A villager smiles. A soldier washes the muck of the jungle from his body. These are the scenes portrayed in a new book Ross Lewis is speaking about this weekend at a Vietnam veterans reunion here.
"The real story that I believe that was in Vietnam was not just the body counts, not just the war photos, it was the people who had hearts ... real hearts," Lewis said.
The book, titled "Welcome Home/A Monument of Honor," will be available at a book signing today at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel from 1 to 4 p.m. as part of the 15th annual Tan Son Nhut Association reunion.
The U.S. Army veteran served in Korea from 1967 to 1968 and feels a connection to his fellow veterans who were sent to Vietnam.
The idea for the project came to Lewis two decades ago, but it wasn't until the past three years that he was able to connect to Vietnam veterans from all phases of the war and conduct in-person interviews.
When Lewis sat down with Vietnam War veterans and looked at pictures they had taken decades ago while serving, he didn't see the blood and chaos often displayed in war footage. He saw the quiet moments in the photographs.
Lewis included 27 of the interviews in this book and plans to visit veterans groups and events across the country to share the project.
Association President George Plunkett said Lewis contacted the group a few years ago to get in touch with Vietnam veterans.
The Pennsylvania-based association works with veterans and their families to answer questions and provide resources about benefits eligibility, service recognition and other areas of interest, Plunkett said.
Contact staff writer Todd South at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP