HOF 001: Ho Hoang Anh (m) & Truong Kim Hong (f)

As a medic officer for the South Vietnamese Army, Ho Hoang Anh was sent to reeducation camp for two years when the war ended in 1975. His wife Truong Kim Hong took care of their five children while working as a hospital nurse in Long Xuyen. During a second prison sentence in 1979, this time for the crime of criticizing the communist regime, he was placed in leg shackles in a cramped cell. With the help of a fellow prisoner, he sawed off his shackles and escaped into the jungle where a senior couple of Catholic faith helped him. Ho then went into hiding in the big city of Sai Gon, (now renamed Ho Chi Minh City), before making arrangements to leave the country in a boat. After seven days and seven nights at sea, with no working compass, the boat arrived at the shores of Malaysia, where Ho spent one month in the refugee camp Pulau Bidong. He was accepted by Canada and settled in the remote town of Quesnel, B.C., where he worked first at a sawmill then in the kitchen of a restaurant.

Meanwhile, as Truong’s life in Vietnam grew harder, she decided not to wait to be sponsored to join her husband. She bought space for her and her five children on a boat that left Vietnam in 1981. As the boat began to take water during a storm, the passengers were rescued by a passing British oil tanker. After a month on the tanker, the passengers were brought to the Phanat Nikkon refugee camp in Thailand. The family reunited in February 1982.