There are truths that we do not want to reveal because they might hurt the feelings of some of our friends. The Vietnam War ended almost half a century ago but there have still been a lot of misunderstandings among our American friends, particularly the Vietnam Veterans. Our ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) soldiers had sacrificed during the war and still suffered the offense on social media, mostly due to the misinformation and the superiority complex of some racist American veterans.
We don’t know how much the American soldiers were taught about Vietnam’s culture and history before they were sent to Vietnam. We guess they only learned some basic things just enough to contact the people they rarely met. That’s why, for the past 50 years, there were too many misunderstandings among the American public, media, and even among many soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War.
Lieutenant Nguyen Van Quoc, the Operation Officer of the 8th Regiment lifted the poncho that covered the bunker to look at the sky. Although it was almost noon, the fog descended more and more by the time and caused a thick blanket that obscured the view of the base area. Seeing the head of the S-2 Intelligence Officer peeking out at the next bunker, Quoc grumbled,
“What the weather! How do the soldiers fight in this bad condition?”
“The enemies are in the same situation!”
“Maybe they are fucking their bitches in that forest! Who knows?”
The two officers dressed up and walked to the TOC, continuing the chat.
For more than a week, the sky had been covered with dark gray clouds and a thick layer of fog that we could not see the objects at a distance of two or three meters. The air seemed to condense and the time seemed to pause. All military activities had been interrupted: there was no air cover, the units were immobile, and vehicles were not running. All roads were slippery with red mud.
“Raise the Flag on the ThPong Vietnam Village before the Sunrise! An Audacious Determination on Battlefield in Cambodia.”
That was the big headline run on the front page of all Saigon newspapers on the first days of Tân Hợi lunar new year to celebrate the victory of the 4/8th Battalion at Snuol, Cambodia.
Truth is the battle began at sunrise and quickly ended in the afternoon. Although it was in a short time, the battle marked the first brilliant victory of the ARVN on the battlefield outside the frontier.
The big operation Total Victory 71-NB was orchestrated by the ARVN to hunt the elements of the Center Office of South Vietnam and the units of the National Liberation Army in hiding in the Cambodian provinces that bordered the 3rd and 4th Military Regions of Vietnam. The participants were the field groups formed by units of the 3rd and 4th Army Corps, the Marines, the Rangers, and the Armored Cavalry.
Kien Base was built in the middle of the Iron Triangle secret zone about two kilometers from the small town of Ben Cat. The Iron Triangle was formed by part of the Thi Tinh River on the east and Saigon River on the west. The acute angle is the meeting point of two rivers at Ben Cat. On the north side, there was a dirt road from Ben Cat bridge that ran along the river to Dau Tieng and farther, to the Cambodian border. This had been for decades the supply route of the enemies to many famous secret zones such as the war zones D, Long Nguyen, Boi Loi, Ho Bo, Tam Giac Sat (Iron Triangle), to name a few!
In 1967, not far from the Ben Cat district compound, there occurred a fierce battle – Operation Cedar Falls – between Viet Cong and units of the ARVN 5th ID and US 1st ID amid the Iron Triangle. Two years later, we found the ruins of three armored vehicles: one M-41 tank and two M-113 APCs and various items of American soldiers at the spot where five narrow trails converged. We gave it the nickname “Ngả Năm Chuồng Chó” (five-way intersection at the dog kennels), after the name of the very famous red light district in the north suburb of Saigon.
The history of Vietnam is the history of a ceaseless struggle over four thousand years to survive harsh conditions and threats from foreign invasions. Vietnamese are peace-loving people but were pushed to a dangerous situation of extinction. They had to fight and became the finest and most experienced combatants in the South East Asia region in order to maintain their independence and conserve their distinguished culture.
Looking at the map of South Asia, anybody would realize that Vietnam – in the 20th century – is the most important location in terms of strategy and geopolitics. According to the old concepts of strategy, Vietnam is the door opened to the vast region of South East Asia that is rich in natural resources. Vietnam could provide any kind of economy with a big army of hardworking laborers and also a huge number of consumers. Vietnam was the target of dozens of invasions from many Chinese dynasties over four thousand years; then, the French in the late 19th Century and the Communists in the second half of the 20th century.
