Museum exhibit recognizes 40K Canadians who served in Vietnam War

A new exhibit at the Military Museums in Calgary marks the role Canadians played in the Vietnam War.

'It's a very under-recognized category of veterans,' says museum's curator

American veteran Bill Lorfing's story is told in the Military Museums' exhibit. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

A new exhibit at the Military Museums in Calgary marks the role Canadians played in the Vietnam War.

About 40,000 Canadians served in the conflict by joining the U.S. armed forces, and some of them are featured in oral histories that visitors can play back on demand.

"It's [a] very under-recognized category of veterans that we have with us today still," said senior curator Rory Cory.

"One of the reasons why we wanted to do this exhibit now is because we're 50 years after the Vietnam War almost. And a lot of these guys are already starting to pass away so it's almost too late to be getting these stories and to recognize these guys while they're still with us."

The exhibit at the Military Museums runs until mid-January. (Tracy Fuller/CBC)

The exhibit also provides a look at South Vietnamese veterans' role in the conflict, as well as educates visitors on Canada's peacekeeping role in the region.

For Hieu Tran, who served in the South Vietnamese Navy during the war, a walk into the exhibit is a walk into the past.

"Makes me remember everything. We never forget it," Tran said.

He plans to bring his children and grandchildren to see the exhibit and to show them how it was for Vietnamese people during wartime.

He said he regularly helps raise funds to send money back to Vietnam to support South Vietnam veterans.

Rory Cory is the senior curator for the Military Museums. (Tracy Fuller/CBC)

American veteran Bill Lorfing emigrated to Calgary after the war, where he served as a helicopter pilot of the 192nd Assault Helicopter Company from 1967 to '68.

"We're pretty much forgotten," he said. "Vietnam vets are dying younger because of Agent Orange, and so that needs to be remembered and all this needs to be fit into the overall sort of look at the Vietnam War."

Tour of Duty: Canadians and the Vietnam War runs from Sept. 27 to Jan. 13.

With files from Anis Heydari.