Pham Cong Lien

Pham Cong Lien lives outside Hanoi, Vietnam, in a state-sponsored home for the veterans of what the Vietnamese call the “American War”.  Mr. Pham turned eighteen and was conscripted by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in 1967-68, just as the American involvement was reaching its apex.  Forced to leave school and his family behind, he went through brief military training before he followed the Ho Chi Minh Trial to the southernmost point of Vietnam.  After a brief period of combat, Mr. Pham was grievously wounded, the victim of a paralyzing back injury.  He was transported back to the north, where his medical treatment began.  With the North’s victory and the unification of Vietnam in 1974-75, Mr. Pham was moved to the veterans’ home, where he has resided ever since.  The state has and facility have since looked after him and his family, and have found ways for him to make his contribution to the national cause.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.  While overseas, Mr. Masters also visited Vietnam, where he was able to speak to Vietnamese people about the meaning of war in their recent national history.  Mr. Masters was able to visit and interview Pham Cong Lien with the help of Footstep Travel, and the translation efforts of Le Nguyen Giap.    

Please note that this interview is in Vietnamese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.