Interview with Kha Pham

Dublin Core

Title

Interview with Kha Pham

Date

2018-08-31

Format

audio

Identifier

2018oh004_btba_002

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Betsy Brody

Interviewee

Kha Pham

OHMS Object Text

5.4 Interview with Kha Pham, August 31, 2018 2018oh004_btba_002 2:21:48 ohbtba Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans btba001 Vietnamese in North Texas Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans Kha Pham Betsy Brody mp3 oh-interviews_pham-k_2018-08-31_bdg_acc.mp3 1:|14(2)|21(12)|31(6)|41(1)|49(2)|56(8)|65(4)|75(12)|84(11)|94(10)|103(10)|114(1)|125(11)|137(12)|149(2)|158(12)|168(4)|177(12)|186(13)|197(12)|206(1)|213(15)|225(16)|234(14)|243(5)|251(14)|259(16)|268(16)|279(5)|291(4)|301(4)|309(11)|318(12)|328(8)|338(5)|345(3)|356(3)|365(12)|375(10)|384(11)|394(2)|404(1)|413(11)|424(8)|436(2)|446(9)|457(1)|466(15)|476(5)|486(8)|497(6)|509(6)|520(1)|529(11)|540(5)|551(8)|560(14)|570(10)|581(3)|590(14)|599(10)|610(1)|619(4)|630(12)|640(13)|648(18)|659(11)|671(7)|680(7)|690(1)|702(6)|713(8)|725(11)|736(6)|746(11)|758(2)|768(3)|780(8)|789(8)|799(8)|810(9)|820(10)|831(13)|842(4)|853(2)|862(12)|873(5)|884(3)|892(12)|903(6)|912(16)|922(10)|932(9)|942(8)|952(6)|959(15)|972(2)|982(16)|993(2)|1002(5)|1013(14)|1024(14)|1035(11)|1047(15)|1059(12)|1069(15)|1079(8)|1087(13)|1096(13)|1106(4)|1115(17)|1124(17)|1135(9)|1145(14)|1155(15)|1165(7)|1176(11)|1186(6)|1196(13)|1207(13)|1218(12)|1226(8)|1235(11)|1244(10)|1254(7)|1263(3)|1271(9)|1281(14)|1290(3)|1299(10)|1310(13)|1319(6)|1328(2)|1338(8)|1346(12)|1356(2)|1365(8)|1374(4)|1385(2)|1396(17)|1406(4) 0 https://betsybrody.aviaryplatform.com/embed/media/117366 Aviary audio 1 Introduction 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. Brody introduces the project &quot ; Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans&quot ; and the interviewee, Kha Pham. 28 Family and working at a naval base in Da Nang 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 your— 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? Pham describes his family when he was in Vietnam and his duties as a lieutenant and executive officer on a navy base. Danang ; Phu Quoc Island ; Vietnam ; Vietnam War ; Vietnamese Navy 16.0544, 108.2022 17 The city Da Nang, where Pham's family lived. 229 Working with American sailors in the navy 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. Pham describes his time in the navy academy and the role Americans played in the navy's ranks. American advisors ; LST-502 ; Vietnam War 485 The Tet Offensive 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. Congratulations. 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 Pham recounts his experiences during the Tet Offensive, including the assistance received from American forces and his being awarded a Bronze Star. American advisors ; Bronze Star ; Communism ; grenades ; Marines ; Tet Offensive ; USMC ; Vietnam War 945 American camaraderie during the Vietnam War 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, the— 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 south. 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. Pham discusses his friendship with American sailors and the assistance provided by American forces during operations. American advisors ; American soldiers ; cooking ; food ; friendship ; lighter ; McCain ; Vietnam War ; Zippo 1186 Attempt to rescue daughter in Danang/ Return to protecting people on base 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 everything. 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 island. 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 there. 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. Pham describes the escalations that occurred during the war and his responsibilities to protecting people on his military base. Communism ; Communists ; Danang ; daughter ; Hue ; John Kerry ; retreat ; Saigon ; Vietnam War 1791 Retreating before the Fall of Saigon 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? BRODY: Yes. 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 people. 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! BRODY: Wow. 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: “Go!” 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. 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. boat ; Escape from Vietnam ; Fall of Saigon ; family ; friendship ; illness ; Jeep ; leaving Vietnam ; motorcycle ; Saigon ; Swift boat 3027 Escaping from Vietnam 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 work. 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. Pham describes taking his family away from Vietnam on a ship, eventually finding their way to Singapore. Australia ; boat ; Communism ; Communists ; escaping Vietnam ; Fall of Saigon ; family ; food ; General Minh ; Guam ; Jeep ; leaving Vietnam ; Nuoc Mam ; radio ; ship ; Singapore ; Subic Bay 3636 Refuge at Subic Bay 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— BRODY: Why? 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. 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. boat ; boats ; Escaping Vietnam ; hives ; Leaving Vietnam ; Phillippines ; refugee camps ; ships ; Singapore ; Subic Bay ; taxes ; United States 3890 Arriving at Wake Island 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. Pham describes his arrival to Wake Island and the amenities provided. escaping Vietnam ; Guam ; housing ; leaving Vietnam ; Midway Island ; military retreat ; United States ; Wake Island 4010 Culinary differences between American and Vietnamese cultures 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. Pham describes his first experiences with the American food he was given on Wake Island. cigarettes ; clothing ; cooking ; fish ; fishing ; food ; fried chicken ; ham ; housing ; jalapenos ; poker ; smoking ; spice ; TV 4225 Wake Island and waiting for a sponsorship in the United States BRODY: For one month. Okay, so then—so the family then after that, they brought you— PHAM: My parents’ family, after two, three weeks in Guam and then they moved to Wake— 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 separate. 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 school. BRODY: It was starting, yes. PHAM: It started. Pham described what he was taught while waiting on Wake Island for a sponsorship to move to the United States. apartment ; Arkansas ; Brazil ; Canada ; church ; English language ; escapng Vietnam ; famiy ; First Presbyterian Church of Richardson ; food ; Fort Smith ; France ; French language ; fried chicken ; Guam ; housing ; Labor Day ; language learning ; leaving Vietnam ; Presbyterian Church ; refugees ; Richardson ; school ; sponsor ; sponsors ; sponsorship ; taxes ; United States ; Wake Island 4575 Adjusting to life in the United States 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 school. 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) Pham describes his family's adjustment to life in the United States, including housing, school, and food. 4988 Starting work in the United States BRODY: So were you working at this time? 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. Pham describes his first jobs in the United States and his learning to be a mechanic while working. car repair ; Dallas ; employment ; English ; jobs ; language learning ; learning English ; mechanic ; Sears Roebuck ; sponsors ; toolbox ; tools ; tow truck ; yardwork 5470 Recovering from being fired 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. 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. Buick ; car repair ; Chevrolet ; Chinese grocery ; classes ; cooking ; credit ; Dallas ; Don Snell Buick ; education ; employment ; food ; Ford ; friendship ; furniture ; housing ; Houston ; jobs ; machinist ; mechanic ; micrometer ; Nouc Mam ; Opel ; restaurant ; Sears Roebuck ; spark plug ; toolbox ; tools ; training ; TV ; valves ; welding 6160 Advancing as a mechanic 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 everything. 