Lancaster, Pennsylvania - Army of the Republic of Vietnam
I grew up in Ben Tre, Vietnam until I was about the age of eight. Then one night in 1958 the National Liberation Front (also known as the Viet Cong) came and we ran to My Tho. After my last year of high school, I joined the service. We went to the Tudock Infantry Academy and just before I graduated there, I got accepted into the Air Force. I thought, I'm not sure about fighting on the ground, so let's see if I can fly. I was sent to the United States for training in Travis, California. We had a manual to read about life in America. They taught us little things like how they ate hot dogs and hamburgers and how one uses a vending machine. The soldiers were very nice and polite. We got a salute and everything from them. It was a good feeling. In military life, you respect each other and use teamwork.
Occasionally, we ran into anti-war hippies and they would question us, "What are you here for?" I said, "I'm here to learn how to fly a helicopter." They asked, "What for?" And I would respond, "So I can go back and defend my country." Then they would ask who the enemy was. I would explain to them that the Viet Cong was the enemy because they were trying to invade my country. We simply wanted to protect ourselves. They would stop us on the road a lot to ask us those questions, but we would just answer them. If they tried to lecture us on peace or something like that, I would say well, we know that, but we have to. I am from that country and we have to listen to our government.
I was always on the run. I fled from the Viet Cong several times. From town to town and from country to country. Now, I'm in America. I ended up here longer than I spent time in Vietnam. So, I think I can call it home.