End of March 1975,
I was working at Duy Tan General Hospital
When waves of communist attacks roared into Danang.
Our front commanders had flown straight to their escape ships.
With the tumultuous crowd
My friend and I we rushed our way.
The dauntless naval vessel HQ504 was still waiting,
With hundreds of people on its deck.
Clinging to my rope ladder, I climbed up in.
A few hours later, not a tiny space was left,
Thousands of people standing and moving like waves.
Still, going around in the bay
Waiting for order to leave.
Soldiers with red hats, blue hats,
Sick people, healthy people,
Young women, old people,
Fighting for their space on this strange boat.
Complaining and sighing
About their lost houses,
Their jobs and salaries gone,
Their children going astray
Their future unknown.
My boat landed in Cam Ranh Bay
I boarded a bus and quickly went to Phan Thiet.
For once a fishing boat I would try,
With thug-faced people I barely got by,
They yelled, asking for their tolls
Then jumped over to another boat.
The fishing boat was bobbing, shaking'
Hundreds of people nodding, swaying,
The tropical sun parched our skin and dried our mouths.
Exhausted children silently cried,
Old people mumbled their prayers,
A young guy quietly pondering.
We went straight to Vung Tau.
Right away, I went to a friend's house;
His wife ran out to greet me,
Overjoyed, she shouted:
"You've just escaped the war,
How happy my husband will be!
He talks about you every day,
I will call your wife to tell her you're safe".
End of April, my friend died,
Cruel enemy mortar ended his life.
In Saigon, I hugged wife and children,
My eyes brimming with tears of joy.
The next day, reporting to the Medical Corps,
To Cong Hoa Military Hospital I was deployed.
The year before I trained there,
Now patients were everywhere,
Few came out; the newly wounded kept coming in.
The tumult got worse every day
Evacuation ships were covered with people,
Desperately, they clung to the helicopters' landing gears
Mothers carrying their children filled the streets,
Mortars falling relentlessly,
People died on the roadside, on rice field dikes.
Ignoring others in search for their loved ones,
Everyone was on his own.
Refugees were filling up the cities.
News of: disastrous tragic losses
From the front came back in droves.
The first military region was abandoned
To reinforce the second one.
They left the third one, and pulled back
For a last ditch defense of the capital zone.
Every day, there came more bad news
Of communist closing on the capital.
They had cannons, AK's,
With tanks from China and Russia
Rockets rained over the city day and night,
Their shrieking sounds tore your eardrums.
Many innocent lives were destroyed.
Then small firearm sounds got closer to home.
In the hospital, groups huddled to discuss:
"Should we go or should we stay?"
Every few days, a few of them got away,
I treated my patients but my mind was elsewhere.
Looking at my patients, I worried so much,
Looking for my friends, so few were still there.
They played "White Christmas"
In the mid of summer.
Jets screaming high above,
Helicopters scuttled down under.
The last Americans packed up to leave,
The Republic's days were soon over.
10 AM, April 30th
As Commander in Chief,
The President in his last minute power
With his dignified voice on the radio ordered:
"Armed forces at every level put down your arms.
To the other side, to our brothers
Please come for a government transfer."
Many soldiers, still in arms,
Took off their uniforms, quickly
They threw up their hats, their boots.
Knapsacks, rifles covered the streets.
In panic and without even their shirts,
They forged ahead aimlessly.
I looked over the street,
A car with a Liberation Front's flag passed by,
I recognized immediately, sitting there,
One of my seniors, a field officer.
I hoped my eyes were fooled by the sun glare.