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— 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. ASA ; Automotive Service Association ; banking ; banks ; car mechanic ; car repair ; cars ; credit ; Don Snell ; employment ; entrepreneur ; friendship ; Inwood Buick ; jobs ; kindness ; loans ; master mechanic ; mechanic ; money ; owner ; small business ; toolbox ; tools ; trust ; welding 6781 Discrimination as a mechanic 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 you— 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. Pham describes his experiences with people's reactions to his success within the mechanics industry. car mechanic ; car repair ; cars ; discrimination ; employment ; Inwood Buick ; jobs ; racism 6985 Continuing education in the United States 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. Pham describes his taking English classes and pursuing further college education. Associates Degree ; car mechanic ; cars ; community college ; education ; English ; English 101 ; friendship ; language learning ; learning English ; mechanic ; night school ; Richland College ; school ; University of Texas at Dallas ; UTD 7228 The American Dream /Family's current state 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&amp ; M [Texas A&amp ; 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. BRODY: Wow. 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&amp ; 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, right? 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. American citizenship ; American Dream ; American identity ; assembly line ; businesses ; citizenship ; college ; daughter ; divorce ; education ; entrepreneur ; factory ; marriage ; opportunity ; small business ; social class ; social mobility ; Southern Methodist University ; sponsors ; Stanford University ; success ; taxes ; Texas A&amp ; M ; university ; University of Texas ; Vietnamese identity 7894 Vietnamese legacy 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 yourself? 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. Pham describes his wishes for his family, explaining that they he doesn't care whether they maintain his Vietnamese culture American identity ; ancestor worship ; Buddhism ; culture ; English language ; family ; freedom ; grandchildren ; language ; marriage ; money ; opportunity ; religion ; values ; Vietnamese identity ; Vietnamese language 8148 Vietnamese community 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 subject? 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. Pham describes his interactions with the Vietnamese community within the United States before the interview concludes. Buddhism ; Dallas ; dancing ; father-daughter dance ; friendship ; Humanitarian Operation ; illness ; McCain ; Pinkerton ; prison ; prison camp ; reeducation camps ; Texas Instruments ; Vietnamese community Baylor University Institute for Oral History Kha Pham Oral History Memoir Interview Number 1 Interviewed by Betsy T. Brody August 31, 2018 Addison, Texas Project -- Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans: The Making of the Vietnamese Community in North Texas BRODY: This is Betsy Brody. Today is August 31, 2018. I&#039 ; m interviewing, for the first time, Mr. Kha Pham. This interview is taking place at the home of Mr. Pham&#039 ; 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. So just to start out with, let&#039 ; s talk about how--what your life was like in Vietnam, just as the war was ending. What was your-- |00:00:34| PHAM: Well, before the war, luckily, I&#039 ; m not in the fighting zone. I&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s why, you know, they take care of my older kid. |00:02:19| 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&#039 ; s it. And we worked like normally. You know, in land, I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t need to know that, right? |00:03:47| BRODY: No, it&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m in there, like training an officer and I do a lot of stuff there from-- exactly the first year and half I&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s small. They call it the PGM-617 [PGM-81, or RVN Phú Qúy (HQ 617)]. They&#039 ; re brand new. They transferred from America to Vietnam and we receive the ship. And we&#039 ; re training with--they have American [advisor] 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&#039 ; s a lieutenant. I don&#039 ; t remember his name. And the Vietnamese, the captain is a lieutenant also. And at that point, I am--I might as well mention--in a school for the first two years. My rank is ensign. BRODY: Ensign? |00:06:19| 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 coastal--the 11th [South Vietnamese 11th Artillery Battalion] was at the far base, the far, far north. BRODY: So you were far north. PHAM: Far north. You know, they transfer me to there in 1968. And that--the coastal zone, they have a small, very small old boat, no ship, the boat. They&#039 ; ve got wood, they&#039 ; ve got their own kind of-- BRODY: It&#039 ; s really old. PHAM: Very old, like a fishing boat almost, so, you know-- BRODY: So that&#039 ; s what you had to work with there. (laughs) |00:07:23| 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 got two officers, petty officers, in there. And they take care of the communication more than they do anything. You know, they&#039 ; ve got the base there. They communicate with the big ship out there from their seventh fleet. They have a very big ship, you know, patrolling outside there. 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 cover us by shooting to help. At that point, that&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, we take four or five days, don&#039 ; t do anything,&quot ; [during the cease-fire] and then shortly they open fire, everything, and they capture (??). And my base also. They don&#039 ; t attack our base, but when we go to patrol, 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. They ambush and a lot of fight, and at that time, I&#039 ; m not--know everything, you know. The ammunition goes through, I don&#039 ; t know what is here, what is here. Who&#039 ; s shooting and where shooting or everything. I can&#039 ; t-- |00:09:31| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know--very big place. And then Americans come in. They&#039 ; re next to our base, big base of Americans, because at that time the Americans, they bring in, looks like at that point, there&#039 ; s a high point in the period of time because they&#039 ; re going to have a lot of units. You know, they have a mountain and they&#039 ; ve got the river, they go in and they have a large supply and they 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&#039 ; t know, I don&#039 ; 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? |00:11:44| PHAM: Yeah, they stuck because they fired back. You know, it&#039 ; 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. And even us, they cannot even go through. We stuck there, we cannot get out to--you&#039 ; 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&#039 ; re close, they dig a hole we don&#039 ; t see and then finally, you know, I got some--they throw the grenade, but the grenade, it&#039 ; s not very good grenade. [Pham note: It was made in Hanoi.] BRODY: Okay, a bad grenade. |00:12:35| PHAM: It&#039 ; 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&#039 ; d 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&#039 ; t remember, he got hit or he don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; ve got the Bronze Star here. BRODY: Oh, that&#039 ; s amazing. Let&#039 ; 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&#039 ; ve got the certificate, the Bronze Star medal. PHAM: Yeah. BRODY: Well, I will--if you don&#039 ; t mind, take a photo of that before we finish. Congratulations. 