The hunt is on for a Derry man who served with the American military in Vietnam, and who left a simple piece of graffiti aboard the troopship that ferried him to south east Asia.
Husband and wife Art and Lee Beltrone, a team of military historians from Virginia, USA and the curators of the Vietnam Graffiti Project (VGP), hope ‘Journal’ readers can help trace the man who wrote “Bradley/Derry City/Ireland” on board the General Nelson M. Walker some 45 years ago.
“The berthing canvases were used as bunks on the troopship General Nelson M. Walker as it took troops to Vietnam from America in 1966 and 1967,” Art told the ‘Journal’ this week.
He says it’s quite possible an Irishman may have enlisted or ended up being one of close to 700,000 men drafted to fight in Vietnam.
“During the Vietnam era, if a student from another country was attending college or university here, it was possible to be drafted into the American military forces. Of course, the soldier named Bradley may have even enlisted into the service and may not have been drafted.
“We are trying to locate him to learn the circumstances of his joining the military, and what he experienced on the voyage to Vietnam. He was no doubt young, and facing an unknown future.”
The couple, who plan to bring the canvas to Derry later this month, say now they want to trace and tell the story of Bradley from Derry.
“We do interviews about their voyage experience as well as their service in the military. We are attempting to find ‘Bradley’, assuming he came from Derry.”
The former journalist, who who has actively pursued the study of militaria for more than 50 years, and his former professional photographer wife, set up the VGP after discovering the horde of artefacts on board the General Nelson M. Walker.
Anyone who thinks they may be able to shed some light on the Bradley story can contact the Journal via firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 71272200
More information about the VGP is available online at www.vietnamgraffiti.com