Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forum' started by Guest, Mar 8, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Posts: 26
    (7/30/01 9:16:19 am)
    | Del All Freedom..
    One of my 'mate in Academy then; also my heros now...
    !!!!please read..

    One Man's Personal Vietnam War


    The Vietnam War scarred the U.S. psyche and still haunts the American landscape a quarter century later. It also seared the lives of countless Vietnamese, who remain traumatized and tortured. Ly Tong is one of them.

    A pilot who was shot down shortly before fighting finally ceased in 1975, he also had the misfortune to be an officer in the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese military, which put him on the losing side. He was condemned to indefinite re-education by the victorious North Vietnamese, along with hundreds of thousands of others.

    Unwilling to concede defeat, he fled the totalitarian country in dramatic circumstances, walking to freedom, in contrast with most Vietnamese refugees, who took to the seas as so-called boat people. A decade later and as a naturalized U.S. citizen, he was back in a Vietnamese prison, having hijacked a commercial airliner and tried to promote an insurrection against the government from high above Ho Chi Minh City.

    Mr. Tong turned up again this month, in a light aircraft over Havana, showering Cubans with pamphlets urging them to overthrow the "old dinosaur," President Fidel Castro. Now age 51, he continues his personal war against communism.

    In the almost 20 years that I have chronicled Mr. Tong's exploits, he has stayed true to his anticommunist ideals, while the international environment around him has been transformed. As his frustration has grown, his reputation has tumbled from heroic freedom seeker to unpredictable stuntman to dangerous law-breaker.

    Hanoi's China-style open-door policies over the past 12 years have enabled most Vietnamese, whether resident at home or abroad, to engage in business and operate fairly freely in Vietnam, provided they don't dabble in politics. Much of the old antagonism has dissipated in the search for profit and better living conditions.

    Of course, it isn't enough for some overseas Vietnamese, mainly in North America, France and Australia, who want to see not only the economy, but also the political system, liberalized. Their hopes soared when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but they underestimated the ability of the Vietnamese Communist Party to adapt to changing circumstances.

    Most of the diehards are content to wave the former Saigon flag, rail against the regime and dream of its imminent demise. A few smuggle anti-Hanoi propaganda into the country and try to stir discontent in other clandestine ways. But Mr. Tong is a man of action.

    In escaping -- both from his re-education camp and Vietnam -- he displayed enormous courage and enterprise. Heading for the Cambodian border, he walked, swam, hitchhiked, pedaled a bicycle and rode a train and several buses in four countries. Covering about 2,500 kilometers over 17 months without documents, he sidestepped landmines, outfoxed security patrols, crawled through the jungle to avoid border posts, worked as a fisherman and went sightseeing as a tourist. Three prisons couldn't hold him.

    His odyssey ended in February 1983, when he negotiated his way overland from the Thai-Cambodian frontier to Singapore in just nine days. After swimming at night the sometimes treacherous Strait of Johore separating Malaysia and Singapore Island, he caught a taxi to the U.S. embassy, arriving in style, if slightly damp.

    Mr. Tong's flair and daring, described in the Journal at the time, brought all sorts of offers. One reader cabled a bid for the magazine rights to his story. Someone else wanted to film it. Most wrote because they were willing to sponsor his resettlement and give him a job in the U.S. "I've got no worries about him at all," Dan Sullivan, a refugee coordinator, told me. "He'll probably be mayor of Santa Ana inside 10 years."

    But Mr. Tong had other ideas. After putting himself through college in New Orleans, becoming an American citizen and publishing his swashbuckling autobiography, he returned to Southeast Asia in late 1992 and tried to steal a Thai airforce plane with which to bomb Vietnam.

    Thwarted, he forced the crew of a Vietnam Airlines' Airbus 300, at knifepoint, to fly low over Ho Chi Minh City, while Mr. Tong scattered anti-government leaflets out of a window before parachuting out. The aircraft and its 114 passengers landed safely, as did Mr. Tong, who was immediately captured.

    The escapade, coming at the end of the Cold War as Vietnam entered a period of reform and hope, appeared not only criminally reckless but lamentably futile. Describing himself in the leaflets as "Commander of the Uprising Forces," Mr. Tong called on the people to depose their aging Party leaders and build an independent, free and prosperous Vietnam.

    While the hijacking alienated most of his former admirers, it elevated him to cult status in scattered anticommunist Vietnamese enclaves. In the pages of a Vietnamese language daily published in the U.S., one poet extolled "Ly Tong my hero, Ly Tong my conscience, Ly Tong my duty."

    Mr. Tong would still be rotting in a jail cell if the Vietnamese authorities hadn't released him with thousands of other inmates under an amnesty in 1998. And he almost certainly would have been shot down by Cuban MiG jet fighters on Jan. 1, but for the outcry that followed Havana's downing in 1996 of two small planes flown by Miami-based Cuban exiles that also invaded Cuban airspace.

    It seems that Mr. Tong is becoming more fanatical as the post-Cold War climate turns against him. In his Cuban pamphlets, he promoted himself to "Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary Anticommunist Forces of the World." And he told reporters he wants to make similar flights over China and North Korea.

    If a pointless tragedy is to be avoided -- Mr. Tong must surely have exhausted his supplies of luck by now -- he should switch tactics. Specifically, he must eschew the lawlessness and potential violence that he associates with communist states and confine his protests to what democracies find acceptable.

    He would be better off using his savings to invest in the land of his birth, rather than renting aircraft to provoke his enemies. Ultimately, Vietnam will succumb to the "peaceful evolution" it fears, as private capital establishes vigorous markets and loosens Hanoi's hold on the country.

    Another One:

    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 136
    (7/30/01 9:57:19 am)
    | Del Re: Freedom..
    Bravo to Mr. Tong! I disagree that he should "confine his protests to what democracies find acceptable." Our democracy found it acceptable to drop our support of Vietnam and this is what fuels patriots like Mr. Tong. Although his protests and methods may be fruitless, he is doing what we should have done---continue the fight.

    HOAN HO Ong Tong!!

    Edited by: dreamcatcher27371 at: 7/30/01 10:58:10 am

    Posts: 27
    (7/30/01 11:15:58 am)
    | Del Freedom..
    Yes Mr Dunn:
    We are, the VietNamese people always thank to VietNam Veteran for your services & had been helped us to fight for freedom in our country..
    Thanks my friends;

    This is the webside for him:

    Posts: 1299
    (7/30/01 5:34:21 pm)
    | Del Re: Freedom..
    How many people truly have conviction as a principle to live by. Mr Tong is a man of courage...a real VietNamee Patriot!

    To you as well Ship!, another true Patriot.
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.