HOF071: Le Thuan Kien

On the eve before April 30th 1975, 12-year-old Lê Thuần Kiên together with his extended family were rushed onto a battleship, part of the “Hải Đội II” South Vietnamese fleet that was under the commander of his father, Lieutenant Commander Lê Thuần Phong. The fleet was a member of the larger naval force of then the Republic of Vietnam that was leaving the naval headquarter in Sàigòn, on the early morning of what would eventually be the last historical day of the proud Republic of Vietnam Navy.

The South Vietnamese Navy had intended to reposition the naval force around Con Son Island, away from weakened Sàigòn, and to return for future battles. But upon learning that northern Vietnamese tanks had entered Sàigòn and broken into the Presidential Palace, the Navy had no choice other than pressing on eastward to the Philippines, where the weary convoy of then stateless refugees was then transferred onto tankers heading to U.S. military bases, in Guam and eventually Camp Pendleton in southern California, and ultimately to Toronto for Kien and his family for new beginning in Canada.