Hon Nguyen was born in 1951, and his Cambodian-born father was a Major in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. During the war, he was a student in the University of Saigon, and remembers protesting American involvement because he thought it should be a South Vietnamese initiative. In 1972, he entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant. When he was in charge of young Soldiers, he always treated them with dignity and respect, a practice that would work to his advantage later. He was assigned to the Headquarters and Operations Center in Tay Ninh. He was on patrol when the war ended, and recalls changing into civilian clothes and trying to blend in to the civilian population. He then entered a “reeducation camp,” but his father had political connections, and he was only in the camp for a year. In 1978, he left Vietnam on a fishing boat and came to the United States.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, growing up in an occupied country, attending university, and serving in the ARVN. He describes the terror of April 30, 1975, when South Vietnam was conquered, and fearing mass executions. He recalls being a laborer for the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1977, and seeing the killing fields. When he asked why the dead were not being buried, he was told that they would become good fertilizer for the rice fields. He discusses his journey to America, and how he eventually paid back the people who brought him here. Finally, he reflects on his service in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.