US veteran brightens up Hanoi's dilapidated walls with a little help from his friends

By Ngoc Thanh   July 25, 2017 | 12:34 am PT
English lessons are expensive, but for this former paratrooper's class, they only cost a hard day's work painting the city's crumbling facades.

Veteran Paul George Harding, 69, returned to Vietnam nearly 40 years after the Vietnam War. He has spent the past three years teaching English for free to locals in Hanoi, who pay him back by helping his team to give the city’s walls a fresh lick of paint.


Harding was a paratrooper in the U.S. Air Force, serving in central Vietnam in 1969. He came to Vietnam after retiring, saying he wanted to pay back the country for what he did during the war.


His team has repainted walls on several major roads in the downtown Cau Giay District. They look for mossy walls and those that have been vandalized or damaged.


Harding pays for the paint and tools.


Pham Quoc Hung, 12, said he has been with the team for more than three months. “My parents say this is a good thing and it can teach me a lot,” Hung said.


There are nearly 40 people on his team.


He said he asked for permission from local officials every time. Many locals also support the idea, saying the team has really lightened up the area.

go to top