Interview with Kha Pham, August 31, 2018

Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans
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00:00:01 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: This is Betsy Brody. Today is August 31, 2018. I’m interviewing, for the first time, Mr. Kha Pham. This interview is taking place at the home of Mr. Pham’s daughter in Addison, Texas. This interview is sponsored by the Baylor University Institute for Oral History and is part of the Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans project. All right. Good afternoon, Mr. Pham. Thank you for meeting me.

Segment Synopsis: Brody introduces the project "Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans" and the interviewee, Kha Pham.

00:00:28 - Family and working at a naval base in Da Nang

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So just to start out with, let’s talk
about how—what your life was like in Vietnam, just as the war was ending. What was
PHAM: Well, before the war, luckily, I’m not in the fighting zone. I’m at the naval base
in the island called Phu Quoc Island, very far south and kind of east of Vietnam. At that
point I am a—my name is—I am a lieutenant in the navy, and I am a executive officer at
the base, naval base. So my job is to keep the security, work on the base like every naval
base, and I have a small boat, you know, around to do patrol, to—
BRODY: Because it was an island.
PHAM: —around the island. And on the land we have a small group, you know, keep
post security around the base. And that’s it. And my wife at that time, you know, at that
time I lived with my wife and two kids. And my younger kid at that time, only two and
three years old. And another kid, the oldest, one year older, she about four years old, and
she lived with her grandparents, my wife’s parents, very far north.
BRODY: Okay. What town did they live in?
PHAM: They lived in Danang.
BRODY: Danang, okay.
PHAM: Yeah, because we have two kids together, three kids, you know, three years
apart, so that’s why, you know, they take care of my older kid.
BRODY: So your in-laws were taking care of your older child because you had two
younger children at home?
PHAM: Yeah, and we did not help them. My wife, she was a teacher at an elementary
school very close to the base, and that’s it. And we worked like normally. You know, in
land, I don’t go to fighting or anything the last two or three years. Before that, I am on
another unit on land and have a—you know, we have a lot of small boats, we go on the
river, we know to patrol and keep security, keep between the Cambodian land and the
Vietnamese border.
BRODY: Okay, on the border there.
PHAM: About—I believe about forty miles.
BRODY: So that was a few years earlier?
PHAM: About two, three years earlier, yes. And at that time, you know, I go to a patrol,
like two or three days and go back, and keep working at the base in a few days and keep
doing like that for two, three years, at that time before I go to here, to the base and don’t
do anything. But my life before that, we have the navy, so I go to the ship, many ships
before. But then you don’t need to know that, right?

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his family when he was in Vietnam and his duties as a lieutenant and executive officer on a navy base.

Keywords: Danang; Phu Quoc Island; Vietnam; Vietnam War; Vietnamese Navy

GPS: The city Da Nang, where Pham's family lived.
Map Coordinates: 16.0544, 108.2022
00:03:49 - Working with American sailors in the navy

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: No, it’s interesting. So how much did you have contact with the Americans and
(both talking) before the war?
PHAM: Oh, okay. Yeah, the American—I go to the Vietnamese academy of 1966, and
get out in 1968. And then I go to the landing ship, one of the Vietnamese biggest ships,
you know, LST—they call it a LST-502.
BRODY: That was the name of the ship?
PHAM: Yeah, the name of the ship. The name was Vietnamese too, but you know, that’s
the number of the ship, LST-502. Vietnamese at that time, they have only three ships like
that, the bigger ones. For landing, they transport, you know, from north to south along the
coastal. And I’m in there, like training an officer and I do a lot of stuff there from—
exactly the first year and half I’m there, we took—I took—do, like, training from one part
to another part, to know the ship. And after that, they trade me to another small boat, not
boat, but a ship, but it’s smaller, they call it the PGM-617. They’re brand new. They
sailed from America to Vietnam, and we see the ship. And we’re training with—they
have American in there to training us, to learn the ship from everything, and then I—on
this ship, we go to—I go to patrol the coastal.
BRODY: The coast.
PHAM: The coast—I got—in the ship, they have one American advisor. He’s a
lieutenant, I don’t remember his name, but—and the Vietnamese, the captain is a
lieutenant also.
BRODY: Okay.
PHAM: And at that point, I am—I might as well mention, in a school for the first two
years of my rank is ensign.
BRODY: Ensign?
PHAM: Yeah. And there for, for a year, I mean, almost a year and a half, and then they
change me to another place very far north, you know. This right here, they call the coastal
zone unit, close to the communists.
BRODY: Okay. Yes, up north.
PHAM: Right on that seventeenth, almost seventeenth—
BRODY: Parallel.
PHAM: Parallel, yeah. They call the coastal (unintelligible), that’s the far base, the far,
far north.
BRODY: So you were far north?
PHAM: Far north, you know, they trade me to there in 1968. And that—the coastal zone,
they have a small, very small old boat, no ship, the boat, they’ve got wood, they’ve got
their own kind of—
BRODY: It’s really old.
PHAM: Very old, like a fishing boat almost, so, you know—
BRODY: So that’s what you had to work with there. (laughs)
PHAM: I have to work in there with the boat. And, you know, in that base we have about,
I think, two or three advisors.
BRODY: American advisors?
PHAM: American advisors, you know, they rank from lieutenant to petty officer.
They’ve got two officers, two petty officers in there. And they check the communication
more than they do anything. You know, they’ve got the base they have, they
communicate with the big ship out there from their seventh fleet. They have a very big
ship, you know, ___(??) outside there.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his time in the navy academy and the role Americans played in the navy's ranks.

Keywords: American advisors; LST-502; Vietnam War

00:08:05 - The Tet Offensive

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Partial Transcript: PHAM: In there, if we have any problem or with the friend unit have a problem, we can call them, they can do the—they can shoot in to help. At that
point, that’s right between the Tet, they call it Mau Than Tet, you know, that very big
event at that time. The communists, they arrange Tet, you know, they say, “Well, we take
four or five days, don’t do anything” and then shortly they open fire, everything, and they
captured a lot of planes and ______________(??) and my base also. They don’t attack
our base, but when we go to patrol and land in some place and then they can ambush,
they should not have there, but they come—from the north they come in, they dig holes
and then they ambush. And the day we come up there and they ambush us, we have, like,
thirty people, we come with the villagers there. And they ambush and a lot of fight, and at
that time, I’m not—I don’t know everything, you know, the ammunition goes through, I
don’t know what is here, what is here, who’s shooting and we are shooting or everything,
I can’t—
BRODY: Right, because it was a surprise.
PHAM: Surprise, complete surprise, everything. We got up there and we go to—and we
got out to the place, you know a lot of sand out there, dunes of sand, all that big, and a lot
of shooting, and we fight back and forth. And we have one unit of us out there, like, ten
people before they—and then they got trapped out there on the cemetery. They were
stranded there, and I have two or three of them got wounded or killed in there, we don’t
know. And then we have to try to get them out, pull them back, everything, and after we
got in a shooting, somebody got fell. But we don’t see anything.
BRODY: This is after you got the wounded people back?
PHAM: We got some back, but some still there and I can’t—if we come out, we had
more that had retreat and they shoot. And then at that time we no look like we hit the
people, the small unit, so very big out there, and we don’t know—very big place. And
then Americans come in. They’re next to our base, big base of Americans, because at that
time the Americans, they bring in, looks like __________(??) point, there’s a high point
in the period of time because they’re going to have a lot of units. You know, they have a
mountain and they’ve got the river, they go in and they have a large supply and the have
a lot of other help, at least two—I remember, at least two battalions of Americans—what
is the—the Marines—next to my base.
BRODY: So the Marines were there next to you.
PHAM: Yeah, there are two, only two companies, two battalions. I don’t know, I don’t
remember. But they move in. They move in to help. They move in far north, they do a
round, they come back, and they got stuck too.
BRODY: They got stuck?
PHAM: Yeah, they stuck because they fired back. You know, it’s not before we think
that it is small but then, you know, the Americans, our advisors, they call the Americans
and then they move in around so they tried to help to keep out there so we can—but then
we cannot go through. ___________(??) us, they cannot even go through. We stuck
there, we cannot get out to—you’ve got the people there.
BRODY: So how did it end?
PHAM: And then we got the—oh man, at that we fired by very close. They threw a
grenade at us, and we threw—
BRODY: So they were that close to you?
PHAM: Yeah, they’re close, they dig a hole we don’t see and then finally, you know, I
got some—they throw the grenade, but the grenade, it’s not very good grenade.
BRODY: Okay, a bad grenade.
PHAM: It’s not—it explodes, but it not—I got hit on my butt.
BRODY: Oh my gosh.
PHAM: Yeah. (laughs) But they throw the grenade, you know, because if I had been— if
it goes high right here, if it goes higher, maybe it should do that, right? But you go low
and then ____________ (??) hit my man behind. I got two Americans behind me, side by
side me too. And then I got hit, and he—I don’t remember, he got hit or he don’t get hit,
but—and then I tried to help him or something and finally after that they give me a
Bronze Star.
BRODY: They gave you a Bronze Star?
PHAM: Yeah, American base, they gave me—I still have the document here, and I’ve
got the Bronze Star here.
BRODY: Oh, that’s amazing. Let’s take a look.
PHAM: They gave me a Bronze Star, on 1968 on the Tet, they gave me the Bronze Star.
BRODY: Whoa, look at this. So we’ve got the certificate, the Bronze Star medal.
PHAM: Yeah.
BRODY: Well, I will—if you don’t mind, take a photo of that before we finish.
PHAM: I got a Bronze Star. After that they gave me a Bronze Star. But when I got
injured—and my men got a lot of them—I believe, four or five people got killed or
something like that, but injuries are a lot of people, like twenty of them.
BRODY: So it was a major event.
PHAM: Yeah. And the American side, at that point, you know, they have at least twenty,
you know, had been killed or wounded on the other side, and finally because after that we
retreat all of my people. Everybody retreats; they retreat too, they go back to camp. At
least they have—finally, after we know it, they have at least almost a half division of the
companies, military, there.
BRODY: They were right there.
PHAM: Right there. They blend in. And then they—because the invasion of the whole
country, everywhere. So they—at that point we know at least if I have a division over
there, the whole far north of the zone there.
BRODY: So you knew what was going on.
PHAM: But then they don’t attack, they just sit there at that point. And we retreat, we
retreat, and after that I have to go to funerals of kids, all my men, you know, a funeral of
them, all that stuff. I have to go to American base with the medical over there, so they
clean my wounded on my butt. (both laugh) They help. Because the Americans, they—
around us, ______________(??) Americans are there because they have a lot of
American very west of us—they call Khe Sanh and Con Thien. And every American,
they know the place. You know, they have a knot right there, so they can stop the north
coming in. But then they have many route to come in, so they cannot stop it.
BRODY: Through the jungle.
PHAM: Yeah, they go through and we cannot stop them.
BRODY: So, you were pretty closely working with the Americans

Segment Synopsis: Pham recounts his experiences during the Tet Offensive, including the assistance received from American forces and his being awarded a Bronze Star.

Keywords: American advisors; Bronze Star; Communism; Marines; Tet Offensive; USMC; Vietnam War; grenades

00:15:45 - American camaraderie during the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So, you were pretty closely working with the Americans. So if we go forward
to, you know, 1974, 1975, you were on the island doing patrols and things like that. Tell
me about what was happening around the Fall of Saigon for you.
PHAM: Oh yeah, not that—my story of that part right here, and then after that I got one
of my best American friends, he’s—they call me Partner. He gave me a Zippo, you know,
BRODY: Yeah, the lighter.
PHAM: The lighter. I lost that but, you know, he called me a partner. He buys all that
Zippo and I lost it, I said I’m sorry. And—sorry he got killed.
BRODY: Oh. What was his name?
PHAM: I—that is one more I cannot remember, but I know, he told me his name at that
point. He’s from a very big family. The name of the family is a very big, not like McCain
but, you know, it’s very big. But I don’t remember, and he, you know, he got ambushed
on that—you know, this right here. It goes on the sixteenth zone, far, far south after I
tried try and free—after the war at Tet. And he got wounded, he got killed. He died when
he wounded and they buried him on the sea. And I don’t know at that point, I got—I
don’t know what point, why I don’t go to his funeral or anything. I don’t know why,
because I got something, a mission, I don’t know. And I don’t remember.
BRODY: Something happened.
PHAM: Yeah. But then after that, I transferred to very far—in ‘70 I moved to very far
BRODY: In 1970?
PHAM: In 1970, I moved far south. Same zone, but very far south.
BRODY: So the coastal zone, but further south?
PHAM: The first one, the first coastal zone. This was a four coastal zone, very far south,
and then I said we—we have American every time we go to battle, I have four or five
small boat went with us, and have at least one American.
BRODY: An advisor?
PHAM: Advisor, yeah.
BRODY: Okay. So they were always with you.
PHAM: Always with me, up to before they retreat. But they go with me, and every time
we go to patrol, they’re very helpful. When they call for a helicopter or something like
that, or supplies or thing. And they do very helpful, you know, and very badly is I’m not
very good English at that point, so I don’t have a lot of communication or know their
family if we talked about it.
BRODY: Right, but you worked together.
PHAM: Yeah, we worked together, but we talked by writing or something because I’m
learn the English from the Vietnamese teacher. He don’t know anything English and he
teach, you know, (Brody laughs) and he cannot even speak English. (laughs)
BRODY: That’s pretty funny.
PHAM: Yeah. That’s why we don’t—at that point. And then we were very friendly with
all of my advisor, you know? We drink together. Most of us, you know, we drink beer
and something on the trip. We go, and he eat our food, everything. And my people, they
cook very good when we go travel like that, they cook very good, and they fishing and
whatever there, and they cook.
BRODY: So you get to cook and share and have some good times?
PHAM: Everything with them, yeah.