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. Everbody retreats ; they retreat too to go back in the 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. |00:14:25| 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&#039 ; t attack. They just sit there at that point. And we retreat, we retreat, and after that I have to go to funerals of the 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, man to man. Americans are there because they have a lot of American very west of us--they call Khe Sanh and Con Thien. Every American, they know that 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. |00:15:43| 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&#039 ; s--they call me Partner. He gave me a Zippo, you know, the-- 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&#039 ; m sorry. And--sorry he got killed. BRODY: Oh. What was his name? PHAM: That is one more I cannot remember, but I know, he told me his name at that point. He&#039 ; s from a very big family. The name of the family is a very big, not like McCain but, you know, it&#039 ; s very big. But I don&#039 ; 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 one, the Tet. And he got wounded, he got killed. He died when he wounded and they buried him on the sea. I don&#039 ; t know at that point, I got--I don&#039 ; t know what point, why I don&#039 ; t go to his funeral or anything. I don&#039 ; t know why, because I got something, a mission, I don&#039 ; t know. And I don&#039 ; t remember. BRODY: Something happened. |00:17:30| PHAM: Yeah. But then after that, I transferred to very far--in &#039 ; 70 I moved to very far south. BRODY: In 1970? PHAM: In 1970, I moved far south. Same zone [Pham note: Fourth Coastal Zone] but very far south. BRODY: So the coastal zone but further south. PHAM: The first one, the First Coastal Zone. This was the Fourth Coastal Zone, very far south, and then I said we--we have American every time--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. |00:18:11| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m not very good English at that point, so I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m learn the English from the Vietnamese teacher. He don&#039 ; t know anything English and he teach, you know, (Brody laughs) and he cannot even speak English. (laughs) BRODY: That&#039 ; s pretty funny. PHAM: Yeah. That&#039 ; s why we don&#039 ; 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. BRODY: So then as the war was winding down-- PHAM: The war was not winding down. The war-- BRODY: --well, still on. |00:19:54| PHAM: But then when they got to take(??), you know, the Americans retreat. On, like, &#039 ; 72, &#039 ; 73, all Americans--that&#039 ; s why--that&#039 ; s what the war going more, because the south--the north communists, they bring a lot more power, more people, more tanks, more weapons, more everything. BRODY: Coming further south? PHAM: Yeah, from north, they come in everywhere. On our side, you know, American retreat after the (??), they call it, the north, the one they call the war, like, the communists, Vietnamese communists, but they cannot, they work inside. They call that day from the south, and the American led them(??) to north. And on our side, our Vietnamese and then American. And then the agreement in Paris on 1972, and they said, &quot ; Well, right now, this side, you there, and American can retreat,&quot ; so Americans retreat. And they agreed to supply anything they need to survive 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, have American unit also, and they have very fast boat, they have a lot of unit--like John Kerry, he on the PCF [fast patrol craft] right here on the south. And then they retreated and they train us to take over their unit. So at that point, our navy, they need more personnel, they need more military, they need more officers, so they&#039 ; re training us very quick, very quick. You know, like a Vietnamese, they don&#039 ; t have a place, like maybe before that every year, only training a hundred people, a hundred officer. And now they&#039 ; re training two or three hundred officer, and then-- BRODY: You were training two or three hundred officers? PHAM: No. [Pham note: I wasn&#039 ; t. The navy did.] 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 America to the OCS to train and bring back, and they had a lot more people so they can take care of all the-- |00:22:52| 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 Huế, and then my father-in-law, my parents, you know, lives in Danang. That--I&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. |00:23:52| BRODY: Oh, the plane couldn&#039 ; t land. PHAM: Because at the time they have to return it, we cannot land, because a lot of people from there around the airport and they tried to--any airplane land now, they (??) I mean, they stand everywhere around airplane, so 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t have place to go and they depend on, you know, us to pick them up. But then, you know, we don&#039 ; t have enough, don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s very dangerous. |00:26:25| PHAM: That whole area 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, &quot ; Well, that&#039 ; s that.&quot ; So a friend of mine told me, &quot ; Now you have to go back to your family. If not, you stuck here and every&quot ; --you know. So I say, &quot ; I cannot go and get my daughter,&quot ; so we-- BRODY: That must have been hard for you. PHAM: Yeah, I come back to my family and there. [Pham note: I returned to my past.] But then when that lose, that won one(??) before Saigon lose, that 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&#039 ; t know anything, but they look like they know that. And they send a lot of cargo ship, or merchandise ship, and also they&#039 ; re on the shore, on the sea, but like two or three miles out there. And these 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&#039 ; ve got a big base, everything. They can fit, like forty, fifty [thousand] people there. |00:28:18| BRODY: So they brought the people who they rescued at the sea and brought them to the island. PHAM: And then bring to 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&#039 ; m back over there, that day I&#039 ; 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 there. BRODY: You&#039 ; re with your family and then-- PHAM: My family there, yeah. 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&#039 ; re in charge of taking care of these forty thousand people? PHAM: I&#039 ; m in charge of some parts. You know, everybody take care--I&#039 ; 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. |00:29:50| BRODY: So then after that, what happened with your family&#039 ; s decision? How did you end up here in the United States? PHAM: My family were with me. Dai only about two years old. BRODY: She was two years old. PHAM: And Huy, 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&#039 ; t have like a CNN or whatever. (both laugh) Whoever. We don&#039 ; t have--a lot of--friend of my daughter(??), we even don&#039 ; t know anything, you know? And then I hear something, like my father very bad sick. My father family from north [Pham note: Quảng Ngãi], where the communists 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&#039 ; 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. |00:31:33| 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 came, all of that, I have one American. He&#039 ; s a reverend, and he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; ve got the sign, look like the song--a Christmas song or some kind like that, that&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know how many thousand were still there, but very last. And he told me that. So I know that, but I don&#039 ; t know when, you know, it will be that day. And the ten day before the Fall, thirty of April, and my father kind of sick. So I said, &quot ; Well, I have to go to Saigon to see what happened and bring him here,&quot ; 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&#039 ; s a--the city is like fish in there, you know, fifteen (??). BRODY: People are everywhere. |00:33:27| PHAM: Everywhere, everything there. So I come there, and my father, he don&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, I don&#039 ; t think he can live there.