tv Discussion on the Fall of Saigon CSPAN May 25, 2015 2:01pm-3:28pm EDT
this is really her last big event in civilian life before she's joining jag. [ applause ] >> and she will ship out on friday. to see her good-bye to civilian life here for a while. then we have hao. also a u of l alum and also with a masters from the school of social work. she came to louisville as a refugee with her family in 1994. without further adieu, welcome our moderators. i'm looking forward to an exciting evening. [ applause ] >> thank you, daniel and the university of louisville for sponsoring tonight's fantastic program. can you guys hear me okay?
good. ladies and gentlemen, my name is dede, and my colleague right here her name is thao. like professor said we're not related. it's a common last name. we are both with moving voices. moving voices we have -- it's our mission to bring more attention to the south vietnamese perspective. we want people to know that south vietnam fought bravery and risked everything for freedom. unfortunately, it's often a perspective that is overlooked in our public discussion about vietnam war. so we are so thrilled to be the eded eded tonight to help the university of louisville put together the untold tales of the vietnam war from a vietnamese perspective. >> we have a great panel of speakers here with us. they serve in south vietnam. also known as the republic of vietnam. they have amazing stories of the vietnam war, and their journey
to kentucky. i'm going to introduce our speakers. starting on the left is dr. gary tran. he was a cabinet member and vice minister of agriculture for the republic of vietnam under the president during the vietnam war. today, he is a veterinarian and operates a reading school in louisville, kentucky. he is the first vietnamese american to be a kentucky colonel. [ applause ] >> next, we have mr. nguyen. he was an air force pilot in vietnam. he works for charities where he sets up refugees in louisville. [ applause ] >> mr. hung lee was also a trained air force pilot. today, he is an entrepreneur in louisville and involved in the
veteran activities and service. [ applause ] >> dr. khue tran was in the army of the republic of vietnam. today, he works as a doctor at force knox. [ applause ] >> finally, we have mrs. hao tran. she was a pharmacy student when shemar married during the war. today, her and her husband reside in elizabethtown kentucky. [ applause ] >> like dede said we have five people up here with the last name tran. none of us are related. >> except for the married couple. i hope they're related. but not in that way. all right. [ laughter ]. >> so we want to begin tonight's
conversation with the start of the vietnam war. dr. gary tran you were a veterinaryian student at the university of oklahoma when the vietnam war broke out. how did you learn about the war overseas and how did you feel about your country going to war? >> thank you, dede. before i say anything, i would like to take this opportunity to convey to our brave veterans our deep appreciation and profound gratitude for your noble sacrifice during the war. [ applause ] >> i don't -- from the war, from s tv, as a student from osu like most americans at the time. it was the first tv war, as you
remember. every day, at 7:00 i was glued to the tv for news of the war. i was very worried for my family because we lived in the country side, where the war was happening. of course, we saw baileydaily death and destruction. the feeling was very sad and very apprehensive. i remember i was trying to study so hard to finish the program as
fast as i could, so that i can go home. >> you mentioned that your family was from the country side. you're a son of a farmer. eventually, dr. tran you went back to vietnam to serve as a high-ranking bureaucrat. can you tell us about some of those government roles and why they were important to the war? >> my father was a poultry farmer, and he raised chickens. so when i came to this country i wanted to be trained in poultry science and, later, veterinaryian medicine. we were the first in what they call the leadership training program. sponsored by uasid. at that time, every year they send a dozen young vietnamese
that just graduated from high school to go to study different fields in the united states. and it was called leadership training. there were about a dozen of these programs all through the war years. of course there were other students sent here to study other fields also. but our group were very special because from these groups a lot of high officials in the government were selected. i was lucky in the way that all the major agricultural development programs of the
republic of vietnam, at that time, were either supervised or implemented by me directly. later on if time permits i will mention a few of these programs for you. one program that was the most important and the most striking was a land reform program. it was so revolutionary that dr. taylor, who was the professor of vietnamese study at cornell university said that it was the
major achievement of the republic of vietnam. now, to delve into detail of the program, i have to wait until my colleagues have a chance to answer so that i can have time to go over that program with you. >> as the vietnam war escalated, south vietnam like the united states -- sorry. can you hear me better? as the war escalated, south vietnam, like the united states built its military force through voluntary enlistment and through the draft. this question is for dr. khue tran. you were drafted as a military doctor. how did you and your family feel when you were drafted?
