Southern Heroes: Le Van Hung, the ARVN, and the Battle of An Loc

Posted in Modern History with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2017 by Ian Pham

levanhungPhoto via Freedom For Vietnam

Introduction and Commemoration

Words cannot express the deep pain felt by the loss of our nation, South Vietnam, nor can it be expressed the endless gratitude felt for those brave soldiers who so valiantly gave their lives for a cause that was so noble, and in the face of such overwhelming odds.

On this day, April 30, 2017, we pay tribute to the fallen heroes who gave their lives to defend our nation and our freedom, as well as those blessed heroes who lived on to tell the tale of their fallen brothers and sisters in arms. Furthermore, on this day, we pay our gratitude, not only to the soldiers, but also the common citizens, those brave souls who departed from South Vietnam after its fall on April 30, 1975, and embarked into that harrowing endless blue, the Pacific Ocean, in search of freedom and a better life for the future generation of Vietnamese youth.

There is so much to be proud of as a person of South Vietnamese origin. We hail from a nation of freedom, human rights, and national pride. It was South Vietnam who stood up to China in 1974, when the Chinese invaded our islands in the eastern sea. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, we fought to take them down with us, and to keep alive our claim over these islands.

South Vietnam was the elite nation of Southeast Asia, with freedom of speech, religion, association, and press, as well as the strongest economy in the region, and numerous prestigious universities that acted as host to many students studying abroad from other neighboring nations. Moreover, South Vietnam was a nation of patriots and heroes. The soldiers of South Vietnam fought to defend the country from any invader, and were not ashamed, nor afraid to proclaim their allegiance, nationality, and citizenship as to the Republic of Vietnam.

This brief article will not come even close to covering the many accomplishments and heroics of South Vietnam and its people. Instead, it will focus on one of the myriad instances of South Vietnamese courage, honor, and strength.

As a commemoration of South Vietnam and its heroes on this April 30, I will present to you a retelling of one glorious battle of the Vietnam War, one in which the South Vietnamese soldiers were, as often the case, outnumbered by a staggering concentration of North Vietnamese troops. In the face of overwhelming odds, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), under the command of their fearless leader, Brigadier General Le Van Hung, stood their ground, stared in the face of death, and, with their trademark South Vietnamese defiance and audacity, fought and crushed the North Vietnamese in what one U.S. general lauds as “the greatest victory in the history of warfare,” (Schafer, 1999: 56).

This glorious battle, this momentous victory, took place in and around the small South Vietnamese city of An Loc in the spring of 1972. Despite its magnitude and scale, historians in the west have largely ignored the An Loc battle in the decades following the war (Schafer, 1999: 53; 55). Luckily, the Battle of An Loc has been well covered by those who fought there, by both South Vietnamese and American accounts, and numerous sources have emerged since then to tell the tale. Thus, what happened at An Loc can be told to future generation, its heroes immortalized in the annals of history.

Covered in this brief account are the heroics of the ARVN, the lopsided defeat of the communist forces despite their superior numbers, and some details about the many courageous soldiers who fought there, which includes most prominently the commander of the battle, General Le Van Hung.

The Heroes of An Loc

There were many heroes at the Battle of An Loc. Some of these heroes are recognized prominently in historical accounts, but sadly, as is the reality, many, indeed, most of the soldiers who gave their lives at An Loc remain unnamed in the pages of history. As is professed so eloquently by Van Nguyen Duong, an ARVN officer who served at An Loc, that along with all the prominent names at An Loc, “all ARVN commanders of smaller units, officers, NCOs and soldiers at An-Loc and on Route 13, were heroes,” (Duong, 2008: 160).

These famous names mentioned by Duong include Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Minh, commander of the III Corps & Region, Colonel Le Quang Luong, commander of the 1st Airborne Brigade, and, of course, Brigadier General Le Van Hung, field commander of An Loc and the commander of the ARVN 5th Infantry Division (Duong, 2008: 160). General Hung commanded all of the ARVN forces at An Loc (Duong, 2008: 150). Under him, the South Vietnamese would achieve an overwhelming victory over the communist North Vietnamese, in a battle that, despite being ignored by the west, as it did not fit their antiwar narrative, was larger than the Dien Binh Phu confrontation between the Viet Minh and the French in 1954 (Duong, 2008: 148). For his services at that battle, General Le Van Hung would be lauded in history as the Hero of An Loc (Duong, 2008: 211).

There is no mistake that there were many heroes in the Battle of An Loc. Though they cannot all be named in this brief article, it is important to understand that thousands of South Vietnamese soldiers gave their lives in defense of An Loc, and the defense of South Vietnam, its people, and its ideals. When we remember the great and prominent names in history, we must remember the unnamed soldier as well.

