"We were soldiers once, and young."

I met Mr Doan this morning, a super cool and interesting 70 year old man with a fascinating story to tell.

Doan grew up in Hanoi, but in 1954 during the French adventures in North Vietnam he was sent by his family to Saigon. He was educated in a Catholic school where he learnt to speak English and French. 

When the Americans came Doan, now a young man, got a job as an interpreter with the US Army. He worked for the US for the duration of the American War. 

Unable to leave with his employers when Saigon fell, Doan was rounded up by the victors. He cleverly told his interrogators that he worked as a driver, knowing that if he told them that he was an interpreter he would have automatically been assumed to be CIA and at best would have been packed off to a re education camp for ten years. Instead he was released.

Since the end of the war Doan worked variously as a driver, a motor bike taxi driver and once again as an interpreter. He is now retired and watches the world go by at the church on Sunday mornings, while at the same time educating curious photographers. with stories of a time long ago.

When we finished talking we shook hands and I walked off. After a dozen steps I stopped to look back. Doan had vanished.