HOF070: Pham Thu Giang

In the final days of April 1975, as Saigon fell into the hands of the North Vietnamese, 25-year-old Pham Thu Giang, along with her mother, siblings and extended family, desperately tried to find a way to escape.

In one attempt to leave by plane from the Tan Son Nhat airport, the family found itself trapped near the airport as it was being targeted by fiery bombardments. The next day, when Pham’s father, a merchant ship captain, received paperwork authorizing him to use his cargo ship, the Truong Xuan to help his family escape, the captain allowed aboard anyone who wanted to leave.

With more than 3,600 passengers on board, the voyage of the Truong Xuan captured the attention of the world in the first days after the end of the war. Pham recalls key moments in the journey, from the captain’s move to disarm all on board to keep the peace, to his decision to turn back the ship in search of a passenger who had gone overboard. But ultimately, the ship would take on water and the passengers had to be brought aboard a Danish cargo ship that responded to captain Pham’s SOS call.



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