A Sense of Duty: My Father, My American Journey
Quang X. Pham’s A Sense of Duty, the first book written by a former Vietnamese refugee who became a U.S. Marine, is an affecting memoir about fate, hope, and the aftermath of the most divisive war America has fought. It is both a heartfelt salute to the spirit of America and a recounting of a son’s reunion with his long absent father, himself a devoted officer who saw combat firsthand.
In 1964, Hoa Pham, a South Vietnamese fighter pilot, was shot down by Viet Cong antiaircraft fire while supporting American forces. Rescued by an American helicopter after crash-landing, he returned home briefly to witness the birth of his son, Quang, before rejoining the fight against the Communists.
Just before the fall of Saigon, Hoa made sure that his wife and children escaped Vietnam. He himself was not so lucky. In a rush to help relatives flee the chaos, Hoa was captured by Communist troops and subsequently imprisoned for more than a decade in reeducation camps.
Twelve years later, after gaining his citizenship and graduating from UCLA, Quang enlisted in the U.S. Marines to serve his country as his father had served his. Though part of the victorious effort to free the Kuwaitis from Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, he could not shake off the feelings of guilt and inadequacy associated with his “refugee complex.”
When father and son at last reunited, Hoa’s revelations about his wartime experience left Quang even more conflicted about his service in the Marines. But after years of struggling to reconnect with each other and the homeland they left behind, Quang and his gravely ill father set out on a final and profound quest–to make sense of the war in Vietnam.
A Sense of Duty traces Quang’s uniquely spirited yet agonizing journey from the Vietnam War to the Gulf War, from his experiences as an uprooted refugee to his becoming a combat aviator, and his many incarnations in between. It reveals the turmoil of a family torn apart and reunited by the fortunes of war. It is an American journey like no other.
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1ntroduct1on For Father For Country
The Shameful End
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