Private William E. Morency was always easy for Quân to find. Skill and training were key the first time; modern technology and the openness of a big city now came to his aid.
Quân had been in the city for three days, adjusting to a time zone halfway around the world and — following years of habit —ensuring he wasn’t being followed.
The cemetery was on the tour bus route; a number of persons prominent in regional and national history were buried there. Quân paid polite attention during the early part of the tour, waiting patiently for the garish bus to arrive at the cemetery.
When it did, Quân listened as the tour leader told where the graves of the well-known could be found. The tourists left the bus and went in various directions to find the late celebrity they were most interested in.
Quân went off on his own. The photos on the family’s website made it unnecessary to refer to the cemetery’s map.
After a short walk, he came to a grave marked with a simple military headstone. He took an old piece of paper from his pocket and compared what was written there with the marker. He nodded to himself and regarded the grave for several minutes. Then he spoke quietly, in English for the benefit of his audience.
“I am Phan Quang Quân. You, William E. Morency, were the first man I killed after joining the Viet Cong,” he said. “I had been tracking you for twenty minutes before you saw me. I was nervous and hoped you would retrace your steps and leave. Then you saw my friend Thanh, and I had no choice.
“I risked going to your body to read your dog tag. I did not know English, but I forced myself to memorize the patterns of the letters. As soon as I could, I wrote them down. I wanted to know who you were, although even now I do not know why.
“I will not assume a similar curiosity on your part. Indeed, it surely would be rude for me to recite the details of my life these past four decades.”
“We both fought for our countries and our peoples. You were a soldier, and I know you understand. I would rather have killed no one … but you would have done the same for me.”
Quân bowed slightly to his first fallen foe and walked back to the bus. There were a few other stops yet to make on the citywide tour, although Quân would not later be able to recall any of them.