Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #6

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

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Posts: 25
    (6/11/01 11:18:00 am)
    | Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #6
    The following posts will give you a thumbnail of Mr. Toi's life in Vietnam, growing up in a war-torn country right up through his personal participation in the war....../larry/
    I've been off the LIST for a short while, I was
    working my rear end off and at the sametime typing a
    short live story about myself. Through many lively
    and courageous postings of many members, I muster my
    courage to swallow my pride, if you will, my shyness,
    and perhaps my shame to open myself up to write it so,
    please bear with me. Here is part one.

    Part 1: First of all I'd like to express my
    appreciation to my parents for bringing me to this
    world, teaching me to be a good citizen, a good
    person, a good son, brother, husband, father, and
    friend. I also like to thank all of my
    brothers/sisters on the SWIFT LIST because without
    reading their posts to learn how and what they feel
    inside about the Countries, the war, and the pain that
    we all endure, I would not have the courage to write
    these notes. Putting my frustration, pain, anger
    (rightly or wrongly), and distrust down in writing is
    very painful for me, for it brings back a lot of
    memories that I, either too proud or to ashamed, to
    reduce them in writing or to discuss it with others.

    I was a citizen of South Vietnam until 1975, and I
    have been a citizen of this great country (US) for
    more than 20 years. I love both of "my" countries. I
    do have disagreements with my current country, but for
    better or worse, it is my country, now. One of the
    Swift brothers wrote that the best way to register
    one's disagreement is to go to the voting booth. I
    agree wholeheartedly with a caveat: It only works in
    this great country but not in Vietnam. Unless and
    until the current regime in Vietnam becomes completely
    democratic will there be any validation to any vote
    that is cast.

    I strongly disagree, even disgust, with what the
    communist has done to Vietnam during the last 26
    years. They brought the country, at one point, to the
    level of "sub-third-world" status. Untold thousands
    of Vietnamese perished on the South China Sea because
    of what? if not to escape the "heaven" that the
    communist promises. Those deaths, in my opinion, are
    the ultimate testament of communist heaven. But what
    can I do beside crying, yelling, and praying. Before
    1975 I at least had my 81MM, double 50, M79, M60, and
    M16 to register my disagreement to them.

    On a personal note, I dislike them intensely but then
    the other side of me would tell me that if I take any
    action, political or other wise, against them, my
    family in Vietnam will be receiving their wrath and I
    will not be allowed to come back to see my family
    forever. I feel the communist Vietnam is holding me
    hostage in this sense.

    Here is part 2:

    Part 2: I was born in Saigon, South Vietnam in
    February 1951. My family was, and still is, very
    poor; my father was a chauffer for a Director of a
    French rubber company that had rubber plantations in
    Binh Long, Phuoc Long, Lai Khe, and Long Thanh. My
    mother was a housewife. I had 15 brothers and
    sisters. The first eight never made it after the
    first few months after birth; the last eight survived.
    Feeding the family was our everyday main concern for
    my father earned very little monies working as a
    chauffer. Growing up was a constant struggle and
    fight for survival. I came home from school everyday
    and there were always several bowls of half-eaten food
    leftover from my sisters and brothers; I'd mix them
    together and . the mixture became my main course. My
    parents are from North Vietnam. They migrated south
    in the early 1930's so they really did not have any
    experience with communism.

    My first taste of the war was during my tender age at
    6 or 7 years old. I remember vividly that it was the
    anniversary of my grandfather's death (in our custom we
    pray and offer food to the deceased on every
    anniversary), I heard explosions and saw smoke
    pillowing on the other side of Saigon River. It was
    president Ngo Dinh Diem's attempt consolidate power by
    putting down the Binh Xuyen and Bay Vien factions.
    The commander of that battle was Big Minh (I later
    learned). In my little mind I said: Oh, that is war.
    War was, to me at that time, just pillowing smokes
    and explosions from far away. I saw and felt the
    anxiety on my parents, uncles, and aunt faces but I
    had no idea why.

    My second taste of the war was during my teenager
    time. I was 13-14 years old and I had a girlfriend
    (if one wish to call "girlfriend" at 12-13 year of
    age) who lived in Binh Long plantation so I went there
    often to visit. On one evening my friend and I were
    sitting on top of a hill in Binh Long and we looked at
    the sunset (toward Phuoc Long). Suddenly we felt the
    vibration underneath, so we looked around and up. We
    saw nothing. We then looked up and further toward
    Phuoc Long province and we saw two T-28 (bombers?)
    swooping up and down; after each swoop down we could
    faintly hear the explosion and felt the vibration. I
    knew then that war did come to my homeland, that those
    two bombers were dropping bombs on Viet Cong. That
    picture remains with me to this date. I felt confused
    and was a bit scared; there was a big question mark in
    my mind: Why and what are we fighting for? Fighting
    over what? We are all Vietnamese, why are we killing
    each other? Why don't we sit down and sort things
    out? At this time I also knew that America already
    started sending military advisors to Vietnam. I
    thought it was a good idea for I knew that China, the
    Soviet Union and other communist countries in Eastern
    Europe assisted North Vietnam so, it only fair that
    South Vietnam ought to get help from her friend.

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