24" x 32"
Oil on Canvas
Central Highlands, Vietnam – 1967
Captain Stephen M. Heller and
A Montagnard Child
The scene is a Montagnard village near the 4th Division Base Camp
in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
The Montagnards, the ethnic Vietnamese people of the highlands, had
to move to another locale because of a shortage of water.
Because of their valued friendship and assistance,
the Division wanted to build a village water works to induce them to stay.
Captain Stephen Heller, on being given the task of persuading them to
realized that the Montagnards would relate to a person, but not to an
so he decided to charm the young girl shown in the painting,
who was loved in the village.
Baby Ruth candy bars and other gifts helped break down her shyness,
but it was necessary for Captain Heller to present her with a doll
to complete the conquest. It is interesting to note that this
has all the coyness of a Parisian femme fatale, and the sophisticated
the clumsiness of any male in a similar situation.
The following day Captain Heller was made a member of the tribe,
and the little girl dogged his every footstep.
Result: Water works built; Montagnards stayed; mission accomplished.