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Tran Ngoc De

In 1975, I was thirty-seven years old. I was young and active; everything was beautiful and promising and I had a future full of hope. Suddenly, a black curtain pulled down covering my life and my country. The Communists violated the Paris Treaty and invaded the South.

 As a pastor in Saigon, I was working for the Seventh Day Adventist Mission at the central office. Usually, I went to my office early in the morning. On April 25, 1975 when I arrived at my office to my surprise nobody was there. Instantly, I was freezing and my heart was empty and I felt awfully lonely and abandoned. I stepped towards my desk, sat down, and cried. I cried too much, like a baby who lost his mother. Then I prayed for a long time. After that, I stood up, walked around the office building hoping to find someone with me. No one showed up to work. Finally, I realized that all the employees had fled, trying to look for refuge abroad.

 I hurried home to report the alarming situation to my wife and two children. The kids did not understand what would happen to our country; to our people in the South. But, my wife who was a refugee from the North in 1954 knows the Communist regime very well. She calmed me down and consoled me.

 The night of April 29 was very scary. Cannons, machine guns, grenades, AK-37s, and rockets opened fire all around the capital, especially at the Tan Son Nhat airport. I could not close my eyes. I lived close to two strategic spots; the Headquarter General of the Armed Forces and the TSN Airport. These were the most important bases that the enemy tried to occupy at any cost. At 7:00AM on April 30, I went to the church to pray. Then at 9:00AM I went home. On my way home I passed the Headquarter General. For the first time, I saw a lot of high officers, particularly the majors and colonels talking to one another. When they saw me, they urged me to go home because the Communists were approaching the airport.

 At 11:30AM, Duong Van Minh, acting president of the Republic of South Vietnam, announced over Saigon Radio that all the officers and G.I's. of the Republic of South Vietnam should put down their weapons and not fight anymore. The two colonels who were talking two minutes ago began to cry. I also cried and did not know why.

 Then the Communist tanks headed downtown Saigon in the direction of the President's Palace. The huge door of the palace slowly opened, letting those Russian tanks run victoriously and proudly to the porch. Can you imagine the deep sorrow of the people in the South? The Communists themselves did not believe that they took over the South easily without any resistance. The people in the North cried because they had always hoped that some day the Southerners would liberate them bringing a better life, but the flag of the Republic was pulled down giving way to the Communist flag with the yellow star in the center.

 I got home the same day at noon and told the whole story to my wife and two children. I loved them very much and I did not know what would happen tomorrow when we lived under Communist control.

 In the afternoon of April 30, I rode my bike downtown. Saigon was full of Communist soldiers and red flags along the streets. I was very surprised to see some friends of mine who had gone to my church and worked for the former government sitting in the military jeeps circulating around the city making Communist propaganda. President Thieu was right when he said, "They eat National rice, but they worship the Communist devils."