“Hi, Benjamin Cooper?”
“Yes. Who’s this.”
“Ah, sorry. This is Carolyn Wilkowski. I’m sorry I missed your call this morning, I get terrible reception here at work.” Aha. My only other connection to my Great-Uncle. Maybe talking to her would be a little more productive than searching this desk.
“You have to work at nine in the morning on Saturday? Sucks to be you.” Continue reading
I skimmed I quickly flipped to the cover of the book. It said “The Fall of Saigon: American Policies and Politics at the End of the Vietnam War”. Huh. It was a history book, obviously, and the chapter that it had been open to was called “Operation Frequent Wind”.
I could not really be sure of the timing, but it definitely seemed like this was something my Great-Uncle had been working on before he died. Maybe it was important. I sat down to read. It took a few minutes to get the just of what was going on, since I did not want to start at the beginning of the book, but like most history books it was pretty dry, and mostly just a series of facts. Apparently, “Operation Frequent Wind” was the name of the helicopter evacuation of Americans and some “at-risk” South Vietnamese from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war. The book made it sound pretty heroic, a bunch of helicopters taking terrified civilians out of a city that was literally being invaded as they were doing it, rockets and bombs going off all around them. Then they flew out of the city, and landed on American ships in the South China Sea. Continue reading
I just stared around the room for a while, taking some time to adjust. I had not expected my search for my family history to be easy, exactly. I had expected to find family photos, journals, letters, that sort of thing. I was quite sure that I had some seriously repressed emotions around the whole issue of my father, what with him leaving my mom and never being a part of my life, so I had expected anything having to do with that side of my family to be difficult, emotionally. I had expected to find some photos with my father in them, and that it would bring up all sorts of emotions that a psychiatrist would really love to talk with me about. I had expected a weekend of pensive catharsis, looking at pictures of my father as a child. Continue reading
I could spend hours talking about what I found behind that door. To be honest, the things in that room are more of a testament to the burden that I am under than anything that I could write here. That room, and the secrets it holds, even from me, even now, are the heart of it all, the origin and the solution to a nightmare that reaches far beyond me and my family. But this is my story, not the story of the house.
So, suffice to say that although I was nearly overwhelmed by the things I saw that first time in my Great Uncle’s laboratory, I did not even scratch the surface of what was there to be found. Continue reading