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 Post subject: what should be an uplifting story , became irritating to me
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:38 am 
Brigadier General
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Location: Minnesota , USA
as i read of these folks 'escape' from an oppressive country i was feeling pretty good about the story , i saw it as an example of immagration that should be front page news , and it is , this woman and her family have made a good life , contributing to this country and their community ,

but the reporters quote of this comment rubbed me raw ................................................

"...With the fall of Saigon in 1975, U.S. troops pulled out. Life in South Vietnam went from bad to worse.

“After America lost the war in Vietnam, the communists came,” Wynne said. “The government took our land, took our business. We became so poor we had to escape the country.”


this was the fault of american polititions - we did not "loose" this war - they [politions] gave up / gave in to the home grown commies , after handicapping our military to the point that casualties were outrageous

i still find the good in the story , but it is tainted in my eye

heres the whole story ....................................................

There’s even a happy ending for the heroine.

But it’s no dime-store novel. It’s the true story of Wynne’s family and their escape from Vietnam.

War time

Wynne was born Nga Duong in Can Tho, Vietnam, in 1965 in the middle of the Vietnam conflict and American troops had just hit ground in Vietnam.

Bombs, gunfire, Viet Cong guerrillas, kidnappings and assassinations were all threats.

By the time the conflict ended, 58,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese would die.

Wynne’s father, Ngu Duong, was an interpreter for the U.S. Army. In 1969, he started working with a young veterinarian from Minnesota named Steve Dille. Dille, now a state senator from Dassel, was serving as a civilian specialist advising Vietnamese farmers.

The two became close. Dille returned to the U.S. in the early 1970s but never forgot his Vietnamese friend.

With the fall of Saigon in 1975, U.S. troops pulled out. Life in South Vietnam went from bad to worse.

“After America lost the war in Vietnam, the communists came,” Wynne said. “The government took our land, took our business. We became so poor we had to escape the country.”


The family made its first attempt to leave in 1978 when Wynne was 13 years old.

“Over 30 of us tried to leave and we got caught by the government,” Wynne said. “They let the younger kids go home, but the adults and older children were imprisoned. I don’t remember for how long.”

The family realized their only hope was to leave one at a time.

In 1981, Wynne’s oldest brother made his escape. His boat was attacked by pirates, and he eventually swam to shore in Thailand.

“He made four or five attempts before he got to Thailand,” Wynne said.

Wynne’s brother had memorized one critical piece of information: the address of his father’s old friend, Steve Dille. Dille sponsored his move to Minnesota.

As the Duong family left Vietnam one by one, Dille would come to their assistance again and again.

1982, Nga’s older sister and younger brother left by boat and were picked up at sea by the Japanese navy. When they reached Japan, they contacted Dille and eventually made their way to Minnesota.

Nga’s journey

In 1984, when she was 19 years old, it was Wynne’s turn to make her fifth attempt at escape. Previous tries had been thwarted by capture, faulty boat engines and shady boat captains who took payment and ran.

She left with her uncle in the early morning. The plan was to reach Indonesia by boat. But first they had to get to the boat.

“We left at 4 a.m., traveling by bus, and we drove all day. At each station, we’d get off and someone would signal us where to go next,” Wynne said. “When we got to the last city, they directed us to stay in a house until dark. We didn’t know whose house it was or who else was there.”

Around 9:30 p.m. the signal came. Nga remembers leaving the house and seeing other refugees exiting the surrounding houses. There were about 58 people all making their way to the Mekong River.

Silently, they climbed into canoes and rowed out to meet the waiting boat.

“We had to go into the bottom of the boat. There was only room enough for everyone to sit with your knees touching,” Wynne said. “It was scary. The moment we walked onto the boat we knew we only had a 50-50 chance of coming out of it alive.”

As they approached the ocean, the boat came to a military checkpoint.

“I remember the boat owner told us, ‘Don’t breathe loud.’ We had to be as quiet as we can,” Wynne said.

Through cracks in the wooden boat’s side the refugees could see armed men.

“You could hear everyone’s heartbeat — we were so scared,” Wynne said. “We held hands and hoped they wouldn’t see us.”

Their boat was allowed to pass, but its hidden passengers remained crammed below until morning.

They reached an Indonesian island a few days later.

Foreign turf

Wynne and her uncle were placed in a U.N. refugee camp. But without an immigration sponsor, they would be stuck there, caught between lands.

