Cumberland University


Children of Vietnam

An Exhibition of Photographs by Bernie Ash


In the summer of 1965 Bernie Ash graduated from Lebanon High School. Over the course of the next year, he watched the Vietnam War escalate and the draft lottery move closer. In April of 1966, he decided to join the Air Force. He spent three years of service in Texas and Michigan when he received orders to go to Vietnam.

From May 1969 until May 1970, Mr. Ash served as a chaplain’s assistant in Phu Cat, South Vietnam. Chaplains were not allowed to carry weapons so he travelled with the chaplain around the Central Highlands with an M-16 rifle and a camera. They worked with military personnel, civilians and local priests and ministers to assist families and children suffering from the war.

One of the most heartbreaking, yet joyous places that he visited were the orphanages around Phu Cat and Qui Nhon. There were hundreds of children left without their families. Many of them also lost arms and legs because of the intense fighting in their villages.

Mr. Ash hopes the photographs will give the viewer a glimpse into the life of a child of the war all the way around the world in 1969 through the eyes of a 21 year old soldier.

The photographs are being exhibited at Cumberland University’s Vise Library from January 13 – March 31, 2011. An artist talk and reception will be held on January 25th from 12:30 -1:20 in the Library ‘s Lawlor Room.