>> i think that before we get into the draft in vietnam at that time, we need to understand the atmosphere in which the vietnamese lived at that time. every family had people in the army. nobody is spared that. by that, i mean that if you are a teacher or professor at school you have to be in the army to learn about military training. after that they reassign you to work in the city or school or you go back and become a doctor. so everybody in the '60s, '70s, any family would have people some way, somehow, connected to
the army at that time. so i grew up in that atmosphere. then i finished med school -- the reason i was able to finish med school is because i have a waiver to go to school. if anybody who failed during the year, at the end of the year exam, and then you are drafted into the army right away. i have friends who were drafted in the middle of the year. so i finished med school in 1974. early '75, after i recently married my wife in the end of '74, i was drafted in january oh '75. that's the way we live.
then not very surprised. then my family everybody in the family, my father was a retired lieutenant colonel at the time. then my brother at the time was already in the army. so you know, there's really nothing particular -- >> so it was very normal for that time period? >> yeah. everybody was in the army. >> mr. le, you had a different experience. you volunteered to join the air force after graduating from high school. why did you decide to volunteer? >> yeah. you know, as dr. tran said every family, young people, some way, somehow, got into the
military any connection. for me, in vietnam, if according to the army you have to be draft. for the navy and air force it's not draft. it's volunteer. so i mean if you were drafted into the army, and after you finished the military training, you can apply for a job in air force or in the navy. so that's why, for me directly volunteer to the air force. that's my case. >> okay. >> yeah. >> like most south vietnamese pilots, you were sent to america to finish your training. just as mr. nguyen to your right did. can you talk about your military training in america, mr. le? >> okay. when i was young, i think about
11 or 12 years old, in middle school, in my neighborhood, there's a lot of members of the air force. they wear the suit with the pistol on the side, other side with the knife. it look eded, you know sunglasses, ray ban, yeah. >> cool. >> it's very cool at the time. so i dreamed to be a pilot at that time. when i went up to high school, school -- my father is a 15 year veteran of the army -- he advised me okay, if you want to
go to college or you want to join the air force it depends on you. as you furture. you have the total decision about that. but you have to study hard and you have to exercise more so you can get physical fit. your dream might come true. finally, in 1972 they got the recruitment campaign at the time. they recruit a lot of members for the air force. i applied for that. after five days of physical examination, with a group of 150 people only 23 people got into the air force. the rest will be going to the
army school. to be the army official in stead of air force official. and i loved that to be the pilot, you have to be sent over to america for training. that's a good thing. so you can open your mind to the world. when we joined the air force we have a chance to learn more about english about american english. about a culture of the america. finally, we passed several exams and were sent to the air force base under the management of the air force, to train over there. after four months and we passed several exams as well they sent us to fly school. for me i learned helicopter in
alabama. >> after you both did your training you came back to vietnam to serve. you served as a gun ship pilot. can you tell us about your most memorable combat experience? >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i was the first lieutenant with the black crane in the south vietnamese air force. we provided fire support to four military areas in south vietnam. i'll tell you a little bit about the plane that i flew. i flew a 190 gun ship. it was an aircraft converted to gun ship. this aircraft provided close fire support for south vietnamese and friendly troops. with the ability to fire up to
6,000 rounds per minute from its guns. and it delivered deadly accuracy. mission was to attack the trail. one night on november 27th 1931, it was thanksgiving day. we found a north vietnamese convoy of five tracks. it was a rare catch. opened up on it with them that disappeared in a cloud of dust. as we showered them with thousands of rounds in act tennt about
ten minutes. another night i cannot forget when a gi on the route about to be overrun by the troops, contacted the air fighting person. we didn't want an air fight. get me a black reagan. that happened one night in the summer of 1972. in the city, border of cambodia and vietnam. the troops attacked the camp fiercely. we were outnumbered. they were just about 100 yards from the camp. threw a flare to identify
attackers. i saw hundreds trying to get into the camp. i told myself they're all coming at once. i heard on the radio friendly voice, move it closer, closer closer. the vehicle had the guns. they looked like [ indistinguishable ]. i showered them with thousands of rounds. until i run out of ammunition. another black reagan came to replace us. when i went back to the base, we found that we had been hit. there were four holes on the
aircraft. the next morning i knew that the vehicle paid a high price for the attack last night. hour at most they were there. often, the message we heard on the radio was the same. tanks, black reagan. we wouldn't be here without you. thanks. it made us feel very good when we heard that. thank you. [ applause ] >> well, as many here know, the vietnam war produced huge numbers of casualties. over 58,000 american soldier lives were lost. when we talk about south vietnam, over -- actually, around 250,000 south vietnamese soldiers were lost.
