Friday, April 9, 2010
GLORIA PENNER (Host): This month marks the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, which brought to a close the Vietnam War. San Diego's connection to that war continues today. The USS Midway aircraft carrier was instrumental in the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Vietnamese. And Camp Pendleton was home to 2,000 refugees in 1975. This week, the Camp Pendleton Historical Society unveiled the exhibit "Images at Wars End," which looks at life at the refugee camp. KPBS photojournalist Guillermo Sevilla brings us some reactions to the exhibit by former refugees and a Marine veteran.
LEWIS BEATY (Former Camp Pendleton Marine): It's history. It's history and it will serve to show that anyone who comes to it will understand that Americans aren't the ogres that some think we are. It shows the compassion of the American people.
HOA PHAM (Vietnamese Refugee): For them to pay respect for the people who sacrificed their lives in the war.
PHAN DANG (Vietnamese Refugee): We think we in the U.S. but we don't know. Because we don't see anybody. All the military and whoever serving us then. So we stayed there for one week in the barrack. And then they move us to Camp 8. Where it's in the valley, you know, in the middle of nowhere and they built a tent camp for us.
PHAM: We lived in the tent and – no heater. We tried to pack up all the blankets we could because it's cold. And we tried to find a way to go outside, to get out of camp.
BEATY: I saw a marine playing with kids just to occupy them so their mother could lay down and rest for a while, or their father. I saw marines teaching them how to in English, things like that. Really really good interaction with the people.