Sent to us by the author.
Du Hua was just 7 years old when I left Vietnam. I never met him until, recently when I read his book and then spoke with him on the phone.
It was about 10:00 AM, September 19, 1967, when I boarded a commercial flight from Bien Hoa Air Base, Bien Hoa, Republic of South Vietnam. After a 15-hour flight, we landed at Travis Air Force Base, California, at about 10:00 AM, September 19, 1967. Because of the International Date Line, my flight, by local times, was a matter of minutes.
Not so for Du Hua. It was the spring of 1980 when he made his first attempt to escape the communist regime that we had left as our political legacy in Vietnam. Things did not work out so well for him, as the pre-arranged escape did not work out as planned. For various reasons, the next nine attempts also failed to result in his escape from Vietnam. Finally, on his eleventh attempt, and a harrowing ordeal at sea, he succeeded, along with the other passengers in the frail boat in which they had escaped. The Cap Anamur, a German ship, purposed to rescue the Vietnamese Boat People that had survived their ordeal by sea, picked them up. This was in June 1981, over a year after his first attempt to escape. Very different from that casual flight I had taken just 14 years earlier.
He and his companions were then taken to the Philippines. After months of effort, he received permission to go to the United States and join his brother, a Vietnamese Soldier who had escaped years before, after having been seriously wounded in combat.
Du went on to join the United States Navy, serving proudly until receiving a lifetime service related injury while serving with VFA-86.
Having lost his naval career to the injury, he worked his way through college, eventually becoming a registered pharmacist (this requires almost as much education as a doctor).
Du has achieved what he sought when he left Vietnam, 34 years ago. He has found his Freedom and his American Dream.
However, for Vietnam Veterans, treated so contemptuously upon our return from Vietnam, there is a far greater message in this story of Du’s escape and subsequent life. He is very active, today, speaking to children in classrooms and to other groups, of his experience and paying tribute to Vietnam, and other veterans who have served their country. He also speaks of his appreciation for the United States and the ideal of freedom, and what it meant to so many who, like Du, risked their lives to leave communist Vietnam and seek the freedom that they had heard so much of from those of us who had served with honor and imparted images of what life in the United States was all about.
Except for my family, other Vietnam Veterans, and their families, there has not been a “Welcome Home” that had any meaning — simply platitudes in keeping with Political Correctness.
This always left me with the feeling that since our own government did not have the same honor as the soldiers who fought in Vietnam, there was no purpose, any good, served by those who fought, and especially those who died, in what we believed at the time to be our duty.
As I read Du’s story, I began to realize that though we abandoned the Vietnamese when we left, we left a legacy that endured, and became that shining light that the Statute of Liberty once stood for — a Beacon to the World. Our efforts were not in vain, regardless of the failure of our government. For the first time in my life, I feel that my efforts have served far more than I had ever imagined.
This book has shed a completely new light to that service. It has served as redemption of what had been couched in guilt for the past 48 years. For the first time I can say not only that I was proud to have served, but also realize that that service has done far more for our country, and the world, than I ever imagined.
Vietnam Veterans can receive a copy of the book by contacting Du Hua via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Others wishing to read Du’s story can purchase the book at: