About The Picture

The photograph used for the Cold War Warrior is of Highway 1 (The Street without Joy) and was captured by Thomas E. Johnson in 1967.

Tom was stationed at An Khê, in the Gia Lai Province in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam as a member of  the American 1st Cavalry Division, which was based there from mid-1965 to 1968. During that time he read Street Without Joy: The French Debacle In Indochina written by Bernard B. Fall, which details the ambush and massacre of GM1, a French battalion sized unit that was ambushed as they tried to relocate. Only two survived. The French had detonated their ammo dump before they left. While Tom was at An Khê, a wildfire at the base revealed that his hooch sat right in the middle of that old French ammo dump and shells of all makes and sizes were everywhere. The Army 25th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) also was located at the base camp and provided disposal support. The 1st Cavalry Division was repositioned in 1968.

The Cold War (1947-1991) was punctuated by conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.These conflicts certainly looked like War and felt like War but was there was no War declared by Congress. Highway 1 was also the scene of a terrible massacre in 1972.It was the only way out of two provinces that were overrun by Viet Cong. The bridge in the picture and the one before it  were blown up.  The people fleeing the provinces were trapped with no escape and were slaughtered by the Viet Cong. Symbolically, we must always plan for another way out, even during cold wars. The people trying to escape did not have a way out; fortunately we still have choices.

  • Gordon Smith

    Tom and I were writing letters back and forth during his time in Nam. I have forever been thankful that we still exchange news and thoughts, and, just as the cokes changed to beers and the peach fuzz to beards, now we don’t have to put stamps on our mailings.

    • solidus

      Thank you! He speaks of you often.

  • Leif Smith

    In a society of free people, in which organizations grow and die, there are usually multiple paths out of any terrible situation.

    In a society unified by political organization, in which dominant organizations cannot die, there gradually becomes only one path leading from terrible to more terrible.

    • solidus

      How very true.