IN LOVING MEMORY OF ALL THE HUE MAU THAN 1968 VICTIMS
Để Tưởng Niệm Các Nạn Nhân Của Cuộc Thảm Sát Tết Mậu Thân 1968 Tại Huế
The following 2 massacre victim lists are total about 5000 or more local persons, with name, sex, age, address. They do not included extra/unknown victims from out-of-town family members or visitors that the local authority didn't have records. Dưới đây là 2 Danh sách của các nạn nhân vào khoảng hơn 5000 dân địa phương với tên, tuổi, địa chỉ nhưng vẫn còn thiếu sót nhiểu nạn nhân đến từ xa về Huế thăm gia đình trong dịp Tết mà chính quyền không biết được.
In Loving Memory of Lieutenant Colonel Tu Ton Khan
Tâm Chánh is a daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Từ Tôn Khán, Provincial Head of the Rural Development Cadre Program, Thua Thien - Hue, in the late 1960s.
Lieutenant Colonel Từ was captured and killed by the Vietnamese Communists during Tet Offensive (Mau Than) in Hue. At that time, Tâm Chánh was only nine years old. I have the honor of knowing Ms. Tam Chanh personally. Her families are members of my "big-family". Mr. Tu Ton Khan's mother (Tam Chanh's grandmother) is the sister of my grandfather. During this Tet Mau Than, the Vietnamese Communists captured and killed my dad, 3 uncles and 2 cousins, we only able to recover 1 uncle's body. All were old civilians from Saigon went to Hue to celebrate the new year. Beyond any doubt that VC must have a pre-plan to capture & execute people and at least 28 mass graves sites were found over the entire Hue city The next 2 internet links are her article in English and in Vietnamese: "My Father's Eyes" / “Ánh Mắt của Cha” My Father's Eyes - by Tam Chanh If I were granted a wish now, I would immediately ask for my father to reappear in our lives for just a single day, so that my Mom could feel their marital bliss once again before she leaves this world, and my children could meet their grandfather. I know that it is fanciful; nevertheless, I’ve never stopped dreaming… The blood- thirsty Vietnamese Communist people robbed my father’s life at the young age of thirty- seven. My mother was barely thirty -two, supposedly the best period of a woman’s life, when my mother she was left desolate, and struggling struggled to fend for seven young children, including - her youngest child one was forming inside her. The year 2018 marks half a century since my father was taken away from us. However, the pain, the grief, and the sorrow inside me have never eased. ** Fifty years ago, my family home located at 174 Bach Dang Street, a very long street at the center of the Hue city, connected to the main downtown center of Hue city via Gia Hoi's bridge of the Thua Thien town. Parallel with this street is Huynh Thuc Khang Street, a well-known place for delicatessens where people can find all flavors of sweet treats, especially mè xửng, Hue’s iconic candy. The two streets were separated by the Gia Hoi River, enlivened all year long with slender boats that gracefully brought passengers back and forth all year round. The family estate was an inheritance from my great grandparents. On the big lot stood three buildings. The Cẩn (Inlaid) House in the middle of the garden was mainly for ancestor wordship and big family gatherings. It was a handsome traditional structure with exquisitely carved gold-plated posts and furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl shells. The Tây (French) House, built in the French style, was on the left of the Cẩn House. Between the two houses was a green tea hedge, almost two meters tall, that had grown for generations. Behind the Cẩn house, across a garden of climbing roses, was the Mới (Modern) House built in modern style. We’d had a perfect childhood in our ancestral house. By then, my paternal grandparents no longer lived in Hue, but we were lovingly embraced by my maternal grandparents. My father was often away in military operations, but he gave us all his attention when he came home. He sat at the piano, sang beautiful romantic songs accompanied by music played by his long, talented fingers. Then he brought us to visit our maternal grandparents. At those times, we gathered around him, chirping happily like a hen and a bunch of chicks around a brave, fearless rooster. One day, my father returned from a military operation with a dog. He found the wounded, helpless animal along a road. He took care of the dog until it recovered. Since then, we welcomed a new family member, a big Berger dog. As expected, the dog was extremely attached to my father. The dog was ecstatic whenever my father entered the front gate and tagged behind my father with excessive attachment that, on occasions, became even bothersome to us. We thought life would keep flowing with such blissful happiness, but everything abruptly changed in early 1968. ** Tet offensive, the Mau Than year (1968) was an especially happy occasion. Both North and South Vietnam governments had announced a truce to celebrate the most sacred holiday in the Vietnamese culture. On GiaoThừa, the eve of Tet, we gathered at our grandparents’ place to greet families of our aunts and uncles from out of town. After a delectable dinner with traditional foods, everyone excitedly looked forward to the midnight ceremony to welcome the Year of the Monkey. Suddenly, at around 10 pm, we heard explosions. At first, we thought