I burst out crying on April 30, 1975

Published: 01/05/2009 05:00



LookAtVietnam – The man who guarded Dang Thuy Tram’s Diary, American Army veteran Frederic Whitehurst, recalled that he dropped his head on his desk and burst into tears when he heard the news about the liberation of South Vietnam.

Frederic Whitehurst in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago.

The man who guarded Dang Thuy Tram’s Diary and, many years later, brought it back to Vietnam, American Army veteran Frederic Whitehurst, recalled that he dropped his head on his desk and burst into tears when he heard the news about the liberation of South Vietnam.

VietNamNet’s Minh Son interviewed Whitehurst about the historic day April 30, 1975 and Whitehurst’s up-and-down life struggling for the truth.

When the Vietnamese liberation army entered Saigon on that day, where were you and what were you doing?

At that time, I was researching a doctoral thesis on quantum chemistry at Duke University. In a sense, I had fled from the world. When I heard the news of the liberation of Saigon, I burst into tears. I cried because I knew that several generations would have to pay for the loyalty which was put in a wrong place. I dropped my head onto my desk and cried.

I can exactly remember that day and the place where I sat at the Duke University. A colleague sitting close to me was startled by my act. He didn’t understand its meaning because he wasn’t involved in that war.

Could you share with VietNamNet’s readers your thoughts about the day of April 30, 1975 and the Vietnam War?

That war was madness. The April 30, 1975 event was like a cool wind on a hot summer day. Finally, we had the reason to stop that madness.

Frederic Whitehurst (right) and his teammates in Duc Pho, Quang Ngai nearly 40 years ago (the photo is provided by Whitehurst).

You protected doctor Dang Thuy Tram’s Diary from being burnt in Duc Pho, Quang Ngai Province in 1970. Where was the diary on April 30, 1975?

It was in a drawer at my lawyer’s office when South Vietnam was liberated.

Why did you decide to keep it and what is its meaning for you?

Dang Thuy Tram’s Diary is meaningful for my current life. That diary means that my sister Thuy Tram was killed by my team and the mother and other sisters of mine (Dang Thuy Tram’s mother and sisters) suffered great misery because of my decision to take part in this war. The diary means that I made a mistake. It means that though I was wrong, Tram’s mother still accepts me as her family’s member.

What do other US veterans think about the April 30 event?

I think that most American veterans don’t want to think much about this war and don’t want to talk about it. Many told me that they were very happy when they knew that Dang Thuy Tram’s Diary came home.

Could you tell VietNamNet’s readers about your life after the Vietnam War?

After the war, I returned to Duke University to prepare for my studies at a medical school. But then, instead, I continued doing chemical research, and earned a Ph.D in chemistry. After that, I felt that I need to do something to help change this world faster, and I decided to join the FBI.

Lawyer Frederic Whitehurst, his wife and daughter in the US.

During my four years with FBI, I investigated crimes and I was sent to a laboratory in Washington DC to analyze evidence by chemical methodology.

Working at this lab, I quickly discovered that FBI often changed evidence and reports. I tried to change that situation by talking with wrong-doers. But they ignored me and sought to vindicate themselves. And so I decided to struggle again to prevent that madness.

The FBI was scared of my disclosures and tried to suppress my activity. I hired lawyers to defend me. The war against the FBI took for several years. Finally, I won.

The US Government asked me to retire early, with full retirement pension. So I retired and returned to the place where my parents live to take care of them. While I worked for FBI, I studied and got a law degree at the Georgetown University. After several years, I started working as a lawyer and a forensic science consultant at the same time. These are my present jobs.

So you joined two wars. What would you tell the young generation about war?

Once you pull the trigger, you can’t make the bullet return to the gun barrel. If you kill your brothers and sisters, you can’t bring them back to life. When you listen to foolish lies without doubting them, you make mistakes that can ruin your soul. Find another way if you can.

After invaders are defeated, let’s do like Vietnamese people did and still are doing: when they withdraw back to own their country, treat the former enemy kindness and respect so that future generations can live in peace. Otherwise animosity will follow animosity, from generation to generation.

Minh Son

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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