The Dream Of Independence: From Occupation And Colonialism In Vietnam To Freedom In America

Huy Duc Nguyen


**Please note - during the interview, the frame will get dark - we shot on location and as the natural light faded, we had to pause and adjust the lighting** Huy Duc Nguyen was born in 1924 in the province of Quảng Ngãi when it was a French colony. He lived through the Japanese occupation during WWII, and saw the French return. He described the Japanese as cruel and the French as disrespectful. As a young man, he became a nurse and joined the Vietminh opposing French rule. He served as a medic in the jungles with the Vietminh, and in the hospital in town he treated not only French soldiers, but also Senegalese, Moroccan, and German soldiers serving in the French forces. After the fall of Dien Bien Phu, he felt Vietnam would achieve independence, but did not like the communism that was gripping the north. During the Vietnam War, he ran a lab and managed blood transfusions, and met an American civilian doctor who became a godfather and later surrogate parent to his son. After the fall of South Vietnam, he was sentenced to a reeducation camp for two years and received harsh treatment from the communists. After being released, he returned to practicing medicine to help his neighbors and raise money to leave Vietnam. Finally, in 1985, he and his wife came to America. In this interview, he explains the difference among the Japanese, French, and Americans with whom he interacted. He explains how his life revolved around the idea of gaining independence. He describes a time when a friend he knew from Boy Scouts tried to talk him into moving to North Vietnam, and how he was jailed for not removing a picture of President Diem from his office after Diem’s assassination. When he was finally able to come to America, he realized his dream of independence and the freedom that the American dream provided.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Character Concentration Camps Counterinsurgency Patriotism Military Medicine
interviewer David Siry
date 14 October 2016


name Huy Duc Nguyen
service Medical Corps
unit Vietminh, Army of the Republic of Vietnam
specialty Nurse, Chief of Laboratory