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Suong Ngoc Le

She lives in Santa Clara with her brother.

Twenty years have passed, but the images of April 30, 1975 are still in the minds of every South Vietnamese person. They are incensed about every soldier and every civilian killed by Vietcong during the struggle to protect the peace, independence, and freedom of South Vietnam.

It was almost dawn on April 30, 1975. Although Saigon had been put under martial law some days before, people were running in all directions on the street. The voices of crying kids who lost their parents mingled with other voices which called out made a confusing sound. On the radio, the announcer made known that the Vietcong were coming from Xuan Loc about 60 km northeast of Saigon. The announcement came very fast so as to scare people.

 At the harbor, along both sides of the Saigon River, people were crowding each other to board a boat. The people who were relatives of Navy sailors went on board first. They pushed forward regardless of people's safety around them. There were a lot of kids who lost their parents while trying to reach the boat and parents who reached the boat without their children. The crying of those separated made a desolate sound.

 South Vietnamese tanks and armored cars surrounded the president's building to protect it and South Vietnamese soldiers held weapons in their arms waiting for commands. On Thong Nhat Avenue in front of the U.S. embassy a crowd came together to try to get inside the embassy gate.

 On the roof of the embassy helicopters traveling the five kilometers to and from the Tan Son Nhat airport took off and landed regularly. They looked in a hurry. The air smelled strongly of gun powder. The bombings broke out so much that dead bodies were spread all over the streets. People were killed to be quartered without a coat to cover their bodies. And there was a baby of about seven months who was still holding her mother's breast with her mouth although her mother no longer lived and was already stiff.

 Lying in the pitiless sun, shoulder to shoulder, head to feet, were also thousands of wounded. Many writhed under the hot sun, moaning. Everywhere there was blood and screams of pain as ambulance women bearing stretchers hurried here and there among thickly packed rows of prostrate forms, frequently stepping on wounded people who stared stolidly up, waiting their turn.

 Those who could walk ran up and down, back and forth, but they did not know where to go. They were looking for some possible way to protect their lives.

 At the same time, the helicopters took off faster and faster. They rescued a lot of commissioned officers and their families who lived near Saigon.

All important city gates were opened before the Vietcong armored cars came into Saigon from the northeast. President Thieu Van Nguyen and some commissioned officers had left so the South Vietnamese soldiers were like a snake which lost its head and they took off their uniforms and threw down their guns along the road. When the Vietcong came, they announced that they would kill anybody who opposed Communism. They would disembowel him, take out his heart and liver, and use pincers to pull out his fingernails and toenails.

 At twelve o'clock sharp, the Vietcong despoiled the president's building and the television and radio stations. They commanded Minh Van Doung, the temporary president, to announce to his subordinates to lay down their weapons and give in. Suddenly the mass of white clouds in the sky turned gray and then followed the rain. The rain was out of season. The scene seemed to share the misfortune and sorrow of the South Vietnamese people. So began a new page in the history of South Vietnam; one of sorrow and resentment.