The Battle of An Loc

The Battle of An Loc was initiated by the North Vietnamese, and consisted of three communist assaults in the spring of 1972. The first attack commenced on April 11, the second on April 15, and the last on May 11, 1972 (Lester, 2010: 56). The An Loc confrontation was part of a greater North Vietnamese military campaign, known as the Easter Offensive of 1972, which began on March 30 of that year (Lester, 2010: 56). This ambitious military operation, orchestrated by North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (Lester, 2010: 56), was aimed at quickly ending the war with a swift capture of Saigon (McDermott, 2012: 3).

The entire North Vietnamese military operation stretched into the summer of 1972, and proved to be an abject failure for the communists. In history, this “disastrous end of the communist Summer 1972 Offensive Campaign in South Vietnam” came to be known as “Red Summer 1972,” (Duong, 2008: 161). The Battle of An Loc is a major part of this communist failure, and South Vietnamese triumph.

At An Loc, the South Vietnamese forces, which consisted of only 7,500 troops, would stand their ground in the face of 21,000 North Vietnamese invaders and ultimately win the fight against the communists (Lester, 2010: 56).

The North Vietnamese forces encircled the city of An Loc on April 6, with South Vietnamese and U.S. bombing NVA positions commencing on April 11 (Lester, 2010: 56). It was during this phase that the North Vietnamese attackers shelled the city with artillery, while their ground enforces approached the city using civilians as human shields (Thi, 2009: 83-84). In response to this barbaric communist tactic, South Vietnamese and U.S. defenders had to operate around the civilians, shooting over and behind the hostages, and causing the hostages to scatter “in all directions” before finding refugee in An Loc. The hostages would be settled into temporary refugee camps by the South Vietnamese government (Thi, 2009: 84). It is important to stress here the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by the North Vietnamese, who, over a course of several days, killed several hundred innocent civilians with their shelling attacks, “the majority” of these civilians “were women and children,” (Duong, 2008: 151).

Throughout the first phase of the An Loc battle, communist NVA units and tanks were quickly overrunning different sectors of the city. However, their initial advances would be pushed back by the ARVN, with major help from South Vietnamese and U.S. air support. Initially overwhelmed by the communist onslaught, the young ARVN soldiers and members of the PSDF (People’s Self-Defense Force) would recover and fight back against the NVA, actively hunting down and destroying the tanks of the North Vietnamese that were steadily rolling around the city (Thi, 2009: 89-90). In the air, the VNAF and the USAF bombed North Vietnamese positions to effectively weaken the enemy’s formations around the perimeter, while the “more versatile and maneuverable Cobra attack helicopters” handled the communist tanks inside the city (Thi, 2009: 89-90). By April 13, the ARVN held the southern sector, while the NVA held the north of An Loc. According to Lam Quang Thi, “The battle subsided somewhat by the evening of April 13 without a clear line of contact,” (2009: 97).

On April 15, the communists launched their second attack of the Battle of An Loc (Lester, 2010: 56). The onslaught consisted of once again shelling An Loc with intense amounts or artillery, as well as repeating their previous tactic of using tanks to push deeper into the city (Thi, 2009: 100-101). While the more than “1,000 artillery rounds of all calibers” devastated the city, the tanks deployed by the North Vietnamese were quickly targeted and eviscerated by the ARVN units, who learned quickly from their experiences in the first phase of An Loc (Thi, 2009: 100-101). The South Vietnamese, under General Hung, then went on the offensive.

In the evening of April 15, communists in Wendy Hill were attacked and overrun by ARVN forces. The 9th Division of the VC in the northern sector of the city was then confronted by the ARVN on April 17, and by dawn of April 18, “ninety percent of this commercial section was recaptured,” (Duong, 2008: 154-55). From this point onward, street to street fighting would endure for the next few weeks in An Loc (Duong, 2008: 155).

The communists would try to reverse their fortunes in these faltering offensive efforts, which, up to that point, were all ending in failure (Duong, 2008: 155). Concentrating a staggering 10,000 troops, 5,000 rounds of artillery, and twenty tanks, the NVA attacked the South Vietnamese at Wendy Hill and Hill 169. With initial short-lived successes, the ferocious and heavy communist onslaught would ultimately be crushed like their previous attempts. Over the course of three days, April 19-21, the North Vietnamese would lose 2,000 troops and all twenty tanks, rendering them unable to launch their third offensive for the next three weeks, all the while “unable to advance on inch” against the ARVN and General Hung (Duong, 2008: 155-56). During this hiatus, the North Vietnamese continued to fire indiscriminately into An Loc “nearly 2,000 rounds a day from heavy artillery guns,” killing not only some defenders, but also the civilian residents of An Loc (Duong, 2008: 156).

Finally, the last offensive launched by the communists in the Battle of An Loc happened on May 11, and was the largest NVA attack to be thrown against the city (Lester, 2010: 56). This third offensive by the North Vietnamese was “the most devastating” concentration of artillery shelling by the communists throughout the entire Vietnam War (Duong, 2008: 156).

