Archive for ARVN

Original Wallpaper/Art Commemorating South Vietnam and the ARVN

Posted in Art, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Flag & Motto WallpaperImage by: Ian Pham/Freedom For Vietnam

Last month, Friday, June 19, 2015, was the 50th anniversary of South Vietnam’s National Armed Forces Day (“Ngày Quân Lực Việt Nam Cộng Hòa” in Vietnamese), a day to commemorate and thank the brave soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam for their sacrifices in defense of the former nation’s freedom. The day was celebrated annually in South Vietnam, and after the nation’s fall on April 30, 1975, it would be carried over and celebrated by Vietnamese refugees overseas.

Although I did not get a chance to write about that day at the time it took place, I still want to share with you all my own small way of honoring the sacrifice of South Vietnam’s brave soldiers.

I made the above picture myself, sort of, using my ultra basic computer animation/Photoshop skills. Before explaining the details of this self-explanatory picture, I must first give credit to the 720mpreunion.org website from which I acquired the image for the flag of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the centerpiece of this art/wallpaper. I did not draw that flag myself, but merely included it as part of my design. So, with credit given where credit is due, let’s talk about the picture.

As explained above, the emblem in the picture is the flag of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It is headed by an eagle, clasping two swords in each claw, surrounded by two laurel wreaths, and carrying the Coat of Arms of South Vietnam on its chest. Behind the eagle are the three horizontal red stripes of South Vietnam’s national flag, which represents the three regions of Vietnam: The North, the Central, and the South.

Under the eagle is a banner that reads:

Tổ Quốc, Danh Dự, Trách Nhiệm,”

This is the official motto of the Republic of Vietnam and its armed forces, and in English means:

Fatherland, Honor, Duty.”

This takes us to the part of the wallpaper/art that I actually worked on myself. The yellow background, and the prominent, in-your-face, black-colored writing in English that reads, “Fatherland. Honor. Duty.” That was all me, people. Pretty crazy, right?

I know the design is simple, but I think it conveys the message strongly.

South Vietnam and its armed forces had a proud and noble motto. They fought by it, and they died by it. The Republic of Vietnam was a democratic nation that championed the rights and freedoms of its citizens. The ARVN defended their country with courage, pride, and dignity. It is because of these reasons that even after 40 years since the nation’s fall, we still honor this nation and its brave soldiers.

We are proud of our South Vienamese legacy, and we will remember the courage and sacrifice that its soldiers made in defense of our freedom.

To the soldiers of the ARVN, from all freedom-loving Vietnamese people everywhere, we thank you.

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Here is the Movie Trailer for “Ride The Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Victory & Betrayal”

Posted in Film, Modern History, Politics, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2015 by Ian Pham

Here is the trailer for the new major motion picture, “Ride The Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Victory and Betrayal,” produced and directed by Fred Koster, and executive produced by Richard Botkin.

So, what do ya think? Pretty incredible, right?

Ride The Thunder Movie PosterOfficial movie poster via Ride The Thunder Movie

Here is the synopsis, according to the official website:

“Ride The Thunder” is the true heroic story of a friendship between American Military Legend, John Ripley and Vietnamese Hero, Le Ba Binh. The storyline follows their fight together against the communists during the Vietnam War and then the ensuing aftermath of the fall of Vietnam as Ripley goes home to a divided America and Binh is imprisoned in a communist re-education camp.

Since the movie’s limited release, “Ride The Thunder” has trumped its big-name Hollywood competitors in respective theaters, ranking #1 in America for box office ticket sales during its opening weekend. The movie is continuing to expand to theaters across the United States.

Fred Koster, the film’s producer and director, explains the coming challenges for the film:

“It’s exciting to see the movie expanding across the United States but we know that as an independent film we have challenges ahead in promoting to a wide national audience on a limited marketing budget.  It is simple, where we market well we do great, where we don’t market well we struggle.  People will only come to see our film if they know about it.”

There you have it, the continued success of the film depends on our support. Tell your friends, tell your family members, and let others know about the movie through social media (Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social network doohickeys you crazy kids are using these days). Most importantly, make some plans to go see the film when it comes to your area. You can demand it in your area here, let the producers know to come to your town!

Above, in this article, is the official movie poster for “Ride The Thunder.” Download it at the official website.

I absolutely can’t wait to see this movie.