Once again, Dille opened the door for them, immediately starting the process to bring the two refugees to Minnesota.

But time was running out for Wynne’s uncle. A former major in the Republic of Vietnam army, he had been placed in an “education” camp by the North Vietnamese government.

“For nine years all he had to eat was salt and rice. It destroyed his liver,” Wynne said.

The U.S. delegation in the refugee camp tried to rush his paperwork so he could get medical treatment. After three months, he was transferred to Singapore. He died there, leaving Wynne on her own in a strange country.

Starting over

After nine months in the refugee camp, Wynne was allowed to leave for the U.S. She flew to St. Cloud and joined her three siblings.

“I came here with nothing, not even a dime,” Wynne said.

Though she was safe and eager to make a new life for herself, the transition was not easy.

“The hard part is to have to start all over again: new language, new people and financial problems,” Wynne said. “People look at you differently. Sometimes you can feel that they treat other people better and you don’t dare say something. You don’t want people to hate you.”

Though Wynne shared an apartment with her siblings, she sometimes felt isolated. She didn’t have a car, so she walked to the closest grocery store.

“I remember there was one day it snowed and I was walking in my boots and I had my arms full of paper bags of groceries,” Wynne said. “The bags tore and the groceries spilled all over. I just sat down and cried.”

“Before I came to America, I always thought America was a dream place,” Wynne said. “I remember thinking, ‘But where’s my dream now, sitting here with my groceries all over and crying in the snow?’ ”

But Wynne didn’t stay down for long. She took off her jacket, filled it with the fallen groceries and headed for home.

Her ability to push past hard times would serve her well in the years to come. She knew what she wanted from her new life.

“Everyone has a dream. I dreamed of coming here — to have success, to have a family, to have a good job,” Wynne said. “You have to work hard to get it. To find freedom, you have to pay a price. But you’ll get there, be strong.”

Although Wynne had learned a little English from her father and at the refugee camp, she had a long way to go.

“When American people talk, they talked so fast that by the time I understood the first part, they’d finished the sentence,” Wynne said. “And slang was hard to understand. I decided I had to go to school.”

Wynne attended St. Cloud Technical College and then went to St. Cloud State University. She graduated in 1990 with an accounting degree.

In 1995, 11 years after she left them, Wynne welcomed her parents.

“There were a lot of tears, a lot of tears,” Wynne said.

Wynne’s other brother arrived here in 2003. Two of her sisters remain in Vietnam.

A family of her own

After graduating, Wynne got a job at Wells Fargo Bank in Sartell, where she’s worked for more than a decade.

“I love my job and they treat me really well,” Wynne said.

She married and had three sons, but her first marriage ended in divorce in 1998.

“That was another rough time in my life. I really struggled being a single mother with three boys,” Wynne said. “At that time we lived in an apartment. I asked them if it mattered to them that we couldn’t be in a house. They said as long as we’re together as a team, they didn’t care where we lived.”

That summer, she worked two jobs while her parents watched the kids.

“After three months, I had saved enough to build a house in Sartell,” Wynne said.

Today Wynne’s three sons, Duy Vu, Vinh Vu and Nam Vu, are growing up. Duy is studying graphic design at the Art Institute in Minneapolis. Vinh is a senior and Nam is a freshman at Sartell High School.

Wynne has only twice shared the story of her family’s journey to America with her sons.

“I told them once when they were young and my oldest son cried. Then I told my second son again on a trip to look at colleges and he was in tears, too,” Wynne said.

While she is proud of all of them, she was extremely proud of Vinh’s recent choice to join the National Guard.

“When I asked him about his decision, he said ‘Mom, if we don’t serve our country and fight for our country, who will?’ I just bawled,” Wynne said. “I’m so proud of him.”

In 2004, Wynne met her second husband, Craig Wynne, and his son, Christopher Wynne. The couple married and their combined family now lives in Sartell.

Happy ending

In 2006 Wynne returned to Vietnam for the first time in 22 years. She saw her sisters, visited her cousins and showed her husband Craig her homeland.

“It was much improved, so many changes,” Wynne said. “It was good for Craig to see what a poor country it is. He saw how many people take it for granted here.”

After 23 years in the St. Cloud area, Wynne is happy to call Minnesota home.

The dreams she had when she first came to Minnesota — freedom, a good job and family — have all been accomplished.

“I’m so proud of what I have right now, the struggles I went through to make my dreams come true,” Wynne said. “Every time I tell this story, I cry.”

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