Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Vinh Ho, June 18, 2022

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:32 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: Alright, so what province were you born in, in Vietnam?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about his early life in Vietnam, explaining that he was born in Khánh Hòa Province in the middle of southern Vietnam, which was in the military Zone 2 and 3. He says he was born in 1962 and remembers hiding from bombing during the night as a young child. His family moved to Ban Mê Thuột because his father was in the military and the family moved frequently.

Keywords: Ban Mê Thuot (Vietnam); Bombings; Chinese Zodiac; Civilians; Military zones; South Vietnam; Year of the Tiger

Subjects: Buôn Mê Thuột (Vietnam); Khánh Hòa (Vietnam : Province); Military families; Nha Trang (Vietnam); Vietnam

GPS: Khánh Hòa Province, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 12.2585, 109.0526
GPS: Nha Trang, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 12.2529, 109.1899
GPS: Ban Mê Thuột, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 12.6662, 108.0382
00:02:57 - Fathers military service

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Partial Transcript: My mom was moving around with him.

Segment Synopsis: Vinh Ho explains his father's position in the Southern Vietnamese military

Keywords: Army of the Republic of Vietnam; South Vietnam

Subjects: Draft; Military police

00:05:44 - Mother and siblings

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Partial Transcript: What did your mom do?

Segment Synopsis: Ho explains the caretaking role that his mother had while he was a child. Additionally, he discusses his siblings and the relationship he had with them throughout his childhood.

Keywords: Fathers; Housewives; Mothers; Siblings

Subjects: Families

00:07:21 - School in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: What sort of school did you go to?

Segment Synopsis: Ho recounts that he attended the public school system in Vietnam. He describes his elementary school as a ‘village school’ and mentions that he studied math and literature, but not much science. In sixth grade he began studying English at the high school run by the county.

Keywords: Elementary schools; High schools; Schools; Village schools

Subjects: Education; English language; Vietnam; Villages

00:09:22 - First time interacting with Americans

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Partial Transcript: Um, what was the first time you met an American?

Segment Synopsis: Vinh Ho talks about his experiences interacting with American soldiers as a young child.

Keywords: American Soldiers; Cam Sành; King Orange; Military housing; Vietnamese orange

Subjects: Soldiers; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:12:13 - Vietnamese cuisine while growing up in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: What other sorts of food did you eat when you were a kid?

Segment Synopsis: Vinh Ho talks discusses various dishes that he and his family regularly ate growing up in Vietnam, including the types of meats and dishes that were prominent where he lived. He ate lots of rice, seafood, sometimes pork and rarely beef, and a vegetable soup. He explains that chicken tasted differently because the chickens lived in backyards and that factory-farm chicken in the United States tastes much worse.

Keywords: Free-range poultry; Seafood; Vietnamese cuisine

Subjects: Vietnam

00:14:20 - Moving around Vietnam for his fathers military service

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Partial Transcript: So, um, your dad moved around with the war I guess.

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the places he moved with his Father and Mother, while his father was serving in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). He also talks about not being with his siblings during this time, and the hardships of being in war.

Keywords: ARVN; Army of the Republic of Vietnam; Bombing; Dong De Military Academy; Officer schools; South Vietnam

Subjects: Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Quân Trường Đồng Đế – Dong De Military Academy
Map Coordinates: 12.53606, 109.02799
GPS: Phu tai, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 10.9343, 108.0865
00:17:18 - First time being aware of the war / Experiences with the Viet Cong

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Partial Transcript: When did you first become conscious of the war?

Segment Synopsis: Ho discusses his experiences as a child growing up in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and remembers becoming aware of its seriousness at a young age. Additionally, he mentions the childhood experiences he had with the Viet Cong, and the fearful attitude him and his family had towards the Viet Cong.

Keywords: ARVN; Army of the Republic of Vietnam; Bombing; Executions; MIA; Missing in Action; South Vietnam; Viet Cong; Việt-Cộng

Subjects: Mặt trận dân tộc giải phóng miền nam Việt Nam.; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:23:59 - Family affiliations to the Southern Vietnamese forces

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Partial Transcript: Did you have a lot of close family, like brothers, uncles, etcetera, that were drafted into the Southern Vietnamese forces.