&quot ; So I say, &quot ; Well, come with us to my place.&quot ; At least my place--it not that big area, but we live in the camp, you know, but I&#039 ; ve got the place to live, I&#039 ; ve got food, I&#039 ; ve got everything. So I think it&#039 ; s better than live with my brother, so I bring them in. I don&#039 ; t think when we can leave or not, we don&#039 ; t know when or where and when we leave, but at least we&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s like at last place on school. But then he say, well, he&#039 ; s twenty years old, he&#039 ; s number four on the school, you know, I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t go back and forth, everything, you know? [Pham note: The road from Saigon to my place had been blocked.] BRODY: So you were lucky you all made it. PHAM: We&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s just normal, everything, my kids go to--my brothers go to play, you know, beer all that stuff, and we&#039 ; re normal, nobody think anything, because while there, my place, it&#039 ; 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? BRODY: Yes. |00:36:45| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s a very small motorcycle. We got that--I don&#039 ; 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. |00:37:52| PHAM: Yeah, I got lucky. I ride around on that(??) with them. 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&#039 ; t know what--I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m still in the unit here, I can&#039 ; t even get out. If nobody get out, I can&#039 ; t get out. I can&#039 ; t--you know, things like that. You know, we can&#039 ; t go, I don&#039 ; t know where to go or anything. We don&#039 ; t have any idea, no anything. BRODY: No information. |00:38:54| 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 people. 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, &quot ; Saigon, all the navy got the order: &#039 ; All the navy ship get out. Get out of Saigon. Get out.&#039 ; &quot ; 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, what happened?&quot ; And they get out. So, I said &quot ; Well, what do we do now?&quot ; And I ask him, you know, where the commanding officer of our base--he&#039 ; s the captain named--his name is Captain Tien. He&#039 ; s commander of a whole area in our base. I ask him where. He say he don&#039 ; t know. |00:41:34| BRODY: He didn&#039 ; t know? PHAM: He don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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! BRODY: Wow. 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s got his jeep-- BRODY: Yeah, his jeep is there at the pier. |00:42:37| 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 or 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&#039 ; t say something. They don&#039 ; t go at same time, but they took pickup they do. They go with the--the people I&#039 ; m talking about, they pick up with them and then go to there(??). 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? |00:43:21| PHAM: I pick up my family, 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&#039 ; s my friend, same class of me. So I go, well, why is--you know, he don&#039 ; t know anything! He&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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 &quot ; stambled&quot ; 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&#039 ; s too many people, that&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s still sleep. |00:44:50| BRODY: He had no idea. PHAM: He had no idea. I kick him up. I say &quot ; Wake up man, all of Saigon,&quot ; I said, &quot ; All of the navy leave, gone. We have to leave too.&quot ; He said, &quot ; What?&quot ; He say he don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s that. The rest, nobody got in there. I know the ship next to him, they don&#039 ; t let nobody got in. They got gun, everything. They don&#039 ; t let nobody else, because he&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Out, get out. Open gate, go out,&quot ; because, you know, why stay here for? So he say--I commanded him: &quot ; Go!&quot ; |00:45:49| BRODY: So where did you go? PHAM: So at that point, we don&#039 ; t go yet. It&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s commanding officer--my commanding officer, you know, base commander, he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s about seven- something, you know? That much. But we got out, got out. We got out about an hour. And he don&#039 ; t have anything, he don&#039 ; t know what to do, because he don&#039 ; t hear from Saigon, from the commanding office. The navy don&#039 ; t say anything, he don&#039 ; t know anything. On this base, here that, you know, the captain don&#039 ; t say anything, no say anything, so he don&#039 ; t know. So he got out. And a lot of ship, you know, come back. They patrol--you know, outside they left, 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&#039 ; s the number one, big one there, you know? He calling everybody, &quot ; Come back!&quot ; Calling, &quot ; No go nowhere.&quot ; He come back somehow, he don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know, I say (??), but this commanding officer at that time, he&#039 ; 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. With them in there, a lot of bad people in there. They kill a lot of people, they take--they--chaos, you know. They kill people, they take people money, they do a lot of bad stuff. |00:48:32| 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Oh,&quot ; and my--the ship captain, my friend, he don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. |00:50:02| 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. (laughs) So I don&#039 ; t know what happened, but I know Saigon is lose, everything else. And this guy, I know he don&#039 ; t--he can&#039 ; t go or he don&#039 ; t know and we don&#039 ; t--nothing we can do, we cannot fight anymore and that look like have to leave somewhere. My point at that time, I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know. BRODY: Just to get out. PHAM: Just to get out. Because, you know, people don&#039 ; t know communists. You don&#039 ; t know the communists. I know the communists. My mom know the communists. A lot of people don&#039 ; t know them. But the communists, they&#039 ; re different, they&#039 ; 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 put it the communists, it&#039 ; s a bad one. So they look like a demon or some kind of when there&#039 ; s too many, you know(??), the people got broke(??) or something. This is so bad. BRODY: So you knew you wanted to get out. PHAM: Get out. You know, I don&#039 ; t know how, maybe die outside on the sea? I don&#039 ; t have any money on my hand, I don&#039 ; t know nothing, know nothing. |00:51:52| BRODY: And your father is sick, and you&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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-- |00:53:43| BRODY: You had a plan? PHAM: I have a plan to go. So, you know, my friend&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Let go.&quot ; BRODY: We&#039 ; re going again. PHAM: Go again. So they--now we don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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 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&#039 ; s like, about two hundred people. BRODY: Two hundred people were on your friend&#039 ; s ship? PHAM: --were on my friend&#039 ; s ship. |00:55:09| BRODY: And then where did it go from there, once you got-- PHAM: And then when he got in there, we&#039 ; re still wait the commanding office somehow, you know, and we have to four or five ship, you know, and all the--oh, let&#039 ; s see--two ship--four ship at that point. And every ship got like a hundred or two hundred, my friend&#039 ; s ship will have a lot more than that. And then we there, we wait. At that point--or like twelve o&#039 ; clock until four o&#039 ; 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 our boat, small boat, everything, they&#039 ; 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-- BRODY: So there were just boats everywhere. PHAM: --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&#039 ; 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. |00:56:41| 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&#039 ; 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 and onto the small-- 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&#039 ; t believe it, it&#039 ; 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 work. 