How a Racist Encounter Between a Refugee and an Aussie Veteran Began a Lifelong Friendship

It’s been 40 years now since Duc fled wartorn Vietnam and came to Australia as a refugee, leaving behind everything he knew.

But the memories are vivid.

Over a cup of tea in his Bankstown home in Western Sydney, Duc shares some of the highs and lows of what was a tumultuous time. He starts by responding graciously, when I naively ask him whose decision it was to leave Vietnam: “We didn’t have a choice,” he said.

In 1978, with the Vietnamese war over and the country united under communism, it was no longer safe for those who had been loyal to the South Vietnamese cause. Former Vietnamese Naval officers, like Duc, were now seen as traitors and were forced to flee. They formed the second wave of Vietnamese to flee their homeland.

Duc and his sweetheart Hoa travelled to Jakarta in Indonesia by boat, and from there were brought to Australia on a plane. They were among the 56,000 Vietnamese refugees allowed into Australia by the Fraser government.

Continue reading here.

*This piece was originally published on in June 2018.

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