Wednesday, 11 February 2009

UO leader back from Hanoi

December 25, 1970

By Mike Stahlberg

Tired after nearly four weeks of travel but yet full of talk about his experiences in Hanoi, University of Oregon Student Body President Ron Eachus returned to his home in Molalla Christmas Eve.

Eachus, 23, traveled to the Communist capitals of Moscow and Hanoi along with 14 other student leaders from throughout the United States.

The U.S. students signed peace treaties with three different student groups from South and North Vietnam.

Eachus talked briefly with a reporter by telephone late Thursday afternoon, shortly after stepping off a plane in Portland.

Thrust of the treaties signed, according to Eachus, is that complete withdrawal of United States military forces from South Vietnam would lead to peace in the area.

Eachus said before he left Eugene shortly after Thanksgiving that "we hope this (the trip) will produce an awareness that there are people in both countries who want peace and that it is governemnts waging war against governments, not people against people."

Text of the documents signed won't be released until sometime in January, when a National Conference of Youth will be organized by the National Student Association, the U of O student leader said.

Eachus' group spent two weeks int he North Vietnamese capital. In addition to their talks with leaders of the National Student Union of North Vietnam, the United States students met with the writers union and government officials, including the premier of North Vietnam.

"The North Vietnamese government has always made the distinction that it is the American govenrment and not the American people that they're fighting," Eachus said. "Our visit was important to them for that distinction and it was important for them to be able to show their people that they weren't alone in opposing this war."

Eachus said there was publicity about the visiting Americans, "but not in the way we would think of propaganda. I don't think we were used or duped."

He said many of the facts the North Vietnamese gave them about bombing and chemical-biological warfare were the same as had appeared in Western publications. And one member of the U.S. delegation had worked three years in South Vietnam, knew the Vietnamese language, and was able to verify many of the things the North Vietnamese said, Eachus said.

"One of my most moving experiences," Eachus said, "was a visit to the war commission of North Vietnam."

He said the commission showed them "victims of napalm, and genetic monsters created by mothers being hit by the chemicals dropped by the U.S."

Eachus said he found the Vietnamese to be "simple, warm people."

"The government and the people are much at peace with each other and unified in their struggle," said Eachus.

"I would have liked to have stayed in Hanoi longer, if it hadn't been for Christmas and things I have to do in Eugene," he said.

He was he was "exhausted" after four straight days of traveling and struck by the "contrast" between the countries he had been visiting and the U.S. at the height of the Christmas season.

Eachus financed the trip himself. No student or university funds were used, he said.

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