Dr. Pat Reardon grew up in Richmond, Virginia, in a family with eight children. His father was a cartoonist and his mother took care of the children, so the family never had much money, and as a young boy, Pat had to get a job to help support himself. After high school he worked for two years before joining the Marine Corps Reserves. After the Marines, he used the GI Bill and his railroad job to pay for medical school. After graduating, he traveled to Vietnam twice to practice medicine as a humanitarian doctor, from 1962 to 1964 and then from 1969 to 1971. On his first tour to Vietnam, he was in Quang Tri, where he met Mr. Huy Duc Nguyen, a Vietnamese nurse, who would later ask him to be the godfather for his son, whom Dr. Reardon eventually adopted. On his second tour, he was in Nha Trang, he brought over his wife to help with medical care. On both tours, he treated a wide variety of illnesses and conditions he would likely not encounter in America, like the bubonic plague and tuberculosis. He began discussions with Huy about taking one of his children to America to continue his education, and eventually young Pat, his godson, was chosen. Dr. Reardon’s wife wanted a girl, so they agreed to take Pat’s sister, Maria, as well. It took several years for the adoption process to go through, and by 1975, they were able to fly the children to Hawaii, where Dr. and Mrs. Reardon met them. Young Pat Reardon eventually attended West Point and served a career in the United States Army. Eventually, all of Huy Duc Nguyen’s family was able to come to America.
In this interview, Dr. Pat Reardon talks about his childhood, growing up poor in Richmond, and his short stint in the Marine Corps. He describes his two tours in Vietnam, highlighting his perceptions of the situation in Vietnam, including President Diem and Vietnamization. He discusses the types of illnesses he treated, and his relationship with Mr. Huy. He recalls bringing his children to America, raising them as his own, and comforting young Pat when he was missing his Vietnamese family. Finally, he reflects on what his time in Vietnam means to him.
After watching this video, please check out the interviews with his son, Pat Reardon, and Pat's Vietnamese father, Huy Duc Nguyen.