Hi Craig,It's so depressing to see the Americanization of Guam, its car culture, the US military presence. In April of 1975, during the fall of Saigon, I escaped Vietnam on a US military plane and arrived in Guam, where I stayed for a week. I was 11 years old. I remember eating powdered egg, canned peach, a hot dog, going to a beach where a bunch of GIs swam naked in front of hundreds of Vietnamese. Thirty years later, I wrote about this experience for a magazine: "Before boarding the plane, I stayed at an American compound for four days. Already, Saigon seemed very far away. On the evening of April 27th, I got on a C-130 to fly to Guam. I had been on a plane once before, when I was six, to go to Da Lat. As a transporter, the C-130 was huge, stuffy, with only one window and no seats. People were sprawled all over the floor. Sitting next to Sister Ha, I watched a kid eat raw instant noodles. When the plane landed, it was pitch dark. No one knew a thing about Guam, all they knew was that it was no longer a part of Vietnam. Where to go from there, and do what, no one knew. At that moment, I was not thinking about my father, Saigon or Vietnam at all. I was just super excited because, for the first time in my life, I was allowed to go very far away."The rest of this piece is available online here:http://damau.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1176&Itemid=1
Hi linh, thanks for your comment. the excerpt is powerful--and it's story like this that speak to my heart. i want to read the entire story & link to it from my blog and send on a list to a Chamorro listserve--but, the link says i need a login? help? pas,craig
Hi Craig,Please try the URL again. You don't need to log in. Most of the piece is actually about my childhood in Saigon, only the last paragraph has me landing in Guam. I'll tell you what: I'll write about my experience in Guam in the next couple of days. When I'm done, I'll post it in this comment section.Cheers!Linh
hey linh,i found it! i think the URL above (at least on my screen) got cut off.if anyone else is looking for it, here is the whole URL cut up to fithttp://damau.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1176&Itemid=10170the story is powerful linh, thank you for sharing with me. i am gonna link from my blog also ;)on the site, i also found another story that mentions guam. the one called HER NINE WORDS byDương Như Nguyệnhere is part of the passage:"I want to turn the clock back so I can redo a departure. I want to pack properly. I want good luck and bon voyage and welcome gifts. Where I am going, I will see the changing seasons like rows of silent evergreens and all that pure sparkling snow whitening the earth, and I will jump up and down and roll myself around on that pure snow, celebrating the season and knowing the great joy of being alive. But I am not rolling and, instead, I have made timid footsteps on broken leaves. On the Boeing airplane that crossed the Pacific from Guam to the U.S, I came across a Newsweek cover showing people standing behind banners, "Only Ford wants them." "Why this banner? Are we not wanted?" I had asked that day and my father yanked the magazine from me. Too late. I had already seen the angry rejection of the host country. In confusion I slept through the flight and when I woke up, I had already crossed the ocean."i had no idea about this intersection between our peoples...do you know if there is research out there about vietnamese refugees on guam during that time?
Hi Craig,Guam is mentioned in a few Vietnamese articles and short stories, but I don't recall seeing any piece written in English, although they must be out there. Radio Free Asia (a CIA baby, although they deny it's still so...) had a feature on 11/17/2005 about the Vietnamese presence in Guam now. 132,000 Vietnamese stayed in the Guam refugee camp during 1975, an astronomical figure when you consider that the population of Guam was only 100,000 at the time (please correct me if I'm wrong), but most were moved to the mainland fairly quickly. Only a few Vietnamese settled in Guam. There are now 200 on the island, including a handful who came (back) from the mainland. In 1975, many of the refugess actually arrived by sea, on US and South Vietnamese ships. One of these, Viet Nam Thuong Tin, repatriated 1,546 Vietnamese on October, 1975. Separated from their families, they simply wanted to go home, although many would end up in prison. Linh