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 what-- PHAM&#039 ; S DAUGHTER: Knots. PHAM: Knot. PHAM&#039 ; S DAUGHTER: Per minute or something? Knots per minute? PHAM: (laughs) No, only two or three knots [Pham note: per hour]. BRODY: Wow, so not very fast. PHAM: So we&#039 ; re not very fast, but the sea somehow, it&#039 ; s very, very, very calm, very cool. And then we had to feed that many people there. The ship people has to ship people and they don&#039 ; t have family there. They--all of them, they go to patrol. They know--you know, my friend, he&#039 ; s a fellow officer, a petty officer, only in (??). Nobody got family there. Like about hundred people in there and they don&#039 ; t have-- BRODY: No family. |00:59:04| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. 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&#039 ; t take us. But they say, &quot ; Americans, they got the base at Philippine, they call Subic Bay.&quot ; They say what they&#039 ; re planning, they got the camp there. &quot ; If you go to Subic Bay, they can take you.&quot ; |01:01:07| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t see that ship. And we turn around, you know, few hour, can&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know exactly-- BRODY: Why? PHAM: Why--the &quot ; why&quot ; we know: they wanted to go back and, you know, don&#039 ; 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. |01:02:52| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. |01:03:42| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; d have. So even--you know, that good. And then we look like we--if I know that we don&#039 ; 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, Huy, he got a lot of--his skin, you know, got--(speaks to someone in Vietnamese). PHAM&#039 ; S DAUGHTER: Hives. PHAM: Yeah, it&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s very good, see, don&#039 ; t have a problem or anything. And we in there for, let&#039 ; s see, about fifteen days. So they got two choice: one is you can to Wake Island. First, we don&#039 ; t go direct to American yet, but go to--I think we go Wake. Another group could go to Guam. |01:05:15| 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 Hawaii(??). And then my parent and all--you know, his three son and daughter, they go to Guam, because he said he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, that place for American family,&quot ; they live there, they&#039 ; re on the--whatever the base, you know, in there. |01:06:50| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t care about it. (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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know why, but they have a lot of food. After we head out here, we know expensive. But in there, they gave us the food, and we don&#039 ; t like them very much. BRODY: (laughs) That&#039 ; s funny. PHAM: Yeah. The one that--what they call--what, what kind of food they leave us and we don&#039 ; t like very much, and then--(talking in Vietnamese to his daughter) PHAM&#039 ; S DAUGHTER: Ham? PHAM: Ham, ham. Yeah. Expensive, right? BRODY: So they gave it to you-- PHAM: Every day, and a lot. I mean it&#039 ; s like--and we like fried chicken--that&#039 ; s what we like--they give you one or two. That&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t have that very much. And a lot of food, you know, they don&#039 ; t have. Like, we need jalapenos or very hot spice ; they don&#039 ; t have that, and we love that. And they don&#039 ; t have--and then give a lot of food, but a lot of them, you know-- BRODY: Not your taste. PHAM: --we don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t have money to play but we play-- BRODY: But you trade cigarettes. (laughs) PHAM: We play cigarette. |01:10:19| BRODY: So how long were you there? PHAM: I live in there at least for a month. BRODY: For one month. Okay, so then--so the family then after that, they brought you-- PHAM: My parents&#039 ; family, after two, three weeks in Guam and then they moved to Wake-- BRODY: To Waco? PHAM: They come back to Wake, they don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t live together, but they live in another house-- 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t separate. BRODY: Right. Now you&#039 ; re all together. |01:11:34| 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&#039 ; t have a choice. At that time, they want us to where--we go to there. 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&#039 ; re in Arkansas, you&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s the tax. Taxes, the more they added them, because we don&#039 ; t pay tax before. In Vietnam, we don&#039 ; t pay tax. BRODY: So they&#039 ; re just letting you know. PHAM: The house, we don&#039 ; t pay tax. We bought the house, and then once we have the house and then we don&#039 ; t have to do anything on that house. That&#039 ; s our house and we don&#039 ; t have to do. And here, you have to do all that property tax, all that stuff that. (laughs) But over there we don&#039 ; t. |01:12:46| 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&#039 ; s sixty-five years old. My mom like fifty-five, but she don&#039 ; t speak any English. My father speaks 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. But then the men work 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&#039 ; 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? |01:14:06| 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. |01:15:15| 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 school. BRODY: It was starting, yes. PHAM: It started. 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. |01:16:52| BRODY: So they&#039 ; re all--yeah, they all had to be signed up for school and get ready for school. 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. 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. |01:18:03| 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 got ten dollar or something--a hundred dollar, I believe, you know, something to. So when I got out of that, I gave that money to the sponsor people here, you know, [gave] the 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&#039 ; 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. You know, and then they--we have to buy food, they teach us how to buy food cheaper. You know, each season you don&#039 ; t like to this fruit, you don&#039 ; 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 what 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. |01:20:07| BRODY: It&#039 ; s cheap. PHAM: Yeah. So I think that one because it&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, I have to find some place where we buy a lot of rice.&quot ; 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 hundred kilo, that&#039 ; d be two hundred pound, right? Yeah. We could buy the 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&#039 ; 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. We eat it now. At that time, you know, nobody know eggroll look like and how eat them. My mom, she cook eggroll. |01:21:55| BRODY: She cooked eggrolls for all the sponsors? PHAM: Yeah. And a lot of family right here. Mrs. Farrell [Brody note: his sponsor], she love it, and she asked, &quot ; What in there?&quot ; (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 get it, we put in there. It make it crunchy, everything good. But American, you know, a lot of people, they don&#039 ; t ever eat the gizzard. [They thought,] 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 don&#039 ; t--she eat the (??), she didn&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, next time tell her we don&#039 ; t put that in there, we put meat. We don&#039 ; t put that stuff in there.