The massive communist assault on May 11 saw the launching of 11,000 rounds of artillery at An Loc, nearly leveling the entire city, with only the “iron morale of the defenders” standing strong (Duong, 2008: 156). However, despite the heavy artillery shelling and their attacking of the defenders on every front, the communists did not change their tactics, and thus, in this third and largest assault, their troops and tanks were again slaughtered and crushed by the South Vietnamese and their U.S. allies (Duong, 2008: 156). Although the attack lasted until May 14, the brunt of the communist attack was repelled by mid-day of May 11, with the failure of the NVA troops to capture any of their objectives. All the NVA had to show as a result were their “Panicked” communist troops fleeing from VNAF and U.S. airstrikes, and “all forty tanks” from the communists laying “dead on the battlefield,” (Lester, 2010: 156).

By May 14, the third phase of the North Vietnamese attempt to capture An Loc was completely and utterly defeated by South Vietnam with the help of U.S. air support. The losses incurred by the North Vietnamese were so enormous that another attack was no longer possible (Duong, 2008: 157). Thus, the worst fighting of the battle at An Loc was over. The ARVN had won, and the communists had lost.

The following month saw the ARVN carry out search and destroy operations in and around An Loc to clear the area of communist presence, a task made much easier with the help of U.S. air support (Duong, 2008: 157-58). By the latter portion of May, the majority of communist anti-air defenses were eliminated from the vicinity of An Loc, and in the early part of June, helicopters were able to land for medivac and resupplying (Lester, 2010: 56).

The victory of the South Vietnamese would be marked on the afternoon of June 12, with the raising of the national flag at the top of Dong-Long Hill. The President of South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu, would fly to An Loc on July 7, 1972 “to honor the ARVN heroes who had fought the biggest battle of the Vietnam War,” (Duong, 2008: 158).

The Significance of An Loc

The Battle of An Loc was the biggest battle of the Vietnam War, an engagement in which the allied forces of South Vietnam and U.S. air support crushed the invading forces of the North Vietnamese. As shown earlier in the article, the North Vietnamese outnumbered the South Vietnamese threefold, with a mere 7,500 South Vietnamese defenders up against 21,000 communist invaders. Despite these odds, and to not underplay the substantial help of U.S. air support, the South Vietnamese were able to hold An Loc against the invaders, dealing staggering blows to the communists. By the measures of former ARVN officer Van Nguyen Duong, the North Vietnamese lost five times more than the South Vietnamese overall in the Easter Offensive, with a large portion of these losses coming from An Loc (Duong, 2008: 159). At An Loc alone, communist losses amounted to 6,500 dead, compared to 2,300 South Vietnamese killed in action (Lester, 2010: 56).

In the words of George J. Veith, “the heroic defense of An Loc in 1972 had been the most glorious South Vietnamese feat of arms of the war,” (Veith, 2012: 257). For all its glory, An Loc is by no means the only momentous victory achieved by the ARVN. At Kontum, as well as Quang Tri, and in the entire failed communist Easter Offensive, the North Vietnamese forces were not only “convincingly defeated,” but at times “badly mauled” by the South Vietnamese (Thi, 2009: 220). This point is raised here for the purpose of demonstrating the effectiveness of the ARVN as a fighting force, and to dispute the longstanding fallacy that South Vietnam’s armed forces were built of cowards, deserters, and incompetents.

Adding to this point of unfair treatment of South Vietnam by the U.S. media, it will be pointed out here that, despite the scale of the battle and the significance of its victory, the Battle of An Loc was largely ignored by the western media (Thi, 2009: 2). Reason for this omission comes from the fact that admitting to the fighting mettle of the ARVN and victory at “An Loc would contradict the U.S. media’s basic premise that the war cannot be won because the ARVN was a corrupt and ineffective fighting force,” (Thi, 2009: 5). In short, the media tried to weave a false narrative to slander the ARVN and South Vietnam throughout the entire war, and in so doing, refused to acknowledge the victory at An Loc (and every other South Vietnam victory, for that matter) because it would expose the media for the lie they have been cultivating for so long.

An Loc is not only a momentous and glorious victory against Communism, it is a reminder to the liberal media of the lies they have told to the American people for decades. Furthermore, the study of the Battle of An Loc is a stepping-stone for the gradual correction of biased media coverage of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. The lies that the leftists told during the Vietnam War era endured for decades following the war. It is only late in the last decade that the truth has begun to come out. In time, with more studies from the perspective of the South Vietnamese, a more balanced understanding of the Vietnam War will eventually emerge, and the deception of the leftist media will be brought to light, in all of its shame and disgust. In time, the courage, honor, and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese people will find its rightful place in history. Coverage of An Loc is just the beginning.