Segment Synopsis: Pham discusses his friendship with American sailors and the assistance provided by American forces during operations.

Keywords: American advisors; American soldiers; McCain; Vietnam War; Zippo; cooking; food; friendship; lighter

00:19:46 - Attempt to rescue daughter in Danang/ Return to protecting people on base

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So then as the war was winding down—
PHAM: The war was not winding down, the war—
BRODY: —well, still on.
PHAM: But then when they got to take, you know, the Americans retreat. On, like, ’72,
’73, all Americans—that’s why the war going more, because the south—the north
communists bring a lot more power, more people, more tanks, more weapons, more
BRODY: Coming further south?
PHAM: Yeah, from north, they come in everywhere. On our side, you know, American
retreat after the ________(??) side, they call it the north, the one they call the war, like,
the communists, Vietnamese communists, but they cannot, they work inside, they come
from the south, and the ____________(??) to north. And on our side, our Vietnamese and
then American. And then the agreement in Paris on 1972, and they said, “Well, right
now, this side, you there, and American can retreat,” so Americans retreat. And they
agreed to supply anything they need to _______(??) and before that they transfer a lot of
equipment, a lot of boat before—on the south side, on our side, you know. Even on the
river, we have Vietnamese unit there. But beside that, we have American unit also, and
they have very fast boat, they have a lot of unit—like John Kerry, he on the PCF right
here on the south. And then they retreated and they train us to take over the unit. So at
that point, our navy, they need more personnel, they need more military, they need more
officers, so they’re training very quick, very quick. You know, like a Vietnamese, they
don’t have a place, like maybe before that every year, only training a hundred people, and
hundred officer. And now they turn into two to three hundred officer, and then—
BRODY: You were training two or three hundred officers?
PHAM: No. At my point when I go to school, only a hundred people a year. But after
that, on that point, they were training like more.
BRODY: Two or three times as much.
PHAM: Two, three time, and then the time to training is shorter. A lot of them training,
they went to American too, to train and bring back, and they had a lot more people so
they can take care of all that.
BRODY: Sure. So they take over all of the duties? So if we fast-forward to 1975, what
was going on in your life in 1975?
PHAM: On 1975, at that point when the north—they take over a lot of—they take over
the very far north, like Hue, and then my father-in-law, my parents, you know, lives in
Danang. That—I’m talking about on April or March.
BRODY: March. And your daughter was there too?
PHAM: March 30 or something. My daughter over there. So my wife said we’ll have to
bring her, come back there, I have to fly there to bring my daughter back with us, because
we know the war very, very, very, very big now. So I got permission from my
commander and I fly to Saigon, and from there I fly to Danang to get my daughter. But I
cannot land in Danang.
BRODY: Oh, the plane couldn’t land.
PHAM: Because at the time they have to return it, we cannot land, because a lot of
people from _______(??) the airport and they tried to—any airplane land now, they
___(??) I mean, they stand everywhere around airplane, so the airplane cannot fly, you
know. Very _____(??), you know, very bad. So I cannot go there, I cannot land, and I
stay there in Saigon and I try to get to the sea, you know, on the sea is okay. We control
on the sea completely, all our ship, everything go north to there and I think, Well, we—I
can get out there, tried to go get my daughter. But then that night—I had a friend, he
commanded the communication unit—I leave with him that night, and I hear all that out
there and look like they lose, so everybody retreat. So they all—everybody go to the boat
and get out to the ship, everything, you know, go south.
BRODY: Everybody’s retreating.
PHAM: So when then all of that happened and then all of the navy—the navy have to
help to transfer all the people that can, but then another meeting, like the army or air, all
of that stuff, they don’t have place to go and they depend on, you know, us to pick them
up. But then, you know, we don’t have enough, don’t have the boat to pick them up, and
a lot of my friend on the ship, they say, you know—our whole people there, whole
battalion of people, they got out. And even, you know, the boat anchor far from the shore,
but they swim out there and they—a lot of people got killed and everything. And beside
that, the communist unit, they shooting in and I mean, it looked like World War II.
BRODY: Yeah, that’s very dangerous.
PHAM: That whole _______(??) like that. And that night, I hear the commanding officer
of the whole force over there, the general right there, he yell out to the boat. I said, “Well,
that’s that.” So a friend of mine told me, “Now you have to go back to your family. If
not, you stuck here and every”—you know. So I say, “I cannot go and get my daughter,”
so we—
BRODY: That must have been hard for you.
PHAM: Yeah, I come back to my family and there. But then when that lose, that won one
before Saigon lose, back on March. And then a lot of people, I mean, at least a hundred
thousand people, all of them, they got out to sea. And a lot of American boat or ship, big
ship, they look like they know before that—American, they know before that. I don’t
know anything, but they look like they know that. And they send a lot of _______(??)
ship, or merchandise ship, and also they’re on the shore, on the sea, but like a two or
three mile out there. And if people got out, they pick them up. If you got out, they pick
them up. So a lot of people pick up because after that at my base, seven days later, they
bring all their people to the island where I live because that is a very—
BRODY: Safe.
PHAM: —safe, very safe place, and we have a—they’ve got a big base, everything, they
can fit, like forty, fifty people there.
BRODY: So they brought the people who they rescued at the sea and brought them to the
PHAM: And then bring to them the island there, the island where I live at that point.
BRODY: And so by then were you back at the island?
PHAM: Who?
BRODY: Where you back in the island?
PHAM: I’m back over there, that day I’m back. I come back the same day the base at the
low coastal zone—a number—first—they call it first army—lose, I come back. So I am
BRODY: You’re with your family and then—
PHAM: My family _________ (??) but then at that point—so my mission at that time
right now is just to take care of that forty thousand people, you know, keep coming to the
base, keep coming. And then now, you know, the base—my base need, you know, keep
safety—all of those safety and they keep water for them—food coming, everything. Take
care of the people there. And then the airport, opened the airport more so they bring food,
everything, you know, to take care of the forty people there.
BRODY: So you’re in charge of taking care of these forty thousand people?
PHAM: I’m in charge of some parts. You know, everybody take care—I’m not have that
rank to do everything, but my rank at that point, you know, I still do my job on the base,
but also I have to keep the road from the seas supplied to the place—like about three or
four miles—safe.
BRODY: Keeping it safe.
PHAM: Yeah.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes the escalations that occurred during the war and his responsibilities to protecting people on his military base.

Keywords: Communism; Communists; Danang; Hue; John Kerry; Saigon; Vietnam War; daughter; retreat