so in this portion of the program, we want to show you an interview that we did with an individual in louisville. his name is mr. lee. he was a cia operative and member of the south vietnamese special forces. in this clip he's going to talk about losing his friends. do you want to turn down the lights? no lights? okay. all right. [ speaking foreign language ]
for anyone on the panel what are your thoughts after watching this clip? >> actually, to this clip i want to give my opinion that the war is always bad. nobody wanted a war. but we have to face the war if it comes. and right now the war they have several faces. not by the gun and the ammo. but by the economic means. by intelligence or i.t.,
something like that. so be careful about that. we have to face the war, any war, to resolve the peace like that. we prevent a war by prepare for the war. right now, of the vietnamese people overseas outside vietnam, they try to fight with the communist government right now. to get the freedom of speech. freedom of religion. and everything else for vietnamese people. we don't want to fight them but we want to struggle with them to
find any means so we can get the freedom for our people in vietnam, and everybody in the world as well. thank you. >> with us we will fight as happens so very often. sometimes in the morning we sit together. we have breakfast, drink coffee, we talking. but by noon, i heard he got shot down. got shot down and never came back. you see your friend in the morning, and noon, or afternoon, you heard he got shot down. it's terrible. that is the war. with us, the south vietnamese, we have to do it. we have to stand against the
communists because they invaded us. we have to fight against the communist aggression. unfortunately, we lost the war. >> i would like to share with you some of my experience when i work worked. i had the privilege of taking care of many american soldier who come from afghanistan or iraq iraq. many suffer from ptsd. that's what i see the most.
what hurt me the most is many of the wife, when these people come back, they don't recognize them anymore. these people that come back really are different person. many left them. that's what i find out when i take care of these people. so this is something lost that these soldiers have gone through, even though they come back alive. the war affects them for their whole life. just like you see the man that you see in here. at this age, he still is
affected by the war that he went through. >> the causeost of the war was high in different ways. the united states military withdrew its support of south vietnam in 1973. for dr. gary tran how do you feel when the america withdrew? >> for us it was a very puzzling situation. because all along we were told that the united states would support us andin our life and death struggle against the evil empire, which is communism.
but also, we were left without a lot of logistical support to fight during the last year of the war. it was very disheartening. because personally, i think that if we would have the support that president nixon promised to support us if the communists violated the paris accord, he would retaliate. he would retaliate severely. but that was not forthcoming. so even though we have the will
and the manpower to carry on but we could not because of the lack of logistical support toward the end of the war. imagine that we could not even get $300 million through congress to buy gasoline for our airplane and ammunition for our soldiers. whereas, our enemy got $4 billion aid, military aid, from china and from russia. from the soviet union. this is why, one of the big reasons we lost the war. >> eventually, saigon the capital of south vietnam, fell on april 30, 1975. that date marked the end of the
vietnam war. it's a very important date that's engraved in many of our minds. mrs. hao tran, on the date, april 30th 1975 where were you, and what were you doing? >> i live in saigon since 1954, when the geneva treaty decided to have our country in two parts. the north belongs to the communists. the south to the nationalists. my family since they have heard about experience with the communism, and my parents at that time they very young 36 and 32, we have seven children aging from 11 years old to four months old.
