Black April

UNTOLD STORY section – vnafmamn.com


MORE ARTICLES

Bugle

      Whenever talking about Vietnam War, most of the US politicians, officials, journalists, or political pundits would mention it in a way the war is their own, the South Vietnamese at that moment seem to be invisible or just the bystanders, bearing no brunt of the war effort. But there was one day, only one single day in which all of them would shy away from that claim. The day they have nothing to do with that war. The day they return the outcome back to the South Vietnamese: The APRIL 30th 1975.

For that reason, one has heard some very familiar words like "The Fall of Saigon," "Evacuation," "Frequent Wind Operation," etc. Those technical terms and euphemism are conveniently served just like the toilet papers to cover somebody's own mistakes and to wipe out his embarrassing accident. So let's tell straight out what it is on that day: Cut-and-run.

April 30th, 1975: The day South Vietnam is delivered to Evil due to betrayal and abandonment. If you have never been told the real ugly stories of that fatal day, then this is the chance. Let the following photos speak for the innocent civilians, the abandoned plain sodiers, and the deads!



"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana (1863 - 1952)

THE DESPERATE EVACUATION
DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENT REVEALED THE SELLOUT OF SOUTH VIETNAM

    In Beijing on June 22, 1972, Kissinger told Zhou the U.S. acknowledged its North Vietnamese enemy was a "permanent factor" and probably the "strongest entity" in the region. "And we have had no interest in destroying it or even defeating it," he insisted. And more:

"...And while we cannot bring a communist government to power, if, as a result of historical evolution it should happen over a period of time, if we can live with a communist government in China we ought to be able to accept it in Indochina..."

For a complete Kissinger-Zhou transcript (Conversation regarding Vietnam deal is between page 27 - page 37), click:  THE SECRET POLITICAL DEAL

WHEN THE ALLY CUTS AND RUNS

"In the end, we simply cut and ran. The American national will had collapsed."
US Ambassador to South Vietnam, Graham Martin

...My father kicked the overloaded scooter into gear with all six of us aboard, and we started weaving toward the dirty alley. I looked back at our house and wondered if I would ever see it again. The sandbags above our homemade bomb shelter seemed to be sliding off the roof; the shadow of the trees in the front yard shifted with the wind; the fragrance from our green mango tree floated in the air. Our house. Our home. I got one last look before the scooter sped away. Milou ran after us, but we couldn't take him along. We lost him in the dust cloud kicked up by the scooter. We abandoned him, the same way the United States left South Vietnam, like a dog that just didn't fit into its plans...

Excerpt from "A Sense of Duty, My Father, My American Journey" by Quang X. Pham



H-34 Video
LAST DAY IN SAIGON (VIDEO)

Story of the final day of Saigon told by Frank Snepp, a former CIA agent in Vietnam (author of the controversial book "Decent Interval" about the fall of Saigon, published in 1977). Listen to Frank Snepp's narration to know what he meant South Vietnam has been sold out and to understand why he left "his soul" in Vietnam from that fatal day, Aril 30, 1975.

Click the left thumbnail picture to view part1video and the right one, part 2 video.

H-34 Video

JOURNEY FROM THE FALL

If history is written by the victors, then folklore is the testimony of the vanquished. When I was researching communist re-education camps and Vietnamese boat people to write Journey From The Fall, I met with these dilemmas: 1) The short chapter in American history books about the Vietnam War ends on April 30, 1975, the day American forces pulled out of Vietnam. Our story begins where the history books end. 2) I couldn't find any images of the communist re-education camps and could collect only a handful of boat people images from rescue archives.

So was it all just folklore then – the incredible stories of survival that my friend Uyen tells me about how she fled Vietnam in a tiny fishing boat packed with nearly 100 people, that drifted for 22 days, how they were robbed by pirates several times, and how she witnessed a woman losing her sanity because she was raped repeatedly by pirates in every one of those encounters? Such stories are very common among Vietnamese immigrants, yet virtually non-existent for the rest of the world. Why is that so?

The answer became clear to me the first time I saw the black and white production stills taken by Carol Petersen (our production photographer) for Journey From The Fall. When I saw the stills of the Fall of Saigon scene I realized that the world does not know about the communist re-education camps and Vietnamese boat people because they've never seen images of them before. No one was there to document this journey that over two million Vietnamese were forced to take in the three decades since April 30, 1975.