00:29:51 - Retreating before the Fall of Saigon

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So then after that, what happened with your family’s decision? How did you
end up here in the United States?
PHAM: My family were with me and Dai only about two years old.
BRODY: She was two years old.
PHAM: And we—her brother only three years old.
BRODY: So you had two little babies.
PHAM: Two little babies there, and my wife still teach every day. And then the north,
you know, I hear the news. You know, we don’t have CNN or whatever, (laughs) we
don’t have a lot of—a friend of my ________(??) ship, we even don’t know anything,
you know? And then I hear something, like my father is very bad sick. My father family
from north, where the communist, they moved to and then they keep retreat, retreat.
Finally, they move to the place kind of a hundred mile north of Saigon and live there. My
father and my brother, young brother, lived there. And in Saigon I have one—my
younger brother in Saigon. And he have a family—they don’t have a kid yet—but a
family, and my sister, younger sister, live there. And when I hear my father sick, almost
died, that was on ten days before the Saigon lose, only ten days.
BRODY: Wow. So you found out ten days before that your father was sick.
PHAM: Before Saigon lose, yeah—sick, very badly sick. So I think, Well—at that point
somehow when all that _____(??), all of that, I have one American. He’s a reverend, and
he’s a friend of my friend. He come to see me and somehow I go to coffee with him, he
say something, look like the American, they want to get out. And they got the code. So
you got something when you hear on the radio, they’ve got the sign, look like the song—
a Christmas song or some kind like that, that’s what the point they all of them had to get
out. Before, they get out already, but you know, still a lot of units still in Saigon, some
advisor or something were in Saigon, but all unit, no American at all. I don’t know how
many thousand were still there, but very last. And he told me that. So I know that, but I
don’t know when, you know, when it would be that day. And the ten day before the Fall,
thirty of April, and my father kind of sick. So I said, “Well, I have to go to Saigon to see
what happened and bring him here,” because Saigon carries a lot of people come to my
place, like forty, fifty thousand people; no place to live, so they come to my place. But in
Saigon, a lot of people everywhere around, they stuck in there, it’s a—the city is like fish
in there, you know, fifteen _______ (??).
BRODY: People are everywhere.
PHAM: Everywhere, everything there. So I come there, and my father, he don’t have a
house in Saigon, so the place where my brother live—a very small, like this area right
here. And, you know, all of my brother, my father, my mother, all of them live there. So I
say, “Well, I don’t think he can live there.” So I say, “Well, come with us to my place.”
At least my place—it not that big area, but we live in the camp, you know, but I’ve got
the place to live, I’ve got food, I’ve got everything. So I think it’s better than live with
my brother, so I bring them in. I don’t think when we can leave or not, we don’t know
when or where and when we leave, but at least we’ve go to my place better. So I bring
them, that is and my father and my mother, my three young brother—the older one is
seventeen years old, the younger one like eleven, two younger one is eleven years old,
and my sister is like fourteen, fifteen years old.
BRODY: So you brought them all with you back to your—
PHAM: And my sister—brother, he—at school he’s like at last place on school. But then
he say, well, he’s twenty years old, he’s ___(??) on the school, you know, I don’t
remember that is a bachelor, he had like that. So he follow with my mother too, and one
of my wife niece, so come to my place. So we come, you know, we have to go by, and no
place to go, we go by land. We go take about a day from Saigon to another place and then
from there at night we got the—you know, boat, we go to my place. So when they come
to my place and my place very small, we have to build a lot of decks so they can live in
there. And the very next day, that road we go—they cut off, can’t go back and forth,
everything, you know?
BRODY: So you were lucky you all made it?
PHAM: We’re lucky to go the first there today, but after that day, yeah, I cannot bring
them in. So we are only on the—I remember that day on April 23rd, they got out to my
place. So when they got to my place, everything is, you know, it’s just normal,
everything, my kids go to—my brothers go to play, you know, beer all that stuff, and
we’re normal, nobody think anything, because while there, my place, it’s kind of safety,
you know, no—everything, only thing is that a lot of people now. And then that is very
cool for a little bit. And then to today—you want to know before that, you want to know
something else or not?
PHAM: And then before that—and then we retreat before that, and we lose every part on
the south. Every part.
BRODY: Every port?
PHAM: Every land, you know? Everybody lose and keep coming—
BRODY: Coming south.
PHAM: Coming to the south. On the land, we keep lose, lose, a lot of—they lose up to—
on the thirtieth, that night. And I still don’t know anything until I still go to patrol through
the area outside there, and very—and a very nice day, a very night. The night is very—
the moon very nice. And I have the Honda, you know, with one of my officer—
BRODY: Motorcycle?
PHAM: Yeah, motorcycle, it’s a very small motorcycle. We got that—I don’t have that,
but that from one of the people, they bring from the north to the boat everything, so when
they bring it up here and somehow I got that. (laughs)
BRODY: You got the motorcycle. That was lucky.
PHAM: Yeah, I got lucky. I ride around on that with him. And I hear something, look
like a—I see from outside the sea—got one big ship, you know, merchandise ship, you
know, big, out there, and got light, very light. And somehow on my—not my base,
another base, supply base there that saved a lot of __________ (??), they bring people in
the base land to the ship. I don’t know what—I don’t have and nobody say anything, and
nobody have any order or anything, you know? But I know where—we lose up there
already, somehow we have to get out.
BRODY: Right.
PHAM: But I’m still in the unit here, I can’t even get out. If nobody get out, I can’t get
out. I can’t—you know, things like that. You know, we can’t go, I don’t know where to
go or anything. We don’t have any idea, no anything.
BRODY: No information.
PHAM: But I see that. So I come in and look at what happened. And I see—it looked like
they bring some of the unit, the Vietnamese unit, looked like—you know, it not military,
kind of like a radio station or some kind of people, some kind of people work for the
American or something. So they bring it out to the ship. So the ship wait out there to take
BRODY: Taking people away.
PHAM: Away. And that people, you know, some kind of connection with the American.
BRODY: Americans, right.
PHAM: But my unit, all of my friend, to take all of the four hundred, four, fifty, forty
thousand people up there, nobody know—up there, nobody know, in our unit nobody
know anything. But then I see that, so I come back. So I come to the radio station. You
know, we have this—the coastal zone, we have very big communication. In the coastal
zone, they can connect with Saigon, with all the navy. And I got in there, and it look
different, only one officer in there! And I asked him what happened. And he say, well—
he told me, he says, well—he told me, he said, “Saigon, all the navy got the order: ‘All
the navy ship get out. Get out of Saigon. Get out.’” At that point, all the navy ship got
out. That night, the twenty-ninth—the night is twenty-nine—
BRODY: April twenty-ninth.
PHAM: About twelve at night, you know, and he told me all the ship got ordered to get
out. And over here, we don’t know anything, you know, all the ship, all—they change the
frequency, everything, so nobody know and get out. And they go and get out to order
somewhere on the island—another island outside the border. And I said, “Well, what
happened?” And they get out. So, I said “Well, what do we do now?” And I ask him, you
know, where the commanding officer of our base—he’s the captain named—his name is
Captain Tien. He’s commander of a whole area in our base. I ask him where. He say he
don’t know.
BRODY: He didn’t know?
PHAM: He don’t know where that captain go, where the commanding officer go. And I
see, well, I have a—he have a two Swift boat, you know, for him. And all of my base
give him another boat up there, you know, and park it right on that pier, right there. And I
go see there, I don’t see no boat, no Swift boat. So he had to go somewhere. And I go and
I think maybe he go out to the American boat and maybe he—
BRODY: He escaped—
PHAM: —he escape already!
PHAM: And I think—I asked, you know—because I am the command—executive officer
of the base, so I know everything, and I drive around at night and I see something. I don’t
know, nobody say anything, and I go there and I go to the pier. I see his Jeep in there.
BRODY: Really?
PHAM: He’s got his Jeep—
BRODY: Yeah, his Jeep is there at the pier.
PHAM: In the pier. But no boat, no nothing, and I think, He gone. And I ask my guard—
you know, they secure the gate—you know, the guard see something, he say the
commanding officer family look like been leaving already and that was before.
BRODY: So he left with his family before—
PHAM: That what they say, you know, I think he don’t say something. They don’t go at
the same time, but they ___(??) they do, they go with the—the people I’m talking about,
the pickup ______(??).
BRODY: Yeah, they just escaped with them.
PHAM: And I say, well—I take the Jeep.
BRODY: You took the Jeep?
PHAM: I picked up my family. (laughs)
BRODY: You picked up your family?
PHAM: I pick up my family, the whole family. I pick the whole family, my family. Took
the Jeep. And on the—the lucky one for me is that at that time I got five ship at that time
for the zone, you know. We got five ship out there. But two ship are parking on the pier,
you know, next to my base. And one of them in there is my commanding officer of that
ship, he’s my friend, same class of me. So I go, well, why is—you know, he don’t know
anything! He’s still sleep in there. So I go to bring my family and I ride through the base
and I go to his place, a lot of officer, a lot of family that followed me because they don’t
know anything but see me going, they think I know something.
BRODY: Right. They followed you out.
PHAM: Because the thing is, before the north win, they got a lot of people, got killed, got
“stambled” because, you know, when they got to the ship a lot of people—they could
sink your ship. I mean, they can go on—
BRODY: Because too many people.
PHAM: —there’s too many people, that’s why. But at my place, I think, at that point is
very calm. Nobody know, nobody anything so I am kind of—I got through that. (laughs)
I got in the ship, I got to his sleeping bed, you know, to his room. He’s still sleep.
BRODY: He had no idea.
PHAM: He had no idea. I kick him up. I say “Wake up man, all of Saigon,” I said, “All
of the navy leave, gone. We have to leave too.” He said, “What?” He say he don’t know
anything. But anyway, he let my family in his ship.
BRODY: So your family was able to go from the Jeep into the ship. (laughs)
PHAM: And then that’s that. The rest, nobody got in there. I know the ship next to him,
they don’t let nobody got in. They got gun, everything. They don’t let nobody else,
because he’s my friend so I got a favor from him, you know? He had all my family, you
know, eleven people including me got in there. We got in. I said, “Out, get out. Open
gate, go out,” because, you know, why stay here for? So he say—I commanded him:
BRODY: So where did you go?
PHAM: So at that point, we don’t go yet. It’s still, the story is still my story. Nobody
know this but only me. We—and a few people—and he got out. He tell the guy
everything, you know, open the—
BRODY: Open the gates.
PHAM: What—opened the cable, everything, you know, so they got out. And another
ship get out too. And the only thing on that ship is my family and another family—he’s
commanding officer—my commanding officer, you know, base commander, he’s a
friend of mine too, you know—family.
BRODY: So about, maybe, twenty-five people on the ship?
PHAM: Maybe only—not twenty-five, maybe my family about ten, he’s about sevensomething,
you know? That much. But we got out, got out. We got out about an hour.
And he don’t have anything, he don’t know what to do, because he don’t hear from
Saigon, from the commanding office. The navy don’t say anything, he don’t know
anything. On this base, here that, you know, the captain don’t say anything, no say
anything, so he don’t know. So he got out. And a lot of ship, you know, come back. They
patrol, you know, outside the __(??) they come back in. A friend of mine too, another
friend of mine, commanding officer of that ship got me in and then somehow he hear the
voice of the commanding officer of his base unit, the big one. You know, he’s the
number one, big one there, you know? He calling everybody, “Come back!” Calling, “No
go nowhere.” He come back somehow, he don’t get out. I believe he got refuse, the
refuse him to get in the ship or somehow. So he got back.
BRODY: He got sent back.
PHAM: So we have to move back in. But I don’t know, I say ___(??), but this
commanding officer at that time, he’s very tough and he—you know, when a lot of
people from the north come in, they move in everything, a lot of people got—a lot of
people, very bad people in the boat, in the ship, they go American ship. When them in
there, a lot of bad people in there. They kill a lot of people, they take the chaos, you
know, they kill people, they take people money, they do a lot of stuff.
BRODY: On the ship?
PHAM: On the ship from—on twenty days, you know, from the north, they move into
my place. It not easy, they got in there and all of them got gun, got force so they can—
people don’t have anything, they know they got money so they could kill them, they
could be because when the people come the tell you people rob them, people rape them,
they do all that stuff like that. So that what we do very security, very tight. So we can
investigate everything. They investigate, so they try to good people got in. The bad
people, they—
BRODY: Right. Keep people safe.
PHAM: They keep people safe. And the northern people, they captain, you know, and he
killed two, three people because very bad. So somehow they have to keep come, so this
time, this guy, you know, he think I could move, now he could kill me or something, so I
say, “Oh,” and my—the ship captain, my friend, he don’t know what to do, so he anchor
out there.
BRODY: He anchored out at sea?
PHAM: At the sea, he anchor. So I said—because he wouldn’t come in, you know had to
hold it. So I got in. I call, you know, some fishing boat that come in, so I got the fishing
boat, got back in the land.
BRODY: Just you?
PHAM: Just me.
BRODY: And so you left the family on—
PHAM: The family out there. And I came back in and everything like normal. And the
next morning, all the ship come back to the pier, all my family come back to the house.
BRODY: Oh, they came back.
PHAM: Come back, because he said that nobody go! So I have to go back, everybody
come back, go to house.

Segment Synopsis: Pham recounts the days leading up to the fall of Saigon and bringing family and other vulnerable people to the military base. Then, he describes the time he was out on the sea with these people, before being ordered to return to Vietnam.

Keywords: Escape from Vietnam; Fall of Saigon; Jeep; Saigon; Swift boat; boat; family; friendship; illness; leaving Vietnam; motorcycle

00:50:27 - Escaping from Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: PHAM: So I don’t know what happened, but I know Saigon is
lose, everything else. And this guy, I know he don’t—he can’t go or he don’t know and
we don’t—nothing we can do, we cannot fight anymore and that look like have to leave
somewhere. My point at that time, I don’t know where to go. We keep go and we try to
go to some place on my mind or my friend might go, you know, got out there, find some
island somewhere out in the Pacific, go to Australia or somewhere, you know, to live. We
don’t know.
BRODY: Just to get out.
PHAM: Just to get out. Because, you know, people don’t know communists. You don’t
know the communists. I know the communists. My mom know the communists. A lot of
people don’t know them. But the communists, they different, they’re different people.
Even if—even your brother or sister, whatever, but they turn out to communists, and they
the communists. You cannot change their mind, you know? They could kill you, your
brother, your sister, they can __(??) the communists, it’s a bad one. So they look like a
demon or some kind of __(??), you know, the people who got ___(??) or something,
__(??) so bad.
BRODY: So you knew you wanted to get out?
PHAM: Get out. You know, I don’t know how, maybe die outside on the sea? I don’t
have any money on my hand, I don’t know nothing, know nothing.
BRODY: And your father is sick, and you’ve got two little kids.
PHAM: Yeah. My kid, I know my brother there, you know, we got to—that just on my
mind, that, Oh, you have to find out—get out. And at that point before I left my—(phone
rings) and before we got to go to my friend ship right there, we can get bigger ship. But
now, out there we’ve got two—that thing I said, the big ship, American ship there, you
know, merchandise ship? They have another one on another side of the island also, so
we’ve got two of them there, big one. One of them like eighty tons, very big ship, a
hundred ton or something, a hundred thousand ton, big one like that. So out there
somehow we try to get out of that ship. But have to be do without some, you know,
control out there, the commanding officer, whatever they all find someplace. You know, I
got all my small ship of mine can bring us to there, we planning, we just sit in there
trying to plan that, we know Saigon is lose already, everything. But then luckily at that
point, the Vietnamese—the government of the Vietnamese, the president, General Minh,
he talk on the radio and say he—everybody can go. We lose. Everybody can go.
BRODY: So then you didn’t have to worry about orders.
PHAM: About, you know, who can order or anything, he said everybody can go and all
of that. At that point when we know that, everybody can go, and then—
BRODY: You had a plan?
PHAM: I have a plan to go. So, you know, my friend’s ship out there, he take out, he out
there. So I got my family, I call my family on the—they just got in, they just got in only
an hour ago. And now I said, “Let go.”
BRODY: We’re going again.
PHAM: Go again. So they—now we don’t go by Jeep, but we walk, everybody only have
a sack or something like that, whole family go to a small boat from my—actually, my
people, you know, my—all of my—it’s just men, you know, only thing anybody want to
go, and they looked like not a lot of people to go on my unit. Nobody want to go.
BRODY: So your family—
PHAM: So they got—so, they make the route for me, they got the boat for me,
everything, so I bring my family to the ship. And the base still—you know, they still
stand there, people, lot of people at that time, and then I don’t know what they do after
that but then I go to the ship.
BRODY: So did you make it to the big merchandise ship?
PHAM: No, we go to my friend ship.
BRODY: Okay.
PHAM: Because, you know—so a lot of people outside the base, everything they know
that a lot of people go in, a lot of family, they go on his ship. So, it’s like, about two
hundred people.
BRODY: Two hundred people were on your friend’s ship?
PHAM: —were on my friend’s ship.
BRODY: And then where did it go from there, once you got—
PHAM: And then when he got in there, we’re still wait the commanding office somehow,
you know, and we have to four or five ship, you know, and all the—oh, let’s see—two
ship—four ship at that point. And every ship, we got like a hundred or two hundred, my
friend’s ship will have a lot more than that. And then we there, we wait. At that point—
around like twelve o’clock until four o’clock and then the commanding officer and
family go to another ship, and we get out. And a lot of people—I mean, they got out boat,
small boat, everything, they’re all around the water, see all kind of ship around the water.
Some of them got in my—this ship, some got into the big ship, a lot of them when they
got up there, they can fall off and they killed—I mean everything would be chaos. And
until that afternoon—that’s on the thirtieth—and that time the sea very bad. I mean, you
know, very rough. Very rough sea. Wind, no rain, but a lot of wind, a lot of dark sky and
kind of very bad. And we move. We move the route, they try to plan to go to Australia.
BRODY: The plan was to go to Australia?
PHAM: Yeah, the plan where they go. So they—but still they go, you know, past
Singapore and past something to go to Singapore to Australia. And then between, you
know, the two to go there and then every two, three hour, a lot of people, they want to get
back. They don’t want to go. So lots more ship, they go pass through and they can put
people who—
BRODY: They took people off when you were on—
PHAM: —people when they got on, go in or back, whatever they do that with the rough
sea, everything that until the next morning. And then at that point, somehow, you know,
the wind died down and the sea, complete calm. I mean, you never see at that point, the
sea, it calm for twenty days. No even waves. I can’t believe it, it’s just like on the lake.
The whole twenty days. And take two, three days later, we—our ship, you know, because
the ship we in only have—they had eight engine. Only two engine work. Six of them no
BRODY: Were dead.
PHAM: Were dead. So we have another ship pull our ship.
BRODY: So you got towed?
PHAM: So we got tow, only have two engine still that—so we go like maybe two, three
miles, you know, they call—it not miles, they call it what— (voice off mic whispers
“knots”) knots? (voice off mic whispers, “per minute or something? Knots per minute?”)
(Pham laughs) Only two or three knots.
BRODY: Wow, so not very fast.
PHAM: So we’re not very fast, but the sea somehow, it’s very, very, very cool, very cool.
And then we had to feed that many people there. The ship people has to ship people and
they don’t have family there, they—all of them, they go to ___(??). And, you know, my
friend, he’s a fellow officer, a petty officer, only in __(??), but nobody got family there,
like about hundred people in there and they don’t have—
BRODY: No family.
PHAM: No family. And they have to feed all of these family.
BRODY: Wow. (laughs)
PHAM: Yeah. They have to feed all these family they have there. Luckily—and
somehow they got that—at that time—by that time they wanted to go back to Saigon
already, so they buy a lot of food, you know, like Nuoc Mam, all that thing, you know,
store on the ship. So they have food. So they feed everybody, you know, they feed. And
somehow we go to that route and before we pass Singapore, somehow—because the
American, they’ve got a very big operation, so they—up there, they have a lot of
airplane, they follow a lot of ship around, everything. So before we go with the later
one—four ship, we’re with the later one. Before that, like almost fifty ship or something,
they go to Subic Bay or they go to Guam. They got ordered to go there and they go that
way, and with the guy from American ship or from airplane, everything. Before us, by
one day before. We later. (phone rings) They have been buzzing all day long. And then
somehow before we pass Singapore –and we got communication, they say, well, we have
to go to Singapore.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes taking his family away from Vietnam on a ship, eventually finding their way to Singapore.

