HOF071: Le Thuan Kien
On the eve of April 30th 1975, 12-year-old Lê Thuần Kiên and his extended family were rushed onto a battleship of the “Hải Đội II” South Vietnamese fleet that was under the authority of his father, Lieutenant Commander Lê Thuần Phong. The fleet was part of the larger Vietnamese naval force of the that was leaving the naval headquarters in Saigon, on the early morning of what would be the last historical day of the proud Republic of Vietnam.
The South Vietnamese Navy had intended to reposition the naval force around Con Son Island, away from weakened Saigon, and to return for future battles. But upon learning that northern Vietnamese tanks had entered Saigon and broken into the Presidential Palace, the Navy had no choice but to press 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. Soon after, Lê Thuần Kiên and his family would eventually begin a new life in Toronto.