Hi Craig,Thuy Dinh (no relations) just sent me this Guam-related letter she wrote to Salon: Peter Landesman's thoughtful and balanced story [FilmAid] brings back my own memories of being a teenage camp refugee. My pain was alleviated by the happy celluloid images of America at a time when "home" and "country" became ambiguous and painful topics.In April 1975, shortly before the end of the Vietnam War, my family boarded an American military aircraft and fled Saigon, the city of my birth. We came to Guam after a three-day stay in Clarks Air Base, in the Philippines. I was in Guam when I first heard that South Vietnam had surrendered to the Communists. People were cut adrift, and spent most of their days in shock. I was 13 at the time.One night, the American soldiers who took care of our camp told everyone that there would be outdoor movies shown at the beach. I took my five siblings, who ranged from 3 to 10 years in age, to the screening. We took up a whole bleacher in front of the screen. We laughed at the vintage Disney cartoons and were somewhat perplexed by a very frenzied version of Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat." For an hour or two I forgot that I was a dan ty-nan ("seeker of asylum"), a teenager who overnight had to grapple with the notion of being a "homeless foreigner" in my adopted homeland.While the idea of FilmAid could be construed by some as a frivolous luxury or an insensitive marketing ploy, it can also make indelible marks in those who still care to hope: that the world has not come to an end; that romance, adventure, and mystery still exist beyond death and suffering.Nearly a quarter-century later, I still believe in the power of celluloid to soothe, to encourage, to challenge, and to inform. When I was a producer of the Asian-American Film Festival in Washington, D.C., I was able to showcase films written, directed and produced by Asian-Americans that explored the ever ambivalent subjects of loss, nationality and identity. I wholeheartedly embrace Caroline Baron's efforts.-- Thuy Dinh salon.com | July 15, 1999[Thuy is an editor of Da Mau]
Thuy Dinh also wrote about her refugee experience in "Luggage and Shoes" (Amerasia Journal, Fall 1991). The last of this four-page piece covers her experience in Guam. I don't have it in the right format to post it here, but if anyone's interested in receiving a copy, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi Craig,Before the Vietnamese arrived in Guam, Guam had already come to Vietnam, so to speak, through B-52 bombers flown from Andersen AFB. Designed in the 40's to carry atomic bombs, these "Stratofortress" were used in Vietnam in operations with names such as "Linebacker" and "Proud Deep."It is sad that so many islands have been used as launching pads for Empire. Now we have American planes bombing Afghanistan from the British island of Diego Garcia, where three empires, past and present, overlap.Death from above befits the hubris and contemptuousness of an empire. Tom Engelhardt has just published an excellent piece on the American love for air war. Talking about its enormous and frequent "collateral damage," he writes: This is not an aberrant side-effect of air war but its heart and soul. The airplane is a weapon of war, but it is also a weapon of terror - and it is meant to be. From the beginning, it was used not to "win over" enemy populations - after all, how could that be done from the distant skies? - but to crush or terrorize them into submission. (It has seldom worked that way.) Then there's another factor that has to be added in. What if you don't really care - not all that much, anyway - who is running in the street below you? Since 1945, US air power has regularly been used to police the imperial borders of the planet. It has, that is, been released against people of color, against what used to be called the Third World. (Serbia in 1999 was the sole exception to this rule.) As Afghan President Karzai put the matter in response to recent reports of civilian casualties in his country: "We want to cooperate with the international community. We are thankful for their help to Afghanistan, but that does not mean that Afghan lives have no value. Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such." (His bitter comment eerily reflects another from the Vietnam era, more than 30 years gone. "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient," said former commander of US forces in Vietnam, General William Westmoreland, in 1974.) *to read the rest of this piece, go here:http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IG12Ak01.html
I don't understand the comment about Serbia. Are you saying that Serbia is an exception because Serbs are light-skinned and yet the US bombed them? So are you happy that the whites got bombed for once? That's pretty sick. And I'm not sure the Serbs are "white" in any case. I really think the truth is much more nuanced than your simple black-vs.-white theory, and when you try to analyze the history of Serbia you only betray your own ignorance and provincialism.
Hi anonymous,Do me a favor and read what I posted more carefully. I was quoting an article by Tom Engelhardt that said:"Since 1945, US air power has regularly been used to police the imperial borders of the planet. It has, that is, been released against people of color, against what used to be called the Third World. (Serbia in 1999 was the sole exception to this rule.)"Engelhardt was only pointing out that much of the bombing done by the US since 1945 has been against the so-called Third World, against non-whites. Neither he nor I are saying that we're happy that Serbia got bombed? Where did you get that?!!! Before you get outraged enough to call people "ignorant" and "provincial," you should learn to read what is written, and not put words into people's mouths.
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