Keywords: Australia; Communism; Communists; Fall of Saigon; General Minh; Guam; Jeep; Nuoc Mam; Singapore; Subic Bay; boat; escaping Vietnam; family; food; leaving Vietnam; radio; ship

01:00:36 - Refuge at Subic Bay

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So you ended up—
PHAM: We ended up, a whole four ship, we go to Singapore. We go to Singapore, stay
there for two, three day and night because the officer, they go up there and see what
happened, and then Singapore don’t take us. But they say, “Americans, they got the base
at Philippine, they call Subic Bay.” They say what they’re planning, they got the camp
there. “If you go to Subic Bay, they can take you.”
BRODY: So you left Singapore?
PHAM: So the next two days after that, we left Singapore and we go to Philippine on
Subic Bay. But before we got four, right? Four ship. But then when we go to the next
day, next morning, we see only three ship. We lost another ship.
BRODY: What happened to the other one?
PHAM: Somehow one of them in there, some of the people in there, they want to go back
and go back, and—
BRODY: To Vietnam?
PHAM: Yeah. The captain don’t want to go back or something. You know, the captain is
my friend, same class as me; good friend, too. And then they killed him and they took—
BRODY: And they took the ship?
PHAM: —they took the ship. We look the morning—the next morning, we don’t see that
ship. And we turn around, you know, few hour, can’t find no more, so we have to go. So
finally, after—now we know he got killed. And his body put to sea, they kill him, and
then they took the ship back. We don’t know exactly—
PHAM: Why—the “why” we know: they wanted to go back and, you know, don’t have
any transportation for them to go back. They want—they turn violent and somehow, they
killed him. So after seventeen days, or eighteen days, because we only have two knot or
three knot— (laughs)
BRODY: Right, took a long drive.
PHAM: Yeah, we went to Subic Bay.
BRODY: So there, there was a camp?
PHAM: They got a camp. And everybody live in there for seventeen days, at least fifteen
days. The camp, they got food, they got everything—very nice there. And we’re the new
people come in, like almost a thousand people at that point. We got in and they planned
already! They got all new tent, they got new bed, everything, they got planned
everything. So we got in there and they set up us to the camp very nicely, everything.
BRODY: All eleven of you?
PHAM: All eleven of us. And at that point, and then we’re in there, they normally, they
do all that stuff and they trained us how to do this and that. They teach us for tax, how to
pay tax, (laughs) all that stuff.
BRODY: So at that point, did you know you would be heading to the United States?
PHAM: Yeah. At that point when we got up the base, we know we go to the United
States and everything there. We don’t worry anything anymore because they got food—
plenty of food, and plenty of supply. I mean, everything, they got everything there, better
than we’d have. And so even—you know, that good. And then we end look like we—and
if I know that we don’t worry after that, I could be enjoying like a real vacation, (Brody
laughs) but at that time we wanted everything, for my kid. Like, my young one, the older
one, Hui, he got a lot of—his skin, you know got—(speaks to someone in Vietnamese
off-mic. She responds, “hives”)—yeah, it’s very bad, you know, he hurt, so I carry him,
have to take care of that stuff, and he hurt so I got that. But now he’s very good, so he
don’t have a problem or anything. And we there for—let’s see, fifteen days.

Segment Synopsis: Pham explains that, after arriving at Singapore, his ship sailed to Subic Bay, where he and his family were provided food, medical care, and education.

Keywords: Escaping Vietnam; Leaving Vietnam; Phillippines; Singapore; Subic Bay; United States; boat; boats; hives; refugee camps; ships; taxes

01:04:50 - Arriving at Wake Island

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Partial Transcript: PHAM: So they got
two choice: one, you can to Midway Island.
BRODY: Midway Island?
PHAM: First, we don’t go to direct to American yet, but go to Midway. And another
group could go to Guam.
BRODY: Okay. So there were two choices.
PHAM: Yeah, two choice. And from Guam, they could be go direct to American, or they
go to Korea (?). And then my parent and all—you know, his three son and daughter, they
go to Guam, because he said he’s going to wait, maybe another brother of mine
somehow, they get to Guam or not. So they want to go to Guam. And my family, that
mean me, my wife, and my two kid and then my niece, my wife niece, and then my
younger brother, my wife young brother, we go to Wake, because I have to—you know,
my kid too young. We go to Wake, easy one, you know, so we don’t have to be Guam. A
lot of people like Guam so everything, so I choose Wake, so I choose very good time, and
we go to Wake Island. We stay at Wake Island, and Wake Island look like that place,
look like the place for American retreat or something, military retreat. They have a house,
they have very nice house, you know? They got house, they built look like this. They got
garage, they got, you know—and they got the very comfortable living there. They got all
the tennis court, they got the TV, they got all kind of stuff, you know, on that island.
Wake Island, a very, very good island. Look like they say, “Well, that place for American
family,” they live there, they’re on the—whatever the base, you know, in there.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his arrival to Wake Island and the amenities provided.

Keywords: Guam; Midway Island; United States; Wake Island; escaping Vietnam; housing; leaving Vietnam; military retreat

01:06:50 - Culinary differences between American and Vietnamese cultures

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So it was nice?
PHAM: Only thing is we cannot go to fish. A lot of fish are there—I mean fish, very
good fish. There, cannot go to fish.
BRODY: Why couldn’t you fish?
PHAM: They say the fish had contamination or some kind of—you know, not good to eat
or something. But we Vietnamese, we don’t care, (___________??) (Brody laughs) They
can sneak out there, you know, trying to catch them—
BRODY: Catch the fish.
PHAM:—catch some fish. Then we cannot farm out there but, you know, somehow we
still (laughs)—I can still eat two or three time at that. We got a guy that live with us in
the same house. We have a lot of people that live in the same house, you know, like
maybe like a house like this, you know, like twenty, thirty people living together. We’re
very close. But then eating three meals a day. You have to go in line, you eat every food,
a lot of food. But they—American, I don’t know why, but they have a lot of food. After
we head out here, we know expensive.
BRODY: Right.
PHAM: But in there, they gave us the food, and we don’t like them very much.
BRODY: (laughs) That’s funny.
PHAM: Yeah. The one that—what they call—what, what kind of food they leave us and
we don’t like very much, and then—(talking off-mic in Vietnamese to his daughter, she
says “Ham?”)—ham, ham. Yeah. Expensive, right?
BRODY: So they gave it to you—
PHAM: Every day, and a lot. I mean it’s like—and we like fried chicken—that’s what we
like—they give you one or two. That’s all.
BRODY: Oh, but so much ham.
PHAM: Yeah, whole bunch ham. (Brody laughs) And the thing we like, chicken.
Chicken, fried chicken or thing like that, we love very much, and they don’t have that
very much. And a lot of food, you know, they don’t have. Like, we need jalapenos or
very hot spice; they don’t have that, and we love that. And they don’t have—and then
give a lot of food, but a lot of them, you know—
BRODY: Not your taste.
PHAM: —we don’t really like to taste. That the problem. But we had food morning,
lunch, afternoon, and at night they got open TV out there until twelve o’clock at night.
(laughs) So we get—you like a vacation. Very nice. And then they have the open a lot of
play. They give you clothes—old clothes, they not new, but people donation. And they
got up there and they gave us clothes and everything, you know. And the thing they give
us a lot is a cigarette.
BRODY: A lot of cigarettes.
PHAM: Yeah. Every two packs—
BRODY: Did you smoke?
PHAM: At that time I smoked, yeah. I smoke a lot at that time, (both laugh) I smoked
maybe one or two pack cigarette a day, you know. We smoked—everybody smoked!
BRODY: Right. And they gave you a lot.
PHAM: They give us a lot of smoke. So we got good games, we played poker by
cigarette, you know? (Brody laughs) We don’t have money to play but we play—
BRODY: But you trade cigarettes. (laughs)
PHAM: We play cigarette.
BRODY: So how long were you there?
PHAM: I live in there at least for a month.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his first experiences with the American food he was given on Wake Island.

