My grandfather served the Vietnamese Nationalist Party in the position of Staff Sergeant and died during the U Minh Battle in 1971. He was shot from behind which punctured through to the upper left chest area. After he got shot, his two friends tried to carry him to a safe location. One of two men was shot so it was left to his closest friend to carry him on the back. According to his friend, his last words were: “I won’t make it. Put me down and run away.”
Want to know how my grandmother found out? She was at home when a neighbour ran down the street yelling, “Reporting! Dac Lam is currently in the hospital in a critical condition!”
She and my great grandfather ran to the hospital but it was so crowded outside that they couldn’t get in. A truck came and parked outside the hospital and started to pile up all the dead bodies found in the U Minh forest. My grandmother looked over to the dead bodies and saw a familiar leg sticking out which had a recognisable scar mark. At that time, she realised it was the end. Her husband was truly gone.
My grandfather was 29 when he died. My grandmother was 26. They had three children - the youngest being 18 months old when he passed. The youngest was my mother.
My grandmother never remarried and had the toughest life of all. She had to take care of three children, work to support the family and live every second of her life haunted by the events that had happened before. She lived, witnessing the fall of her husband’s political party. She lived, suffering tremendously as the Nationalist’s soldier’s wife. She lived, watching all her valuables being stripped from her since the Communist party came in power.
It’s really heartbreaking how everything turned out to be. In a war, there is a winner and a loser. It’s with such regret that my grandfather had to be a sacrifice. If you asked me who my hero is, I would say, within a heartbeat, that it is my grandfather who sacrificed his life for a country that turned their backs on him.