someone started firecrackers early, but my father immediately realized those were the sounds of gun fires. His eyes darkened and his face turned solemn. A few minutes later, he received a telegraph directing all officers to be readily available and exercise utmost caution. My father asked for my grandparents’ permission to bring us home since he must report to work. Everyone tried to persuade my father to stay as if they already sensed some danger, but he consistently refused. He simply said, as a leader, he could not violate military orders. When we just reached home, the dog ran out, barking loudly and kept pulling at the hem of my father’s trousers. My father was completely occupied with thoughts and struggling to reach his commanders on the phone, so he ignored the dog’s strange behaviors. All the while, the dog continued his incessant barking and persistently pulled at my father’s hems. Occupied and tense, my father yelled at the dog and angrily shoved him away. Startled, the dog sprinted outside and disappeared into the dark garden. The next day, many helpers tried to look for the dog but no one could find him. On the night of the first day of Tet, the Vietnamese Communist force (Vietcong) struck. A day later, they seized control of Hue. ** My father sent all of us to hide in a bunker under a neighbor’s house, five doors away. He stayed back at home, the only place in the neighborhood with a phone line, and he continued to talk and work with his commanders. We huddled in the bunker for several days and heard nothing from my father. Each day, my mother grew more and more anxious. Finally, in the wee hours of February 10, 1968, my mother asked Miss Lan, the family helper, to go back and find out about my father’s situation. As mother was busy feeding my infant not-yet-one-year-old sister, I sneaked out and followed Miss Lan. Miss Lan had just crawled a short distance away from the bunker when she noticed my presence. Though concerned that my mother would be upset, she actually felt glad to have a company in the gloomy and eerily quiet neighborhood. It was around 5 am. Bitter cold winter weather continued lingering in the air and darkness still covered everything. It took us a lot of effort to crawl through holes in the hedges around the neighbors’ backyards to our garden. We startled at the sight of strangers crowded in the front yard. Miss Lan quickly pulled me to the ground. We lay behind the big tea bush between the Cẩn House and the Tây House. From our hiding place, I strained my eyes to see through the darkness. When I could make things out, my body went limp with fear. My father and his bodyguards were kneeling on the front porch of the Tây House, their arms tied behind their backs. The strangers were interrogating the guards, Mr. Mang, Mr. Phan, and Mr. Truat. They repeatedly threatened “If you guys want mercy from us, tell us what Major Khan is hiding. If you disobey, don’t complain that we’re too harsh.” Hearing what they said, Miss Lan and I prayed that the guards wouldn’t tell, even though at that young age we had no idea what information the Vietcong wanted to extract. They began to beat the guards. The banging and shouting pierced into my brain. Suddenly, I heard my father’s voice “Ask me what you want to know. My soldiers did nothing wrong, don’t hurt them!” There was a dry, wicked laugh, then one man sneered “Don’t worry, Major. We will ‘consult’ you soon.” That remark was followed by a pause as they were discussing something in very low voices. Miss Lan and I were shaken from fear and the chilly weather; our teeth chattered uncontrollably. The clapping noise seemed so loud that I felt that they could hear us from the distance. We squeezed our bodies even tighter and pressed ourselves closer to the cold ground. As daylight arrived, we changed to crouching so that the thick leaves covered us better. From that position, I could see the front porch. The Vietcong appeared to be a mixed force; some of them wore uniforms, some were in civil shirts and trousers, but they all displayed a red band on their forearms. Besides long guns in their hands and rounds of bullets around their hips, some of them were also holding grenades. Among that ferocious crowd was a woman in an all-black outfit, holding a short gun. They were encircling my father, shouting, grilling him about his work. My father replied “I have my ideals, you have yours. I won’t say anything. I won’t tell you about my comrades.” They cursed and grumbled like a pack of wolves, then they bludgeoned him nonstop with their gun stocks. One man shouted “The fate of your whole family is in your hands! Tell us all you know then we’ll let you go and won’t send someone to get your wife and children!” My father panted in pain, but his answer was still unaltered “Do whatever you must. I would rather lose my family than be a coward. I won’t tell you.” The woman shrieked “Beat him up! Beat him more!” They continued hitting my father. One guy pulled over a big metal chain. They chained my father and the guards together. They continued the assault with their gun stocks. My father’s arms were flashing up and down as they pounded on his back, his chest, and his head.) My tears rolled down profusely as pain punched through my chest with each muffled groan from my father… ** Dad! To my Dad, I have much left to be said. Fifty years have passed, but I still remember that time vividly. I will never forget that terrifying moment, the moment that no word can describe. If he could hear me, I would say: Ceaselessly, the guns were raised up then whipped down. They tormented you; they flogged you incessantly. From behind the tea bush, I stood up. Miss Lan desperately pulled me down but I shoved her off. I sprinted out, got on my hands and knees, and begged them to spare you and the guards. You’d raised your head and spotted me. You were stunned for a moment. Then with a deep voice, you comforted me. You asked me to be brave and not to waste my breath beseeching in vain. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my head. One guy grabbed my hair, twisted it fiercely while shoving my face down on the ground right in front of you. They screamed that they would blow my brains out if you still refused to cooperate. I was beside myself with fear, my whole body convulsed uncontrollably. I thought you would surrender, but then I heard your voice “Kill my daughter if you must, but I can’t comply.” I sobbed so hard that I choked in my tears. I gasped as if my breath was ceasing. Heartfelt Jabbered pleas to you were mixed with desperate begging to them. Then, our eyes met. The look in your eyes was so determined but also exuded heart-wrenching commiseration and lamentation. That look alleviated my suffering and strengthened me. I calmed down and was able to focus on your last words. You told me to take care of Mom and my sisters in your absence. That moment only lasted a few minutes, but the power from your eyes and your parting advice have been a source of strength for me until today. Suddenly, a Vietcong soldier rushed in. The guards left us to huddle with him, and they urgently discussed something. In that moment, you looked intensely into my eyes as if to transmit your livelihood to me then mouthed the words “Run away!” Then, suddenly, you shouted “Everybody attack!” Startled, the Vietcong lined up, facing the main gate with their gun pointed. At the instant, I darted through the tea bush and ran for my life out of the garden. ** After twenty- six days of fighting, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) retook Hue. Grandpa and Mom allowed me to accompany them. and Mr. Bon, the chauffeur, in our immediately searched for my dad. We departed at 4 am on the 27th day in the first month of Mau Than (Feb 24th, 1968). The sky was still dark, but wailing was heard along every road, at every corner. From the Dong Ba bridge to the Gia Hoi Bridge, dead bodies were scattered everywhere. When we reached the Gia Hoi Elementary school, search groups were excavating mass graves right under the schoolyard. Some unearthed victims still had heartbeats; but as soon as they were lifted onto the ground, blood oozed from their mouths and noses, and they stopped breathing. We repeatedly felt near-fainting by the stench of decaying bodies, but we kept looking at every corpse, half-yearning to find Dad, half-wishing not to see him in those graves. Around 2 pm, after searching through all the graves, Mom was completely exhausted because, unknown to her then, she was pregnant. Grandpa proposed for us to go home and resume searching the next day. He consoled Mom that my dad could still be in Vietcong’s capture somewhere. Mr. Bon agreed, so the four of us staggered toward home. We just passed the Gia Hoi Bridge when my dad’s dog suddenly appeared. Before we could gather ourselves from the surprise, the dog howled mournfully. He bit the hem of Mom’s pants and pulled her along. Grandpa’s face turned pale as he immediately sensed something tragic. He grabbed my hand and we quickly followed the dog. When we approached the entrance to the Citadel, at the foot of the moss covered tall wall was a hastily concealed mound of dirt. The dog stopped, raised his head toward the sky, and barked nonstop. People from nearby houses ran out, and they told Grandpa that they were the ones who buried Dad. They had seen the Vietcong led by Nguyen thi Doan Trinh and Hoang Phu Ngoc Phan drag Dad there. They had witnessed those people devilishly beat Dad but still couldn’t extract any information from him. At dawn on February 11th, 1968, several gun shots rung; later on, they found my Dad crumbled by the bottom of the wall. They all recognized him; however, fearing punishment from the Vietcong, they waited until the nightfall then rushed over to bury him. When Mr. Bon dug the grave up, my mom fainted at the first sight of my dad. He lay in a shallow pit, barely four-feet-deep. His face with the straight nose still bore the familiar resolute look even with his eyes closed. I bent down and touched his face with shaking hands. Through streams of tears, I still could detect streaks of black dried blood from the wounds on his cheeks and temples. ** Dearest Daddy! I had stood there watching Uncle Nhuong scrub the dried blood off your body with a washcloth soaked in white wine. There were several bullet-sized holes in the front of the black sweater that Mom knitted for you, so I knew that you were shot repeatedly in the chest. Through the holes, I even saw your identification card peeking out from the pocket of the white shirt underneath. Tears flooded my eyes, but I managed to see your soldiers build your coffin