&quot ; (laughs) |01:23:07| BRODY: Yes. She was sorry she asked, I&#039 ; m sure. (laughs) So were you working at this time? 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&#039 ; t have a job, I don&#039 ; t know what skill I got, so I say, &quot ; Well, anything I can do.&quot ; 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&#039 ; m not--you know, I&#039 ; m only a hundred and fifty pound, and my father is same size, you know. Then they say, &quot ; Well, these guys, you know, don&#039 ; t look like they have strong enough to do work,&quot ; or something. And they don&#039 ; t take us. (laughs) BRODY: So they didn&#039 ; t take you for the yard work? PHAM: No, they don&#039 ; t take us for that. So I said, &quot ; What kind of job we do?&quot ; I&#039 ; m thinking, Well, here they have a lot of cars, so I say, &quot ; Well, let&#039 ; s do car.&quot ; |01:24:10| BRODY: Cars. PHAM: Yeah, let&#039 ; s do car. So I go to look for a car at the Sear[s], Roebuck. They got the place, the guy worked out there. Somehow, he got that they know they&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know anything for car, mechanic, or anything, you know? I don&#039 ; t know, and I worked with the guy, his name is Tommy DeComb, he&#039 ; s younger than me. He&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t fix for people, they take care of the fleet. So I&#039 ; m the helper. I come and help, I say, &quot ; Well, you can teach--you have to teach me, because I don&#039 ; t know anything. But I&#039 ; ll tell you, I can learn very fast.&quot ; So he say, &quot ; Okay.&quot ; He&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Yes,&quot ; so I got--&quot ; Oh, this screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver or what?&quot ; BRODY: So you learned a lot of words quickly. PHAM: So I learned a lot of words, but I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t see anything, all of that moisture, it collect, and I don&#039 ; t know what the, how to open the defroster, anything. Because I got defrost, you know, it clear, but I never know that. |01:26:38| BRODY: You didn&#039 ; t have that experience? PHAM: But the nice time--now, it&#039 ; 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 come so no have traffic that much. BRODY: Right, it&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; re learning on the job. PHAM: I&#039 ; m learning. But that time you don&#039 ; 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 put on that car, he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s live in Mesquite. And I have to go to his place, and at ten o&#039 ; clock I go home. And I learn from him, you know, how what do it, and he don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s younger than me, but he made me lose the job. |01:30:36| 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, &quot ; Well, it look like my fault or something.&quot ; So I think that&#039 ; s why they fired me, or something. One time--at that time we ran out, we live easy. I tell you what--how it&#039 ; s hard at that time. The life easy, but I have to choose right here 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&#039 ; ve got black and white, and they just hold up. 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, I give fifty dollar and borrow one hundred fifty dollar.&quot ; And wait for two--three weeks, way, way, way, way after the manager said (??) my TV. And he say, &quot ; Wait, wait, they don&#039 ; t have that.&quot ; 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&#039 ; s not a very good deal. (laughs) PHAM: No, it--so I cannot buy the TV, okay? That the one. Another one, they don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m very good at that, you know? Every class I make, you know, everything, and yet all is sort of just there. 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&#039 ; t look very good, everything, but I go in. Look like they don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t have Vietnamese restaurant, you don&#039 ; t have nothing. You have only one place where we buy Vietnamese food or anything. You got the downtown, very downtown, we&#039 ; ve got a Chinese place--big, like this house--they sell Nouc Mam or all that food, that&#039 ; s it. But we don&#039 ; t have anything. |01:34:17| BRODY: Right. PHAM: And then they--all that they&#039 ; re doing the outside work, 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Wow. Want to go apply job.&quot ; And I never know how machinist do, and you know, I don&#039 ; t know how to cut, and how to-- |01:35:12| BRODY: That wasn&#039 ; t your experience. PHAM: I never know! I say even they do the mechanic here, I don&#039 ; t have enough experience, and he said, &quot ; Well, okay.&quot ; So I go apply. They ask me, I say that&#039 ; s a friend of mine there. He recommend here. So they ask me what tool and what 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 [say] even though I have only one. (both laugh) I have one caliber, one micrometer, that&#039 ; s all I got. But they ask me and I told them same thing. I answer (??), but I&#039 ; m truly very good, so they hire me right away. That job paid $5.50 [an hour], so it&#039 ; s a lot better than $3.50 or so, right? So I got in there, finally I got in there, they don&#039 ; t give me--I say, &quot ; Well, I&#039 ; m not doing that again.&quot ; They don&#039 ; 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 ; &quot ; Oh man, how to cut this?&quot ; (laughs) BRODY: You didn&#039 ; t know how to do it? PHAM: I don&#039 ; t know how to do it. I ask him, &quot ; You cut one to let me see how to cut it.&quot ; 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, &quot ; Okay.&quot ; 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&#039 ; t cut to precision, they don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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 potato, throw them away. But I do cut for two more months, but anything I come in there, anything harder, that me to cut. |01:38:29| BRODY: So you learned quickly. PHAM: Oh, I&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s what I want to do-- BRODY: That&#039 ; 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, engine. 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&#039 ; s not like now, where you don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s--but basically that guy, not very good mechanic, you know? He do--I think he can do it first 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&#039 ; s why I&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, this valve, it look very bad, it certainly come out very clean and nice.&quot ; I say, &quot ; Well, how you do that?&quot ; He don&#039 ; t say anything. |01:40:54| BRODY: So he wasn&#039 ; t sharing? PHAM: He don&#039 ; t--he should be. I am the helper, I make money for him. But somehow he don&#039 ; t show me. He&#039 ; s a very nice guy, but somehow he don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t run good, bring what he do. He clean them up, put them back, and ship away again. BRODY: So he wasn&#039 ; 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(??), &quot ; Why you let him run?&quot ; I said, &quot ; You have to run to see how it work.