In the context of the war itself, An Loc is significant for a number of reasons. If An Loc were to fall to the communists, “Saigon would be shaken and Vietnamization would fail,” and so in order to save the war effort, to save South Vietnam, it was “of vital importance” to save An Loc (Duong, 2008: 153). Furthermore, as has already been mentioned, the victory at An Loc is damning evidence of the capability of the ARVN as a fighting force, despite what the leftist media tried to lead the world to think for decades. The South Vietnamese were brave, capable, and extremely deadly fighters, and, among the many examples of this fact, An Loc shines as one of the brightest. To conclude this portion of the essay, I will include a quote by Mike McDermott, a former U.S. paratrooper who served in Vietnam, and at An Loc:

“We who served with Advisory Team 163 will never forget our Vietnamese paratrooper brothers. They demonstrated a special kind of dedication and courage throughout the long years of the war that, for them, started in 1946 and ended in 1975. They were consistently tough and resilient no matter the odds they faced, the support they received, or their battlefield prospects… I pledged myself to a righteous cause… I and so many others were betrayed by the American government,” (McDermott, 2012: 4).

General Hung, the Hero of An Loc

Brigadier General Le Van Hung was the main commander who led the South Vietnamese in the fight at An Loc. While there were many heroes at An Loc, the scope of this essay will only be able to cover one, and who more fitting than the man who, under impossible odds, stood his ground, rallied his troops, and led the ARVN charge to victory in what some laud as the most important campaign of the Vietnam War (Schafer, 1999: 56).

In his account, Lam Quang Thi describes the sentiments of the ARVN soldiers towards General Hung, who is regarded highly by his soldiers, and viewed as the man who “undoubtedly” held together the “fabric” of An Loc’s defense against the extensively larger enemy forces (2009: 209). By the accounts of the ARVN soldiers who served under him, as well as the U.S. personnel who advised him, General Hung was a man who “never buckled,” was “always calm under pressure,” and “never panicked and was in full control of the situation,” (Thi, 2009: 2010).

Adding to this, and based on the findings, I will present the argument that General Hung was a courageous and fearless leader who was not afraid to die for his country and his soldiers. One fascinating display of dogged courage by General Hung and the ARVN took place during the first phase of the communist invasion on April 12, while the North was still on the attack in An Loc. As an NVA tank approached his command post, General Hung grabbed a grenade and prepared to throw it at the tank outside his bunker, before his fellow ARVN soldier, Col. Le Nguyen Vy, “emerged from the underground bunker,” shot a rocket at the tank and destroyed it himself (Thi, 2009: 89). A South Vietnamese television reporter, who covered the entire An Loc battle, recalled that during this confrontation, as the enemy tanks drew closer to his position, General Hung assured his staff that he will not let himself be captured alive, and gave them instructions on what to do should he need to commit suicide (Thi, 2009: 89).

Several days prior on April 9, when he was too busy to meet three South Vietnamese war reporters, he relayed a message to them via one of his men: “I will defend An Loc to the death, I will never come out of the city alive, if I lose it,” (Duong, 2008: 152). In the words of Thi, “Hung’s vow to his men that he would never be taken alive had galvanized the spirits of the defenders during the darkest hours of the siege,” (Thi, 2009: 209). His courage, determination, and leadership would give his soldiers the strength, not only to prevail, but to crush the communist invasion, by staggering margins. It is because of his courage that General Le Van Hung would be known in history as the Hero of An Loc.

General Hung vowed that he would never be captured alive by the communists, and, as is shown by the tragic end to the Vietnam War, he was a man of his word. To the very end, General Hung kept his promise, to his country, to his soldiers, and to his people.

On April 30, 1975, upon receiving word that the new president of South Vietnam, Duong Van Minh, had agreed to surrender to the communist North Vietnamese, General Le Van Hung killed himself (Duong, 2008: 220). With nothing more he can do, after giving everything he could possibly give for his country, General Hung did the only thing he could do, and that was to give his life in honor of his nation.

General Hung was not the only person who committed suicide that day. Four other high-ranking South Vietnamese military leaders, Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam, Brigadier General Tran Van Hai, Brigadier General Le Nguyen Vy, and Major General Pham Van Phu, had all taken their lives that day (Duong, 2008: 220). Furthermore, many other high-ranking commanders, air force officers, low-ranking officers, NCOs, and even enlisted soldiers chose to die with their country on that Black April Day (Veith, 2012: 496; Duong, 2008: 220). Rather “than escape or prison,” (Veith, 2012: 496), and “With dignity, they sacrificed their lives for the honor of their land, regime, and army,” (2008: 220). Le Van Hung, along with these soldiers, and so many others, represents the courage, honor, and sacrifice of the nation of South Vietnam. We must never forget.

Closing Statement

South Vietnam was a nation of freedom, human rights, and national defense. Moreover, South Vietnam was a nation of heroes and patriots. On this day, April 30, 2017, we remember the fallen nation, its brave soldiers, and its people. We are proud to hail from that nation of South Vietnam.

Always and forever, we will carry on its legacy.

 

Sources:

Duong, Van Nguyen. The Tragedy of the Vietnam War: A South Vietnamese Officer’s Analysis. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2008.

