Cover image for Reeducation in postwar Vietnam : personal postscripts to peace
Reeducation in postwar Vietnam : personal postscripts to peace
Metzner, Edward P., 1925-
Publication Information:
College Station : Texas A&M University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xv, 135 pages, 6 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS559.912 .R43 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When helicopters plucked the last Americans off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975, countless Vietnamese who had worked with or for the Americans remained behind. Many of these were soon arrested and sent to "reeducation" camps where they faced forced labor, indoctrination sessions, and privation. Others suffered through harrowing flights from their homes seeking safe haven across treacherous seas. The stories of three of these Vietnamese who survived and eventually found their way to America are told here in stark and moving detail.

For a decade before the fall of Saigon, Edward P. Metzner served as an advisor among the people of the beautiful and hotly contested Mekong Delta. After the war, he diligently sought news of the close friends and comrades in arms he had made among the Vietnamese military officers. Many had died; others could not be found. When Metzner eventually located a few, he believed their stories should be told. Three agreed to do so, and their accounts form the core of Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam : Personal Postscripts to Peace.

Two of the men, Huynh Van Chinh and Tran Van Phuc, who had been colonels of the Army of Vietnam, lived through the deprivation, torture, and mental abuse of the reeducation camps and eventually found freedom in America. The experiences of these two men reveal not only the closely guarded secrets of the experiences of high-ranking officers in post-war Vietnam but also the changes in the camps over time. In the book's other first-person account, Col. Le Nguyen Binh tells a different story: his dangerous escape from Vietnam, with some of his junior officers and enlisted men, in three overloaded fishing boats with low stocks of drinking water and food and recalcitrant crews.

Metzner introduces the book and the individual stories with the details necessary to understand the larger picture of which they are a part. He also profiles Gen. Le Minh Dao, a division commander in the dangerous area northwest of Saigon who spent seventeen years in North Vietnamese jails, and Father Joe Devlin, a Catholic priest who aided innumerable people in Vietnam through the years of the war and in Malaysian refugee camps afterward.

The matter-of-fact, even stoic stories of these survivors stand as a testimony to their endurance and persistent desire to return to a life in freedom.

Author Notes

Edward P. Metzner is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served seven years in Vietnam as an advisor to South Vietnamese military commanders from district and province levels to the Vietnamese Joint General Staff. He has told the story of his own experiences in More Than A Soldier's War: Pacification in Vietnam, also published by Texas A&M University Press.Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc, and Le Nguyen Binh were all colonels in the Army of Vietnam. All three now live in the United States.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When the Americans finally pulled out of Vietnam and the last helicopter lifted off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, those who had fought alongside or cooperated with the American troops were now left in the hands of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong. After a bloody, divisive war, few Americans were concerned about the South Vietnamese men and women who had been on the U.S. side against the Communists. Metzner, who served as a pacification advisor, could not or would not forget his friends among the vanquished. While he doggedly tried to find out what happened to them, his work was in vain--until 1994. Then he found one and would later locate two others who would make it out of Vietnam to the U.S., and it is their stories that he decided to tell. His coauthors, the three men who had worked with and befriended him during his time in Vietnam, tell their stories of "reeducation" in postwar Vietnam. --Marlene Chamberlain

Choice Review

The purpose of this book is clear from its opening lines: to tell the truth and set the historical record straight. As Metzner explains, "The propaganda spewing from Hanoi were blatant lies intended to cover up the postwar vengeance the Communists imposed on the vanquished." The bulk of the book is devoted to the first-person narratives of Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc, and Le Nguyen Binh--three colonels in the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam who were the author's close friends during his seven years of service as a military adviser in South Viet Nam. All three underwent "reeducation" at the hands of their North Vietnamese conquerors. Chinh and Phuc were subsequently released by the regime and allowed to leave the country; Binh managed to escape from Viet Nam aboard a small boat. All three eventually relocated to the US. Their narratives present a compelling picture of courage and endurance in the face of terror and degradation and provide ample evidence that the regime now in control of reunified Viet Nam has not had uniformly benign effects. The book makes an interesting addition to the already large oral literature on the American war in Viet Nam and stands as the author's lasting testament to his friendships with these three men. All collections. C. L. Yates Earlham College