Panetta presents Vietnamese official with diary researched by “History Detectives”

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta presented a diary to Vietnam’s defense minister in Hanoi Monday (June 4) from the body of a North Vietnamese soldier killed in a 1966 firefight near Quang Ngai that had been provided to the Defense Department by the pubTV program History Detectives. The diary contains several entries and a photo of two young women, according to PBS.

“I’m pleased that History Detectives could, through Secretary Panetta, be part of a continuing process of reconciliation between our nations,” said Wes Cowan, lead investigator for the show. “The diary and photograph are small reminders that the combatants who were lost on both sides were not simply warriors, but real people who will forever be remembered by their loved ones.”

Marjorie Garner brought the diary to History Detectives for a friend, U.S. Marine Ira Frazure. After firing subsided in the 1966 battle, Frazure found the body of a North Vietnamese soldier in a machine gun pit with the small red journal on his chest.

In return, Vietnam’s Minister of Defense Gen. Phung Quang Thanh turned over to Panetta several letters from a U.S. soldier killed in the conflict. Panetta hopes to deliver the letters to that soldier’s family members, who now live in California.

The History Detectives episode on the diary is scheduled to air Sept. 25.