The person I most admire was born on October 14, 1918, at home in the countryside of Da Nang city,Viet Nam,in a village call Nam Ding village. His father was an Army soldier home from World War I; his mother, a young, strong-willed, independent. His parents separated when he was only three, and he was reared by maternal grandparents. Because of this experience, he vowed that if he married, it would be for keeps. He kept that promise, and lived long enough to celebrate a fifty-second wedding anniversary on November 5, 1991.
At age sixteen, he entered the labor force full-time, plying the trade of a moulder in a small foundry called Athens Stove Company. There he earned the grand total of fifty cents per day for an eight-hour shift of back-breaking, blazingly hot, hard work. In 1934, during the years following the 1929 stock market crash, men took whatever job could be found and were grateful for whatever honest wage they could earn. So was he.
In 1939, he married a modest, hard-working Vietnamese girl. He supported her on just twelve dollars per week living in half of a rented house. Their first child, he named Trung, name he admired from Viet nam’ history. She was born in 1940, and a few years later they moved to Ho Chi Minh city, where wages were better. There he worked in another stove foundry and was active in establishing a labor union. Rather than being drafted into the Army during World War II, he took his father's advice and enlisted with US army when they were still in Viet Nam. Afterwards, he moved his family back to Da Nang city, near relatives. Four-year-old Trung's arms had to be pried from his neck where she clung and cried when he left Da Nang to enroute to war in Ha Noi.
He served as second class boatswain's mate, piping admirals and captains aboard ship. Of the many stories he told about the war, I best remember one concerning a group of Japanese prisoners being transported aboard their supply ship to the... [continues]
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