we left our home from the north and moved to the south to be able to live in freedom. so because we already had experience with the communists. even struggling to start a new life in the south. after a few years, my parents would be able to prosper and all of us went to college. i was in the second year of pharmacy school when i met my husband in med school, who was a medical student through the youth. so we were dating but waiting until we graduated from college. get married in 1974.
so as you know my husband was draft after he finished school. so he eventually became lieutenant. the fall of saigon came before the fall five days. we heard from his father that the uncle who worked for cia, and he offered that we can go by plane to the u.s. but there's a lot of people on the list. so we wouldn't be able to go on the first day. it was friday. so we came back home and then on monday april 28th his son
called and asked us to come back to waiting for the bus to go to the airport. it was on tuesday, 29th. we were in his office, waiting for the bus. but around noon we heard from -- we listened to the radio that the south vietnam government surrendered. so we hurried back home to my parents home. at that time, the whole big family, my parents my uncle my two aunts family and grandparents, we all prepared to go to the commercial pier. to where the ship docked to find a way to get on the ship to flee the country.
so because we have a big family, and we had just four cars we divided it by two groups. the first group went to the pier first. then planning to come back home to pick up the rest of us. but when the first group came to the pier they saw the cart -- chaotic atmosphere at the pier because everyone wanted to flee the country. so at that time, my father thought about the rest of us still at home. so he decided to go back home. that was on the 29th. on the 30th of april, the communist army invaded to the
president palace. the situation at the time still not settled. we still -- everyone still wanted to go to flee the country. there's a rumor that the seventh fleet of the americans still in the south china sea. there's some hesitation because people saying that the communists might caught us before we were getting out there. so we, the second time, decided to stay. then life goes on. i came back to work at the pharmacy, because i graduate in
1974. my husband, he went to his brother-in-law's office to practice for a month. then in june 1975 the communist government called all of the soldiers to be present and have reeducation for three days. after three days, they released them. >> mrs. hao you bring up an interesting point about the reeducation camp. on our panel we have two people who actually went to the reeducation camp. the reeducation camp was really a way for the north vietnamese to seek revenge upon those who served in south vietnam. they would imprison them. they would torture them. they would forcibly indokctrinek
indocktrinate them. what was life like in a reeducation camp? >> i was in prison for four and a half years. in the reeducation camp in north vietnam. while there, the north communists, vietnamese, controlled the prisoners by using what they call this technique where the prisoners were fed a bowl of rice with one tiny piece of meat. once a month. the technique was decide to keep everyone so hungry. they could only concentration on the hunger not escape.
the prisoners including myself were forced through hard labor. from sun up to sun down every day. under the harsh conditions. first, i was the -- i was in the garden team. we planted vegetables. spinach spinach, sweet potato cabbage. and then they put me in the cutting team. there were about 15 of us. we went to the forest early in the morning. cut the trees. carried the wood back to camp in the afternoon. we worked from 6:00 in the moshing unmosh ing -- morning until 6:00 in the
evening. around 7:00, all of us were locked up in one room. there were about 60 prisoners in one room. we slept on the concrete floor. there was no restroom in the room. there's one big bucket at the back of the room. it was terrible. i don't know how i am still alive. my weight dropped to 70 pounds before i was finally released. during my time at the labor camp i watched many of my friends die beside me. we had to cover the dead in paper and bury them in unmarked
graves. and i cannot forget that. it's still a nightmare to me. thank you. >> dr. khue tran, you had a similar experience. you were also in reeducation camp for three years, but you managed to escape. how did you escape? >> i think that before we talk about the escape, i need to have some clarification about the term "reeducation camp." for people who never lived with the communists, or for the young people who were born in the '80s, maybe we talk about reeducation camp like, you know, people go to certain place and then have some kind of
education. then there's a break for them. but actually, it is a collection on labor camp in the full sense of the term. we use reeducation camp because that's the invention of the communists. nothing to do with reeducation. en the doctrine, coming there to work. you work like he described. then you have indokctrinationindoctrination. when i was in the camp, this was almost three and a half years already. most of my friends, they are released after two years. we need to understand sphere in
which that -- why i had to escape. because i have seen people escape and never heard from these people again. i have seen people who escape and when they caught them, they put them in the -- if you know what i mean by connect -- the container by some of these -- the shipping company they put people. the communists put these people in these connects in the sun and put them in there. i had seen that. so in the year '77 and '78, there's a mormon outside in saigon. the communists they let chinese
people go. the communists wanted to get all the money from the chinese. so they said that if you give me some money i'll let you go. a lot of people tried to get some paper saying they are chinese. that kind of thing. so i live in the camp at the time. my wife came and tell me that people are going -- i heard some of my friends succeed in escaping from vietnam by that route. so she came and tell me whether i want to escape. because i was so hopeless. i don't see any -- the way that i can get out.