Keywords: TV; cigarettes; clothing; cooking; fish; fishing; food; fried chicken; ham; housing; jalapenos; poker; smoking; spice

01:10:25 - Wake Island and waiting for a sponsorship in the United States

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: For one month. Okay, so then—so the family then after that, they brought
PHAM: My parents’ family, after two, three weeks in Guam and then they moved to
BRODY: To Waco?
PHAM: They come back to Wake, they don’t wait to go to here, they come back.
BRODY: From Guam to—
PHAM: From Guam to Wake. So they live at the place close to us and maybe can walk,
like, a hundred yards.
BRODY: So during that month they came?
PHAM: Yeah, they came in with us. They don’t live together, but they live in—
BRODY: Nearby.
PHAM: —nearby. And we go to learn, we go to everything there. And everybody, you
know, it very good fitting, everything, but everybody wanted for everything else, you
know, a lot of thing, I don’t know how much and what it—a lot of them. We keep
communication with the people. We know, they coming or not, here or there. We stay in
there for like, say, a month or two, and then the whole family of us, now we don’t
BRODY: Right. Now you’re all together.
PHAM: We are together. And we go to Fort Smith, Arkansas.
BRODY: So you get to Arkansas.
PHAM: Yeah. They got three place—we don’t have a choice. At that time, they want us
to where—we go to where. So they bring us to Arkansas, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
BRODY: So you all flew together?
PHAM: We all flew together to Fort Smith, Arkansas.
BRODY: All right. So you’re in Arkansas, you’re all together.
PHAM: And then at that point, we have to training to a lot of stuff, life in the United
States. We have to do—you know, the training to do—more like them they training us
more, you know, English, you can do, and then they train us to do the tax. Mostly, it’s the
tax. Taxes, the more they added them, because we don’t pay tax before. In Vietnam, we
don’t pay tax.
BRODY: So they’re just letting you know.
PHAM: The house, we don’t pay tax. We bought the house, and then once we have the
house and then we don’t have to do anything on that house. That’s our house, and we
don’t have to do. And here, you have to do all that property tax, all that stuff that,
(laughs) but over there we don’t.
BRODY: So they trained you on all those details.
PHAM: They trained us on detail there. Actually, my family, you know, only me speak
English and all the kid small. My parent, he kind of that thing—oh, my parent at that
time, he’s sixty-five years old. My mom like fifty-five, but she don’t speak any English.
He speak French but then—and then on the camp, that what we do. And we eat, and
when we go to movie and then kind of, you know, prepare to get out.
BRODY: Right.
PHAM: But then the ___(??) to prepare to get out. So a lot of people, they know people
outside already, or they know people in another country, like Canada, or they got—most
of them in France, a lot of Vietnamese, they’re connect with France, you know? So they
want to go there. So they go very fast. Sponsor over there, and they go very fast. The
people who want to American, want to get out American or another country, a lot of
people, they want to go to a different country, they go to Brazil, they go everywhere.
They got people in there to go. So they go faster. Go to American for me is kind of harder
because we eleven people. Who can sponsor eleven people to get out?
BRODY: Right. So how did you come to find your sponsors?
PHAM: And then we have to—my only request, I want to go to warm country, a warm,
warm place. I don’t want to go north, cold, anything. I want to go warm. So somehow
they—so what I—I waited in delay until September. Got the church from a Presbyterian
church with a member of the church, they sponsored us to go to here, Richardson.
BRODY: To come to Richardson. So the First Presbyterian Church of Richardson—
PHAM: Yeah. The whole family—
BRODY: —sponsored the whole family?
PHAM: The whole family, eleven people, all of us, as a full family. We live at the place
very close to my house right now. When I got the place I don’t move too far. I got the
apartment there. I got four bedroom apartment, and they got up there. We come out on
the Labor Day; September second, Labor Day, yeah.
BRODY: So your anniversary is coming up.
PHAM: Yeah.
BRODY: So what was the apartment like? Four bedroom—
PHAM: Four bedroom, yeah. We got very—you know, I come up here, we got bedroom,
we got—what, carpet on the floor. We never live on a carpet floor. We never had a carpet
floor, now we got carpet floor, everything. And the first meal have that much people, so
that was—
BRODY: So, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine families sponsored, so—
PHAM: (laughs) So they come in. So at least half of that, you know, that come in,
themself. So they got us fried chicken.
BRODY: They got you fried chicken. (laughs) Finally. You got the fried chicken.
PHAM: Yeah, I got fried chicken. They—oh man, you know, that night, fried chicken on
the second, yeah, and the family. And then they explain it to us, what Sunday I go to the
church, I have to go to speech, something, and then, you know, prepare kid because
BRODY: It was starting, yes.
PHAM: It started.

Segment Synopsis: Pham described what he was taught while waiting on Wake Island for a sponsorship to move to the United States.

Keywords: Arkansas; Brazil; Canada; English language; First Presbyterian Church of Richardson; Fort Smith; France; French language; Guam; Labor Day; Presbyterian Church; Richardson; United States; Wake Island; apartment; church; escapng Vietnam; famiy; food; fried chicken; housing; language learning; leaving Vietnam; refugees; school; sponsor; sponsors; sponsorship; taxes

01:16:15 - Adjusting to life in the United States

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Partial Transcript: PHAM: So kid go to school. So I got four or five kid go to school. Two of
these right here cannot go to the school yet because they still small, so they have to pass
preschool or something. Another, my two young brother, twin, my sister, a little bit older,
she like twelve, thirteen years old, and then another girl, you know, like, my niece, my
wife niece—but four of them go to school.
BRODY: So they’re all—yeah, they all had to be signed up for school and get ready for
PHAM: For school, the Dobie close to my house, everything. And then, you know, they
go to school.
BRODY: So what school did they go to?
PHAM: Dobie Elementary School.
BRODY: Dobie Elementary in Richardson.
PHAM: Yeah, right on that—you know, that recent border of Dallas, but Dobie at that
time, very good school. You know, somehow lucky, good school.
BRODY: Were there other Vietnamese families at the school?
PHAM: They got—at that time they live there very close. A lot of Vietnamese live there
at that area. At that point, you know, a lot of Vietnamese live in that apartment. But now
nobody live there no more, only me. The rest of them move everywhere, but only me live
there. But Dobie school. And my kid, later on, they go to—the church got the preschool
somewhere very close, and so my kid go to that school and the lady here, you know,
bring them to go to school. My kid go to Dobie school, and we can walk, they can walk
to school.
BRODY: So the sponsors really helped you and your family adjust. What kinds of things
did the sponsors do?
PHAM: The sponsor, they—I believe before I got out the camp, looked like ___(??), they
gave us, every person, they got ten dollar or something—a hundred dollar, I believe, you
know, something too. So when I got out of that, I gave that money to the sponsor people
here, you know, that __(??) people, the money. But they plan already. They rent the
apartment for one month. They paid for.
BRODY: They took care of that.
PHAM: The food, they paid for the food a whole month or something. And every day
they’d come in to bring us to go to grocery to buy food. And we eat a lot of rice at that
time, and they—the grocery at that time, they close the market, got the Safeway, and we
got in there to buy rice. And see, you have two, three bag of rice; the whole section, they
have three bag of rice, like a five pound or something like that, and we grab all five
pound but five pound, we maybe eat only one or two days.
BRODY: Right.
PHAM: You know, and then they—we have to buy food, they teach us how to buy food
cheaper. You know, each season you don’t like to ________(??) fruit, you don’t buy
them right now because it may be expensive, right? Another month may be cheaper, so
they help us how to buy them, good priced food. And __(??), cheap so that one is—I still
remember is right here. I think they buy cheap, so they go to buy chicken. So at that time
they buy—they sell chicken neck. You know, a lot of that is cheapest.
BRODY: It’s cheap.
PHAM: Yeah. So I think that one because it’s cheap, so I buy a lot of chicken necks.
BRODY: Oh boy. (laughs)
PHAM: But after that, for, I mean years after that and some of the lady in here, they bring
to me a lot of chicken neck because they think I love it. (laughs) They bring them to give
us, you know, they think because I like it, we like it. But actually, you know, we eat
because it cheap.
BRODY: It was cheap. (laughs) That’s pretty funny. But they thought you loved chicken
necks. (laughs)
PHAM: Yeah, love the necks, so they bought it. But that what they teach us. That, and
then find out I said, “Well, I have to find some place where we buy a lot of rice.” You
know, more rice, that is not enough. We cannot go to buy rice every day and everywhere,
so finally somehow they—one lady at this apartment, she find a place in downtown that
sells rice. We bought a hundred pound.
BRODY: A hundred pounds of rice.
PHAM: A thousand kilo, that’d be two hundred pound, right? Yeah. We bought a whole
bag like that.
BRODY: That lasted longer?
PHAM: Yeah, and then we go there and they—all of them, they no very good drive to
downtown and they got lost out there. But they got the courage to go there to buy rice.
And then one family, they help us to go to every—we go to farmer’s market down there
to buy fruit, vegetable, something like that, to do that for us. And my wife, and my mom,
she very good cook. So she cook something they like very much, like they want a eggroll.
__(??) At that time, you know, nobody know eggroll look like and how eat them. My
mom, she cook eggroll.
BRODY: She cooked eggrolls for all the sponsors?
PHAM: Yeah. And a lot of family right here, we ___(??) she love it, and she asked,
“What in there?” (laughs) And when my wife tell what in there and she no eat no more.
BRODY: Oh no. (laughs)
PHAM: Yeah. Because the way we cook eggroll out there in Vietnam, the best part on
the chicken look like a liver, the gizzard, thing like that.
BRODY: Goes into the eggroll.
PHAM: We ____ (??) we put in there. It make it crunchy, everything good. But
American, you know, a lot of people, they don’t ever eat the ___(??), I don’t, that thing is
no good at all. Now they eat a lot. But before that time, nobody know how to eat that!
BRODY: So she was shocked when she found out?
PHAM: She was shocked when she know we ___(??) she eat the good, she didn’t say
anything! But then my wife, she show her how to cook, she got the gizzard in there. From
there, she no eat them no more. I say, “Well, next time tell her we don’t put that in there,
we put meat. We don’t put that stuff in there.” (laughs)
BRODY: Yes. She was sorry she asked, I’m sure. (laughs)

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his family's adjustment to life in the United States, including housing, school, and food.

01:23:08 - Starting work in the United States

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So were you working at this
PHAM: Okay. And then they find us to go to looking for job.
BRODY: So the sponsors helped you find jobs too?
PHAM: And I don’t have a job, I don’t know what skill I got, so I say, “Well, anything I
can do.” So first one they see me go to do the place what they do—what, do yardwork,
you know, to do—cut grass or something. But they look at us, I’m not—you know, I’m
only a hundred and fifty pound, and my father is same size, you know. Then they say,
“Well, these guys, you know, don’t look like they have strong enough to do work,” or
something. And they don’t take us. (laughs)
BRODY: So they didn’t take you for the yard work?
PHAM: No, they don’t take us for that. So I said, “What kind of job we do?” I’m
thinking, Well, here they have a lot of cars, so I say, “Well, let’s do car.”
BRODY: Cars.
PHAM: Yeah, let’s do car. So I go to look for a car at the Sear Roebuck. They got the
place, the guy worked out there. Somehow, he got that they know they’re looking for a
car mechanic, do helper or something. So they bring me over there. So they take me for
car mechanic, and I don’t know anything for car, mechanic, or anything, you know? I
don’t know, and I worked with the guy, his name is Tommy DeComb, he’s younger than
me. He’s certainly same year, same old—same age my kid, and he a very nice guy. He
take care of the shop, he take care of the garage. He don’t fix for people, they take care of
the fleet. So I’m the helper. I come and help, I say, “Well, you can teach—you have to
teach me, because I don’t know anything. But I’ll tell you, I can learn very fast.” So he
say, “Okay.” He’s a very nice guy. And every time he under the car, right, he want a
spare part. So I stand on the toolbox, I put it up, this spare part? This spare part? So when
he says, “Yes,” so I got—“Oh, this screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver or what?”
BRODY: So you learned a lot of words quickly.
PHAM: So I learned a lot of words, but I don’t know what all of that was, you know? So
I help him. And I learn very fast, you know. Even the driver—the tow truck—even I
never drived a tow truck, you know, and I—you know, he says go to pick up. I, at that
time, am not drive a tow truck yet, and the tow truck at that time, is not that good like a
tow truck right now. And I, over in Vietnam, we never have a moisture or anything. At
that time, very close to the winter, right? I come in December and I walk on the job. The
next few weeks and then the winter come in, and I drive the truck and something circling
(makes sound effect) don’t see anything, all of that moisture, it collect, and I don’t know
what the, how to open the defroster, anything. Because I got defrost, you know, it clear,
but I never know that.
BRODY: You didn’t have that experience?
PHAM: But the nice time—now, it’s bad, but that time, you know, the road a lot clearer
than now. You know, forty-five years old, it be a lot of clear. Like on the [Interstate] 635
just opened, and it—you drive the car, you know, you can see the car in front, like, a mile
ahead, you know, nobody __(??) so no have traffic that much.
BRODY: Right, it’s not as much traffic.
PHAM: I remember I drive the tow truck, pick up—very bad tow truck, pick up the
van—big van, cargo van, you know—they go to work and that van broke down right on
Downtown [Interstate] 30 and I drived out there and I pick up that, drive the middle of
the lane and pick up that, and when I walk I how scary it is. And you go under there—it
not truck like now, you know, just hang in there and pick up—you have to crawl under
there to hook all the cable and crawl all around. I not going to scare anything. I don’t
know. And I pulled that big and go home. I had no problem at all. I do it. And then—I
think before that, before I worked for the Sear—I mean, I know before I worked Sear?—
no, no, no, yeah, that first, yeah. And then he build—oh, change the oil—I tell you
change the oil. They got the truck, right? The six-cylinder Ford. So they got the air filter
there and then they got the pipe go down. To take the oil out is easy. I got down there to
go get the screw and take oil out and filter seal there—easy. But when put oil in, I don’t
know where to put. You see, the one on the heater, raiser go from the heat there to the
manifold got in, you know. I put oil in there. (laughs) I put in there. So I said, wow, I
kind of—very, very, you know, kind of—
BRODY: You’re learning on the job.
PHAM: I’m learning. But that time you don’t see people—if they see you do anything
like that, he kind of—shoddy kind of thing like that, you know? And you a mechanic?
You do that? (laughs) But then I learn that, and he—that guy, he build racecar, he race
cars, a lot of, you know, racecar. He do fast racecar, you know, and every week he go to
race. And he build—he got the Barracuda or whatever his car, you know. And this guy,
he said every time—he __(??) on that car, he’d only put one dollar. Drive to his house,
only one dollar. He write a check, one dollar. Every time he put only one dollar. I guess,
at that time, like thirty-five cent a gallon, but, you know, the one dollar to put car there
and that gas in there, and he build—he fix his car all the time at night. So I say, well, I
volunteer to go to his place to help him to learn—I don’t know what the transmission is
or what is that, so I go in there every night, you know? I go home—my house here, his
house—he’s live in Mesquite. And I have to go to his place, and at ten o’clock I go home.
And I learn from him, you know, how what do it, and he don’t teach me. He said do
what, you do that, and then when he do—I saw what he did, he did the valve job and put
there—lift there, you know, lift there, everything, so I—you know, I—after he done and I
follow, I do it. You know, somehow I do there—but that guy, he’s younger than me, but
he made me lose the job.
BRODY: Oh no. How did that happen?
PHAM: Yeah. He go to pick up a car, you know, a van, stuck on somewhere. So I go
with him. And he drive, he talk, somehow he almost hit people, he got to the ditch, so
then we got in there to put the truck out, everything, somehow then now, they got
somehow, they report, whatever there, so he say, “Well, it look like my fault or
something.” So I think that’s why they fired me, or something.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his first jobs in the United States and his learning to be a mechanic while working.

