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TitleReeducation in Postwar Vietnam: Personal Postscripts to Peace
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Total Pages161
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Preface i

Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam





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Page 80

The Lie of “Thirty Days” 55

C H A P T E R 1 1

The Lie of “Thirty Days”

Early the next morning, my wife woke me so we could discuss
our options. The other side had entered Vinh Long City and controlled all
of the government agencies. They did not yet know where I lived. For my
part, I did not know how to act, but decided to remain at home awaiting
the inevitable orders to report to them.

My heart ached as I looked at my wife and children, knowing how they
would be treated by the Communists. The first day, the occupiers announced
over the PA system that students should return to school. My children obeyed
the order, taking their books and heading off for school. An hour later they
came back home, explaining that they had to change their clothes. Stu-
dents were to wear long, simple shirts instead of the white ao dai that the
girls had worn to school before. I knew then that eventually they would be
forced to give up their studies. In fact, the very next day the school board
declared that the children of the “puppet” army and government would
not be allowed to attend school. So, my children had to stay home.

On May , they announced over the PA system that all officers and per-
sonnel of the “puppet” army and government should go and register at what
previously had been Vinh Long Sector Garrison Command. I dutifully ar-
rived there and recognized nearly all the officers of the th Division and the
Vinh Long Garrison. As the Viet Cong knew nothing about administrative
management, they relied on female soldiers of the old regime to take charge
of the registration. After giving my name I returned home to wait for in-

By May , some “April th Communists” were out with their red
armbands, going from door to door selling National Liberation Front flags
and pictures of Ho Chi Minh. The term “April th Communist” was popu-
larly used to identify people from the hamlets and urban wards who jumped
on the bandwagon and joined the Viet Cong after the war ended. These

Page 81

56 Col. Huynh Van Chinh’s Story

turncoats told us we had to display the NLF flag and place the portrait of
“Uncle Ho” in a place of honor in our homes.

When I arrived at home, I found my brother waiting for me. He had come
from Saigon to see about my situation, and offered to take one or two of the
children back with him. One problem was that the Viet Cong had assigned
people to loiter at a refreshment stand across the street from my home to
keep an eye on us, to watch for any suspicious activities. Because of this,
and all other things considered, I decided that it was best if my brother re-
turned to Saigon alone. That evening, several North Vietnamese soldiers,
male and female, were quartered in my house, to sleep and cook right there
among us. Their goal was to control all my family’s activities.

The next morning I had to go to the Vinh Long Agricultural Service Office
to attend a Communist lecture. The lecturers did not know how to speak to
people other than to parrot the phrases they had been taught: “You, broth-
ers, are puppet soldiers, a rebel government, evil. . . . You have come here to
study to become honest citizens. . . . Americans are imperialists and you are
their lackeys. America ran away and you collapsed.” And so on. They in-
sulted us in every possible way, after which they commended their side with
wonderful words. The cadre lecturer was stupid looking and not well versed
in language. He knew only how to insult and blame. He sat on the ground,
his pants rolled up over his knees, rolling a cigarette between his fingers as
he talked. After two hours of such “education” we were sent home. The rou-
tine continued for several days. In the morning I went to “study,” then at
midday I returned home, where I waited the rest of the day for further in-

On May , at approximately  o’clock in the afternoon, there was a call
on the PA system for us to assemble at the Agricultural Service Office and
bring along seven days’ worth of provisions. Immediately after the an-
nouncement, two Viet Cong cadres wearing Chinese pistols came to my
home. I went downstairs to see them, and, after a greeting, I asked them to
be seated. They declined the invitation.

“You are Mr. Chinh, aren’t you?” they asked. “You are E-commander ,
aren’t you?” By this they meant the commander of the th Regiment.

I replied that I was, and one of them said, “Have you reported for educa-
tion yet?”

When I responded that I had, he continued, “Are you prepared for seven
days of study, as announced by the provincial delegate?”

I told them I had clothes and money and could go at once.

Page 160

Index 135

Republic of Vietnam: Deputy Prime

Minister, ; House of Representa-

tives, 

Saigon: antirevolution organization, ;

curfew, ; defense of, ; looting, ;

memories of, ; return to, 

sanitary facilities, lack of, 

th Vietnamese Infantry Division: advi-

sory duty, , , ; attack on

Khanh Hau, ; location of combat

units, ; tactical area of responsibil-

ity, ; Tra On District, ; Truong

Ky, Col., 

Singapore, . See also escape

Son Tuy Province, 

Subic Bay, 

Suoi Mau-Tam Hiep, Camp A, 

Tan Son Nhut Airport, , 

Tet: entertainment of, , ; extra food

allowance for, ; writing families at,


Tet Offensive of , 

Thanh Phong secret zone, 

Thu Duc Camp, center for reeducation,


thirteen ghosts, the, , 

Tran Quyet, Gen., 

Tran Van Hai, Gen.: as th ARVN Divi-

sion Commander, , ; suicide of, 

Tran Van Huong, 

Tran Van Phuc, Col., , , 

United States: arrival in, ; departure

to, ; new life in, 

Vinh Long airfield barracks, ; as jail,

, 

Viet Minh, 

Vietnamese Navy Seals, , 

violence, avoidance of, 

Vietnamese Communists (VC): and

ARVN surrender, ; corruption of,

; D Regiment, ; th Division

request to ARVN th Division to

surrender, ; and th Upper Delta

Division, ; eliciting bribes by, ;

and prisoners, ; and reeducation,

, ; and people’s courts, ; min-

ing of NR by, , ; and Route A,

; treatment of families by, –; in

Vinh Binh Province, ; visit from, ;

and Vung Liem District Commissar, 

winter conditions, , , 

Yen Bai Camp , , , , 

Page 161

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: Paci-
fication in Vietnam, also published by Texas A&M University Press. huynh
van chinh, tran van phuc , and le nguyen binh were all colo-
nels in the Army of Vietnam. All three now live in the United States.

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