17 Years In Communist Captivity: “The Last Prisoner” Survives Hell On Earth

Dai Gia Pham


Dai Gia Pham was born in 1945 in Nam Dinh in northern Vietnam shortly after the end of WWII. Following the French defeat in 1954, his father, a wealthy man in Haiphong, moved the family south and lost his fortune. After his father died, his mother assumed responsibility for raising nine children alone. During the American war, Dia Gia Pham took a job working for the U.S. Air Force as an interpreter to help his mother provide for the family. Later, from 1970 to 1975, he worked at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. His duties included interviewing North Vietnamese POWs and Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) defectors from the Viet Cong. Just before the Republic of Vietnam fell, he was promised passage out of Vietnam, but the helicopter never came for him and he was left behind. He then endured 17 years of imprisonment and harsh treatment at the hands of the communists. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his service with Americans, and his time in the reeducation camps. He describes his work with the Air Force and at the Embassy. He reflects on the war, calling it not a civil war, but a war between communism and the free world. He discusses his treatment at the hands of his communist captors. Finally, he talks about what his prison experience means to him.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Courage P.O.W.s Refugee Vietnamese Concentration Camps
interviewer David Siry
date 08 June 2019


name Dai Gia Pham
specialty Interpreter