Dao Ngoc Khue
“We left Da Nang in March 1975. I was in command of a unit of weapons technicians. When we passed through Nha Trang we were welcomed by the civilians. We were happy because we received orders from the Army command to speed up our drive to Saigon. We felt like a typhoon moving quickly south.
By noon on April 30, my unit was at Tan Son Nhut Airport outside Saigon. Two helicopters had just taken off and we captured a plane with the engine still running and no one on board. We secured the airport and in the afternoon we moved towards the city to secure the Ministry of Defense building. We met with very little resistance along the way.
When we reached Saigon, civilians crowded into the streets to welcome us. They waved flags and offered us drinks and food. We asked civilians for directions to the Ministry of Defense. I remember one girl, about 19, on a motorbike offered to show us the way. She took one of the soldiers on the back of her bike and led us. All the trucks followed her. By the time we arrived, the Ministry of Defense had been abandoned. After we secured it my unit moved on to the intelligence services building and spent the night there; we secured all the files.
On the day of liberation, the 30th of April all Vietnamese were happy and shouted, ‘Independence!’ We finally had freedom. I had fought in the French War and the American War. I had been badly burned by napalm. I shared the joy but I had my own private feelings as well. My family had lived in Saigon throughout the war and I hadn’t seen them in many years. The day after liberation I went looking for my parents.
I went to the area where they lived when I left to fight but they were not there any longer. I asked the neighbors and they sent me to another place, and then another. Finally I found my parents. I knelt down and told them, ‘I fulfilled my duty to our nation but I failed to take care of you.’ My parents said, ‘No, no, no. Stand up. You fulfilled your obligation to our country and that was more important than your responsibility to your family.’ We hugged each other and wept.”