Keywords: Dallas; English; Sears Roebuck; car repair; employment; jobs; language learning; learning English; mechanic; sponsors; toolbox; tools; tow truck; yardwork

01:31:10 - Recovering from being fired

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Partial Transcript: One time—at that time we
ran out, we live easy. I tell you what—how it’s hard at that time. The life easy, but I have
to choose __________(??) people from here. They give me all the house, they give
furniture, they give everything. A lot of, you know, dish I still have here now. And they
give a television, the old television, we’ve got black and white, and they __(??). So when
the Sear—I work for Sear, right? So I go to Sear store, I sold—I got the 19—I think 19
television—that’s a better new one at that time—television, Sony. Cost about five
hundred dollar. So I have fifty dollar. That time I saved fifty dollar. So I want to buy—
fifty dollar—I buy a TV. I say I work for Sear for almost a year, right? So I think, Well,
they give me buy the TV, I borrow. And application, everything, you know? I make—at
that time, I work for Sear, pay three dollars and fifty cents an hour. And I said—fifty
dollars—so I said, “Well, I give $50 and borrow $150.” And wait for two-three weeks,
way, way, way after ___(??) my TV. And he say, “Wait, wait, they don’t have that.”
Finally they give me authorized to buy. They give me the credit. But the credit you pay
for it, that fifty dollar, they give me fifty dollar finance. (laughs)
BRODY: That’s not a very good deal. (laughs)
PHAM: No, it—so I cannot buy the TV, okay? That the one. Another one, they don’t
give me that, and then after I—but I called Sear. They give you a lot of class, you know,
like a different kind of mechanics, small lawnmower or something, ___(??) gasoline or
air conditioning, all kind of stuff, a small class, and I’m very good at that, you know?
Every class I make, you know, everything, and yet all is sort of ______(??). And after
they fire me—I work for a year, and they fire me and I go looking mechanic job. You
know, mechanic job, I look, go to downtown, they got the place, you know, very bad,
don’t look very good, everything, but I go in. Look like they don’t give me a job. And
then somehow friend of mine, they work for—at that time in here, maybe a thousand
American Vietnamese only, right? You don’t have Vietnamese restaurant, you don’t have
nothing. You have only one place where we buy Vietnamese food or anything. You got
the downtown, very downtown, we’ve got a Chinese place—big, like this house—they
sell Nouc Mam or all that food, that’s it. But we don’t have anything.
BRODY: Right.
PHAM: And then they—all that they’re doing the outside ___(??), but when I do a
second job and I—they give me—they got a friend of mine, he worked like a machinist.
And he a real machinist. In Vietnam, he’s a mechanic. So—he not mechanic—but he an
officer, but he did engineering, you know? So he know all of that, all that stuff. So he got
the job in there, and he very—they love him. Everybody love him in there. He very good.
You know, precision, worked fast, so everybody he recommend, they took it. So I say I
know him, so he said “Wow,” want to go apply job. And I never know how machinist do,
and you know, I don’t know how to cut, and how to—
BRODY: That wasn’t your experience.
PHAM: I never know! I say even they do the mechanic here, I don’t have enough
experience, and he said, “Well, okay.” So I go apply. They ask me, I say that’s a friend of
mine there. He recommend here. So they ask me what tool I got. I have one tool, you
know, like micrometer? They have a lot of micrometer, every distance you have the
different micrometer. But all I know is micrometer, same thing, you know? When they
ask me in there, what you got, a five micrometer, ten micrometer? I —“yes,” even though
I have only one. (laughs) I have the one caliber, one micrometer, that’s all I got. But they
ask me and I don’t __(??) I answer _____________(??), but I am truly be very good, so
they hire me right away. That thing paid $5.50, so it’s a lot better than $3.50 or so, right?
So I got in there, finally I got in there, they don’t give me—I say, “Well, I’m not doing
that again.” They don’t open that, they got to open the place—cut—saw machine cut.
And I got in there, got the supervisor, got in there, they ask me to cut. I see the machine, I
already got the machine, only the cut, and he gave me the paper, the diagram, to cut angle
and that stuff; “Oh man, how to cut this?” (laughs)
BRODY: You didn’t know how to do it?
PHAM: I don’t know how to do it. I ask him, “You cut one to let me see how to cut it.”
So he cut it. He got all that—he bring all the tuner there, tried to set up, so he cut angle,
right? And so I went, “Okay.” So I cut. And then the next day, I cut it, and all of them
from now, anything that hard cut, I cut, because all the big people there, they cannot cut
good, because they know how to cut, but they don’t cut to precision, they don’t cut bad or
anything. Like I do the sheer machine—the guy do the machine, I see the guy, he do
the—American guy, he do sheer and he do the big machine, and he cut a lot. And it look
like he bought a brand-new car, everything. And so man, I think he really good. Next
week he got fire, because he cut a lot, but he cut wrong. He cut wrong dimension, you
know? But because, you know, for me I look on that diagram there when I cut, I could
only cut short, because short better than cut long. It’s different if right there, you can see
it, you know. Cut short, you can make work. But you cut long, you cannot make it work,
you cannot weld. Like this way, short, you can make it open right here. It long, you
know, in the wall, you cannot do it. That machine, that piece of ________(??), throw
them away. But I do cut for two more months, but anything I come in there, anything
harder, that me to cut.
BRODY: So you learned quickly.
PHAM: Oh, I’m learn—you cannot believe how learn I am learned fast. I got skilled
mechanic, very skilled. And then after two, three months, I got the guy, he worked for
Don Snell Buick car, he’s a Air Force guy, officer. He got a job in there. He go—
somehow he had. But then he got the job in Austin—or Houston, sorry, Houston—and he
tell me job, he got applied okay for mechanic at Don Snell. If I wanted, I can go to see
what. So I go to—I see mechanic, that’s what I want to do—
BRODY: That’s what you wanted to do, yeah.
PHAM: —car mechanic. So I go to apply for his job. Somehow they took me. I say I do
all of that, ________ (??) the guy took me on that big dealership, that Don Snell Buick,
only four dealership at that time, you know, like a Buick, Ford, Chevrolet, two, three,
four. It’s not like now, where you don’t have a Honda mechanic or anything like that, just
only Ford, Buick, like five, six Chevrolet, and Pontiac, maybe one or two, and they took
me and I go be helper mechanic for the guy. And he got the big toolbox, everything, you
know, I think he’s—but basically that guy, not very good mechanic, you know? He do—I
think he can do it ________(??) he would give me, but he do everything. He do, I look
like—after I do work for him for three, four months. Every car, if I have to pay him, he
have to pay me to fix my car. That’s why I’m say how good he is. He have to pay me to
fix my car. And everything he do it, he hide from me, because I don’t know how to do,
like, the random valves, you have to do the valve job. You have the machine, you go in
there to set up a machine to do the valve job, everything. And then if you show me one
time—I can see he do one time, and I can do it.
BRODY: You can learn it.
PHAM: I can learn it. I can do it right away. I can learn it, but he hide, he do it. I say,
“Well, this valve, it look very bad, it certainly come out very clean and nice.” I say,
“Well, how you do that?” He don’t say anything.
BRODY: So he wasn’t sharing?
PHAM: He don’t—he should be. I am the helper, I make money for him. But somehow
he don’t show me. He’s a very nice guy, but somehow he don’t do that. And he do
something I see very bad; like people, they bring in the car, and all the car he fix, at that
time he do an Opel car from Germany, you know, Opel. And it little bit different
precision car, an American, whatever there. But car at that time, they don’t pay deal very
good, or right now. They broken every—even brand-new car, like five, six thousand mile,
they broke already. And he do the car, he do the valve job or whatever, he do the rim job.
And the guy drive and then I stuck all the spark plug and it don’t run good, bring what he
do. He clean them up, put them back, and ship away again.
BRODY: So he wasn’t really fixing anything.
PHAM: He never fix! And at one time he do it—and I let the car run, see how it work,
and he got mad at me, “Why you let him run?” And I said, “You have to run to see how it
work.” Because if I run it, the oil foul up the spark plug. And when the guy pick up the
car it don’t run good, so that’s what, you know—and everything he fix, it broke. You
know, the stake he had is not very good, he got in there, he didn’t fix up and make
something more wrong then bad because that Opel is very small. Opel GT, you know, it’s
small, it’s a very tiny, look like a—and he got in there and he don’t know how to fix. And
I tell the manager, I say I don’t want to work with him no more.

Segment Synopsis: Pham explains what he did after being fired from his previous job: working at Sears and operating a machine cutter. Then, he describes apprenticing with a mechanic who refused to teach him.

Keywords: Buick; Chevrolet; Chinese grocery; Dallas; Don Snell Buick; Ford; Houston; Nouc Mam; Opel; Sears Roebuck; TV; car repair; classes; cooking; credit; education; employment; food; friendship; furniture; housing; jobs; machinist; mechanic; micrometer; restaurant; spark plug; toolbox; tools; training; valves; welding