Lester, Gary. Review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Offensive and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam, by Lam Quang Thi. Air Power History (2010): 56.

McDermott, Mike. True Faith and Allegiance: An American Paratrooper and the 1972 Battle for An Loc. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press. 2012.

Schafer, John C. “Phan Nhat Nam and the Battle of An Loc.” Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 13 (1999): 53-75.

Thi, Lam Quang. Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Offensive and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam. Denton: University of North Texas Press. 2009.

Veith, George J. Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975. New York: Encounter Books. 2012.

 

Here’s Some Artwork/Wallpaper for the Coming Black April Day

Posted in Art, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by Ian Pham

FFVN Main

Hello all.

I generally don’t like making promises ahead of time, but in this case, I’ll make a exception. The promise is that I will be making a post for this coming Black April Day, April 30, 2017. It’s kind of a given, since that day is monumentally significant to us Vietnamese people. However, I am going to verify it here, and say that yes, there will indeed be an article written and published for Black April Day 2017.

In the meantime, here is some artwork that you can put as your laptop’s background wallpaper, or have it as your profile picture on Facebook or wherever else on social media, or simply save it just because.

The pictures are self-explanatory. They are commemorative and honoring of the fallen nation of South Vietnam, and all of the men and women who gave their lives fighting for that nation’s freedom, against the Communist North, and against the Chinese. At least there was one Vietnamese nation in modern history that had the gull to stand up to the Chinese, am I right? That nation was South Vietnam, by the way, for all my friends who haven’t connected the dots.

Well, without further ado, here are the artworks, which come in two languages: English and Vietnamese.

Enjoy.

#1: “Never Forget”

April A

#2: “Never Forget (Vietnamese)”

April B

#3: “We Remember”

April C

#4: “We Remember (Vietnamese)”

April D

If you like, use one (or more) of these as your profile picture on your social media accounts and/or share with your friends and family as a way to commemorate and spread awareness about April 30 and its significance to the overseas Vietnamese communities.

Cheers.

 

UPDATE:

To access the artwork on Facebook, click here!

A Brief Remark on this 43rd Anniversary of the Battle of Hoang Sa

Posted in Modern History, Opinions, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by Ian Pham

ffvn-instagram

Photo via instagram (freedomforvietnam)

Hello All,

I don’t have too much time to chat. Here is a brief statement regarding this 43rd anniversary of the January 19, 1974 naval confrontation between us (South Vietnam) and the invaders (China).

Via Freedom For Vietnam’s instagram:

Today, January 19, 2017, marks the 43rd anniversary of the battle of the Paracel islands. This battle was a clash between South Vietnam and the invading People’s Republic of China.

On the morning of January 19, 1974, after days of fruitless attempts to engage in dialogue with the intruding Chinese naval forces around Vietnam’s islands, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu authorized the South Vietnamese Navy to open fire on the Chinese forces. The ensuing battle lasted for about a half an hour, and caused significant damage to both sides. South Vietnam, then embroiled in war with the North Vietnamese, exhausted its naval capabilities in this brief confrontation with China.

As a result, China would overrun the Paracel islands in the days following the battle, and remain occupiers of that territory to this day.

Every year, we remember this day, and commemorate the South Vietnamese soldiers who gave their lives to protect Vietnam’s sovereignty over our islands in the eastern sea. It is because of them that the phrase “Paracel and Spratly belong to Vietnam” carries so much weight.

The courage, honor, and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese soldiers must never be forgotten.

Photo source:
http://vnafmamn.com/VietnamNavy_history.html

Lest we forget.

 

 

Follow ‘Freedom For Vietnam’ on Instagram

Posted in Announcements, Art with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by Ian Pham

ffvn-instagramImage by: Ian Pham / Freedom For Vietnam

Good news! As readers of Freedom For Vietnam, you can now follow this blog on Instagram.

The Freedom For Vietnam Instagram account was put into Beta testing a little earlier than last year (if by Beta testing, one means creating an account, not telling anyone about it, and then forgetting that it exists for the next 12 months), and is now ready to be officially unveiled to the public.

On top of providing you top quality content via this blog, Freedom For Vietnam will now be able to stay in touch with its readers through the magic of sharing pictures and emojis and stuff. Not only can you communicate with me by commenting on this blog like always, you can now also communicate with me through the Instagram photos’ comments section, try to slide into my DMs, and then have me not reply to your messages. It’ll be a grand old time!

Jokes aside, I am very excited to implement this new Instagram feature. I have some plans in store for you all, in terms of original social media content, which I will gradually unveil as they become ready. Moreover, I will be sharing existing quality content both from around the web and elsewhere, thus creating an amalgamation of personal and outside works, all as a means to exemplify the beauty and sophistication of Vietnamese history and culture. Hopefully, you will find the material enjoyable, educational, and inspirational.

