RI by George N. Allen


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In 1969, Ken Armstrong was a medic in Vietnam, assigned to a hospital outside Saigon, who learned about the ""dinks"" firsthand: he worked on the ""gook ward"" where everything was ""hind-tit"" and where these weird people connived to smuggle in their own food and sleep on the floor. Ken was naive, yes, and ignorant, but also deeply religious (Baptist), so it wasn't long before he realized that his informal indoctrination was faulty, the people worthy of respect and even admiration--they hollered less than American patients when they hurt just as much. His coming of age proceeded slowly, then accelerated with the arrival of Ri, a sad Cambodian orphan whose leg was amputated at the knee. Ri perked up with regular care, resisted transfer to a Saigon orphanage, and clung to Ken's unintentional fathering. And Ken, realizing his attachment, made a Christian decision: he arranged to have his Denver parents adopt the boy. Then began a months-long struggle to assure his parents of his commitment and to complete the paperwork--the last necessitating regular AWOL trips to Saigon and open defiance of his commanding officer. Ri, who got a handshake and encouragement from Bob Hope, made it to Denver, now skis, drives a car, and lives with Ken's parents--he likes the household full of children. No lively M*A*S*H crossfiring here--just a wholesome retrospection.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1978
Publisher: Prentice-Hall