01:42:40 - Advancing as a mechanic

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Partial Transcript: PHAM: I want to do it by myself.
BRODY: Did the manager say yes?
PHAM: Yeah, he said yes, because he know me. You know, he know me, I can do the
job, they see that guy with me because ___(??) even I know them, and I ___(??)
anything, but he take. I do it by myself. But when I do by myself I have to have a tool,
and I have only a box this big for tool. So how we do that? So I have to go to buy tool
box. And Snap-On, they don’t sell tool—not like now, they sell a lot of people—but at
that time, they don’t sell. And they have to go to the bank to borrow money. At that time
I have a fifteen-hundred dollar—no, I have eight-hundred dollar—
BRODY: In the bank?
PHAM: On the bank, it not—it not fifty dollar, ___(??). So I go to borrow money, and
they told me—how much I want to borrow? I say fifteen-hundred dollar, because that is
enough for me to do it, fifteen-hundred dollar, and they say, “Oh, well, you have fifteen
hundred dollar borrow?” I say yeah, they say I have eight hundred dollar. So what they
do for me, let me borrow eight hundred dollar, because I have to put eight hundred dollar
in there for creditor, whatever there. Only, let me borrow eight hundred dollar. So I say,
“Oh no, it not”—I want to pay fifteen, so I have to borrow seven, eight dollars or
whatever, and I even though _________(??) they don’t let me borrow!
BRODY: Why do you think they didn’t let you borrow?
PHAM: Because I don’t have any credit. No credit. At that time, nobody got credit card
off, no they don’t—you have eight hundred dollar, only thing I have to borrow is eight hundred
dollar. You have to keep eight hundred dollar in there, for me, for sure, (laughs),
right? They don’t let me borrow seven dollar.
BRODY: So you couldn’t get the tools?
PHAM: I don’t get the tools from that, but I go to talk to my—the owner, Don Snell
owner, he’s a World War II—he’s an aviator. You know, somehow he know me, so I
say—he tell the toolbox to sell to him for me.
BRODY: Oh, that’s great.
PHAM: So he lent me and bought tool. Exceptional. Nobody, you know, they give to—
because I bought tools and ___(??) only one. So he trust me very good.
BRODY: So he trusted you and he actually gave you tools to—
PHAM: —to do that, so I buy—get tool box for fifteen hundred dollars. I buy tool box, I
work by myself. And luckily, I found the guy next to me, now he’s best friend up to now
for me, you know, he’s my teacher, he’s Terry Bussing(??). He a mechanic; a good, good
mechanic. He fix everything. He can build a house from bottom-up, he do everything.
And he from up north. Somehow, he still got to Dallas a year ago, and he work next to
me. So when I do my job with anything I don’t know, I ask him and he tell me.
BRODY: He helps you. So it was different—
PHAM: A lot of guys there don’t tell you, they look at you like very discommunication.
A lot of guys, you know, an older guy, all the thing I have to—I’m a very good tae kwon
do man, I show him, so they respect me because I got power, fast, everything. But
mechanic, I am not very good. English, am not very good. But this guy, you know, he
love me. So he’s my partner. So from there up to later on, whatever, I make any outside
money, I share with him. He do outside money, he give me half. And I learned a lot from
him, something. He can weld, like, a gas tank with a lot of gas in it, full gas. One of the
time he got crack; you had to fix it, right? You have to pull this gas tank out, you drain all
the water in the tank out, and then you send to somebody else. Or you can put water in
there to clean it very good, and then you weld them, and then it be done, right? This guy,
he weld together tank with gas, full gas in there. And a lot of people, they worry, they run
away. All of the mechanics, there big smoke coming, everything. They ran away. But
because they don’t understand, because, you know, the gas—explosion—the gas
explosion, it not the gas itself, it _______(??). Because it not—it can vibrate the gas, if
you put the fire in there, it burn, but you don’t use the gas that—you don’t use the—
what—the flame. So you hit another thing, you know, make that red-hot and then you
solder them and you weld them or whatever there, even, you know, the red go down to
the gas, you can hear the sh-sh, there’s no explosion.
BRODY: There’s no explosion?
PHAM: Yeah. I learned a lot of stuff from him, you know? I learned all that stuff. And
all, whatever do the fix the car, fix for—only take one year. I think it take one year, 1973,
’74—no, ’81, ’82, ’83—and then I am become the best mechanic in town.
BRODY: You did?
PHAM: Yeah, I am the master mechanic. I got all the certificate for the ASA
[Automotive Service Association], they call it the highest, you know, mechanic. And
every mechanic, I am the best mechanic and I make money beside that guy. The second
guy make more money then, because we make by—the faster we make, they do
commission. It not by the hour, like, the weld, you making five dollar, but I make one
day, like, I work eight hours, I make fifteen hour, twenty hour, I make a lot more time,
and then ___(??). That’s why I make money like that guy. And besides that, you know, a
lot of car, you know, people outside we can do the job at his house and we should have
the money, everything, and I make good money at Don Snell with him. I work with him
until ’85 or almost ten year there. And I am the best mechanic and I do—
BRODY: That’s quite a journey, from 1975 to 1985.
PHAM: Oh yeah, 1975, no until ’85, I am very good at—and then that owner and the
manager, everybody, the mechanics, they love me after, you know, a few years. And
anything broke, I can fix anything. Even they got the computer, the telephone broke, want
me to fix. The door on the main gate broke, they want me to fix. The one machine to pull
all the—for the bank, you see ______________(??) broke, they want me to fix. The boat,
he got the fast boat, they want to fix. Only me could fix the roller machine to do on-floor
clean. (laughs)
BRODY: The call you for everything.
PHAM: They want me to fix, because they don’t call me, I will fix because it cost a lot of
money to outside the __(??) I fix and they pay me by—they give me a job, a car, and the
side car. But at that time, you know, a lot of car broken. A lot of cars go into the
dealership, you work all day long, you no can—
BRODY: You’re busy.
PHAM: —busy, busy. So I fix good until they got some idea from some kind of—I don’t
know. They want to make a group, four or five people, mechanics, to turn out the job and
share. At that point, me and that guy, we say we don’t do that. We don’t want to do that.
But the guy don’t want to do anything. He do bad, and then you have to fix for him, and
sometimes they hire a lot of guys, you know, they go in to fix the job and do the job and
he don’t know anything, he make the job very bad, and then you have to fix it. And you
lose a lot of thing like that, you know, they do very bad manager at that time. So I don’t
do that, I go to look at another job, another Buick, Inwood Buick. I go over there at
Inwood Buick for another few years. And after that I open my own shop.
BRODY: Did you? So what year was that that you opened your own shop?
PHAM: ’89.
BRODY: ’89. So—okay, so about ten years later.
PHAM: About—after mechanic, like twelve years or ten years. I’ve been for—’79, ’78, I
do mechanic until ’89. I know everything at that time. Mechanic, am very good, anything
I can fix.
BRODY: So you must have been really proud when you opened your own—
PHAM: Yeah, I opened my own shop. I do mechanic, I sell car. I do everything. I sell car
and I do—I can finance car, I do car, I do fix car, I do buy car, sell car, I do auction, I do
BRODY: You do it all?
PHAM: I do pick up, you know, repossession car, me too. I do—I mean, everything. Do
title work, I do—

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his learning to be a mechanic and become a valued mechanic at a multitude of dealerships. Then, he describes how he opened his own automotive shop.

Keywords: ASA; Automotive Service Association; Don Snell; Inwood Buick; banking; banks; car mechanic; car repair; cars; credit; employment; entrepreneur; friendship; jobs; kindness; loans; master mechanic; mechanic; money; owner; small business; toolbox; tools; trust; welding

01:53:01 - Discrimination as a mechanic

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So earlier, you were talking about—when you were working at the Buick place
that you felt some discrimination because people, maybe, didn’t know you as well, can
PHAM: No, that guy, the discrimination there, that two other men there, very good
mechanic, they do ___(??) one of them brother, and they discrimination me. I don’t think
because I am Vietnamese or anything. He discriminates me, looked like he discriminate
the guy, friend of mine too, he American, Terry Bussing. They discriminate him too.
BRODY: Really?
PHAM: Sometime before, he think I am not good. So he discrimination. And after that,
for a few years later, I am too good. He still discrimination, because I make money more
than him. And that what—you know, because when you make money more you’re good,
and then some customer they require what mechanic to do their job, and when I do work
for Inwood Buick and on the wintertime, nobody got work and I’m only busy, because
they want me to do the job. And all at one time, I can tell you __(??) this, because I don’t
have __(??) fix the car, and they got out, they not get back because my fault. Not get
back. And the guys that do the advisor, the guy can do, you know, between the customer
and the mechanic, right? One time, he find one tiny thing, I don’t tie them good, and he—
oh man, he happy, because I fire—you heard __(??) thing like that, you know, I’m that
good a mechanic.
BRODY: Okay, so it was a different kind of thing?
PHAM: So I do everything, air conditioning, transmission, engine, all of that stuff, and I
find a lot of thing to do. Fast, not because I do skip the job or anything, but I—example
for you: when the car, 1981, ’82, they build a car with a four-wheel drive with the engine
on the side. When something in the new car, they broke on the side, they broke, right, the
transmission on the—sometimes you have to take the whole transmission out to go in
there to fix it. And I can fix without take the thing out. So it got me at the time, a lot of
time. So when the car got the flywheel, it bad, it’s sweeping, and you want to fix them
and you have to replace flywheel, you have to take the transmission out, attach flywheel.
I can make it out a little bit, and my hand can got in there to take the flywheel to fix, to
lift flywheel to do it. So I save a lot of time on put—that car, they have a freeze plug
leaking, and they own four, five ___(??), you know, people have to take a lot of things
out to put it in. Sometimes I don’t take it out, and I put it in. I do a lot of shortcut and
make them fix them very quick.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his experiences with people's reactions to his success within the mechanics industry.

Keywords: Inwood Buick; car mechanic; car repair; cars; discrimination; employment; jobs; racism

01:56:25 - Continuing education in the United States

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: Right. What about learning English? Your English obviously improved a lot
from the time that you were in Vietnam to here.
PHAM: Well, I got my degree, associate degree, on 1981. I went in ’76, I said, “Well,
I’m—in Vietnam, I got diploma for high school, I go to military for two, three years, so
my education is very good. I do electronic, everything, math, all the math, everything, I
am so good up to, you know, up to bachelor, everything like that.” So I said, well—and
nobody knows, so I’d say, “Well, I have to take—I think I’m going to go be engineer and
I’ll do mechanic.” So I go to Richland College. I do at night, I do night—every go to
school after job, I go direct to there and I go to school. And I got my degree in
engineering technology—they call it engineering technology, right? Yeah. I got—
BRODY: What year was that?
PHAM: Huh?
BRODY: And what year was that?
PHAM: ’81.
BRODY: ’81.
PHAM: Yeah. I ________(??) there, and I got my degree with high honors. I do math, I
learn all my math over there. My math teacher—I tell you what, I can do it without—I
can get A without the final.
BRODY: Really? So you were really good at math?
PHAM: Oh man, I’m real good at math. I think I go do better than when I’m—do math
when in Vietnam at that time. And somehow, your mind, somehow it open, I do it very
fast, I’m very fast. That’s why mechanic, nobody teach me. Mechanic, completely
nobody teach me. I learned by myself and very fast.
BRODY: So you were sitting in the classroom with American students and it was—I
mean, was that hard for you?
PHAM: No, no, they love me. All my friend American because I know all that stuff.
Actually, the one night college, you know, I only think it’s something—that the thing I
failed was the one, the English 101.
BRODY: English 101 was hard?
PHAM: Yeah, 101, the first one I thought, __________________(??) And then when I go
in there, the first class, second, they tell me something I have to write something so I
said, “Forgot it,” I cut that off, finally I have to get that 131. English 131. Kind of easy.
Not easy, but it kind of—the 101 kind of writing, all that kind of stuff, and 131 kind of
looked like something particular, more than. So anything, you know, particularly, I can
see it, I can do better. Some thing, I don’t do good, but so I—I take me almost four years
to get my degree.
BRODY: To get your degree at Richland?
PHAM: Yeah, and then I want to go back to UTD [University of Texas–Dallas], but then
I say well at that time at my mechanic and my __(??) I look at a friend of mine— __(??)
engineer, to make money like me. But at that time, 1978, ’81, ’82, ’83, I did make like
eighty-thousand dollar a year, mechanic.
BRODY: So it was a good—yeah.
PHAM: Engineer only pay like forty-thousand or something. I make a very good money,
that’s something I forgot about—engineer to mechanic. So that was what I do mechanics.
So I open my own shop, so I do everything. And my shop, you know, I do—all my
customer, they come in, you know, anything they—from their son, their father, they buy
a car from me, you know, they want car, they’re going to buy it from me.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his taking English classes and pursuing further college education.