i desoidcided do go. i don't know how to escape because it's in the middle of the jungle. i'm not really a soldier, like a real soldier. doesn't know what direction to go. i said that i have to get some help. i have a chance to talk to one of my friends. they're really soldiers. know which way to go. then he was able to get out at the time. go in a different direction than we usually go in the morning. then he agreed to escape with me. so he had a chance to talk to my wife and then she decide edd. on the day that we decided to escape both of us, we go. so the day that -- because every
day, i have to go out and work with the other people. as a doctor i carry some sulfa and other things. medication. it's allhave. and some band-aids. and then we go out, and as soon as we go out you know, we don't join the group. disappear into the jungle. and then, i just follow the other you know, my friend, and then we walk in the jungle for, i don't know an hour or two, and then we come to a place. we don't see my wife yet. and she came and she, and then we keep walking and then, i think in about an hour or so it's finally we see her with the -- along with his brother. so then we escape -- >> can i add in a little detail? i had a permit to visit him
every three months to provide supplies of food and money because they don't have enough money to give them food. so the last time it was on -- in january, 1979, and he already there for 2 1/2 years. so i -- i came to the camp on wednesday. and then we can stay together during the night on wednesday night. and then i told him that the plan and then i will come back on monday, four days after. so the next day when he had to go back to the camp with other people to go to do labor. and then he told his friend to meet me at the on the way he go to the labor and then i talk with his friend about the plan. so that's why he relies on the
friend. and because he's a professional soldier. so he already went out to that area to do labor work couple of months before. so he knew the way. and then on monday, we came back. i had to ask my cousin to write a motorcycle. and then the friend's brother. he rode another one. after we go further a little bit. and then we saw two men with the the -- civilian clothes. they had to wear military clothes in the camp. the two men carried a bag like the on the road. and then we picked them up and just rode back in saigon without any problem.
they don't have any intelligence or guards on the road. >> very good plan. very good. i admire you. >> i have no choice. >> i admire you. >> because we -- we in the hopeless situation. i don't have any other thing that i can do for my husband. so that's what i don't know whether the holy spirit guide me to do it, or not. >> so as the conditions worsen an estimated vietnamese people attempted to escape the country. most famous. and so the doctor and his wife eventually escaped by boat and came to america. mr. lee, he actually also tried to escape vietnam ten times unsuccessfully. and then continued to live in
vietnam for the next 30 years. so can you describe what life was like under communist vietnam? >> i've tried many times, but failed. but i still have a lot of friends still in vietnam right now. because they don't have any chance to get out. finally, i -- i've been here 13 years. finally, i find my luck. i'm not in the camp. but my friends. they tried to escape.
some of them tried several times, but fell. and then when they got back to the camp they tried to -- actually, several people have died because of that. >> is that right? >> yeah. >> so in the situation of the doctor is very lucky. >> yeah. >> and it looks like playing a game. and for me, i'm leaving about 28 years before coming here. better than the south vietnam people.
they don't have enough food for eating in the north. and in the south at that time we don't have enough food. we don't have enough medicine. and we lack everything in the first ten years. and you know that the fuel, the kerosene for burning the lights at night and for cooking, as well. that, as well. because at that time, nobody want to play with the communist. and the people in the south vietnam tried to get out. and the western country outside they don't want to play with them. the communist. sew finally, the first year, the second year and then the third year, we don't have anything left. so that's why i put that about ten years. the first ten year is very very
terrible for the whole south vietnam people. and not the ten year is a little bit better. after ten year, after ten year. in 1995, 20 years later. the vietnam and the united states, they got the diplomats diplomatic relationship again. so from '95. it got more improvement. yeah. >> well, we're glad you're able to finally make it here to america. like most of our speakers here. most ended up in kentucky through a federal resettlement program. today, more than 5,800 vietnamese americans live in kentucky. and that's a low number. we expect a lot more that are currently living here.
