My novel, “Lost in Dalat — The Courage of a Family Torn by War,” is about Meggan Mondae, who travels to the exotic mountain city of Dalat, Vietnam, to find the battlefield where her father was reported missing in action forty-five years ago, just a few months before she was born. While searching for the place where he was last seen alive, she uncovers shocking secrets about her father’s mysterious life, secrets that now threaten her.
The story is very loosely based on my wartime and civilian experiences in Vietnam—including a 2017 trip to Dalat to do research for this novel—and my musings about the unknown fate of a long-ago brother in arms. The backdrop for much of the story takes place in contemporary Vietnam, but it unfolds to show how Vietnam has evolved politically and socially since the early 1970s.
A central theme to this story is how the lives of family members can be affected when an MIA veteran is officially declared unrecoverable. The loved ones left behind can never truly grieve, are left with faded hope, forever wondering where and how their MIA family member fell, wondering where his remains are buried or scattered.
According to the latest Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), there are still 1,588 unaccounted-for Americans lost in the Vietnam War. Other than “Old Glory,” the flag of the National League of POW/MIA Families is the only flag ever to fly over the White House since 1982. The flag’s slogan, “You Are Not Forgotten,” makes a promise all Americans should keep.