&quot ; Because if I run it, the oil foul up the spark plug. And when the guy pick up the car it don&#039 ; t run good, so that&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t fix up and he make something more wrong then bad because that Opel is very small. Opel GT, you know, it&#039 ; s small. It&#039 ; s a very tiny, look like a--and he got in there and he don&#039 ; t know how to fix. And I tell the manager, I say, no, I don&#039 ; t want to work with him no more. I want to do it by myself. |01:42:48| 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 they in there--before, he would not--I know him(??). And I don&#039 ; t know very experienced with cars or 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 the box this big for tool. So how we do that? So I have to go to buy toolbox. And Snap-On, they don&#039 ; t sell tool--not like now, they sell [to] a lot of people--but at that time, they don&#039 ; t sell. And I 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, eight hundred dollar. So I go to borrow money, and they told me--how much I want to borrow? I say fifteen hundred dollar, because that thing enough for me to do it, fifteen hundred dollar. They say, &quot ; Oh, well, you have fifteen hundred dollar borrow?&quot ; 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, &quot ; Oh no, it not&quot ; --I want to pay fifteen, so I have to borrow seven, eight dollars or whatever, and I ended up--so I told my son(??), &quot ; They don&#039 ; t let me borrow!&quot ; BRODY: Why do you think they didn&#039 ; t let you borrow? PHAM: Because I don&#039 ; t have any credit. No credit. At that time, nobody got credit card. No, they don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t let me borrow seven dollar. |01:44:35| BRODY: So you couldn&#039 ; t get the tools? PHAM: I don&#039 ; t get the tools from that, but I go to talk to my--the owner, Don Snell owner, he&#039 ; s a World War II--he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s great. PHAM: So he lent me and buy tool, high dollar. Exceptional. Nobody, you know, they give to--because I can buy tools and I took tools 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 toolbox for fifteen hundred dollars. I buy toolbox, I work by myself. And luckily, I found the guy next to me. Now he&#039 ; s best friend up to now for me, you know, he&#039 ; s my teacher, he&#039 ; s Terry Bussing(??). He a mechanic ; a good, good mechanic. He can 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&#039 ; t know, I ask him and he tell me. BRODY: He helps you. So it was different-- PHAM: A lot of guys there don&#039 ; t tell you. They look at you like very-- discommunication. A lot of guys, you know, an older guy, only thing I have to--I&#039 ; 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 like me. So he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t understand, because, you know, the gas--explosion--the gas explosion, it not the gas itself, it vibration. Because it not--it can vibrate the gas, if you put the fire in there, it burn, but you don&#039 ; t use the gas that-- you don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s no explosion. |01:48:07| BRODY: There&#039 ; s no explosion? So you learned that from him. 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, &#039 ; 81, &#039 ; 82, &#039 ; 83, and I am become the best mechanic in town. BRODY: You did? PHAM: Yeah, I am the master mechanic. I got all the certification for the ASE [Automotive Service Excellence]. 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 anybody else. That&#039 ; 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 &#039 ; 85 or almost ten year there. I am the best mechanic and I do-- |01:49:42| BRODY: That&#039 ; s quite a journey, from 1975 to 1985. PHAM: Oh yeah, until &#039 ; 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. 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 machine to pull all the--for the bay. You see where did you put that thing it went around(??), 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 all floor clean. (laughs) [Pham note: I can fix everything.] BRODY: They call you for everything. PHAM: They want me to fix, because they don&#039 ; t call me, I will fix because it cost a lot of money to outside the fix. I fix and they pay me by--they give me a job, a car, and I fix them, 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. |01:51:03| BRODY: You&#039 ; re busy. PHAM: Busy, busy. So I fix good until they got some idea from some kind of--I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t do that. We don&#039 ; t want to do that. But the guy don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. |01:52:09| BRODY: Did you? So what year was that that you opened your own shop? PHAM: Eighty-nine. BRODY: Eighty-nine. So--okay, so about ten years later. PHAM: About--after mechanic, like twelve years or ten years. I&#039 ; ve been for--&#039 ; 79, &#039 ; 78, I do mechanic until &#039 ; 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 everything. 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-- |01:53:05| BRODY: So earlier, you were talking about--when you were working at the Buick place that you felt some discrimination because people, maybe, didn&#039 ; t know you as well, can you-- PHAM: No, that guy, the discrimination there, that two other men there, very good mechanic, they do air-conditioning one of them brother, and they discrimination me. I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m only busy, because they want me to do the job. And all at one time, I can tell you I&#039 ; m do good this, because I don&#039 ; t have to 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&#039 ; t tie them good, and he-- oh man, he happy [Pham note: that he found something I&#039 ; d made a mistake on], because I fire you. Huh?(??) I cut the thing like that, you know. I&#039 ; m that good a mechanic. |01:54:53| BRODY: Okay, so it was a different kind of a thing. PHAM: So I do everything--air conditioning, transmission, engine, all that stuff--and I find a lot of thing to do. Fast, not because I do skip the job or anything, but like I-- example for you: when the car, 1981, &#039 ; 82, they build a car with a four-wheel drive with the engine on the side. When something in a 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 the time, a lot of time. So when the car got the flywheel, it bad, it&#039 ; 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 the whole--on that car, time with the car, they have a freeze plug leaking, and they own(??) four, five freeze plugs they put in, you know, people have to take a lot of things out to put it in. Sometimes I don&#039 ; t take it out and I put it in. I do a lot of shortcut and we can fix them very quick. |01:56:22| 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 &#039 ; 76, I said, &quot ; Well, I&#039 ; 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--I know electronic, everything, math, all the math, everything. I am so good up to, you know, up to bachelor, everything like that.&quot ; So I said, well--and nobody knows, so I&#039 ; d say, &quot ; Well, I have to take--I think I&#039 ; m going to go be engineer and I&#039 ; ll do mechanic.&quot ; 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 go to school. And then 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: Eighty-one. BRODY: Eighty-one. PHAM: Yeah. I ended up(??) 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&#039 ; m real good at math. I think I go do better than when I&#039 ; m--do math when in Vietnam at that time. And somehow, your mind, somehow it open. I do very fast, I&#039 ; m very fast. That&#039 ; s why mechanic, nobody teach me. Mechanic, completely nobody teach me. BRODY: (speaking at same time) You learned by yourself. PHAM: I learned by myself and very fast. |01:58:20| 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 at college, you know, I know only thing 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. My English was not--I had to go to English 101. And then when I go in there, the first class, second, they tell me something--I have to write something so I said, &quot ; Forgot it,&quot ; I cut that off, finally I have to get that 131. English 131. It was kind of easy. Not easy, but it kind of--the 101 kind of writing, all that 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&#039 ; t do good, so 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 start at UTD [University of Texas--Dallas], but then I say well at that time I&#039 ; m a mechanic and my (??). I look up a friend of mine--twice engineer, to make money like me. But at that