Photo Gallery: Vietnam’s “Wandering Ghosts” and Those Left Behind

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In this week’s interview, journalist Nick Turse explains how he went to Vietnam looking for survivors to document the alleged war crimes he’d read about in a cache of secret Pentagon papers he found in 2001. Turse thought he was going on a search for a needle in a haystack, but instead he found a “haystack of needles.”

In this photo gallery, Turse shares the images and stories of a few of Vietnamese people he met who lost family members and neighbors during the decade-long war. He says the Vietnamese have a tradition that if a person dies away from home or is not properly buried, his soul wanders constantly. The Vietnamese are still dealing with their wandering ghosts today — telling their stories and honoring their souls to help them find peace in the afterlife.


Bui Xich; Photo Credit: Tam Turse

Photo Credit: Tam Turse

In Thanh Son, a farming community in Binh Dinh Province, Bui Xich lost two sons when artillery shelling collapsed his family’s bomb shelter. Turse writes that villagers gave him the names of 29 victims, but insisted there had been many more, too many to recall.
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