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Back In Vietnam After 40 Years: 'We're Still Trying To Move On; They Already Have'07:53Download

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Former U.S. Marines John Ghilain, from Malden, left, and  Bill Newell, from Hopkinton, speak to WBUR atop the Saigon Star Monday in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1975, the building was their barracks.  This is their first trip back to Vietnam since they evacuated 40 years ago. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Former U.S. Marines John Ghilain, from Malden, left, and Bill Newell, from Hopkinton, speak to WBUR atop the Saigon Star Monday in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1975, the building was their barracks. This is their first trip back to Vietnam since they evacuated 40 years ago. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for WBUR)

It was 40 years ago this week that the Vietnam War ended.

Two of the last U.S. Marines to leave — both from Massachusetts — have come back here for a ceremony honoring the last Marines to die.

On Monday, we met up with the two Massachusetts Marines who've returned — Bill Newell, of Hopkinton, and John Ghilain, of Malden — hours after they arrived.

It's their first trip back to Vietnam in 40 years.

Our conversation took place on the rooftop of their hotel, the Saigon Star. In 1975, it was their barracks — appropriately named Marine House.

Newell and Ghilain spoke about how bustling and built-up the city is now, with little police presence, and the two former Marines shared their early impressions.

"My first impression would be," Newell said, "we're still trying to move on, and they already have."

The view atop the Saigon Star (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for WBUR)
The view atop the Saigon Star (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for WBUR)
Both Newell and Ghilain remarked at how drastically the skyline has changed in 40 years. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for WBUR)
Both Newell and Ghilain remarked at how drastically the skyline has changed in 40 years. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for WBUR)

This segment aired on April 28, 2015.

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