THE SURVIVORS REMEMBER: THE MEMORIES OF THOSE FOUR HOURS ARE STILL POWERFUL FOR THOSE WHO WERE LEFT BEHIND

TRUONG THI LE

Truong Thi Le lay on the top of her 16 year old son Do Ding Dung in a paddy field, urging him not to cry. Two corpses were on top of her.

After the soldiers left, they wandered through the village. She found her 17-year-old daughter dying, holding her dead grandmother.

“MOTHER, I THINK I AM VERY BADLY INJURED, MAYBE I’LL DIE, I DON’T THINK I CAN SURVIVE. YOU HAVE SURVIVED, YOU HAD BETTER TAKE LITTLE BROTHER AWAY. PLEASE DON’T STAY HERE AS THE AMERICANS WILL SHOOT YOU.”

She found her two brothers dead in a bomb crater. Her house was smoking rubble. Her husband never returned from the fields.

She lost nine members of her family that morning.

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TRAN VAN DUC

Six year old Tran Van Duc remembers “The last item my mother grabbed with her one free hand was her traditional straw hat, while desperately holding onto my baby sister, Thi Ha, with the other.

As bullets, blood and flesh flew everywhere, my mother covered her body with her straw hat while hugging my little sister Ha close to her breast, and with her free hand, pushed me in the direction of a ditch adjacent to neighboring rice fields.” As she lay wounded in the ditch his mother whispered,

“HUG YOUR SISTER HA, AND TAKE HER TO GRANDMA’S HOUSE. DON’T STAY HERE ANY LONGER OR THEY MAY COME BACK AND SHOOT YOU.”

“She ordered me to protect my sister Ha and pretend to be dead so that the soldiers would leave us alone.”

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 PHAM THI THUAN

Pham Thi Thuan tried to protect her one-year-old and three-year-old daughters as they lay in the ditch.

“I PUSHED MY DAUGHTERS BELOW ME AND HELD MY HAND OVER THE MOUTH OF THE YOUNGEST. IF ANYONE IN THE DITCH MOVED, THEY SHOT THEM.”

We waited. I was so scared. It was a hot day, but still we didn’t move. When we were sure the Americans had gone, we climbed out. We were covered in the blood and flesh of the others. Our hair was thick with it. I took my daughters and ran.”

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 PHAM THANH CONG

Pham Thanh Cong remembers his mother trying to protect his family. ”…the soldiers forced us back into the bunker.

“MY MOTHER GOT IN LAST. I THINK SHE WAS TRYING TO PROTECT US. THEN THEY THREW THE GRENADE IN.”

Men from a nearby village pulled Cong and the bodies of his family (his parents, his two sisters, ages 8 and 2, and his 5-year-old brother) from the bunker and, assuming them all dead, gathered them together. Cong came around to find himself, severely injured, lying amid the charred and dismembered remains of his parents, brother and sisters.

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 PHAN TRI TINH

Ten-year-old Phan Tri Tinh watched her family being wiped out. She saw her sister Mui (14) being raped and then shot by an American soldier. Her mother was on the ground, holding her dying seven-month-old baby.

“RUN AWAY AND HIDE, SO YOU CAN LIVE… AS FOR ME, I THINK I AM GOING TO DIE… I CAN’T LIVE MUCH LONGER. TRY TO STAY ALIVE, I THINK I AM DYING.”

Tinh found her grandmother dead in a closet in their house. She wandered thru the village, saw a large pile of corpses and then fainted.