we thank the speakers, again for sharing their stories with us. our time is limited. but right now, what we'd like to do is open up our panel for questions from the audience. just a reminder, again, you do have to speak into the microphone. there's only one in the room. so please wait for the microphone to come to you before you ask your question. so the lady in the front. >> thank you. the three gentlemen to my left, were you able to bring your families? is this on? >> were you able to bring your families over? >> yeah. >> thank you for your wonderful description. is this on? okay. thank you very much for your
service and your -- >> oh the mike is actually for c-span, it's picking up their mikes. we'll just repeat your question. >> there's been a great deal of discussion for about orange. war is always terrible. others feel it saved american lives. i'm curious as americans who came from the south of vietnam what are your feelings about this? and i've been telling you i've been working for 30 years in vietnam on this topic. i'm curious to know your perceptions and your thoughts about agent orange. >> can you repeat that? just the question?
>> do you have any opinions about agent orange and your perceptions, as well? >> so we'll take one question at a time. we'll do the agent orange question. anybody on the panel? go ahead? and speak into the mike. >> i feel deeply indebted to the american soldier who fought and died for our countries. and i saw. i saw the courage when i, you know, when we when we fought along them. you know, because there is --
and he flew with us. he flew every combat missions. i very appreciate that. and i feel that own the american soldiers. you know, they are far away. they came and fight for us. and they died for us. >> yes. we're grateful about the american soldier. toll fight against communism. but the communist they used the term of fighting against the imperialism of america. it was a civil war between the idealism. it's not fighting american.
they use that term to draw young people to go with them and fighting against the south vietnam. >> did any of our panelists have a response to the gentleman's question in the back about agent orange? if not, we'll move on to the next question. >> i don't have much knowledge about the agent orange. the only thing i know is that in vietnam, they have some kind of center. they want to get the money, compensation, but the united states. so they -- everything that they say from agent orange. i don't know more about that. the only thing i know, they wanted to get the money from the americans. so they say it's from agent orange, you know. that's only thing i can think of.
>> i want to add a little bit more about agent orange. according to my knowledge, the american soldier came to vietnam and back here and now, busy because of asian -- agent orange. and they got compensation. they got treatment they got, i think so, but in vietnam the people there from the north, from the south or the civilian in the war, they still affected by the orange, as well. but they don't have anything. they don't have any compensation. they don't have any treatment. that's what i want to bring up. thank you. >> you know, agent orange was
used in a remote area where there's no people living there except for the communist. well, in jungles in places where they can hide to ambush so you can see who is hiding where so we don't die from their ambush. i don't think the americans use that chemical in places where there are people living. you know, usually, way in the boonyies somewhere where hardly anybody lives except the communists. now, if the communists are poisoned by that, so be it. you know. they come to kill us.
>> they were enemies. >> next question. >> ambassador here about six months ago. we talked about domino theory and what might happen after the u.s. left vietnam. what he said during the mid-60s when singapore had become independent, deciding which way to go communist or capitalist. and he said mainly based on the u.s. participation of vietnam they went the capitalist model. i never heard that before. i didn't know if you heard that or what your comments might be on that. what the reaction might be. >> so the question was the ambassador. talked about the independence for singapore and whether or not they were choosing to be a communist country or free country. and they looked to be what happened at vietnam and decided to go with the capitalist model.
>> they looked at the u.s. participation in vietnam, which is what he said was influential and going to the more capitalistic model. >> i'll repeat what he said. they looked at the u.s. involvement in vietnam and they decided to go with the capitalist route. have any of the panelists heard about that? thoughts on that? >> i don't know much about politics. >> i think 1 million people in the home to the north to the south that speak out about whether we like communism or not. >> i think most of the people in south vietnam and even some of the vietnamese who stayed behind in the north.
they don't like communists at all. 6:00 we have no freedom. they kill people and use the term of killing people who owned -- who have possession. they're kind of praising the poor. but after we stayed behind after 1975, everyone became poor. no one have anything. and there's no freedom to do anything. everybody had to cremate their family members who deceased. and used it to become a garden. so you can believe.