By now, every one of the nearly one thousand communist re-education camps in Vietnam that once housed hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have been torn down, and all traces of their existence have been erased. Only a few refugee camps now remain in Southeast Asia, where nearly two million boat people once lived in transit while they waited to be sponsored by first-world nations such as America, Australia and Canada.

When one considers the Holocaust, if not for the breadth of the photographs and images that exposed the atrocities committed by the Nazis, who knows how much of that history would have been lost to time? Yet history was held and reclaimed for the Jewish community because someone was there to capture the reality of that inhumanity. The pain of a people can only be reconciled once the world has born witness to that pain. We have collected the personal accounts of re-education camp survivors and family memories about the boat people experience, and we know what it was like to grow up as refugee immigrants in the United States. These stories are part of the history that has made us who we are, a history too young to remember, but not too old to forget.

(Ham Tran's Director statement)

Click on the thumbnail pix below for a video clip of the movie
Journey

BETRAYED AND ABANDONED

"Why don't these people die fast"
Henri Kissinger (referring to South Vietnam's struggle against Hanoi military attack after Da Nang retreat)



A FAREWELL LETTER


The letter is just an art work's illustration

    Within a day after that letter was sent, Sirik Matak, Long Boret, Lon Non (Lon Nol's brother), and most members of Lon Nol's cabinet who declined to be "evacuated" with the Americans, instead staying to share the fate of their people were executed by Khmer Rouge units in Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. It was the beginning of the "killing field" in Cambodia.

Two weeks later, The Vietnamese Communist marched into Saigon, starting the silent death camps called "Reeducation Camps."

A CAMBODIAN HERO
Sirik Matak Portrait
Prince SISOWATH SIRIK MATAK

Prince SISOWATH SIRIK MATAK

Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak (January 22, 1914 — April 21, 1975) was a prince of Cambodia.

Sirik Matak was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1941, he was passed over by the French government in favor of his cousin Norodom Sihanouk as King.

In March 18, 1970, Sirik Matak assisted General Lon Nol, who had been serving as prime minister, in a coup d'etat and was granted emergency powers by the National Assembly. Sirik Matak, retained his post as deputy prime minister.

On April 1, 1975, President Lon Nol resigned and left the country. On April 12, 1975, Sirik Matak was offered political asylum by the United States' Ambassador to Cambodia John Gunther Dean, inviting high officials of the Khmer Republic, but Sirik Matak, Long Boret, Lon Non (Lon Nol's brother), and most members of Lon Nol's cabinet declined.

Prince Sirik Matak and the officials that remained along with him, were executed by the Khmer Rouge on April 21, 1975, in Phnom Penh.



FIGHTING THE LAST BATTLE
Last Battle title=
STARS & STRIPES NEWS


PORTRAITS OF THE VICTORS
Portrait of a Victor
THE VICTORY SALUTE

The fall of Saigon drove many people into not only suicide but serious mental disorder as well. Ten years later, some physicians said that at least one thousand people around the Saigon area suffered incurable insanity on that day of the Black April.

Maj. Vinh was one among many others who committed suicide on and after April 30, 1975. Those who committed suicide were mostly officers, politicians, government officials, young NCOs, or just plain soldiers were estimated at several hundreds. But only some famous cases were fully recorded as follows.


ARVN insignia   REQUIEM
ARVN Officer
Major DANG SI VINH

ARVN Major DANG SI VINH

At about 2:00 PM on April 30, 1975, almost two hours after South Vietnam President Duong Van Minh surrendered to the Communists, people near by heard several pistol reports from his home. After hesitating for safety, his neighbors got into his home to find Major Vinh, his wife and his seven children lying each on a single mattress, all dead, each by one .45 caliber bullet that gushed pools of blood from the horrible holes at their temples. On a long dining table, decent meals had been served and eaten as if in an usual and peaceful dinner. There were nine small glasses, all had traces of a pink powder left at their bottoms. Apparently, Maj. Vinh and his relatives had taken the drug - probably sleeping pills - before Vinh gave each a finishing stroke with his .45 pistol. In an open small safe he left some hundreds of thousands South Vietnam piasters, rated about 500 dollars at the time, an indication of his poor circumstances as an army major. On the note along with the money, Vinh wrote:

"Dear neighbors,"
"Forgive us. Because our family would not live under the Communist regime, we have to end our lives this way that might be bothering you. Please inform my only sibling, a sister named ... at... and use this money to help her bury us anywhere. "
"Thank you,"
"Dang Si Vinh."

