Local Connections To Fall Of Saigon
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April 30, 2010 – Last week, we introduced you to Dzung Le, a Vietnamese refugee who was evacuated to the USS Midway during the Fall of Saigon. In 35 years, he has never returned to the ship. Today, Le meets with retired Commander Vern Jumper, who was air boss on the Midway, during Le's rescue.
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DZUNG LE (Vietnamese Refugee): It's bigger than I thought. A lot bigger. Wow, hi. VERN JUMPER (Air Boss): Hello Dzung. LE: Hi. JUMPER: So nice to meet you. Commander Vern Jumper. LE: Yes. JUMPER: So good to meet you. LE: Finally. JUMPER: Welcome aboard, again. LE: Thank you, thank you very much. JUMPER: You're second time. LE: On behalf of all the Vietnamese who came by here, I would like to thank you and all your crew members, the captains, everyone who welcomed us here on the very very sad days of my country. Thank you so much. JUMPER: Thank you so much. I appreciate that. It was our pleasure to help you. LE: Thank you. Thank you. JUMPER: So good to have you aboard. So nice to meet you. LE: It's been a long time. I have memories here are good, but it carries with me a lot... JUMPER: Could be sad memories, too. Certainly. LE: Yes, yes. JUMPER: It's so nice to have you aboard, and I'd just love to show you some spots that might bring back some memories for you. LE: Sure, sure. JUMPER: Dzung, go right there. LE: Oh my! JUMPER: See this is a bunk like you slept in. You were lucky to get a bunk. A lot of people had to sleep on the hanger bay. LE: Yeah, I think because I came in the first wave. JUMPER: Yeah, we had some industrial strength bubble wrap that we laid on the hanger deck. LE: I saw the pictures. JUMPER: We had blankets and pillows and people were sleeping there, underneath the airplanes. LE: I slept for, probably collapsed. I don't know exactly how long, but I remember waking up and then I went to the shower. I don't know where and why, but I did. And obviously I lost my watch there. Because my mind was -- I remember take it off, put it on one of those high up, and then came out and realized I had lost and came back in a few minutes, and of course it's gone. JUMPER: We'll go to the mess decks now... LE: Ok, see if I remember anything. JUMPER: Sure good to have you aboard. LE: Oh thank you. JUMPER: So glad you can come down. This is great. LE: It's my honor. JUMPER: And here we are in the mess deck now. LE: Yeah, I think this is where we actually ended up. JUMPER: This looks more familiar doesn't it. LE: All I remember is that we went down here in the state of I guess daze... JUMPER: Daze, you were in a daze. LE: But we were very very hungry. JUMPER: Hungry, sure. LE: It's been almost 24 hours since the morning before. We went here, get some food, and then we sit down. And there's plenty of soldier... JUMPER: A lot of soldiers, sailors. LE: Sailors walking around, and some of them are juggling either apple or orange. But I remember distinctly in my mind that there's a guy who's juggling oranges, and so many orange around. I'd never seen that many orange, everywhere. I even remember Sun Kissed Orange. JUMPER: Sun Kissed Orange. LE: Every one has a stamp, Sun Kissed Oranges everywhere. JUMPER: Here you are, there's a Huey helicopter just like the one you landed in. LE: That green one? Now it looks smaller. I definitely remember this. I'm very glad to have this opportunity to thank you personally on behalf of my family, personally, my sisters, my wife's family, as well as thousands of other people who fight for our comfort. Maybe in a brief moment, a day or so here, it changed our life. It changed our life. Thank you so much. JUMPER: Thank you. LE: It's an honor for me to meet you today. JUMPER: It's an honor for me to meet you. LE: Thank you, thank you so much.