>> yes. >> just watch them. >> yes, i agree with that. that's what our last president. he said that. then listen to what the companies said. look at what -- look at the fact north and south vietnam, we have a south. we did not invade the north. the north came and evaded us. the people just want to live in peace. with the south, with the south vietnamese people. just want to live in peace. they did not like we do that. and we have to stand up for ourselves. but, unfortunately, i think the battlefield is not in vietnam, here, in the united states.
we lost the work because of everything to us. for years because no gas no fuel, no ammunition. so, of course, we lost the war. and the battlefield here in the united states. not in vietnam. the front line of the battlefield here in the united states. we lost the war because of -- starved, you know. while the north vietnamese from russia and china. nobody in his or her right mind would want to live under communism. and usually flee, that's why
more than half of million. most people died trying to escape from communism. if they let people go freely the whole country could leave vietnam right now. except for the few thousand, or few hundred thousand. that regime have to use police to force people to live there. >> we'll take a question in the back. i think i saw a hand in the back behind you. sir, was there a question back there? no? okay. >> yes, there was a vietnamese orphanage run by vietnamese nuns near tamke. what happened to the religious people? the ministers, the priests and
the nuns and all them? >> what happened to the vietnamese religious people? >> as i understood, because i live in saigon, so i would be able to go to the church and have activity and a choir. but people who live in the countryside. they have to wake up very early in the morning to go to church on sunday because they force them to work on sunday. and later on i heard about many places. they tried to take on the properties of the church. even the symmetry. so, they still have a lot of struggle between the government and the religious people. and some of the priests are bishop, if they speak out and
they have to put in prison. >> next question, please. >> thank you. there's a film making the rounds on pbs called "last days in vietnam" by rory kennedy that probably some of you have seen. my wife and i saw it. and it made a great impression on us. curious to know if any of you have seen and what your general impressions of the film are. more specifically, there's an assertion in the film that north vietnam intended to honor the peace accord because they were afraid of richard nixon. thought he was crazy. and when the watergate scandal broke and he was weakened politically, that's what encouraged them to invade the south. curious to know your opinion as well. >> the question is, this gentleman saw the film "last days in vietnam" and wanted to know if anyone on the panel had seen it and what their impressions were. and there was an assertion that
the north vietnamese invaded after they saw that the nixon/watergate scandal, what are your thoughts on that? >> i agree with that assertion. if there were no watergate, probably would retaliate to the violation violation. >> i have another thought about nixon. when we see president nixon have agreement with china and at the time, probably vietnam is not the front line for the freedom country anymore. so the people in america, because of the loss of 58,000
american soldier and losing money, so they don't want to lose more people and money anymore. just a pawn on the chessboard. we have nothing to fight beside -- right now if the american, if we draw from afghanistan. i think it will be terrible. so when the president came over here last week to have 14000 american soldiers stay behind to ensure the freedom of afghanistan. >> all right. next question. >> you said that everyone in vietnam would leave except for a select few people if given the opportunity to right now.
i know that in recent years over the last couple of decades we've opened up relations with vietnam. do you all agree with this policy of the united states? >> the gentleman said that dr. gary trand said if people could leave vietnam, they would. except for a select few. recently, the united states has opened up with vietnam. what are your thoughts on that? >> with the presence of the american embassy and vietnam and with a lot of foreign contact that came to vietnam to invest, i think the lies over there get
little bit better than other places. so i think open up relations like this is helpful for the people. >> i think the worst thing in vietnam now if you -- you can see it corruption everywhere in vietnam. the worst thing in vietnam now. and you can see the difference between the rich and the poor in vietnam. it's a minority. they got rich. they got rupgs. but a lot of people, very poor. very, very poor. >> all right. next question.
