My Family’s Journey to Freedom: Stories and Memories of Refugee Life

While writing my post, A Tribute to My Beloved Parents – From Courageous Refugees to Proud U.S. Citizens, I realized the remarkable story of my parents’ immense hardships and unbelievable obstacles in 1980 to escape communist Vietnam has yet to be shared with their eight grandchildren. They sacrificed everything in order to carve a worthy future for their kids in a foreign land. Why have these unforgettable memories been kept quiet? Our path from refugees to U.S. Citizens included countless, gut-wrenching experiences that overwhelms me today as it did whilst in college when I first “looked back” into our history . As such, I will compose a series of posts documenting our incredible journey to freedom from 1) My parents’ “masterplan” for escape 2) Mindsets and emotions of each family member in prep/during the escape 3) The actual escape 4) Specific details on board that rickety boat with 26 other friends/refugees 5) Daily life in the refugee camps and 6) Obstacles faced in our new world.


My family of six, stranded at sea for six days was rescued by a naval ship near The Philippines. This picture was taken after we boarded their ship. I am the child in the turquoise top.

Having children of my own, I now feel I have a strong obligation as a parent, as a child of my aging parents, to share this story with our younger generations. My parents’ true legacy must live on. My primary goal is to ensure my children understands our humble origin in order to appreciate the blessings of today and those of tomorrow. They need to know their grandparents never asked for a handout; merely a hand up. They came to the new world with nothing but managed to carved out a beautiful and meaningful life for themselves. Through sheer hard work, sacrifices, and determination, they gave the best they could to their children and grandchildren. It’s a significant 34-year old story worth bringing to light. I hope to do it justice here with my upcoming posts.