This U.S. Marine’s Book “Ride The Thunder” Tells the True Story of the Vietnam War, Is Now a Major Motion Picture

Posted in Books, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by Ian Pham

Ride The ThunderImage via Ride The Thunder Movie

Richard Botkin is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and the author of the groundbreaking history book Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph. He is also the executive producer of the new motion picture with the same name, debuting in theaters last March and kicking off its nationwide release just this past May. Both Botkin’s literary and theatrical works tell the story of the Vietnam War, as it should be told, describing the true valor and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese and American soldiers against the communist forces in Southeast Asia.

Serving in the USMC from 1980 to 1983 and then 12 years in the reserves, according to Tami Jackson, Botkin’s service “post-dates the Vietnam War.” However, despite this, “many of the men who mentored Rich Botkin, heroes he greatly admires, were Vietnam veterans.” As a result, Botkin has made it his mission to tell the true story of the Vietnam War, and “restore the rightful honor due those Americans and South Vietnamese who served there…”

Ride The Thunder BookImage via WND

Botkin accomplishes this endeavor first through the authoring of his book, Ride the Thunder, published on July 13, 2009, which tells the story of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States. As a source for Vietnam War research, Botkin’s 652-page book, in Jackson’s words, “is the culmination of 5 years of writing, 1 year of editing, 4 trips to Vietnam,” and “thousands of hours interviewing American and South Vietnamese Marines.”

According to Amazon, “Ride the Thunder reveals the heroic, untold story of how Vietnamese Marines and their US advisers fought valiantly, turning the tide of an unpopular war and actually winning – while Americans 8,000 miles away were being fed only one version of the story.” Goodreads declares that “Richard Botkin’s book provides a fresh, provocative look at the Vietnam War and the heroic warriors who fought it.”

Now, after four years of filmmaking, Richard Botkin’s next step in telling the true story of the war in Vietnam has finally reached fruition. “Ride The Thunder,” the new major motion picture, directed by Fred Koster, has made it to the big screen, enjoying a resoundingly successful premier this past March in Westminster, Southern California. The reception has been so incredibly positive and widespread that the film is currently being released nation-wide across the United States.

I have yet to see the movie, but am very much looking forward to it. The trailer for it looks absolutely amazing. I plan to post it here, too. It’s just so good that I think it deserves its own article, which will be up here in a couple days or so, possibly sooner. In the meantime, you can enjoy the trailer by following this link, and maybe make some weekend plans to go see the movie if it’s in your area.

I’m getting a little too excited for this.

Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2015 by Ian Pham

KontumPhotograph via Steve Shepard/The Battle of Kontum

Wettemann Jr., Robert P. Review of Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, by Thomas P. McKenna. Oral History Review 39, no. 2 (2012): 387-389.

Thomas P. McKenna served in the Vietnam War as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During the U.S. drawdown in 1972, McKenna was still fighting alongside the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), taking on the invading North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at the Battle of Kontum. His book provides a firsthand account of the fighting at Kontum, where the ARVN and their remaining U.S. allies would once again ward off an invading NVA force three times their size.

Robert P. Wettemann Jr. provides a review of McKenna’s book, offering some valuable insight into yet another military achievement by the ARVN and their U.S. allies. Also taking place during the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in the spring of 1972, the Battle of Kontum saw the South Vietnamese, with the support of the few U.S. forces still in Vietnam, foil another attempt by the communists to overtake the South. The brunt of the fighting took place in the last two weeks in May of 1972, where, in the words of Wettemann, “… a single ARVN division held off the equivalent of three divisions of North Vietnamese soldiers…”

A concise summary of McKenna’s book is presented in Wettemann’s source. Opening with the steady departure of U.S. forces as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, Wettemann’s review of Kontum gives coverage of the various stages of the battle, all the way up to the ARVN’s successful elimination of the NVA from the city.

As an academic resource, Wettemann’s review of Thomas P. McKenna’s book provides useful information on the Battle of Kontum, and gives readers some much-needed insight into the points of views of the ARVN and their U.S. allies. The South Vietnamese soldiers and their American advisors fought valiantly at Kontum to crush the North Vietnamese invasion. In authoring this review, Robert P. Wettemann Jr. helps tell this true story of another understated military success by the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States.