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about his family's service in the Southern Vietnamese forces, and the experiences they had with being drafted.

Keywords: ARVN; Army of the Republic of Vietnam; Artillery; South Vietnam

Subjects: Drafts; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Ninh Hòa, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 12.48589, 109.13363
00:26:00 - Experience during the Tet Offensive / Easter Offensive

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Partial Transcript: You would have been five or six when the Tet Offensive happened, do you have any memories of that?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the two major events he remembers from the Vietnam War: the Tet Offensive, and the fighting during the "red hot summer of ‘72." He specifically recalls his experiences during the summer of 1972 when his family had to evacuate by boat to islands off the coast of Vietnam for safety during the bombings.

Keywords: Evacuations; Red Hot Summer of 72; Vạn Giã

Subjects: Easter Offensive, 1972.; Khánh Hòa (Vietnam : Province); M79 grenade launcher; Tet Offensive, 1968; Văn Giá; Vạn Ninh (Vietnam : District)

GPS: Vạn Giã, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 12.688063, 109.219660
00:31:04 - Trauma of seeing the tragedies of war / Treatment of deserters and civilians

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Partial Transcript: What did you think of that, at your age?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about his experiences with PTSD, and recalls some of his most traumatizing memories from the war. Ho also talks about the experiences that he saw involving the treatment of deserters as well as civilians, who were not fighting.

Keywords: ARVN; Army of the Republic of Vietnam; Deserters; Draft Evasion; Draft resisters; Executions; PTSD

Subjects: Drafts; Post-traumatic stress disorder.; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:35:24 - First experiences working in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: When did you get your first job?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about being forced out of school because of the war and working with his parents in their rice field. He also speaks about his experiences with food insecurity due to the communist takeover.

Keywords: Food insecurity; Rice fields; Rice paddies; Starvation

Subjects: Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:38:14 - North Vietnam's takeover of South Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: Lets jump back to the North coming into the South, to takeover.

Segment Synopsis: Vinh Ho gives his memories from the fall of South Vietnam, and how the communist takeover effected him and the the other people of South Vietnam.

Keywords: North Vietnam; North Vietnamese Army; PAVN; South Vietnam; Southern Collapse

Subjects: Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:40:37 - Family feelings towards North Vietnam / Childhood experiences

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Partial Transcript: Was there anyone who you knew personally who turned out to be a communist sympathizer or working for the North?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about how his relatives and others in South Vietnam were helping the North, and would help the transfer of power in Southern Vietnam. He also talks about his relationship with the forest as a child during the war.

Keywords: Land mines; North Vietnam; PAVN; South Vietnam

Subjects: Communism; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:44:26 - Finding out about the communist takeover

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Partial Transcript: Tell me how you found out that the communists took over?

Segment Synopsis: Vinh Ho recalls his experiences during the fall of South Vietnam, and events that happened during this time.

Keywords: Military Zones; North Vietnam; South Vietnam

Subjects: Communism; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Huế, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 16.4637, 107.5909
00:46:30 - Families reaction, and effects of the takeover

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Partial Transcript: What was your families reaction to the communist takeover?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the things that him and his family thought would happen during the fall of South Vietnam, and the reality of what happened to them during this time.

Keywords: Cooperatives; South Vietnam

Subjects: Communism; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:49:02 - Civilian thoughts on Americans

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Partial Transcript: Was there ever any fear of the Americans doing that?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the overall opinion of the Southern Vietnamese people on American soldiers in his region. Ho also talks about how he doesn't remember much about American soldiers.

Keywords: Americans; Mai Lai; South Vietnam

Subjects: Soldiers; United States; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:50:44 - Life after the communist takeover / Family struggles after the war

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Partial Transcript: What other changes to your life happened as a result of the communist takeover?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about how his life changed as a young child after the takeover of South Vietnam. He shares his experiences with hunger and working at a young age. Ho also talks about how his parents’ relationship was affected by the hardships of life after the war.