ARVN Officer
Brigadier General LE VAN HUNG
ARVN Brigadier General LE VAN HUNG (1933-1975)

Brigadier General, deputy commander of the IV Corps/Military Region 4 at Can Tho. Hung was born in Gia Dinh province near Saigon.

In 1954, he was drafted and received training in the Thu Duc Reserve Officers School, Class 5, graduated second-lieutenant in January 1955. In January 1959, First Lieutenant Hung was the 32nd Infantry Regiment S-2 when the Viet Cong conducted a surprise attack at the regiment base camp in Trang Sup, Tay Ninh province, and took away a large number of weapons. As the duty officer of the regiment headquarters, he bravely commanded the reconnaissance platoon, the only soldiers present in the barracks, to resist and to protect the other parts of the headquarters and other materials and equipment from being destroyed or lost.

In 1961 he was appointed Chief of Police Department of Vinh Binh province, and later a battalion commander when he was a captain in 1964. In 1967, he became the commander, 31st Infantry Regiment. Then he was assigned province chief of Phong Dinh (Can Tho). June 1971, Hung was given the command of the 5th Infantry Division and promoted brigadier general in 1 March 1972. He proved to be a talented and brave infantry commander in the bloody battle of An Loc during the Summer 1972 Campaign. He held firmly the city of An Loc under the enemy fierce attacks that lasted 2 months.

Until his death, Hung had successively been assistant commander, III Corps/Military Region 3; commander, 21st Infantry Division; and deputy commander, IV Corps/Military Region 4. At 8:30 PM, 30 April 1975, his troops still kept the city of Can Tho under control. A delegation of the city people came to see him and convinced him - as he was the deputy commander - that his ARVN forces should not fight to death as they certainly would, because the people. were sure that the Communists would spare nobody in Can Tho in order to win. They would not hesitate to shell Can Tho into rubble. General Le Van Hung and the commander, General Nguyen Khoa Nam, dropped their intention to fight to the last bullet. Hung then said farewell to his men, his wife and children before he killed himself by a .45 pistol. It was 8:45 PM, 30 April 1975.


ARVN Officer
Brigadier General LE NGUYEN VY

ARVN Brigadier General LE NGUYEN VY (1933-1975)

Brigadier general, commander, 5th Infantry Division at Lai Khe. General Vy was born in Son Tay province, North Vietnam. He graduated from the officers candidate course in the Regional Military School, Military Region II at Phu Bai near Hue, Class 1951. After receiving the order to surrender, General Vy committed suicide by a pistol at 11:00 AM, 30 April 1975 at the division headquarters in Lai Khe.



ARVN Officer
Major General NGUYEN KHOA NAM

ARVN Major General NGUYEN KHOA NAM (1927-1975)

Major general, commander IV Corps and Military Region 4. General Nam was born in Quang Nam province. He was drafted and graduated from Thu Duc Reserve Officers School, Class 3 in 1953.

General Nam was highly respected by his subordinates, his equals, even his superiors, as well as the people in his region ever since he commanded the 7th Infantry Division. His spirit of discipline made him a good example to his soldiers.

At 11:30 PM, 30 April 1975, General Nam killed himself after saying farewell to his staff and talking by telephone with General Le Van Hung, who had ended his life earlier.

ARVN Officer
Brigardier General TRAN VAN HAI

ARVN Brigardier General TRAN VAN HAI (1927-1975)

Brigadier general, commander, 7th Infantry Division at Dong Tam, near My Tho.

General Hai was born in Phong Dinh province (Can Tho). He graduated from the Dalat Military Academy, Class 7, 1951. Hai was renown of being incorruptible, outspoken and brave. In 1968, he was commanding the Ranger Branch Command, directly supervising the Ranger's raid to clear the enemy force that infiltrated into the business quarter of Cho Lon area. He was then assigned National Police Chief. In 1970 he was commander, Special Tactical Area 44... before commanding the 7th Division. He won the adoration of everyone who once worked with him, as he was renown of being incorruptible.

At midnight,30 April 1975, he committed suicide at the Division Headquarters, Dong Tam Army Base.


ARVN Officer
General PHAM VAN PHU

ARVN General PHAM VAN PHU (1927-1975)

Commander, II Corps/Military Region 2.