time, 1978, &#039 ; 81, &#039 ; 82, &#039 ; 83, I did make like eighty thousand dollar a year, mechanic. |01:59:52| BRODY: So it was a good--yeah. PHAM: Engineer only pay like forty-thousand or something. I make a very good money, that&#039 ; 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&#039 ; re going to buy it from me. |02:00:29| BRODY: That&#039 ; s great. So you were a real success story. Do you--you know, some people would say that&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m busy or something, so that what takes me six years. But, you know, American citizenship. Me and my wife at the same time. BRODY: What year was that? PHAM: I think that &#039 ; 82 or something, yeah--&#039 ; 81, &#039 ; 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&#039 ; re not American. That the truth. Right now, it not me, I&#039 ; 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 almost same. Come American, them kids right there. They are farmer. They can PhD 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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 to 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&#039 ; re smart. Even they fisherman, they do fishing, they don&#039 ; t--I talk with my niece, my one niece. She don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t know. She can&#039 ; t like that till 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&#039 ; t want to secretary, don&#039 ; t make money. She go to do the hair, and she got hair salon, and very success. If you&#039 ; re in Vietnam, what she do? She don&#039 ; t go to schools, she don&#039 ; t go anything, 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&#039 ; re young enough, and all of them graduate from UT [University of Texas]. All of my two younger brother are from UT, one A&amp ; M [Texas A&amp ; 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&#039 ; t go to school. My father move him place to place, he don&#039 ; 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-- |02:05:03| BRODY: Factory? PHAM: Factory, a line, everything, and he come up from there, up, up, up, up, up ; he up to almost president. BRODY: Wow. PHAM: Right now, he&#039 ; s--now even big companies, he work for Cypress to go to every 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&#039 ; 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 PhD. American guy, and the guy is a wrestler, all kind of guy, good in the--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&#039 ; s just graduated from Stanford, and they got McKinsey or whatever they got who arrived the first year. They got in. |02:06:55| BRODY: That&#039 ; s amazing. So the twins were also on the boat with you? PHAM: Yeah, that too. Only twelve year. I mean, the first week--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&#039 ; t fight because they don&#039 ; t speak English and they learn to get in the fighting with the high-schooler, one go to A&amp ; M and one go to UT. UT go to California, (??), and then he got his (??), he got a rent-a-car company, he do--he take the best tax bracket right now. BRODY: That&#039 ; 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 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 online, 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&#039 ; t have the degree or anything like that. And my daughter, she come with me, my oldest daughter I&#039 ; m talking about, in &#039 ; 89, we can-- |02:09:19| BRODY: So, she was able to come in 1989. PHAM: Yeah, &#039 ; 89, yeah, we kind of--she come like--they call her what kind of come back with the family. Should be &#039 ; 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. |02:09:45| BRODY: The government stopped it. PHAM: The government, they stopped it, they don&#039 ; t let go until &#039 ; 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, over there she don&#039 ; 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, and all that so she don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t have time to catch up, anything. So the only thing she can got to, the diploma or something like that, but that&#039 ; 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, Huy, her brother, you know, he&#039 ; s--he got master&#039 ; s degree of business. He got three kid now, and he do very good in Houston, so it&#039 ; s okay, so all my family is okay. |02:11:18| 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, right? 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&#039 ; s identity is? When you think about your grandkids, when you think about your children, when you think about yourself? 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&#039 ; re free to do that. You don&#039 ; 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. |02:13:00| 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&#039 ; t want to learn Vietnamese, okay, you know, that&#039 ; s what they want. And another two of my grandkid over there, they speak in Vietnamese very good, they different because their parent is to be Vietnamese guy. And over here their father is not the Vietnamese, you know, he&#039 ; 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&#039 ; m kind of worship the ancestor only, but I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s it. I still have another younger brother [Pham note: I meant my younger son] you don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; d been a lieutenant JG [junior grade], but then he retire, right? PHAM&#039 ; S DAUGHTER: Who? PHAM: Andy? PHAM&#039 ; S DAUGHTER: Oh, you&#039 ; re talking about your son. I thought you said your brother. I thought you said your brother. PHAM: Yeah, my son, my son. He&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s doing well. |02:15:47| BRODY: That&#039 ; s great. I wanted to ask one more question that we didn&#039 ; t really talk about. When during that period, you know, in the 1970s to eighties 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. |02:18:04| 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&#039 ; ve got Vietnamese community here, you know, yeah. And we&#039 ; 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 more temples right now. Right now I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; t go, we don&#039 ; t like them very much because some reason I don&#039 ; t like them--I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s what the dance come from her. When she marries she want me to do the father-daughter dance, and I don&#039 ; 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, &quot ; Well, dance kind of enjoy,&quot ; so I&#039 ; m in dance up to now. BRODY: You&#039 ; re still doing it. PHAM: I still do it. Not like before, but I still doing it. At the time I come from &#039 ; 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&#039 ; t tell you, I got a job, a side job is security for Pinkerton. |02:19:55| BRODY: For Pinkerton? PHAM: Yes, security, yeah. They pay only two dollar an 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&#039 ; t have good health. My wife, she weak kind of health, and if you got pressure and she got sick, she cannot--she got 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&#039 ; s why I got my younger kid-- when I got my younger kid and she stay home, she take care and she don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; s really a nice story, and you have a lovely family. So thank you so much. Is there anything that we didn&#039 ; t talk about that you wanted to tell me about the subject? PHAM: No, I don&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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&#039 ; 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. end of interview All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. audio Interviews may be reproduced with permission from the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. 0

Files

Kha_Pham.jpg


Citation

“Interview with Kha Pham,” Becoming Texans Becoming Americans, accessed December 9, 2023, https://becomingtexansbecomingamericans.org/items/show/57.