Annotated Bibliography: Gary Lester’s Book Review of “Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam” by Lam Quang Thi

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Photo, An Loc BattleImage via Amazon

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

Dr. Gary Lester’s review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam provides a concise and informative summary of former ARVN General Lam Quang Thi’s book. According to Lester, “Hell in An Loc is an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during its moment of great crisis in the spring of 1972…” It was then that the U.S. was steadily drawing down its forces in Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese built up their forces for an ambitious military operation to overrun South Vietnam.

In his review, Lester presents many insightful information from General Thi’s book, such as the details of North Vietnam’s 1972 Easter Offensive, a massive military campaign that was even larger than the Tet Offensive of 1968. The enemy’s “three-pronged” operation would find its way to the town of An Loc, where South Vietnam’s 5th Division, consisting of only 7,500 soldiers, confronted and repelled a 21,000-strong North Vietnamese onslaught.

Facing a massive invading force three times their size, the outnumbered ARVN forces incurred losses of 2,300 deaths, while dealing a crushing blow to the North Vietnamese Army, who suffered a loss of 6,500 deaths at the hands of the South Vietnamese. The attack on An Loc lasted from April to August of 1972, ending with the successful defense of the town by the ARVN against the invading North. The ARVN forces were provided with powerful air support from their remaining U.S. allies, who, along with the South Vietnamese Air Force, dealt heavy damage to enemy tanks and artillery.

An important note that Lester pinpoints in his review is the valor and bravery displayed by the “too often voiceless” soldiers of South Vietnam, in a significant battle that was largely ignored by American media. An Loc’s omission from America’s news coverage is an important point acknowledged in Lester’s review, a vivid example of the media’s bias towards the Republic of Vietnam, and how the Southern point of view is methodically neglected and distorted by the majority of Western journalists. Lam Quang Thi’s account of the Battle of An Loc, in the words of Gary Lester, “is a testimony to the courage and bravery of the ARVN garrison at An Loc. The book tells the South Vietnamese side of the story and renders justice to the South Vietnamese soldiers who withstood ninety-four days of horror and prevailed.”

Reading Lester’s review alone, one gains great insight into the Battle of An Loc, as well as a clearer understanding of the Vietnam War, a hotly debated subject in which South Vietnam and the ARVN are almost always misrepresented.

Black April: The Final Hours

Posted in IV. Columns, Modern History with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2014 by Ian Pham

Five GeneralsIn the final days of the Vietnam War, with the fall of the South being all but eminent, many members of the Republic of Vietnam, both citizens and public officials, made the decision to die with their country, rather than to witness or acknowledge the entrance of Communist regime. From politicians, to military leaders and soldiers, and even ordinary citizens, all were more content with death than to pledge their allegiances to the red flag of Communism.

The heartbreak and harrow in the final hours of the Vietnam War can be most famously told through the eyes of five great ARVN generals. On that day, April 30, 1975, each of these men ended their own lives at different hours of the day, after saying their respective farewells to their loved ones, their fellow commanders, and their faithful soldiers. In these final hours, the valor and desperation that came to encompass the Southern experience were front and center. Though this brief article only covers the suicides of five ARVN generals, it cannot be stressed enough that on that day, April 30, 1975, many South Vietnamese took their own lives rather than surrender to the Communists.

Brigadier General Tran Van Hai,

7th Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN): Midnight, April 30, 1975

TranVanHaiAt approximately 12:00 am, April 30, 1975, Brigadier General Tran Van Hai of the 7th Infantry Division committed suicide at the Dong Tam military base in My Tho City, Dinh Tuong Province. On the previous day, the general called upon all of his officers for one last meeting, where he thanked them for their faithful service, and gave a final order for all of them to go home and be with their families. It was on April 29th that the provisional president Duong Van Minh issued the official surrender to the Communist North. With the war all but lost, Brig. Gen. Tran Van Hai gave warm parting words to his men, taking some time and enjoying a few short and meaningful conversations with his soldiers.

Later that night, one of Hai’s overly concerned officers found the general in his office, motionless, with a glass of water on the table, signifying that he had poisoned himself. Earlier that week, President Nguyen Van Thieu offered to fly Tran Van Hai to Saigon, but the general refused. Before his death, the general left a small parcel for his mother containing some money and a few of his personal items. This was his final gift to her. For the nation, he gave his life.

