Related Place: Pickleball Courts at Jefferson County Family Ymca

50 years after fighting in Vietnam War, allies reunite on Missouri pickleball court

From the same battleground in the Vietnam War, to the pickleball courts in Jefferson County, former allies pair up again almost 50 years later.

Elise Rich – January 24, 2020

FESTUS, Mo (KMOX) – Jim Berger says it’s pretty crazy how the world turns.

“I’m playing pickleball at the YMCA when Tri Nguyen walks in to play and we end up pairing up,” Berger says.

Berger says after a while they got to know each other, with a bit of translation help from Nguyen’s son, Berger found out they fought as allies in the Vietnam War in the same spots, during the same time, just in different armies. Nguyen was a Captain with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and Berger a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

“We were both stationed near the demilitarized zone or DMZ, near Hamburger Hill, we were two different forces, fighting together at the same time.”

Berger said he and Nguyen were lucky to have made it out alive. He said it was a very hot spot in the war and to think now we are in our seventies playing pickleball together.

Berger is a Webster Groves native, but moved down to Jefferson County over ten years ago. Nguyen says he was resettled in the United States after the war, he and his family live in Jefferson County and his children own a nail salon.

And to make the two men’s connection a little deeper, Berger said he was at his granddaughter’s high school tennis match when he ran into Nguyen, “I asked him who he was watching and to our astonishment, our grandkids were actually tennis team partners for Crystal City High school.”

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