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In Buddha's CompanyThai Soldiers in the Vietnam War$
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Richard A. Ruth

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834197

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834197.001.0001

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Thai People Have No Enemies

Thai People Have No Enemies

Remembering Thai-Vietnamese Relationships in the War Zone

(p.137) 5 Thai People Have No Enemies
In Buddha's Company

Richard A. Ruth

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on the relationship between the Thais and Southern Vietnamese. According to the recollections of the veterans, the South Vietnamese people welcomed the Thais' presence in their midst. This reception encouraged the Thais to think of all Vietnamese—civilian and military, friendly and hostile—in positive terms. This perception of the Vietnamese in South Vietnam contradicted and undermined official Thai military and government efforts to foster wariness and distrust for the Vietnamese in Thailand and abroad, and contrasted with American responses to the Vietnamese. The reason for this positive view is that the Vietnamese with whom the Thais had the closest contact were the women, young or middle-aged women, hired to work in Bearcat Camp. The lack of contact with Vietnamese men and, conversely, the preponderance of contact with Vietnamese women caused the Thai soldiers to develop and harbor paternalistic and protective feelings for most of the Vietnamese civilians they encountered. Such feelings in turn engendered positive recollections that survive in their memories and in the individual oral histories these veterans pass on.

Keywords:   Thai volunteers, Thai troops, Southern Vietnam, Vietnam War, Vietnamese women

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