Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #5

Discussion in 'The VMBB True Story Tellers' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Posts: 23
    (6/10/01 8:50:21 pm)
    | Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #5
    Response to a few questions I had:
    Thank you very much for many encouraging and
    sypathetic emails from my fellow Swifties. In my
    original email I did not mean that Vietnam was
    abandoned by American men and women who served, died,
    wounded, and sacrificed for Vietnam. What I intended
    to say was Vietnam was abandoned by an ally.

    I can speak for the vast majority of the Vietnamese
    people who live in America as well as for some who are
    still living in Vietnam that your sacrifice is greatly
    appreciated. In fact, there is a memorial built in
    the city of Westminster, Orange County, California to
    memorialize and to show the Vietnamese community's
    appreciation of the friendship and sacrifice of both
    American and Vietnamese soldiers. The memorial show
    two statutes: One American and one Vietnamese soldier
    with both flags: American and the yellow and three
    red stripes (South Vietnam) flying. The city of
    Westminster, CA donated the land, and the Vietnamese
    community in America raised the funds to build the
    memorial. I also have spoken with many Vietnamese who
    are still in Vietnam and I was told that your
    sacrifice is not forgotten. To be sure, the younger
    generation (born after 1970) is more naive and some of
    them are indifferent. You know, they were
    "brain-washed" through the educational system. In my
    family, my little nephews and nieces are totally
    indifferent (having no allegiance) to the current
    system, yet they do have allegiance to Vietnam. When
    they look at me, I could read in their eyes that they
    see an uncle who fought and lost the war to the
    current government, they show their envy that I come
    back and bring a lot of good things to their
    grandparents, that I help the whole large family.
    People from South Vietnam still call Saigon as Saigon.
    The security force tried to stop it but to no avail
    so now it is "acceptable" to call Saigon as Saigon.
    HCM city is only used on official document and postal
    system. Even on flights to Saigon, Vietnam the
    airlines still tag our luggages as "SGN". Singapore,
    Malaysia, Korean, Asia, Asiana, China, and Thai
    airlines all use the same tagging code.

    I came to the US (Indian Town Gap - PA) via Guam
    Island in July 1975. I contacted my sister and
    brothers-in-law (who was a Vietnam Vet and also served
    another tour in Vietnam working for the General
    Accounting Office). I left Indian Town Gap in August
    1975. I stayed with my sister for about six months,
    then I moved out to stay with a group of ex-South
    Vietnamese sailors. For the first two years I was
    terrified to contact my family; until I heard that
    "they" allowed some mails to go through with strict
    censorship. I then wrote a letter to my family using
    my great grandfather's name as my name just to let
    them know (by recognizing my handwriting) that I was
    living in the U.S.

    I later learned that during the first two or three
    years after the fall of Vietnam (Saigon), my family
    had to answer many questions about me. My family told
    "them" that I was dead (there was no proof one way or
    another); so after two years, they left my family
    alone. My family went through a lot of hardships
    because my father was thrown out of work. He used to
    work for a French-Rubber company. The commies
    nationalized the company, kicked the French out of
    Vietnam, and fired all employees (so that they could
    bring their cronies in to work). Fortunately, my
    older sister had a small stall selling noodles so my
    whole family (nine people) relied on her for their
    daily subsistance. At one point in time, there was
    not even rice available for the people to eat so they
    had to rely on sweet potatoes and another kind of nuts
    (we used to feed pigs with it). They endured more
    than I could imagine but I feel this is not a forum
    for me to detail the hardship.

    Then finally in late 1998 "they" started allowing
    Vietnamese from overseas to send money back to
    Vietnam. I did and still do but at a same time I feel
    terrible because I know somehow the Dollars would end
    up in "their" dirty hand; therefore, I indirectly
    assist the communist in obtaining hard currency. At
    the same time, I knew in my heart that my family were
    suffering and enduring and they need my financial
    assistance. Talking about dilemma.

    I came to the US without English nor did I have any
    marketable skills (beside shooting the double 50 and
    the 80MM :)) So, I started learning the language,
    working at odd job, went to Montgomery Junior College
    in Rockville, Maryland, and then University of
    Maryland. Now looking back, I do not regret my
    decision to leave Vietnam. I am thankful of this
    great country for providing me with opportunities to
    advance myself.

    I got married to a lady whom I met in Montgomery
    Junior College, she is Caucasian, third generation of
    German-American. We lived together for 4 years and
    married for an additional 2 years and ... we then
    divorced. Fortunately, if there is such thing in a
    divorce, we did not have any child. The divorce was a
    mutual and amicable agreement that both of us should
    part our way. Looking back now I think two that
    elements affected our parting: Cultural differences
    coupled with my depression and erratic behaviors (the
    after-effect of the war? I am not sure). I am still
    in contact with her family, still call her sisters as
    "sisters", call her mom and dad as "mom, dad", but for
    some reasons she does not want to have any contact
    with me. Yeah, it was heart-broken to go through a
    divorce, especially during my last semester in school.

    My wife now is Vietnamese and she is a cousin of my
    college roommate. We have a 13 years old daughter and
    a 22 years old daughter from her previous marriage.
    The 22 years old daughter is going to attend law
    school at Chapman University in Orange County, CA.

    I am proud to be an American citizen for 20+ years,
    when I go overseas, I proudly display my American
    passport; but I have to be honest in saying this: deep
    in my heart I am still a Vietnamese, non-communist, of
    course. I go to Vietnam often because I've got my
    parents, two younger brothers and a sister there. My
    parents can go forever anytime (poor health and old
    age 80+ years); also, when I come to Vietnam, I sense
    a certain of history, of connection, of sadness for
    the country, the people, and for all of the American
    soldiers who sacrifice so much for the lost cause.

    In December 1999, I took a trip to Qui Nhon, by land.
    I stopped on one of the pass, looking down to a small
    bay named Vung Ro, where "they" use to land their
    junks to supply their troops( it's also where we sunk
    a couple of their big supply boats that originated
    from Hai Phong in the North). I came to realize that
    the Swifts that patrolled this era had to suffer a lot
    because the narrow bay is surrounded by mountains and
    hills. There is only way "in" and therefore "out".
    So either way, the Swifts would have came under heavy
    fire (I never serve in Qui Nhon).

    Well, thank you for all of your sacrifices, thanks for
    the lives that were lost for the country, for the
    blood that filtered the South Vietnam soil, and for
    the sufferings that all of us alive now endure, also
    thanks God for giving us the opportunity to tell our
    children and grand children what happened to the lives
    of those who did not make it and what happened to us.
    It is, in a sense, a bittersweet chapter in our life.
    For better or worse, it is in our history and memory

    (To be continued.........)

    Edited by: dreamcatcher27371 at: 6/10/01 9:52:13 pm