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If you would like to send us an email, please send it to and we will post them daily on our website. You need not have attended our event if you would like to email us. Maybe your comments are about the day, the Hand of Hope, the 25th Anniversay, or maybe you just want to say hello to our Chapter and AVVA members. In any event, thanks again to all those who were able to join us at the Hand of Hope last Sunday. "The VVA Chapter 785 had provided an invaluable, memorable and inspirational experience to those attended last Sunday, April 30th ceremony. What part(s) of the program meant the most to me?


Personally, it was the "perfect" location - Camp Pendleton. My family and I arrived by bus to "Tent City" in May of 1975 as we did on Sunday, April 30, 2000. This was the first time that I returned to a place where my family and I first settled in America 25 years ago. It's now an empty lakebed. The tents are gone but the memories of Camp Pendleton will last a lifetime. Camp Pendleton will always represent the goodwill and the heart of the United States of America.


"From War to Hope" was exactly what the program is about. When I arrived at the parking lot, I was amazed at the sight of the greeters, the American & Vietnamese Veterans, working side by side as they were once allies, fighting for freedom. Instead of the military uniforms, their white polo shirts, wore by the VVA Chapter 785 members and its associate members, reduced the tension and provided a friendly environment to all. As the attendees arrived, they were welcomed by the greeters and were reaching out to each other by offering American and Vietnamese flags. I hope for a better relationship.


Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, we have been carrying our wounded emotions of the war. We were looking for people who had similar experiences and can empathize with us. The Collegiate dictionary defines "Empathy" as "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner." The speakers did just that. They filled the air with emotions through their empathetic speeches and personal stories. As the American Veterans, Vietnamese Veterans, their families and guests listened and reminisced, I hope they can relate and understand others better.


During his speech, General Hudson addressed all of us as "Americans". He gave me a sense of belonging. He recognized the Vietnamese-Americans as contributory members of the American society. For that, I hope that everyone would value freedom and appreciate that the United States of America as a great country.



April 30, 2000 marked the day that the VVA Chapter 785 provided an opportunity for us to come closer as Americans. We will become stronger as we learn to deal with the emotional scars together. We are adapting and slowly getting there. Hope will continue to provide the way - Hope for a better future. "The future is anybody's guess, today is a gift, that's why its called the present." (Author Unknown) Christopher N. Tran


"I was so happy to see the program went so well. It was great and unforgeable It will last on all of us for the long time,I was so emotional when Vik Jolly interviewed me I could not answer his question I was wordless. Once again John, Thanks very much for all the things you have done for VVA and AVVA." Hoa Pham :"


Thanks for inviting me to the Ceremony. Sorry that I had to leave early. I wanted to stay and talk to each of you and in particular to some of the Vietnamese, who were there as well as to Connie Stevens. Time doesn't allow us all of the things that we want to do. I did make it to my next appointment thanks to you. The Ceremony was moving and well conducted.


Tex Wandke


"When you said that you were welcoming responses regarding the event at Camp Pendleton, I hope that you meant mine also. I enjoyed the ceremony and I learned quite a bit aout the war. I think that it was truly a job well done and I would like to commend you and all of the VVA and AVVA members on a job well done!


" Jenie Ly "My byline is J. Stryker Meyer. I'm the military affairs reporter for the North County Times based in Oceanside, Ca. Unlike most military affairs reporters, I had 2 tours of duty in Nam. I'd like to write some sort of an adv. about your event aboard Camp Pendleton on April 30th. My numbers are: Work: 760-728-5511. Pager: 760-781-6445. This is my home email address. Plez contact me there over the weekend. My work email address is:

In recent years i've searched unsuccessfully for any Vietnamese who fought side by side with SF, of Vietnamese helicopter pilots from the VNAF, specifically the 219th squadron based in Da Nang which flew missions deep into Laos, Cambodia, the DMZ and N. Vietnam. If your organization has any links to those communities, which you can share with me, I'd be grateful for the contacts. I'm just getting started as the military affairs reporter, after having been an editor for 6 years. Hence, I'm just getting started at making contacts in S. Cal. Thanks for your time. Look forward to meeting your troops/associates on Apr. 30th" Respectfully," J. Stryker "tilt" Meyer



"Outstanding 25 Years After The Fall Program!. So well designed and inclusive. A truly moving experience. Thanks to all V V A #785 chapter members for their efforts in bring out this living and re-living piece of history. Makes me proud to be a member. Even my 19 year old daughter found the total program inspiring. She termed it one of the best events she has ever attended. Her interaction with the military, civilian, and Vietnamese Americans were extremely positive and personally uplifting. She felt the sincerity of the participants personally. She related to me that this event diminished some of the pain of previous hurting, negative experiences with Vietnamese citizens. Super Job."

Bea Jones



I proudly salute the Vietnamese and American Veterans of VVA and AVVA who helped make this event possible. I thank the Vietnamese refugees for the tremendous and positive contributions that they have made in so many communities throughout America. I thank the Marines of Camp Pendleton for their graciousness, hospitality, and friendship that they have extended to the Vietnamese Veterans and their families throughout the years. But most importantly, I thank the Good Lord, for allowing Vietnamese and Americans, warriors and civilians, to come together in a sharing of friendship and understanding and a hope for a better America. I pray that the next major celebration of "From War to Hope" will find me on an airplane to a free and democratic country of Vietnam.

Semper Fi Major Bill Mimiaga USMC (Ret)


Just wanted to thank you again for all the hard work and effort that went into planning the program for Sunday, I was so proud to be an observer and to just listen to all the wonderful testimonies and inspirational speakers you arranged for us. From the speakers to the singers to the music. I can't imagine being anywhere else on that date and time. To have missed one minute of that program would have left my day incomplete. My son, Charles, told me that he learned a lot that day and I am sure many of us could say the same thing. Many of the Vietnamese people thanked me on behalf of my son for playing Taps and on behalf of my brother who is missing in Vietnam. Now I know that it wasn't all for nothing.


I was also proud of the Vietnamese speakers and the accomplishments they shared with us. When my brother was first declared MIA on May 23, 1969 I wanted to hate all Vietnamese people.


I no longer have any hatred in my heart and can now go to Vietnam to look for my brother with a peaceful spirit. Good job, John.

Mary Benton