Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam
Personal Postscripts to Peace
Military History - Vietnam War
6.125 x 9.25, 160 pp.
11 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 08/10/2001
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $24.95

978-1-58544-129-7

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam

Personal Postscripts to Peace

By Edward P. Metzner, Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc and Le Nguyen Binh

When helicopters plucked the last Americans off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975, countless Vietnamese who had worked with or for the Americans remained behind. Many of these were soon arrested and sent to "reeducation" camps where they faced forced labor, indoctrination sessions, and privation. Others suffered through harrowing flights from their homes seeking safe haven across treacherous seas. The stories of three of these Vietnamese who survived and eventually found their way to America are told here in stark and moving detail.

For a decade before the fall of Saigon, Edward P. Metzner served as an advisor among the people of the beautiful and hotly contested Mekong Delta. After the war, he diligently sought news of the close friends and comrades in arms he had made among the Vietnamese military officers. Many had died; others could not be found. When Metzner eventually located a few, he believed their stories should be told. Three agreed to do so, and their accounts form the core of Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam: Personal Postscripts to Peace.

Two of the men, Huynh Van Chinh and Tran Van Phuc, who had been colonels of the Army of Vietnam, lived through the deprivation, torture, and mental abuse of the reeducation camps and eventually found freedom in America. The experiences of these two men reveal not only the closely guarded secrets of the experiences of high-ranking officers in post-war Vietnam but also the changes in the camps over time. In the book's other first-person account, Col. Le Nguyen Binh tells a different story: his dangerous escape from Vietnam, with some of his junior officers and enlisted men, in three overloaded fishing boats with low stocks of drinking water and food and recalcitrant crews.

Metzner introduces the book and the individual stories with the details necessary to understand the larger picture of which they are a part. He also profiles Gen. Le Minh Dao, a division commander in the dangerous area northwest of Saigon who spent seventeen years in North Vietnamese jails, and Father Joe Devlin, a Catholic priest who aided innumerable people in Vietnam through the years of the war and in Malaysian refugee camps afterward.

The matter-of-fact, even stoic stories of these survivors stand as a testimony to their endurance and persistent desire to return to a life in freedom.

Edward P. Metzner is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served seven years in Vietnam as an advisor to South Vietnamese military commanders from district and province levels to the Vietnamese Joint General Staff. He has told the story of his own experiences in More Than A Soldier's War: Pacification in Vietnam, also published by Texas A&M University Press.Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc, and Le Nguyen Binh were all colonels in the Army of Vietnam. All three now live in the United States.

What Readers Are Saying:

“The book makes an interesting addition to the already large oral literature on the American war in Viet Nam and stands as the author’s lasting testament to his friendships with these three men.” --Choice

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