I left Vietnam when Saigon fell in 1975 and joined my family who fled a few days before me in America, got an MBA a few years later, and became a trust officer for Bank of America and raised my family in the suburb north of San Jose. Later on I retired and taught at local high schools in the San Jose area. I taught French, English, Math and PE. I also hold a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do. I still practice at 76, almost everyday, and I go regularly to the gym and play tennis on the weekend and in summer time swim.
After retirement, I was reluctant to write a book about myself. I agree with the French proverb that "le moi est haïssable," [The me is detestable]. But I changed my mind.
The literature in the U.S. regarding the Vietnam War is one-sided. Books written by American soldiers, journalists, historians, and public officials only view the war from the American perspectives while the perspectives the South Vietnamese army, their former ally, was often ignored or worse, portrayed as cowardly and weak, despite the fact that more than a 300,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died during the course of the war as compared to 58,000 American soldiers -- our toll and suffering was far greater than what Americans cared to imagine or know.
Many American journalists were antiwar. The war was presented from the most unfavorable angles with the media sensationalizing the news and distorting the truth if necessary to achieve its antiwar objectives. It is no secret that, for one reason or another, the U.S. media was biased – if not outright hostile - to the Vietnam War. They carry that attitude toward looking at the history of the Vietnam War as well.
Even the Vietnamese communists had written quite a few books, which were eagerly translated into English by many American professors, to brag about their military and political achievements after the war. North Vietnam's Gen. Van Tin Dung's "Great Spring Victory," for instance, is widely circulated. Truong Nhu Tang, a former cabinet minister in the Viet Cong provisional revolutionary government wrote "Memoir of a Viet Cong," to tell the story of his life and frustration with the heavy tactics of Hanoi. There's an American fascination with the only enemies who defeated them. Even former defense secretary Robert McNamara went to Vietnam years later to talk and interviewed his counterparts. The South Vietnamese who fought alongside the U.S. army, McNamara never bothered to talk to, and many live near him in the U.S.
Only a handful of books had been written in English by journalists, public officials and soldiers from the former Republic of Vietnam, despite the fact that the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam is here in the U.S.
I believe that it was time to set the record straight. That was when I wrote my memoir, "The Twenty-Five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War," published in 2000. It was my take on what happened and how Saigon fell.
Now, seven years later, I'm finished with another. It's called, "Hell in An Loc." It's a less-known battle in 1972 when the communist army attacked from the east, from Cambodia, via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. An Loc, a small town, was defended by 6,900 South Vietnamese soldiers who fought against 30,000 North Vietnamese and 100 tanks. Against heavy odds they withstood 94 days of horror and prevailed at a tremendous cost.
My memoir I dedicated to my grandchildren, Amy, Eric, and Brandon, all born here in the U.S., innocent and with no memories of Vietnam. I wish to leave something lasting and a record of what happened so when they're old enough, I hope they will read and learn something of their heritage.
It is an great article. Thanks general Lâm Quang Thi.