>> this is a question for dr. gary tran. you were agricultural commissioner. whatever the title properly is. my understanding was or is that vietnam was largely rural, fundamentally agricultural country before all of the trouble, so to speak. and was a net exporting country for rice. a very rich, agricultural economy and you talked about some of the programs that you were starting there. i'd like to hear more about that and what the consequences of the war were for agriculture. and the nation's self-sufficiency in terms of
food. >> before you answer, i repeat the question. you were the agricultural specialist in the country. before the war, vietnam was largely rural and agricultural. and a net exporting rice country country. what consequences did the war have on the economy? agriculture economy? >> lend, reform and agricultural development a major achievement of the republic of vietnam, but nobody talk about it. in 2012 invited about a dozen of us high official in the government, you know. i remember there were four cabinet members. and one general and one admiral and a few politician and
parliamentarian to go there for a symposium. and there is a book that comes out that -- and i wish you all read about it. because these are the thing that nobody talk about in the 3,000 books and novel publish upon vietnam and the vietnam war. -- because the agriculture is so massive that it would take me at least a day to talk about it. because when i -- they give two, three day for the whole bunch. but my field took a whole day because of that. please, if you're interested in that, get this book. i will leave one book.
let me quote one -- the only vietnamese professor in the united states. this is what he say to introduce the book. the stereotype among americans at that time and later, even to this day of the second republic as the second republic government as dictatorship, deserve to be defeated is perhaps a convenient slander. but it is a slander nevertheless. the efforts of the enemies to create a democratic government and adversity is a story that
has yet to breakthrough. myth that have shrouded. probably the most abandoned ally in u.s. history. the aim and compiling this volume is not only to retrieve the enemy voices from the second republic before they are gone but also to give american the option of finally after half a century seeing more clearly the ally for whom thousands of americans give their lives. so the section on agricultural development and reform is 50 pages long out of this 150-page book. so to tell you how massive the achievement in that field is
you've got to read this book. >> thank you very much. i'm going to take the privilege of asking the last question. because i know all of you live here in louisville. and so if you could say here in one or two sentences, please we're running out of time. how you came to louisville, as you know leaving vietnam as refugees and escaping camps or otherwise making your way out of vietnam. and afterwards, i'd like to invite you to ask further questions and outside of the reception where there's chance for conversation. and also for the chance at the exhibit to learn more about the conflict and those memories. but, first, yeah, how did you come to louisville? >> i was lucky. because when i came here, when i came to the united states one of my class mate offered me a
job. i came to work for him for ten years. and after that, i split off and practiced veterinary medicine on my own. and then 25 years ago, i started to train to p be good in math and english. see how good it is? she's one of my 3,000 smart kids. that's why i became a kentucky colonel. actually, i did a lot in vietnam. if you read this book, you will see it.
because i trained 2,000 children in louisville to be good at math and reading and they later had the awesome college education. >> thank you very much. >> tonight on american history tv, an nbc news special report. communist communist saigon. nbc news reported on the april 30th capture of south vietnam's capital by north vietnamese communist forces. it detailed events in the weeks following the end of the vietnam war. and nbc news special report from 1975. communist saigon on american history tv on c-span 3. >> presidential candidates release books to introduce themselves to voters.
here's haa look at some books. former secretary of state hillary clinton looks back on her time serving in the obama administration in "hard choices." in "american dreams" marco rubio outlines his plan to restore economic opportunity. former arkansas governor mike huckabee gives his take. and in blue collar conservatives, potential presidential candidate rick santorum argues the republican party must focus on the working class in order to retake the white house. in a fighting chance massachusetts senator elizabeth warren recounts the events in her life that shaped her career as an educator and politician. wisconsin governor scott walker argues republicans must offer bold solutions to fix the country and have the courage to implement them in unintimidated.
they argue for new imcelebration policies. in "stand for something," john kasich calls for a return to traditional american values. former virginia senator james webb looks back on his time serving in the military and in the senate in "i heard my country calling." bernie sanders recently announced his intention to seek the nomination for president. his book "the speech" is a printing of his eight-hour long filibuster against tax cuts. and in "promises to keep," vice president joe biden looks back on his career in politics. neurosurgeon ben carson calls for greater individual responsibility to preserve america's futu