If you have not seen the account yet, here is a rundown of what you’ve missed so far:

 

This beautiful and iconic photo was taken by Benjamin Vu on April 30, 2010 at Westminster, California, USA. Known among Vietnamese communities overseas as "Black April," April 30 is a day of commemoration for the fall of the nation of South Vietnam to the Communist North. Every year, on the 30th of April, Vietnamese communities across the free world gather to remember the former Republic of Vietnam, the brave soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the nation and its ideals of freedom and democracy, and the refugees who fled South Vietnam in the wake of the communist takeover and thereafter, in search of a better life. The year 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of Black April and the fall of Saigon. According to the photographer, the woman in the photo was in attendance at the memorial event in California, and was standing next to this Heritage and Freedom flag for a very long time. #Freedom #Memorial #SouthVietnam #Woman #Flag #Beauty #Photography #BlackApril #NoFilter (Via https://flic.kr/p/7XBtuA)

A post shared by Freedom For Vietnam (@freedomforvietnam) on

 

 

 

This is just the start.

Furthermore, just in case you are one of the people who stumbled upon this account within the past year, and had questions about its authenticity, your fears can now be alleviated. This account is legitimate, it is real, and is the official Instagram account of this here Freedom For Vietnam blog.

So, if you have a minute, pay a quick visit to the freedomforvietnam Instagram page above, give it a follow, like some pictures, make some comments, and tell your friends, families, and acquaintances. The more word gets out and the more followers this account receives, the farther our message of freedom will reach. We have an opportunity, not only to connect with the many vast Vietnamese communities all over the world, including within Vietnam, but also to reach everyone else at large, in all communities across the world.

I look forward to continuing to write for you all on here, and am now excited to provide you with awesome content in other social media outlets as well. Thank you so much for your continued support, words cannot describe the gratitude I have for all of you readers. Thank you!

Happy 2017, everyone. See you on Instagram.  🙂 ❤ 😀

What Jovie From the Movie “Elf” Taught Me About Courage and Leadership

Posted in Film, Music, Opinions, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by Ian Pham

zooey-deschanel-in-elfImage via Fanpop

This is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll give it a shot anyways.

First off, if you haven’t seen the movie “Elf,” there are going to be some spoilers ahead. Secondly, if you haven’t seen the movie “Elf,” you should do yourself a favor and check it out ASAP. Chances are high (basically 100%) that some channel on TV is playing it right now, as we speak, as I type this article, and then actually right now, as you read this article. It’s an incredible movie, full of laughs and whimsy and Will Ferrell being Will Ferrell at his comedic best.

I won’t give too much of the movie away, but there is one scene in the film where Buddy the Elf’s (Ferrell) love interest Jovie (played by Zooey Deschanel) steps up on a carriage and sings in front of a mob of people in Central Park. Her purpose in doing this is to bring up New York’s Christmas spirit so that Santa, Buddy, and the reindeers can follow through with their mission to save Christmas. It’s a zany, lighthearted, and adorable film that will surely either cheer you up or make your day even brighter than it already is.

Here’s the scene I am talking about. Give it a watch, and I will follow up with the discussion shortly after. But, before you press play, remember: SPOILERS are contained in the clip.

Pretty cute, right?

I won’t get too deep into the politics that I usually talk about, but I do want to point out this simple message that I received from this adorable movie: It only takes one brave voice to make something happen. It only takes one voice to start a change.

If you read this site often, you already know where I’m going with this.

And yes, I know it’s not as easy as I’m making it sound right now. Singing a song in the middle of Saigon or Hanoi won’t make the communist regime fall just like that. It’ll take more than a song to bring down the totalitarian communist dictatorship and bring freedom to Vietnam.

However, what I want to say is that if you are someone who has something to say to the communists in Vietnam, then go for it. It may not be as simple as singing a song to raise Christmas spirit for Santa’s sleigh, but, and I’m talking real life now, if you have a message that you believe people need to hear, if you want to speak out against the communists, then use your voice to break the silence.

Zooey Deschanel’s scene in “Elf” is just a lighthearted musical number in a fun comedy movie, but to me, it is a beautiful illustration of the idea that, with just one brave voice, something extraordinary can happen. One person with the courage to step up, speak up, and be the guiding light that leads a movement to accomplish something incredible and magical. In “Elf,” this incredible thing is saving Christmas, in our real world, it is saving Vietnam from Communism, and bringing freedom, democracy, and human rights to Vietnam.

In this real life scenario, Vietnam is our Christmas, and Jovie, that voice that breaks the silence, is a person we have not met yet, but is definitely out there somewhere.

To the Jovie of Vietnam, if you’re reading this, the world is waiting for you. Raise your voice, take a chance, and make something incredible happen. You can do it. Believe in yourself.

Well, that’s my motivational speech this Christmas.

Hopefully you’re all doing well, and, while I may not always have the time to write on here as much as I want to, my thoughts are always with you, and with Vietnam. I wish I got paid to write on here, but hey, you can’t get everything you ask for. Still, though, a guy can dream, right?

Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy Holidays, and have a Happy New Year!

See you in 2017.

Ian Pham.

China Disrespects President Obama at G20 Summit, Shows China Has ‘Little Man Syndrome’

Posted in Opinions, Politics with tags , , , on September 6, 2016 by Ian Pham

Obama G20 - 2016Photo via Daily Mail

According to multiple news outlets, China, the self-proclaimed “superpower” who is demanding that everyone in the world respect them, took it upon themselves to openly “snub” President Barack Obama at the G20 summit in Hangzhou this past weekend.

The Guardian details the event as follows:

Chinese leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack Obama after the US President was not provided with a staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20.

… When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there were heated altercations between US and Chinese officials, with one Chinese official caught on video shouting: “This is our country! This is our airport!”

From the same source, Mexican official Jorge Guajardo is quoted as saying: “These things do not happen by mistake. Not with the Chinese… I’ve dealt with the Chinese for six years. I’ve done these visits… I know exactly how these things get worked out. It’s down to the last detail and everything. It’s not a mistake. It’s not.”

The Telegraph provides a similar account, adding:

“All the other world leaders appeared to have been welcomed to the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in traditional diplomatic style, treading onto a red carpet laid on a rolling airport staircase outside the main exit of the aircraft.”

If you thought this was childish, and unbecoming of anything remotely close to the realm of “superpower” behavior, or the behavior of any self-respecting man or woman, for that matter, then you’re completely right.

This behavior is not the behavior of a civilized nation, a self-respecting nation, and definitely not the behavior of a nation who assumes the role of a world superpower.

I was disappointed and irritated by the news of what the Chinese did at the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, but I wasn’t surprised. They’ve done this before, numerous times, in numerous countries, in numerous different ways.

What the Chinese did to Obama in Hangzhou is just one example of China’s belittling attitude towards the international community, and another reason why China is not a superpower. Not even close.

China is bitter, insecure, and self-conscious at the fact that they are not a superpower. As a result, they are doing whatever they can to project the appearance of superpower. Sadly for them, in trying so hard to appear “superpower-ish”, they’re making themselves look very, very small.

It takes more than military might and economic clout to be a superpower (although America smashes China in both of these areas). To be a superpower, one does require these elements, but it takes so much more.

America is a superpower, not only because of her military and economic power. She is a superpower because of her superior ideals, her belief that all are created equal, and that we are all born with a set of inalienable rights that can never be taken away from us.

America is a superpower because she stands by these ideals, because she champions these ideals, and when abroad, her representative, exemplified in the form of President of the United States of America, adheres to these ideals, no matter how lowly and contemptible her adversary is willing to sink.

There are a number of ways President Obama could have handled this situation. For him, the decision was a graceful shrug, a smile, and a step above his unruly hosts.

In response to this incident, Obama replies that he “wouldn’t overcrank the significance,” according to Australian news outlet ABC Online.

I may not agree with everything Obama has done during his time in office, but the way he carried himself during this instance was pure class.

The Chinese tried to demonstrate their “strength” by trying to embarrass Obama publicly, and he rebutted them by simply reaffirming what the Chinese have already affirmed themselves: That the leaders of China are small men, with short fuses, and little understanding of the word “respect,” for others, and for themselves.

By shrugging off this rude gesture, Obama shows the world that he is too big to be fettered by such small actions. In maintaining his dignity, patience, and stature, Obama, without as much as saying a word on the subject, clearly explains why America is the world superpower, and why China is not, and never will be.

 

Brief Thoughts on the Formosa Disaster: The VCP Fails its People Yet Again… To No One’s Surprise

Posted in Economics, Opinions, Politics, Society with tags , , on July 11, 2016 by Ian Pham

Fish Deaths VietnamPhoto via Saigoneer

Folks, a lot has happened since the last time I’ve posted on here. I haven’t been able to provide coverage for them all, which sucks, but I would like to get us up to speed on some of the major issues here. I’m not sure how many issues I’ll be able to cover. I only know that there are some issues which I would love to chime in on. The Formosa issue is one that I feel the need to provide insight on, and that is what I will talk about today.

This problem has been brewing since early April of this year, with things finally boiling over by the end of that month and then beyond. The “Taiwanese” company Formosa Plastics Group has been in the hot seat for its role in contaminating Vietnam’s ocean waters, causing massive deaths of marine life, as well as considerable human life, along the country’s central coast.

The damage is so extensive that Vietnam’s fishing industry, its coastal waters, and the lives of millions of Vietnamese people will never be the same again. The livelihoods and means of survival of so many Vietnamese men and women have been taken away from them, Vietnam’s already damaged economy will only plummet further, and many Vietnamese lives have already been and continue to be lost due to poisoned water and fish.

