Name: No Phuoc Tran 1
Birth: 14 FEB 1929 in Phuoc Dong Village,Vietnam 1
DIRECT AND/OR PARA PHASED EXCERPTS FROM THE TRAN FAMILY HISTORY AUTHORED BY NO PHUOC TRAN DATED FEB 14,2001
No was born at dawn in Phuoc Dong village,Long An province in south Vietnam. His birth was at home by a midwife and his health began to deteriorate to a point were a village psychic said in order to save his life he should given out for adoption. His great aunt took him home with her for a year before going home. He once had a bad fever such that he went into convulsions,someone then grabbed a live lizard and pried open his mouth and slam-dunked it into it. They believed that the live lizard would suck into itself the burning heat of his body. Miraculously,that old home remedy brought his temperature down in a matter of minutes. During my childhood, three accidents in which he was involved with all most cost his life. First,he fell off a balcony with the back of his head crashing on a cement floor. Blood oozed from the back of his head. He regained consciousness in a few minutes. In those days medical facilities were rare in the countryside thus he had no medical care. The second accident occurred when a kerosene lamp toppled over his body. His right arm was badly burned and was rushed to the district clinic. The third accident saw him nearly drowned. He had climbed a fruit tree at the edge of a pond. The branch broke and he fell into the water. He bubbled up to the surface several times before a servant saw him and came to his rescue. My father loved to drink Pernod,so my original name was Pernod Tran. However,it was recorded as No P. Tran. When he was 22 years old he went to court in Saigon to change it. They authorized a change in his middle name to Phuoc. He enjoyed going to school barefoot on a narrow earthen road. On rainy days they would wade in murky-watered rice fields, teasing water buffaloes at work. Math was his down fall,and after flunking public high school enrollment exams,he was sent to a private boarding school in Saigon at 14. He was about to begin the 11th grade when World War II broke out,and Saigon was under heavy bombardment by the Japanese,and he returned home at 16. Due to the Viet Minh insurrection His father decided to send him to live with one of his uncle,who owned and managed a Vietnamese opera troupe in Saigon.Uncle was to busy with his troupe to think about the welfare and education of his three grown children,much Less his nephew. I had made up my mind that no matter how hard life might be,I had no choice but to carry on. After living with the troupe I thought it would be good if that was my future. I started learning how to sing and act in preparation for my stage appearance. However, my uncle acquired a nice villa some blocks from the theater. He allowed me to move in and life outside the theater was quite different. With money earned as a cashier at the theater box office,I took accounting,typing and English lessons in private schools and embarked on making a living on my own. I had meet a young girl at the theater who I found charming and attractive. But I was shy,nervous and awkward in words and let her get away. Sometime much latter I was employed by a company where my dream girl was working. This time,resolved not to let that prey slip off one more time,I summoned my courage and asked for a date. Both families did not know about what was going on until our announcement. It must have given them quite a shock,especially my parents. As the war between the communist and nationalist became increasingly fierce a general mobilization was enacted. In order to avoid being drafted,I voluntarily joined a non-combat branch of the army as a non-commissioned officer. I was assigned to work as a disc jockey for the army radio station. A large audience of both soldiers and civilians listened to my half-hour French and American pop song program. A year latter I was transferred to work as interpreter for the U.S. Military Advisory Group in Saigon. The U.S. forces began pouring into Vietnam in great numbers and I was returned to civilian life. I landed a job as a translator with FBIS in July 1957 following a rigorous test and things started looking up as I turned 29. I managed to talk Kim into moving into an apartment near our work places. Kim got a job at a U.S. Military agency one block from the apartment. In 1965, together with his savings and a sizeable windfall that he got as compensation by the apartment owner in order to lease it to the American advisors enabled No to buy a house in Saigon. Early in 1968 our peaceful life was disrupted by the Tet offensive with communist troops nearing Saigon. When small communist units came and dug themselves in our neighborhood we fled to my mother's house. The family had to move from one refuge to another. After about a week of living as refugees, we returned home as the fighting subsided. Following the Tet attack the city was harassed with rockets and one exploded next to my office,it gave me a big jolt. My work with FBIS was looking up and I got one promotion after another until I reached the top; head of the entire staff,until evacuation day. My salary was the highest ever in the entire S.S. mission in Vietnam,even higher than that of a cabinet minister of the government. In 1972,the U.S. government switched its policy towards Vietnam,from involvement to disengagement. The South Vietnamese government and army,now deprived of the usual U.S. military and financial support,started to fall apart,and the Communist take-over of the South was now imminent,just a matter of time. In April 1974,I was offered an opportunity to tour the headquarters and some international FBIS bureaus. That trip allowed me to see the world and especially to see Tuyet again,who had moved to Minneapolis,Minnesota,from San Francisco. It also gave me a chance to learn many new things in my line of work as a supervisor. A year after I got back from the U.S. trip,Saigon was fast changing,from its business-as-usual atmosphere to a state of tension,anxiety and fear as the political and military situation in the country was getting worse. Every day, a large crowd,anxious to get out of the country,lined up in front of the American embassy for exist visas. Inside the embassy,preparations were made for the close down. FBIS announced a contingent plan to move its personnel out of the country. I was among the first group to be evacuated by plane. We were allowed only a suitcase per family,meaning leaving behind everything. I notified my parents and siblings of our imminent departure and set up a family farewell dinner in Cholon on the eve of our departure. They all agreed that we had to go because of the danger of death under the new communist regime. That was the last time I saw my Father and Mother. On the morning of April 27,1975 Saigon looked like it was dying. We took a military bus to the Tan Son Nhut airport,were we boarded a U.S. military cargo plane packed with U.S. agencies' employees and thier families. The plane touched down in the Philippines' Subic Bay airport. We were housed in tents in the open air and fed military C-rations. On the third day,came the bad news that Saigon and all of South Vietnam fell to the communism. We were than moved to Guam,from there we were brought by plane to a military base in Arkansas,and housed in an army barracks. We were than flown to an apartment building in Alexandria,Virginia by the FBIS. Gone were the grave yard shifts in the office,the night curfew in the city,the rocket explosions and the random killings. Life was so peaceful in stark contrast to the dangerous life we just escaped. Our restful and enjoyable 3-month stay in Alexandria came to an end. I was assigned to Bangkok and we lived in an assigned villa. In 1985,I was now chief of the entire local staff of FBIS Bangkok bureau. Early in 1989,FBIS announced a retirement plan for employees reaching age 60 with generous benefits. The retirement took effect in August but we did not go back to Los Angles until early 1990. In Bangkok,while preparing to go home,I got a moonlighting job as interpreter for a Hong Kong film director shooting a movie about Vietnamese refugees in Thailand. In 1999 for my 70th birthday, I took a trip back to Vietnam,my birth place,after 25 years of being away. While there,he visited Bac Hai and Co Chin and thier families,the graves of his parents in his birth village. The year 2000 marked a mile stone in our married life: our 50th anniversary for which the children hosted a sumptuous party. We shared wonderful times as well as moments of misfortune.
Father: Kim Thinh Tran b: UNKNOWN in Phouc Dong Village,Long An Province,Vietnam
Mother: Thi Phat Phan b: UNKNOWN in Phouc Dong Village,Long An Province,Vietnam
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- Title: Loan Tran Hehmann
Page: Loan marked up a family group sheet - see personal input doc's.