Keywords: Associates Degree; English; English 101; Richland College; UTD; University of Texas at Dallas; car mechanic; cars; community college; education; friendship; language learning; learning English; mechanic; night school; school

02:00:28 - The American Dream /Family's current state

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: That’s great. So you were a real success story. Do you—you know, some
people would say that’s like the American dream, right? When you think about your–the
concept of being American, did you change your citizenship? Did you become an
American citizen?
PHAM: Yeah, five years. I do that to ___(??) take me six years—it not five, but six years,
because I’m busy or something, so that what takes me six years. But, you know __(??)
citizenship. Me and my wife at the same time.
BRODY: What year was that?
PHAM: I think that ’82 or something, yeah—’81, ’82.
BRODY: So what do you think it means to be American, to you?
PHAM: Being American mean everything, because you cannot be—look like you are if
you’re not American. That the truth. Right now, it not me, I’m not—all the Vietnamese,
even in Vietnam. If they in Vietnam, even not communist, even like before that, if they
work like a farmer, they do like a fishing man, they live like that, their kid like that, their
grandkid like that, they never will be change, at all. I think another country is like a
channel is ___(??). Come American, them kids right there. They are farmer. They can
Ph.D. over there, they can be a doctor over here. They can be everything over here. In
Vietnamese right now, you never know yet, but all of them that come here, they be
success unless, you know, some crazy guy, don’t want to do anything or thing like that,
or they got drunk or they got a—very few, but they got—it not, don’t have, but they got.
But the rest, if they go to school, they improve everything. Their life, their family,
everything, and even there. And even here, before you have ___(??) your family, you got
on the DNA, right? You got this good, and your kid got good and you have that. But I
think the Vietnamese blood, they good, they’re smart. Even they fisherman, they do
fishing, they don’t—I talk with my niece, my one niece. She don’t know any in
Vietnamese language at all. She only know how to write her name. And she come here,
put her on for fifth grade, and she don’t know. She can’t like that _____(??) fifth grade.
Vietnamese, she can maybe write her name only, something like maybe one day, because
her family move around, everything, and she graduated from high school. Go to college,
secretary, and she don’t want to secretary, don’t make money. She go to do the hair, and
she got hair salon, and very success. If you’re in Vietnam, what she do? She don’t go to
schools, she don’t go ___(??) maybe do something, you know, everything. My younger
brother, my brother, my two young brother and my kid, they got lucky because they come
here, they’re young enough, and all of them graduate from UT [University of Texas]. All
of my two younger brother are from UT, one A&M [Texas A&M]. One of my—all my
kid from UT, my younger kid, UT, all of that from UT. And all of my brother kid from
UT and SMU [Southern Methodist University]. And even my brother, my younger
brother come here, he seventeen years old. In Vietnam at that time, the war, he don’t go
to school. My father move him place to place, he don’t do good in school. He come here,
he only eleven grade. In twelfth grade he quit, he go to work for a company like Mostech
over there, he go do a—the lower job, like they call a line, you know, call a—
BRODY: Factory?
PHAM: Factory, a line, everything, and he come up from there, up, up, up, up, up; he up
to almost president.
PHAM: Right now, he’s—now even big companies, he work for Cypress to go to __(??)
channel, go to Philippine, everything. Now he only sixty years old, he retire, have enough
money to retire. He retire already, this year. And even if retire, you know, some company
open, they want the guy, you know, advisor, want him to come in to do advisor, and he’s
up and up. His boss, everything, gone, he still up there and—another in June, when we go
up to Minnesota and he go with me, he bring me to the company. He build that company
for Cypress. And all the guy in there, even he left the company for two years. He come
back, see them guy, all them guy in there. And all of them in there, at least about ten
PSD. American guy, and the guy is a wrestler, all kind of guy, look him like—
BRODY: With respect?
PHAM: Respect and, you know, remember because he teach them guys how to work
thing. And another two younger—my two young brother, twin, one of them is in
California right now, and he have his kid. His daughter, she just graduated from Stanford,
and they got ___(??) or whatever they got who arrived the first year. They got in.
BRODY: That’s amazing. So the twins were also on the boat with you?
PHAM: Yeah, that too. Only twelve year. I mean, the first—the first two week at Dobie
school, they fight with another kid and all of my sponsor have to come in call, come in to
tell them they don’t fight because they don’t speak English and they learn to get in the
fighting with the high schooler, want to go to A&M, want to go to UT. UT go to
California, ___(??), and then he got his ___(??), he got the rent-a-car company, he do—
he take the best tax ___(??) right now.
BRODY: That’s an amazing story.
PHAM: Boy, he so fast on tax, you can see he do that very good and he do all of that
for—he do that tax _____ (??) job for four, five months, but his job, his main job is he
got the two rent-a-car company. But he do taxes, he do __(??) and he do everybody—he
do all that stuff. And another guy in Minnesota—so he got his own company before, and,
you know, one of my son work for his company before, and then the company kind of
broke out and he throw company away. He open another in ___(??), he built a big, big
house up there near the lake, anything. His wife got the restaurant company, everything,
and he got three kid and all of them very success and they got one college—three of them
almost college, all. So they do—only thing, my sister; she not very lucky, because when
she here and she only—she a very smart girl, but then she marry so soon, seventeen year
old. She not have a high school done yet and she marry with a guy. And somehow their
family not very good, she got divorced, and she don’t have the degree or anything like
that. And my daughter, she come with me, my oldest daughter I’m talking about, __(??)
’89, we can
BRODY: So, she was able to come in 1989?
PHAM: Yeah, ’89, yeah, we kind of—she come like—they call her what kind of come
back with the family. Should be ’84, but then, you know, at that time before she got able
to go, paid for, everything, and then the companies, they cut off. No.
BRODY: The government stopped it.
PHAM: The government, they stopped it, they don’t let go until ’89, before they let go
again, and she the first one.
BRODY: So how old was she when she came?
PHAM: She come here—before that, she don’t go to school, anything, she have to go
back and forth, because at that time we try to send money for her so we try to get her out
from different way, like I go to a boat or something, a lot of people—she do that many
here, there, all that so she don’t go to school or anything. So when she come here, she
___(??) and said ___(??) high school, because she almost eighteen years old. Her put on
same class in high school so she don’t have time to catch up, anything. So the only thing
she can got to, the diploma or something like that, but that’s it, she go to college for a
year but she cannot do anything. Then she marriage and marry a Vietnamese fellow, and
she work now. She live in Arlington, got two kid, you know, older than almost like Dai
kids, and both of them boys and they very smart, they do very good. They not make
money, like the kids right here, but she do okay. Another boy of mine, Hui, her brother,
you know, he’s—he got master’s degree of business. He got three kid now, and he do
very good in Houston, so it’s okay, so all my family is okay.
BRODY: Yeah, so it sounds like what you were saying earlier was that being American
is sort of a ticket to being successful in the way that you want to choose to be successful,

Segment Synopsis: Pham explains his family's ability to be successful in the United States, contrasting that with the relative economic immobility of his time in Vietnam.

Keywords: American Dream; American citizenship; American identity; Southern Methodist University; Stanford University; Texas A&M; University of Texas; Vietnamese identity; assembly line; businesses; citizenship; college; daughter; divorce; education; entrepreneur; factory; marriage; opportunity; small business; social class; social mobility; sponsors; success; taxes; university

02:11:34 - Vietnamese legacy

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: So when you think about the story of your family, from, you know, your parents all
the way to your grandkids, what do you think the family’s identity is? When you think
about your grandkids, when you think about your children, when you think about
PHAM: I think the best American is the people, you know, you do what you want to do.
You love what you want to do. You can do whatever you want to do, and you freely to do
that. You don’t have to force to do that. And another criteria (??)—like Vietnamese right
now, some of them right now, all of my brothers still over there, they still live over there.
They still have five of my brother, sister in Vietnam right now. Their family, they got
money too, because we help them before. We help them some so they can had rent out,
they—I mean, they good to living. But the different people is different. They think
different. They think of money different. They think about school different. They think
about everything different. It not same group like I said, blood or anything, it different.
BRODY: So your grandchildren are all born here and have grown up here. What aspects
of Vietnamese culture do you hope that they carry on and—
PHAM: Oh yeah, I am not very look like a lot of friend of mine or a lot of people. They
have to be—they have to do this and that like you are—for me, easy, you can do
whatever you want to do. You know, if like the kid right there, they want do English and
they don’t want to learn Vietnamese, okay, you know, that’s what they want. And another
two of my grandkid over there, they speak in Vietnamese very good, they different
because their parent ___(??) to be Vietnamese guy. And over here their father is not the
Vietnamese, you know, he’s different. And my—another kid over there, same thing. You
know, he married with a Philippine girl, you know, and their parent, they different
culture. They do whatever they—and I am not the Buddhist, I’m kind of worship the
ancestor only, but I don’t require all my kid to do that. And I worship ancestor but I
remember only two day, my mom and my dad, the day they die or whatever day, we
ceremony that day and then all the kid will come in to remember—
BRODY: To share that.
PHAM: —to share that day. But that’s it. I still have another younger brother you don’t
know. He only thirty-two years old now and he joined the navy.
BRODY: In the United States?
PHAM: The United States Navy, he’d been a lieutenant GG(??), but then he retire, right?
(someone off-mic asks, “Who?”) Andy? (person responds, “Oh, you’re talking about
your son. I thought you said your brother.”) Yeah, my son, my son, he’s thirty-two, yeah.
Yeah, he joined the navy for five years. He serve in Japan and now he retire from navy.
He work in San Antonio right now. And he not married yet. That the one thing, my
younger—but actually, everybody’s doing well.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his wishes for his family, explaining that they he doesn't care whether they maintain his Vietnamese culture

Keywords: American identity; Buddhism; English language; Vietnamese identity; Vietnamese language; ancestor worship; culture; family; freedom; grandchildren; language; marriage; money; opportunity; religion; values

02:15:48 - Vietnamese community

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Partial Transcript: BRODY: That’s great. I wanted to ask one more question that we didn’t really talk about.
When during that period, you know, in the 1970’s to 80’s when you were—the kids were
starting school and you were living in the apartment and you were trying different
mechanic jobs and things like that, how much did you interact with other Vietnamese
families? A lot or not very much?
PHAM: Yeah, I have a lot of friends. Right now, you know, my class, I’m talking about
navy class, 1966, we got a hundred people there, maybe twenty of them have been passed
away. When we come to United States in 1975, only twenty of us come over here. The
rest still in the prison. For some of them, five years, some of them up to twenty years on
the prison camp, the communist prison camp. And after the camp, after they imprisoned,
they come out, at least ten family, they—because their knowledge for the navy, so a lot of
people hire them for guiding the boat, bring people come to different country and finally
come to United States. The rest are from 1990 to 1995, they got the plan called H-O
[Humanitarian Operation] for, they take all the people who stay on the prison like us, a
officer, stay on companies for prison for three years or more, can come to United States
with their family. That’s what Mr. McCain right here, that help a lot of that, John
McCain, he help all of that stuff. And, you know, they come over here and all of them, all
of my friend, I tell all of them, it’s not a set of any people, they very success. All of their
kid, even they come in 1993, all their kids become to doctor, become to everything,
become professional, all of them.
BRODY: But your own family, yourselves, when you were here, were you mostly
interacting with your sponsor families and other American families, or did you have a
Vietnamese community here in Dallas?
PHAM: They’ve got Vietnamese community here, you know, yeah. And we’ve been
connect with them, you know. Every year they open, you go to the lake or something like
that, or picnic or deal like that, or they got ___(??) right now. Right now I don’t do very
much, but at that time, you know, a lot of families. Right now, they got a lot of Buddhist
place—I don’t go, we don’t like them very much because some reason I don’t like
them—I don’t go, but I have a certain group with me I can do. Go to dance, you know, all
that stuff.
BRODY: Yes, dancing. So you’re a dancer, I hear.
PHAM: No, I am not a dancer but I like to dance.
BRODY: You like to dance?
PHAM: Yeah, because that’s what the dance come from her. When she marries she want
me to do the father-daughter dance, and I don’t know how to dance the right kind of
dance. We dance and you know, kind of, you know, drunken dancing (laughs), so I go to
learn dance. I learn dance.
BRODY: You and your wife learned—took some dancing lessons.
PHAM: Me and my wife, yeah, and another, her sister, we go to learn dance. And when I
go to learn dance I say, “Well, dance kind of enjoy,” so I’m in dance up to now.
BRODY: You’re still doing it.
PHAM: I still do it. Not like before, but I still doing it. At the time I come from ’75, when
I come here, you know, it was very tough, I think. I worked—I go to school, I work two
jobs. I do another job, I don’t tell you, I got a job, a side job is security for Pinkerton.
BRODY: For Pinkerton?
PHAM: Yes, security, yeah. They pay only two dollar and hour, and you go—I do
every—I do at night, all that at night. So I work like seven days a week, and I go to
school. And then my wife, she don’t have good health. My wife, she weak kind of health,
and if you got pressure and she got sick, she cannot ___(??) pressure. If not pressure, she
okay. If got pressure, she cannot handle very well. And that why, you know, when I have
to work to take—help her more than let her got pressure. So that’s why I got my younger
kid—when I got my younger kid and she stay home, she take care and she don’t go to
work. She work before, she work at—like a technician at TI [Texas Instruments?]
company for a few years, but then when I got the new baby and she stay home. Up to
now she been a housewife. And now whatever we do, we do together.
BRODY: Well, that’s really a nice story, and you have a lovely family. So thank you so
much. Is there anything that we didn’t talk about that you wanted to tell me about the
PHAM: No, I don’t think—I mean, we talk a lot already, right? Maybe two hour already,
right? Three hour? Oh yeah, three hour.
BRODY: Yeah, I appreciate your time and thank you so much.
PHAM: I know, you can—some you don’t hear very good or something, you can clear
whatever you want to do—
BRODY: This was a wonderful interview and thank you, I learned a lot.
PHAM: I don’t know if you can hear my voice or not, if they can understand or not.
BRODY: I think so. I think it was an interesting story. Thank you so much for sharing.

Segment Synopsis: Pham describes his interactions with the Vietnamese community within the United States before the interview concludes.

Keywords: Buddhism; Dallas; Humanitarian Operation; McCain; Pinkerton; Texas Instruments; Vietnamese community; dancing; father-daughter dance; friendship; illness; prison; prison camp; reeducation camps