The helicopters were hovering about four feet above the ground to drop the 2nd platoon. Aspirant Chieu and the men of his 2nd Platoon quickly jumped out and spread thin in all directions to set up a security perimeter for the LZ. My CP and the 4th Platoon were in the 3rd round. Last was the 1st Platoon.
In this part of the war zone D. northwest of Lai Khe, our division base, there was no pocket of grassland that was large enough for an ideal landing zone. We landed right on the pathway cleared by the Rome Plows of the 169th US Engineer Battalion. The Americans used the large armored bulldozers (aka Rome Plows) to create crossed pathways in the dense forest and jungle. From above, the forest looked like a large chest table or a grid formed by squares of the size 100 by 100 meters each.
I have been with the 5thID, 4/8 Battalion for 10 months and had experienced only some minor contact with the enemies until this moment.
The National Route 13, starting from Saigon, went to Binh Duong, An Loc, and Loc Ninh then continued to the Snuol district of Cambodia. The alpha base was the last military post of ARVN on the south side of the border. At about five kilometers north of Binh Duong, the route split at Nga Tu So. From there, the 13-bis route ran to Phu Giao, Dong Xoai, Bunard, and Phuoc Binh, the capital city of Phuoc Long Province.
Dong Xoai, the major town of Don Luan District, was about 88 kilometers from Saigon. It was a very important location in term of military strategy.
Aspirant Lo Duc Tan grabbed my hand, and shouted as he pulled me down to the ground:
– Lie down. Dig in or run to that gravestone. They are shelling the mortars.
The company was approaching Ap Nha Viet. We walked in two columns past a local cemetery and were detected by the enemy’s reconnaissance.
A fresh new graduate from the military school, I was like an apprentice who could not detect the sound of the departing mortar shells from a far distance. I even could not distinguish the sound of the mortar from that of a cannon. In great confusion, what I could do was react to what Tan said.
My battalion had just finished the supplementary training at Huynh Van Luong Training Center and then was ordered to get ready for a sudden operation at Dau Tieng, Tri Tam District. We were attached to the Armored Cavalry Regiment of the US 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One). From the training center, we were transported to Ben Tranh village next to the famous Michelin rubber plantation. The American regiment had been at the gate of the training center with dozens of heavy tanks and APCs.
The conference room of Quang Tri Military Sector was crowded with about thirty men who were eager to receive their assignment orders. They were new officers who had recently graduated from Thu Duc Infantry School and six cadets from the Polwar College. They would soon depart to six sub-sectors to work closely with the RF and PF soldiers in the next three months. They were members of a political campaign that was vital to the destiny of the republic during the great turning point of its history.
There were more than two years since we entered Polwar College. Now that it was the end of our long journey of tough military training and an academic curriculum. We were very excited waiting for a beautiful day to earn the final reward as newly commissioned officers of the Vietnamese Armed Forces.
Dalat was famous for its beautiful hilly landscape and its mild climate all around the year. Dalat was also well-known because it was home to the three most important military schools of the ARVN: The National Military Academy, the Polwar College, and the Staff and Command College.
The Polwar College was located on a low hill north of the city. On the other side of the narrow street Vo Tanh, on the other hill, there was a school for girls – the Bui Thi Xuan High School.
The first class of Polwar cadets arrived at Dalat in May 1967 after four months of basic training at Thu Duc Infantry School. Every Monday morning, two hundred young men of the Polwar cadet battalion in their dress uniforms fell into formation in front of the headquarters building to perform the flag raising ceremony. At the same time, hundreds of young girls in purple Vietnamese dresses were standing at attention to observe the same ritual.
There were eleven infantry divisions in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd (I Corps/ 1st Military Region); the 22nd and the 23rd (II Corps/ 2nd MR); the 5th, the 18th, and the 25th (III Corps/ 3rd MR); and the 7th, the 9th, and the 21st (IV Corps/ 4th MG).
Initially, the 5th ID was founded in the far north of Vietnam. During the First Indochina War, the French army recruited its soldiers from the Nung ethnicity to form groups to patrol the Vietnamese-Chinese border. Nung people speak Guangdong Chinese with their special accent. Many of them had fled China after the Chinese Communists seized power in 1949. Their commanding officer was Colonel Vong A Sang who later became the first Commander of the 5th ID.