because the only coffin left in the entire city of Hue was too short for you. The soldiers were crying while they pounded on the nails. The sounds of hammers banging, people talking, dog howling… encapsulated me in a horrifying trance. After that, Mr. Bon and other soldiers brought you home. They put you in the middle of the Tây house. At that exact place, just two months ago, Mom and we had gathered around you, submerged in laughter and joy. Now, we were in bleak white mourning clothes, lost in grief, weeping in front of your portrait. Between sobs, I called to you, “Dad please talk to me; don’t keep staring at me in silence like that.” In the flicking candlelight, your eyes seemed to follow each of us. Grandpa said we shouldn’t go far as local Vietcong could still be hidden among villagers. The soldiers dug your grave right in the garden on the left of the Tây house. The monks, still fear-stricken, only dared to stay and pray for one hour before you were brought to the pit. Before the coffin was moved out of the house, we walked in a circle around you one last time. Pain pierced through my chest as if I was stabbed by hundreds of knives. I silently cursed myself for running away, leaving you with the devil. I was furious at myself for failing to figure out a plan to save you and the guards. Then we had to throw dirt down on your grave as the final farewell. Lumps of black dirt made thudding sounds as they landed on the coffin. The excruciating pain in me was absolutely beyond words, Daddy! ** My beloved Daddy! Fifty years have flown by, but your image and the look in your eyes during our parting minutes had forever etched in my mind. Fate had chosen me to sneak out and go back to our home so that we could meet and talk for one last time. Fate had given me the chance to see the courageous look in your eyes while you were tortured by the blood-thirsty devils. The soul-touching love from your eyes had comforted me when I suffered from depression following your passing and helped me up countless times when I collapsed during the lonesome years afterward. Fate also gave me a chance to identify your killers, even though, in the past fifty years, I haven’t gathered enough courage to look up the names told to us by the witnesses. In early 2018, Aunt C. sent me a link to the interview of Hoang Phu Ngoc Phan about the Tet Mau Than Offensive. I almost dropped the Ipad when I saw his face. Fifty years ago, on February 10th, 1968, this exact man had threatened to murder our whole family. This evil and his gang had raised their riffles and cudgeled lashed down continuously on you and the guards. Dearest Dad! Until now, I’m still in awe of your wit and bravery while in the enemy’s hands. You knew they would never spare you regardless of how much you submit to their interrogation. Hence, you accepted that we could die together, but you never faltered in your determination to protect your comrades and their families. Since that horrible spring, I have always regretted that I would never hear your advice again. That is our biggest loss. My youngest sister has never experienced hearing your voice and seeing you in real life. I often think of Mom’s loneliness, and I have been crying all those years, especially when my husband’s comforting embraces brought back the vivid images of you holding Mom during the heavenly happy period of our lives. I burst into tears again like the little girl of 1968. Dearest Dad! I have grown up, succeeded, and kept my promise to you. I have accomplished the responsibility that you entrusted to me. All your children and grandchildren have become good people. Although, you had no son, this daughter of yours gave you a grandson, and he then gave you a little great-grandson. Who had robbed you of the chance to get to know them? Who had forced you to break your promise of always being there for Mom? I write these lines for you while my tears are falling. The tears would keep flowing whenever I thought about you, my beloved Dad who left this earth too young. Forever, I’m proud to be a daughter of a compassionate father, a selfless and courageous man who exemplified the conduct and reputation of officers from The National Military Academy of the Republic of Vietnam. I miss you, always and forever. Your tearful daughter. Tam Chanh
In his 2002 memoir, From Enemy to Friend, former NVA Colonel Bui Tin shared his insights into the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Present at the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu and once a guard for Ho Chi Minh, Tin served as a frontline commander who, on April 25, 1975, rode a tank onto the Presidential Palace grounds in Saigon to accept the South Vietnamese surrender. About Hue, Tin acknowledged that some executions of civilians did occur. (James H. Willbanks)
The Persistence of Memory Four decades after covering the communist Tet Offensive in Vietnam, a veteran correspondent explores the new Saigon in California – and remembers – By Uwe Siemon-Netto (2008)
In Loving Memory of my father : Mr. Ton That Nguyen and all the victims / Persistence of Memory
Nobody else could ever know The part of me that can't let go I would give everything I own Just to touch you once again (Everything I Own / Bread) The song was written in memory of a father who died before the son achieved his success.