Brigadier General Le Nguyen Vy,

5th Infantry Division, ARVN: 11:00 am, April 30, 1975

LeNguyenVyAt 11:00 am on the same day, Brigadier General Le Nguyen Vy of the 5th Infantry Division died by his own gun as his final act of loyalty. With the higher command issuing the order for the South to surrender, General Vy shot himself that following morning. His place of death was the 5th Division Headquarters at Lai Khe, his original area of deployment.

General Le Nguyen Vy was considered among the many talented young commanders of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. His courageous and outstanding performance at the Battle of An Loc in 1972, a major Southern victory over the North, gained him great distinction within the ranks. Up until the time of his death, Vy was considered an exceptional regimental commander.

Brigadier General; Deputy Commander Le Van Hung,

5th Infantry Division; 21st Infantry Division; IV Corps; MR4, ARVN: 8:45 pm, April 30, 1975

LeVanHungLe Van Hung is one of the most renowned and admired figures of the RVN Army, and of South Vietnam in general. Like Le Nguyen Vy, General Hung also fought brilliantly at the Battle of An Loc. Le Van Hung was the Commander of the 5th Division at An Loc, with Le Nguyen Vy acting as his Deputy Commander. He would later be promoted to the IV Corps of ARVN, acting as the Deputy Commander to Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam. Lauded as the “Hero of An Loc,” General Hung was one of the brightest stars of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, dealing great damage to the Communist forces up until his final days. He famously stated that, “As long as I’m still alive, An Loc will remain standing,” a promise he had honored to the very end.

General Hung took his own life at approximately 8:45 pm, April 30, 1975. Before then, General Hung’s forces still kept hold of the city of Can Tho, and were planning to fight to their very last breath, their very last bullet. However, the threat of Northern reprisal forced Hung’s hand, as the frightened and exhausted residents of Can Tho themselves begged him not to resist the Communists any longer. Respecting their wishes, General Le Van Hung decided to stand down. However, the general would not be content with just a simple surrender.

Summoning his military staff, his wife, and his children, the general bid all those around him a sad farewell, before taking his own life in private, with his .45 pistol. At around 6:00 pm, the general’s forces were still bent on fighting. By 9:00 pm, the general was dead. Along with his ARVN compatriots, the general had taken his own life, in honor of his country, and in honor of his people.

Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam,

IV Corps; MR4, ARVN: Late April 30-Early Morning May 1, 1975

One of the last generals to take his own life on that 30th of April, Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam too had shot himself rather than surrender to the Communists. Earlier in the day, the Major had talked on the phone with his Deputy Commander Le Van Hung, before the latter killed himself. After saying his last goodbyes to his general staff, and a heartfelt commiseration to General Hung’s wife, the Major ended his own life, sometime between the final hours of Black April and the early hours of May 1, 1975.

NguyenKhoaNamAccording to the wife of General Le Van Hung, both generals Nam and Hung were in communication with each other throughout that 30th of April. The two men had, for some time, been planning for a prolonged counteroffensive that would carry on even after the fall of Saigon. However, with the official surrender of Duong Van Minh, followed then by General Hung’s acceptance not to fight at the behest of the people of Can Tho, and ultimately with his death at 8:45 pm, the guerrilla strategy was never executed.

The two men lost contact with each other in the latter part of April 30th, and upon receiving news of Hung’s death, General Nam was finally able to contact Mrs. Hung to express his condolences. Though he did not give his final goodbyes to Mrs. Hung, she recalls having premonitions that General Nam would kill himself, just like her husband had done. At around 7:00 am on May 1, 1975, news of Nam’s death had reached Mrs. Hung, and her fears were realized.

Major General Pham Van Phu,

II Corps; MR2, ARVN: Morning-Daytime, April 30, 1975

PhamVanPhuFrom the fragmented sources available on General Pham Van Phu’s final hours, it can only be told that the commander committed suicide honorably like the other four generals, doing so in the city of Saigon, sometime between the morning and midday.

Though coverage on General Phu is regrettably thin, it should be understood that the brave general is considered one of the five great ARVN generals to commit suicide on Black April, the 30th day of 1975.

The Commemoration

To their very last breaths, these five generals fought bravely to defend their motherland. Rather than betraying the nation they had fought for, or suffer the humiliation of pledging their loyalties to the Communist regime, these men chose instead to end their own lives, with honor, and with dignity.

