So good to see men who were former enemies
come together in harmony
--NLF General Monh’s toast to Deryle,
Nha Trang (2010)
They are conducting a grassroots fundraiser on Kickstarter HERE, and hope to release their film Fall 2012. They have a little over a week remaining to raise their goal of $25 K; they either reach it, or they get nothing. It is a worthy project and we hope our readers will be able to help them summit the peak.
"Same Same But Different" is the story of veterans returning to their former battlegrounds to clear unexploded ordnance, work with victims of Agent Orange, and build schools, clinics and orphanages. It includes interviews with Vietnam veterans both abroad and stateside, archival footage, rarely seen photographs and original music. The documentary showcases the remarkable work of these VN vets whose story is still largely untold.
Perryman was a 20-year-old Army Sergeant in 1968 during the Tet Offensive in the Central Highlands. He served his 1967-68 Vietnam War tour as a crew chief on a 175mm howitzer with the 5th Battalion, 22nd Artillery and later in the 6th Battalion, 84th artillery. For him, the documentary is a both a healing and a benediction.
I'll leave Deryle to tell the rest of his story:
"I was born in Alabama. Southerners like to fight. Since everybody's Daddy was in the Big War, I grew up in a culture that didn't leave many options when the bugle sounded. So when the time came--just after HS graduation, along with three of my best childhood buddies -- I signed up to fight to keep the Commie hoards from taking San Francisco.
"Since then, as with veterans from any war, the rest of my life has been informed by that decision.
"Ever since my first trip to Vietnam, I'd always wanted to go back, especially when the trees and the earth weren't trying to kill me. So I returned to Vietnam in 1995 and I've been back several times since. Knowing that I can't reclaim my innocence or honor or that class ring I lost in 1968, I kept feeling the weight of a story I needed to tell.
"I’ve written thousands of journal entries and notes. I’ve read all the articles and books, seen all the movies. Well… most. Over the past four years, I’ve interviewed veterans and activists by the dozen from Gloucester, Massachusetts to Nha Trang. I put together a music library with thousands of cuts referring to Vietnam. But the more I tried to tell the Vietnam story, the more I realized there isn’t one.
"Sure you can retell the historical account, drag out the footage of the jungle exploding, straw hootches in flames and door gunners shooting at fleeing women and children. You can play raucous rock and roll over footage of soldiers with peace signs on their helmets. You can explain what made this particular war the worst war: lies, obscene warmongers, profiteers. Truth is: the worst war is the one you're in.
"Each return to Vietnam, I ran into other guys like me who found themselves drawn back. Some have gone back to Vietnam for good, living as expatriates. Fewer still have taken that extra step and are working to heal the wounds they opened all those years ago. I want to follow the example set by those few largely unknown heroes who understand that wars don't stop with peace treaties.
"I’ve come to realize that’s the story I want to tell--life as it is, not as it was, a story of possibility rather than despair.
"We need to return to Vietnam one more time in April where we'll accompany a group of veterans returning to Vietnam for the first time after the war. We'll shoot footage of them as they tour the country.
"This two week tour is guided by Vietnam Veterans who live in Vietnam full time or most of the year where they work with programs clearing unexploded ordnance, or working with Agent Orange victims. They put the tour together under the auspices of their Veterans for Peace Chapter 160 Hoa Bien (Peace), the only VFP Chapter located outside the US.
"Personally, I want the film to reach out to Vietnam Veterans who may be searching for ways to heal themselves, maybe seeing the work of their fellow vets as a path they might want to undertake.
"There's a lot of healing still to be done from all of this nation's wars. Maybe 'Same Same But Different' can be an inspiration for others to get on with their own."
Deryle's next goal is to build a school up in Vietnam 's Central Highlands for the Montagnard people, "who aren't prospering as well as some of the Vietnamese. I'm hoping the film can be a vehicle to help that happen. Politically, it's about showing that former enemies can forgive each other by re-humanizing each other through working in common on helping projects."
We wish Deryle and Moises great success in completing and getting exposure for their worthy project.