When drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, an American GI took a unique approach to his off-duty days in the country. Private 1st Class Lance V. Nix transformed his time into captivating the local’s daily life with his trusty camera.
Through his lens, Nix captured a different side of the war experience, away from the dreary combat operations in muddy fields and dense jungles that typically define that era.
The photographs he took in and around the city of My Tho between 1968-69 showcase a vibrant world filled with bustling markets, lively townspeople, and joyful children.
These snapshots provide a refreshing perspective, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who were not directly engaged in the conflict, highlighting the resilience and humanity that persisted amidst challenging times.
“My number had come up with the draft before my Jan 1968 graduation from Fresno State College,” writes Lance Nix, “so I worked a part time job until I was finally inducted into the U.S. Army early June of 1968.
By the end of October 1968 I was en-route to the Vietnam War. I was assigned to MACV Team 66 in the Mekong Delta as a member of the PHOENIX Program.
October 1969 I returned from Vietnam and was assigned to a training unit with the 5th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado. I finished my service there and finally got my honorable discharge early June of 1970.”
“This is a pictorial record of the people and places encountered during the “vacation” part of my tour in paradise with MACV Team 66 and the Phoenix/Phung Hoang Program in Dinh Tuong Province in and around the city of My Tho.
“I try to remember Vietnam as being a working vacation. A few pictures from the “Working Part” of my “Big Adventure” in Vietnam from November 1968 to October 1969.
It was a war, we were in constant danger, we were seeing, doing and experiencing things civilized men should not have to endure, but most of us survived and now it is over and time to move on.”
In Nix’s view, ‘The Vietnamese citizens weren’t really involved in the war. They were bystanders basically. They were so used to occupation, with the French before us. Most citizens were just trying to live their lives, hoping not to have their heads blown off.’
Despite the war’s ongoing impact on the country, My Tho managed to maintain its vibrant spirit. The city’s markets were a focal point of daily life, teeming with activity as locals engaged in lively trade and commerce.
The marketplaces offered a colorful array of fresh produce, spices, textiles, and handicrafts, creating a vibrant atmosphere that reflected the richness of Vietnamese culture.
The townspeople of My Tho exhibited resilience and determination as they went about their daily lives amidst wartime circumstances.
They found ways to carry on with their routines, tending to their businesses, homes, and families. Community ties were strong, and neighbors supported one another through challenging times.
While My Tho was not immune to the effects of the war, it offered a stark contrast to the combat operations and hardship prevalent in other parts of Vietnam.
The city provided a glimpse of ordinary life and a reminder that amidst the chaos, people were striving to maintain a sense of normalcy and create moments of joy.
(Photo credit: Lance V. Nix).