As I have said before, these men were not the only ones to commit suicide in honor of their nation. Countless others, from high ranking government and military officials, to the low ranking Non-Commissioned Officers of ARVN, and even the everyday citizen who would rather die than to see his or her country fall into the destructive grips of Communism, all of them chose death alongside their country.

While thousands of men and women took their own lives as a final act of loyalty to the fleeting South, millions of others departed from the shores of Vietnam to distant lands across the seas. Though suicide was not their intention, many South Vietnam refugees lost their lives during their escape from the Communist sphere, either at sea, in Communist detention, or in the refugee camps.

This brief article is written to commemorate the brave men and women who took their own lives to honor the ideals of a free and democratic Vietnam. This article is also here to commemorate the brave souls who gave their lives fighting for this free and democratic Vietnam. They did it for their nation, but they also did it for us. This article then aims to thank and commemorate the brave men and women who braved the violent ocean waves, risking their lives, and traveling all the way across the Earth so that a younger generation of Vietnamese men and women can live under the skies of freedom and justice.

On this day, April 30, 2014, we take a moment to remember all that have died fighting for Vietnam’s freedom. They gave their heart and their bodies, and in the end, they gave their lives.

In different ways, all have contributed to this beautiful aspiration of a free and democratic Vietnam. One day, this dream will be realized.

We will never forget.

Honor, Courage, and Sacrifice: The Fight for Hoàng Sa, 1974

Posted in IV. Columns, Modern History with tags , , , , , , on January 30, 2014 by Ian Pham

hoangsa_pic1The People’s Republic of China’s encroachment into the Hoàng Sa archipelago began on January 16, 1974. The infamous standoff that ensued lasted until January 19, culminating in a fierce naval confrontation between the RVN and the PRC. On that day, under the orders of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, Vice Admiral Hồ Văn Kỳ Thoại and the South Vietnamese Navy opened fire on the Chinese warships, sinking one Chinese ship before losing one of their own in a battle that lasted less than one hour.

Seventy-four South Vietnamese soldiers went down fighting in this battle. Among the fallen was one Captain Ngụy Văn Thà. Though it helped force the Chinese retreat, the Captain’s vessel, the Hải Quân 10, was too badly damaged for retrieval. As a final order, Ngụy commanded his troops to evacuate the sinking warship and return safely to the harbor. With the exit of his crew, the commander waited patiently for death, as two more PLAN ships were returning for him and HQ10.

HQVN27In his final hours, the commander was joined by two of his crewmen. Resolved to die alongside their fearless captain, the two sailors disregarded those orders to abandon ship. Along with two of his most loyal naval officers, Captain Ngụy Văn Thà went down with his faithful ship. His story signifies the greater sacrifice that the Vietnamese soldiers made in the name of freedom and independence.

They knew they were outnumbered, and they knew they were were going to die. But even with that in mind, the soldiers of the South Vietnamese Navy went down fighting to the very end.

They were patriots, fighting for their country and their people. The RVN Navy’s actions demonstrate that even though Vietnam is a small nation, it cannot and will not stand idly by while its larger neighbor tries to steal away its territory.

HQVN1In taking a stand against the Chinese, South Vietnam reinforced its sovereignty over the islands of Hoàng Sa. For future generations, this battle will be a symbol of Vietnam’s courage and resilience. The battle signified the defense of territory that has for centuries been under the control of the Vietnamese.

Those soldiers that gave their lives did so with honor and courage. Their actions reverberate in the hearts of every Vietnamese patriot to this day, and will do so for decades, even centuries to come.

Last week, I tried to encompass the significance of the Hoàng Sa Battles in one single post. Needless to say, that blew up in my face. I know full well that I can’t do these men justice here, because to fully encapsulate their courage and sacrifice in a single article is simply impossible. I couldn’t do it for Brother Việt Dzũng, and I sure as shoot won’t sure be able to do it here.

All I can do here is make known the sacrifices that these soldiers have made for us all. With fierce and noble hearts, these soldiers did not yield to the Chinese threat. They fought, they made a stand, and they saw to it that the virtue of the Vietnamese people are forever enshrined in history.

To that, I commend them. To the sound of 21 guns bursting into the ocean air, I honor the courage and sacrifice of these soldiers. We will remember, always.

A salute!