General Phu was born in Ha Dong, North Vietnam. He graduated the Dalat Military Academy, Class 8. In 1954, Phu was a company officer in the 5th Parachutist Battalion of the Army of the State of Vietnam, fighting beside the French in Dien Bien Phu. In the ARVN, Phu had been commander of the Special Force, the 2nd Infantry Division, Quang Trung Training Center, before taking the command of the II Corps/Military Region II in Pleiku. His troops suffered heavy losses on the way of withdrawal to the coastal areas in April 1975. General Phu committed suicide on 30 April 1975 in Saigon.



ARVN Officer     Colonel HO NGOC CAN at the Communist Kangaroo martial court.


ARVN Colonel HO NGOC CAN (1940-1975)

He was one who elected to commit suicide by fighting to death.

Ho Ngoc Can was admitted in the ARVN Junior Military Academy when he was 14 years old. After graduation, he served 4 years as an instructor sergeant in the same academy. In 1961, he attended the Officer Candidates Class at the Dong De NCO Academy and was the distinguished graduate of the Class in 1962.

After commissioned, Can served the Ranger Corps as a platoon leader. He was promoted to captain in 1965, to major in 1968, to lieutenant colonel in 1971, and to full colonel in 1974. He was successfully commanding the 1/33 Battalion (21st Infantry Division), the 15th Regiment (9th Inf. Div.). In 1974, Can was appointed province chief of Chuong Thien Province, Vietnam deep south area. On April 30, 1975, he refused to surrender to the enemy. Along with his troops, Can was fighting with all his might, holding the provincial headquarters until 11:00 PM on May 1, when his forces were out of ammunition. In the last minutes, he ordered the soldiers to leave the headquarters for safety while he and a faithful Popular Force militiaman covered them with a machine gun. He fell into the hands of the Communist force after he failed an attempt to kill himself. He told the enemy that he wouldn't surrender, and asked them to let him salute the ARVN colors with his uniform on before the execution.

Colonel Can was publicly executed by the Communist firing squad after a quick summary trial at a Communist kangaroo court.




Salute   ORIGIN OF TAPS

During the Civil War, in July 1862 when the Army of the Potomac was in camp, Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield summoned Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton, his brigade bugler, to his tent. Butterfield, who disliked the colorless "extinguish lights" call then in use, whistled a new tune and asked the bugler to sound it for him. After repeated trials and changing the time of some notes which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, the call was finally arranged to suit Gen. Butterfield and used for the first time that night. Pvt. Norton, who on several occasions, had sounded numerous new calls composed by his commander, recalled his experience of the origin of "Taps" years later:

"One day in July 1862 when the Army of the Potomac was in camp at Harrison's Landing on the James River, Virginia, resting and recruiting from its losses in the seven days of battle before Richmond, Gen. Butterfield summoned the writer to his tent, and whistling some new tune, asked the bugler to sound it for him. This was done, not quite to his satisfaction at first, but after repeated trials, changing the time of some of the notes, which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, the call was finally arranged to suit the general.

"He then ordered that it should be substituted in his brigade for the regulation "Taps" (extinguish lights) which was printed in the Tactics and used by the whole army. This was done for the first time that night. The next day buglers from nearby brigades came over to the camp of Butterfield's brigade to ask the meaning of this new call. They liked it, and copying the music, returned to their camps, but it was not until some time later, when generals of other commands had heard its melodious notes, that orders were issued, or permission given, to substitute it throughout the Army of the Potomac for the time-honored call which came down from West Point.

In the western armies the regulation call was in use until the autumn of 1863. At that time the XI and XII Corps were detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent under command of Gen. Hooker to reinforce the Union Army at Chattanooga, Tenn. Through its use in these corps it became known in the western armies and was adopted by them. From that time, it became and remains to this day the official call for "Taps." It is printed in the present Tactics and is used throughout the U.S. Army, the National Guard, and all organizations of veteran soldiers.

Gen. Butterfield, in composing this call and directing that it be used for "Taps" in his brigade, could not have foreseen its popularity and the use for another purpose into which it would grow. Today, whenever a man is buried with military honors anywhere in the United States, the ceremony is concluded by firing three volleys of musketry over the grave, and sounding with the trumpet or bugle "Put out the lights. Go to sleep"...There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air."
(Source: Arlington Cemetery)


Back to "UNTOLD STORIES PAGE #1"