Keywords: Domestic violence; Hunger; Schooling; South Vietnam; Taxes

Subjects: Communism; Geography; Vietnam

00:57:40 - Coming to the United States / Leaving Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: So you would have been about fifteen when you came to the United States?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about his experiences coming to America, and dealing with the foster system. Ho also talks about how he was able to leave Vietnam due to his role as a supplies smuggler.

Keywords: Emancipation; Foster System; Smuggling

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Refugees; United States; Vietnam

01:01:00 - Role as a supplies / Refugee smuggler in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: How did you start doing that?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about him and his families role in getting refugees out of Vietnam. He also mentions illegally gathering the supplies to make escaping Vietnam possible.

Keywords: Black markets; Smuggling; Supplies

Subjects: Refugees; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

01:10:26 - Journey to the United States

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the boat ride, the boat trip.

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the details of his escape from Vietnam and the route he took, while fleeing Vietnam. Ho also talks about his brief stay in a newly built prison in the Philippines, while figuring out which country they wanted to settle in.

Keywords: Lutheran Children and Family Services

Subjects: Philippines; Refugees; United Nations; United States; Vietnam

GPS: Republic of the Philippines
Map Coordinates: 12.8797, 121.7740
GPS: Vũng Rô Bay, Vietnam
Map Coordinates: 12.8677, 109.4229
GPS: Mandaluyong, Philippines
Map Coordinates: 14.5794, 121.0359
01:27:22 - Arriving in America / Foster family struggles

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Partial Transcript: Came here late in the night, they had people come pick me up at the airport.

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about his experience arriving in the United States and the struggles he faced moving around within the foster system. Ho also talks about his struggles missing Vietnam and his family.

Keywords: Foster system; Immigration; Neffs (Pa.); PTSD; Queen Street (Philadelphia); Upper Marian Highschool

Subjects: Families; Philadelphia (Pa.); Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; United States; Vietnam

GPS: Queen Street, Philadelphia
Map Coordinates: 39.937367, -75.147953
GPS: Upper Marian Highschool
Map Coordinates: 40.09587025635312, -75.37793997331134
GPS: Neffs, Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 40.69531993306376, -75.60984550765897
01:36:57 - Getting emancipated / High school

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Partial Transcript: You said you got emancipated, tell me about getting emancipated.

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about how he was not happy with any of his foster placements, simply because he did not feel close to people that were similar culturally to him. He shares his experiences getting emancipated and things from his high school experience such as sports.

Keywords: Emancipation; Foster System; Foster care; Foster children; Foster homes; Sports

Subjects: Sports; United States

GPS: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 40.603238772001404, -75.47300582336648
01:39:50 - Post high school / College

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Partial Transcript: So then, um, you graduated from high school?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the path that he took after he graduated from high school, working various jobs and attending various colleges.

Keywords: Colleges; High schools

Subjects: Chinatown (New York, N.Y.); Education

GPS: Chinatown, New York
Map Coordinates: 40.715789, -73.996967
01:43:05 - American military service

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Partial Transcript: In 1990 I went into the Navy Reserve, when I finished my associates degree--

Segment Synopsis: Ho shares his experiences serving in the United States military, and the ranks he achieved. Ho also shares how his military service impacted his mother.

Keywords: Army National Guard; Associate's degrees; Officer Candidate School

Subjects: United States. Navy Reserve

01:45:18 - Involvement in VAAPS (Vietnamese Association For Aging Philadelphia & Suburbs)

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Partial Transcript: How did you get involved with this organization?

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about his involvement within the Vietnamese American Community, specifically his role with the organization VAAPS (Vietnamese Association For Aging Philadelphia & Suburbs).

Keywords: VAAPS; Vietnamese; Vietnamese Association For Aging Philadelphia & Suburbs

Subjects: Philadelphia (Pa.)

01:48:16 - Vietnam currently

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Partial Transcript: Vietnam as a country, geographically--

Segment Synopsis: Ho talks about the country of Vietnam and everything that it has to offer, such as tourism and natural resources. Ho also gives his opinions on the current Vietnamese government, and how this effects the people of Vietnam.

Subjects: Geography; Tourism; Vietnam

01:51:24 - Closing

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything that we didn't talk about yet that you would like to talk about?

Segment Synopsis: This segment wraps up the interview with Ho talking about his goals for the future.