- THE VIETNAM CENTER AND ARCHIVE
- Texas Tech University
This week the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) transferred a number of naval artifacts from the SS Pioneer Commander to the Vietnam Archive. The Pioneer Commander, laid down in 1962 as the SS American Commander, participated in the evacuation of South Vietnam in March 1975 from Danang and Cam Ranh Bay. That month the Pioneer Commander and other Military Sealift Command ships evacuated over 30,000 Americans and South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. In 1981, the Pioneer Commander was transferred to MARAD to become part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Beaumont, TX.
The Vietnam Center and Archive’s relationship with MARAD began in 2005 when staff members from the Archive traveled to Suisun Bay in California to remove canvas bunk bottoms and other artifacts off of two ships, the USNS General John Pope and the USNS General Edwin D. Patrick, as part of our Vietnam Graffiti Project.
Artifacts transferred from the Pioneer Commander include an azimuth circle, binnacle, engine order telegraphs, the builder’s plate, navigation lights, a gyro repeater, and a 14 foot-long name plate. In the coming months these items will be processed and images of the artifacts will be made available on the Virtual Vietnam Archive as part of the SS Pioneer Commander (AK-2016) Collection.
We especially want to thank the Maritime Administration for their assistance with this project.
A unique item from the Farley E. Peebles collection is now available online – an aerial photograph and a base layout plan of the Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam. The layout shows all the buildings, runways, roads, and borders of the base, and the locations of gates, towers, posts, and K-9 posts have been marked.
The aerial photo and the base layout were attached together when they were donated to the archive, but have been separated for preservation purposes. Both items are now available for viewing online as images, and the layout plan is also available as a PDF. This is just one example of the many unique items that are added to the Virtual Vietnam Archive every day.
The US Air Force turns 63 today, and the Vietnam Center and Archive staff would like to wish the Air Force a very happy birthday. We have put together this small exhibit of Air Force related items from the collections of the Vietnam Archive for everyone to enjoy.
September 1 is the beginning of the Vietnam Archive’s fiscal year and we have raised our photocopying fees and rights and reproduction prices. To see a copy of our new prices click here.
The cost of providing these services has gone up over the years and, while we try to keep our prices to a minimum, we have raised our fees to cover these increased costs. Any order received on September 1, 2010 forward will be subject to the new prices.
The Vietnam Archive’s Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, Ann Mallett, hopes that this story will give hope to and inspire other Vietnamese Americans to continue searching for friends and family members they were separated from by war, as well as Veterans seeking to reunite with their Vietnamese counterparts and friends.
Professor Tuyen Nguyen of Toronto, Canada, had been searching for forty-two years for his friend and former classmate at the Faculty of Law in Saigon, Mr. Pham Quang Minh. Separated by events in the Vietnam War in 1968, Professor Nguyen contacted the Vietnam Archive in the hopes that the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoner’s Association (FVPPA) Collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation (VAHF), might contain clues to the whereabouts of his friend in the collection’s Orderly Departure Program (ODP) application files.
The ODP was a humanitarian program instituted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist Vietnamese refugees in emigrating from Vietnam in a safe and legal manner after the Vietnam War. The FVPPA assisted former Vietnamese Political Prisoners and their families in applying to the UNHCR’s ODP and aided them in resettling in the United States. Professor Nguyen’s hoped to find his friend by finding his friend’s older brother. Professor Nguyen knew that his friend’s older brother, Pham Van Sat, was a major in the South Vietnamese Marine Corps and had been a political prisoner sentenced to reeducation in the Vietnamese reeducation camps after the war. Professor. Nguyen had heard that Pham Van Sat had resettled in the U.S. after his release from the camps and hoped that the FVPPA had been the organization to assist him and his family in the application and resettlement process, and therefore he could find Mr. Pham’s ODP application at the Vietnam Archive.
Once Professor Nguyen found Pham Van Sat’s ODP application in the FVPPA collection it would give him a starting point to search for his friend’s brother, and once he found the brother he could find his friend. This was an insurmountable and difficult task with the odds laid heavily against him for ODP application files were filled out in the mid 1980’s through the early 1990’s while the ODP applicant still resided in Vietnam and was applying to the ODP. Submitting an ODP application did not guarantee approval for emigration nor did the application list the address of where one would resettle upon approval in the U.S. or other country of one’s choosing.
The Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, Ann Mallett, was given Professor Nguyen’s inquiry from the Archive’s Reference Archivist, Amy Mondt. Ms. Mallett answered his inquiry and gave him information from Pham Van Sat’s ODP application in order to determine if the file did indeed belong to the correct Pham Van Sat Professor Nguyen was searching for. This was made substantially easier, as it happened to be the only application under that name in the collection. The archivist gave Professor Nguyen several suggestions on how to search for Pham Quang Minh, provided contact information for Vietnamese American organizations and publications, along with the following information on Pham Van Sat: date and place of birth; address in Vietnam; spouse’s name; distinguished record as a Major in the Vietnamese Marine Corps; wounded six times and awarded U.S. Bronze Star Medal by U.S. Dept. of Navy; was Deputy Chief, Division Office of Operation and Battalion Commander of a Vietnamese Marine Corps Division; trained in the U.S. twice after graduating from Vietnamese Military Academy in 1962, Quantico, Virginia 1964-1965, and Monterey, CA; spent five years in reeducation camps; names of his military advisors; and the names of his Sponsor and U.S. contact he listed on his application.
Professor Nguyen confirmed that he believed the file to belong to the Pham Van Sat he was looking for. Ms. Mallett then provided him with the contact information for Mr. Pham’s sponsor and US contact listed on Mr. Pham’s ODP application. Professor Nguyen began his search by contacting Mr. Pham’s sponsor and U.S. contact. Remarkably, it just so happened that Mr. Pham’s sponsor, his sister-in-law, and his U.S. contact, his brother-in-law and former classmate at the Vietnamese military academy, had not changed residence in the twenty-one years since Mr. Pham had filled out his ODP application. They were still living in New Jersey and Professor Nguyen was able to contact them, and through them Pham Van Sat, and through Pham Van Sat his friend Pham Quang Minh.
Ms. Mallett has had approximately thirty requests of a similar nature, but this is the first one with a reunion and happy ending. Ms. Mallett was excited to learn of the success of Professor Nguyen’s search, and hopes there will be many more successful searches and reunions of friends and family. Ms. Mallett would like to share two e-mails from Professor Nguyen expressing his heartfelt thanks to the Vietnam Archive for aiding him in his search and his feelings on his story being written along with his hopes that it will give hope to others.
Dear Ms. Mallett,
I would like to inform you that today, I already contacted and had a long talk with Mr Pham van Sat as well as with his young brother, Mr. Pham quang Minh, my previous friend
Thank you very much for your enthusiasm and good will in helping me to find out my above-mentioned friend whom I have lost contact with over 40 years.
I won’t never forget your help in this matter and please send my enthusiastic thank to Ms. Amy too
Finally, I believe that God will reward and bless you and Ms. Amy later on as well
Yours Thankfully and Gratefully
Dear Ms. Mallett,
Please do as much as you like about this. I think it’s a great idea that this story should be written in your Archive’s News and Updates so many other people who may have the same cases as mine to know about this effective and successful way and this would encourage and help them to find their relatives, friends, acquaintances etc… whom they have long time been separated from.
It is a very good job to help other people to be united with each other again after having been separated from each other for a long time.
It is a very great idea and I’m very happy to agree with you about this so please go ahead and
do this as much as you wish
May God Bless You do this good job for many other people who are experiencing the cases as mine
Yours Thankfully and Gratefully,
The Vietnam Center and Archive received a collection of artifacts and photographs from world-renowned anthropologist Gerald Hickey. Items donated include textiles, smoking pipes, swords and wood carvings from Montagnard tribes Dr. Hickey worked with in Vietnam from 1950s-1970s. Please click here for the official press release.
Photo caption: Y Bham Enoul, Rhade leader and founder of FULRO (United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races). FULRO was an organization in Vietnam and Cambodia that was established to fight for Montagnard autonomy within those nations. This photo is just one of many donated by Dr. Hickey.
On June 14, 2010 the Vietnam Archive had the pleasure of receiving two special guests from Hanoi, Vietnam: Mr. Nguyen Ho Nam and his wife, Mrs. Dang Hien Tram. After attending the graduation of their younger son from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, the Nguyens travelled to Lubbock, TX to visit their eldest son, Nguyen Ho Anh (Anh). Anh is a student assistant here at the Vietnam Archive, where he helps with the processing and digitizing of collection materials. Anh’s bilingual skills have proven invaluable in translating documents and communicating with Vietnamese speaking researchers.
While visiting their son, Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen came to the archive to see where Anh works and to meet the people he works with. The Nguyens were given a tour of the archive by Ann Mallett, Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, and Archival Specialists Sheon Montgomery and Kevin Sailsbury. The focal point of the tour for the Nguyen family was viewing the diaries of Dr. Dang Thuy Tram.
Mrs. Nguyen is the sister of the late Dr. Dang Thuy Tram, and viewing the Tram Dairies—which are considered a national treasure in Vietnam— was a moving and emotional experience for her. We are honored that the family of Dr. Tram and Frederic Whitehurst have entrusted us with the care of her dairies.
This was Nguyen Ho Nam’s second time visiting the archive, and the third for Dang Hien Tram. We hope they can visit us again soon.