A collection of Patches, Badges, Insignia, Medals, Decorations of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces.
A Collection of the Patches, Badges, Insignia, Decorations and Medals of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (1955-1975). It took the author almost 30 years to collect, rework, touch up thousands of images. We made this collection to dedicate to the members of the ARVN who fought persistently and bravely in Vietnam War. This work is also to pass down to the next generations the legacy of suffering but courage of the soldiers of South Vietnam Armed Forces.The book is 185 pages with 2700 colorful images including a photo album of the ARVN typical activities.
Vietnam Is Facing the Clear and Imminent Threat of Chinese Colonization
By Michael Do
Bordering a hostile, ambitious neighbor, the trouble seems to be endless.
China is the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.38 billion. It covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (the world’s second-largest country by land area, second only to Russia). Compare to China, Vietnam with the population of 94.5 million and the area 331,210 sq. km, is a tiny David beside the giant Goliath 30 times larger in area and 15 times more populous. Continue reading Vietnam Is Facing the Clear and Imminent Threat of Chinese Colonization→
In a Q&A session after Henry Kissinger’s conversation with Mark Updegrove, A former ARVN soldier accused him of betraying South Vietnam when he signed the Paris Peace Agreement with Hanoi Communists. The Agreement led to the fall of the Republic of Vietnam due to the US broke its promises to help Vietnam if Hanoi violated the agreement..
There are uncountable heroes who fought bravely in Vietnam War. Many of them gave their lives, their blood to the noble cause defending the nation’s independence and the ideology of freedom and democracy. Particularly, on the last days of South Vietnam, hundreds of soldiers chose to take their own lives instead of surrendering to the enemies. Of those, the most admired are: Continue reading Heroes of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces→
(Short remark by Michael Do at the Human Right Torch Lightening Ceremony at the Texas Capitol at 1:30, Sunday April 20, 2008)
Dear fellow Chinese, Tibetans, and Oppressed people,
Everyday, as we wake up looking through the window to see the blue sky, how many of us would appreciate the freedom and democracy that along the history of this young nation, thousands of brave men and women have given their lives to struggle for? Continue reading Human Rights don’t come from Begging→
I am very glad to have this opportunity to speak to the outstanding officers from Police Departments of the State of Texas. Vietnamese culture is a broad subject that cannot be discussed within a limited time, so I will try to focus some important points that you are concerned about while dealing with the Vietnamese youth gangs. Continue reading SPEECH TO POLICE OFFICERS AT CENTRAL TEXAS GANG UNITS CONFERENCE→
Fifty two years ago, on November 1st, 1963, Mr. Ngo Dinh Diem, the first President of the Republic of Vietnam, was violently murdered by a group of Generals in a coup d’etat. Mr. Ngo, a revolutionist, a politician who was one of the most respected statesmen of the Free World, appointed Prime Minister in 1954. He then assumed his presidency in 1955 and led the South Vietnam to peacefully prosperity in 9 years, despite the insurgency of the Vietcong (founded, led, and supported by the North Vietnamese Communist Party). Continue reading In Memoriam of the Late President Ngo Dinh Diem→
Confucianism is another common name of the Ju philosophy that has been dominant in Chinese social and political life for more than 25 centuries. It has occupied an important place, which is considerable to that of a religion in China as well as many other Asian countries. Continue reading Confucianism as an Ethical Philosophy→
Each of Jack London’s short stories is a valuable lesson about life and natural laws. As said by the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau: “Man is (physically as weak as) a reed, but he is a reed that thinks.” (L’homme n’est qu’un Roseau, mais un Roseau pensant.) The history of humankind is that of persistent struggles for life. Continue reading Jack London’s To Build a Fire→
If there is any distance between life and death, then what may happen with a dying human’s thought in this very moment before he gives up the ghost?
In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” Ambrose Bierce told us the story of a wandering soul of a man whose body was swinging like a pendulum beneath the timber of the Owl Creek Bridge. Continue reading Ambrose Bierce’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge→