unit launched an ambush. The plan, the Vietnamese guerilla told his former adversary on Saturday, was to use rifle and grenade fire to lure the heavily-armed American craft into range of a shoulder-held rocket launcher. This tactic had paid off for the Viet Cong in the past but on this day Kerry made a dramatic decision, deliberately beaching his boat then storming ashore to pursue the operator. Grabbing an M-16 rifle the then 26-year-old… Read full this story
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