Pa Co, The Story of a Vietnamese War Hero
Tell me some of the details in the Vietnam-America war that you cannot forget? They had different types of planes. One of them was the Dakota which was used for spraying the toxic substance (Agent Orange). All the trees died! They sprayed it all over the valley of A Luoi. It covered everything and was as white as salt. There were 3 types of flavor: spicy, salty, and bitter. The substance was falling down like rain (she was in the jungle when they sprayed and got completely soaked by Agent Orange). You know… The cassava was this small (regular size), but when it absorbed the toxic substance (Agent Orange) and it managed to survive, it was this big (much larger than usual). That cassava tasted sweet and was full of yellow liquid. I didn’t know that at first and I ate it raw. I was so hungry during that time. During the war, everything was so difficult, but we (she and her teammates) always encouraged each other. I was the leader, so it was important to take care of all of them. We shared food and everything. We worked hard to get back the freedom for our country and people.
You ate the toxic substance (Agent Orange)!!! Do your descendants have any effect from it? (Yes) But it was too late and I couldn’t do anything. My grandchild, who passed away at 8, could just lay there (she was completely disabled). My 2 kids are affected by the toxic substance. One has a tumor on the shoulder and my other kid has no bone in his one arm. I know the American soldiers were forced to fight. I captured one paratrooper, an American soldier. I asked, “Why do you come here?” He replied: “We cannot go back. If we go back we will be arrested too, we are just hired soldiers”.
What is your advice for the young generation of Vietnam? The young generations now and in the future have more opportunities to study and more prosperity than we did. In the past, we ate wild roots and had simple weapons but successfully protected our country. Now my generation is getting older. We protected our land and now you have peace. Please preserve our beautiful tradition and land. Stay united!
A Vietnamese War Hero who despite the atrocities she witnessed, including the battle for Hamburger Hill and getting sprayed by Agent Orange, is forgiving and has a promising message for the future generations of Vietnamese.
“I fought constantly during the (Vietnam-American) war. I joined the army when I was young, in 1959.”
How many battles did you fight in? I cannot count. I began to fight in 1962. In 1968, the enemy invaded the whole valley. They sprayed the poison substance everywhere (Agent Orange). All trees, all plants died! I also fought in the Hamburger Hill Battle.
Tell me what the Hamburger Hill Battle was like? I was in the main army force. The battle was chaotic and terrible. Both sides fought against each other. The US army had all the modern equipment and good food. On our side, the food was primarily roots in the forest and just a little bit of rice.
Were you afraid while fighting in the war? I was not scared at all, I fought for my country and people. Of course, everyone is afraid of death. However, they tried to invade our land, we had to stand up for ourselves!
Now, are you mad at the Americans? No. Not at all. They came to attack us, so we were in the position that we had to fight back. However, now Vietnam and the US are friends and brothers. We support and cooperate with each other, share the same ideas.