Vietnam Center Holds Lubbock Conference This Weekend

March 19, 2006

Vietnam Center Holds Lubbock Conference This Weekend

The Vietnam Center at Texas Tech is making history this weekend by adding something unique to its annual conference on the Vietnam War.
The center has been hosting conferences for more than 14 years, but this year is special because it`s the first academic conference to focus on the South Vietnamese soldiers who fought alongside American troops during the war.

Kiet Van Nguyen wanted freedom for his people, so he became a Navy Seal for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He and other South Vietnamese soldiers were allies of the U.S. during the war.

“I believe Vietnamese and Americans fought together to bring down communism and I believe the U.S. wants to bring communists down,” he said.

Nguyen is a featured speaker at the conference. He is the only South Vietnamese soldier the U.S. government honored with a Navy Cross for his heroism during the war.

“He and a Navy Seal by the name of Tommy Norris went deep into enemy territory and rescued two Americans in a very dramatic battle between the Army of North Vietnam and South Vietnam,” said Darrel Whitcomb, a Vietnam Rescue Operations Expert.

The story of that rescue operation became a book and movie called “BAT-21”.

Other people attending the conference say highlighting the Vietnamese, like Nguyen, who fought with U.S. troops and why they did, is important.

“I think it`s important for Americans to understand their side because we live with them now as citizens of our country,” said Dr. Ron Milam, a Vietnam War veteran attending the conference.

“I think the attention the conference has gaine in the American-Vietnam community will mean further cooperation with them,” said Dr. James Reckner, the director of the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech.

Nguyen lives in Seattle with his wife. He has become a U.S. citizen. He says if he wasn`t too old, he would be proud to fight for the U.S. against our current enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The conference continues through Saturday at the Holiday Inn Plaza. Organizers from Tech say this is the biggest turnout of Vietnamese veterans they have ever had at one of their conferences.

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