One big thing I want to note about this horrible disaster is Formosa’s deliberateness in the whole issue. Formosa has made it no secret that they were both aware and willing to dump these exorbitant amounts of toxic waste into Vietnam’s waters, with no regard for the safety of Vietnam’s wildlife, habitat, or population.

The most notorious example of Formosa’s attitude comes from one of their officials’ audacious response to the crisis, saying the Vietnamese people must either choose between the steel industry or the fish industry, but they can’t have both (The Diplomat). Furthermore, the same source says that Formosa explicitly invested $45 million into that toxic waste dumping system, and, Formosa argued, since they already paid for it, feel they are entitled to dump in whatever means they see fit. They, Formosa, sought to destroy Vietnam’s environment, and, to the surprise of no one, Vietnam’s government was, and is happy to let them do it.

Whether it is from fear, incompetence, shameful obedience, or all of the above and more, the Vietnamese Communist Party has been slow and reluctant to respond to the Formosa disaster. Both in terms of helping Vietnam’s affected victims, and in holding the perpetrators responsible, the VCP has done little to step in and do its job in response to Formosa’s deliberate destruction of Vietnam’s land. It comes as no surprise, though. The VCP has been failing its people for this long, and there’s absolutely no hope in my eyes that they would ever step up and stop humiliating themselves or stop humiliating the people of Vietnam. The communists are cowards. It’s who they are, it’s who their fathers were, and it’s who their children will be.

In response to the massive backlash by Vietnam’s population, Formosa has claimed responsibility for the disaster, and offered a measly $500 million for the irreparable damage they had caused to the people of Vietnam and their country (Reuters). The damage thus far includes over 100 tons of dead fish (Asia Times), deaths of many, many Vietnamese people including fishermen and consumers of fish, the resulting broken families, devastated ocean waters and overall environment, and a fishing industry that may never recover.

Just so there is no mistake: $500 million is nowhere near enough to compensate the amount of damage caused by Formosa to the people of Vietnam. To put it in perspective, we may look at another environmental disaster: the BP Oil Spill along the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

In that disaster, which was an accident, a rig explosion caused a massive oil spill in the Macondo Prospect, located in the Gulf of Mexico (southeastern U.S., northeastern Mexico) (EPA). The environmental impact of this disaster was huge, and when the dust and smoke had settled, British Petroleum, the company responsible, was forced to pay up to $56 billion in fines, compensation, and cleanup (DoSomething.org). The settlement alone costs BP $20 billion, according to DW.com. In this disaster, the parties responsible were held accountable, everyone worked promptly to deal with and fix the issue, it was an accident, and, with the exception of the 11 workers who died in the initial accident, no further human lives were lost. Also, the compensation, which I repeat here, was worth $56 billion. That’s Billion, with a B.

By contrast, this Formosa disaster in Vietnam killed many Vietnamese people, destroyed over 100 tons of marine wildlife, was done deliberately by the offenders, who only admitted their faults eventually due to public outrage, and, even now, there is still no real solution to the death and destruction it has caused. The Vietnamese government has done absolutely nothing in response, besides happily accepting the money Formosa has offered to them, which is only $500 million. That’s Million, with an M. This money is not going to the victims of the disaster, but instead is being allocated to what the VCP is calling “future development,” which we all know really means their personal bank accounts.

Let me once again take a minute to talk about the compensation.

BP Oil Spill (U.S., 2010): accident, zero human casualties (besides the 11 BP employees), promptly handled, $56 billion costs in fines, compensations, and cleanup.

Formosa (Vietnam, 2016): deliberate, massive human casualties, still not handled, $500 million offer by Formosa to compensate (which the government is keeping).

Just so we’re clear: $56 billion / $500 million = 112

British Petroleum paid 112 times more to the U.S. for their accidental disaster than Formosa paid to the people of Vietnam, even though the Formosa Disaster of 2016 was deliberate and is astronomically more devastating than the BP Oil Spill of 2010.

That is why I say $500 million is a measly sum.

For a disaster of this scale, $500 million does nothing to compensate the myriad of people affected, the environment destroyed, or the lives lost. The Vietnamese Communist Party is stupid to accept it, but what else is new? They get to keep the money anyway, so in their eyes, it’s not about the worth of the disaster. In their eyes: “IT’S $500 MILLION, GUYS!!!” which goes straight into their pockets.

Out of this horrific disaster, the VCP did nothing to protect or help their people. All they did was make another measly profit off of the suffering and humiliation of their country and its people. They, the communists, are shameful. They are bastards. They are deserving of neither forgiveness nor remorse. They are communists, and they deserve to die.

That is why I say the Formosa Disaster is another failure by the Communist Party to the people of Vietnam.

At this point, though, what more can we expect from a communist? Just when we think it couldn’t get any worse with the communists, it does. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sink even lower in the future. This is the sad state of Vietnam today, people. The only way to change this sad situation is to change the regime. I’ve said it before, and I say it again now: The Communists need to go, and they need to go now.