Singapore Refugee Camp 1975 - 1996

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Singapore Boat people:

If you stayed in this camp, we need your story. Any information is highly appreciated. If you see it here, we'd still like to hear from you. Corroboration is important. We will always need more information. Please email us at vt268tengah@gmail.com

Boat 55 rescue by USS San Jose AFT 7

To whom it may concern

My name is Dithien V. Ho, I was 1 of the 55 refugee boat people in the picture, I still remember vividly that reborn and happy, thankful day, around 7 pm, Jan. 20, 1980. I’m currently reside in San Jose, California (Is this a interesting coincident?). I would like to contact any crew member and the Captain to personally express my deep appreciation.

It was more 37 years passed, I always remember many detail of that faithful day. I also would like to collect more information and picture about the rescues mission that day for my book.

My email is dihuyen@yahoo.com.

I still have the post card of the USS San Jose AFT7, was giving to me by the Medic, I believe his name was McTOURVINE, with his signature on the back of the postcard. I wish I’ll be able to contact him, especially him, because he’s the one took our names, created the list and took 1 of the 2 Chinook helicopter, flew to SINGAPORE ahead of the ship arriving SINGAPORE port around 11:30 PM the same day.

I also would like to contact Capt QUOC PHAM, hopefully he able to help me contact other boat members, I was 19 years old at the time, and escape alone. I stay in SEMBAWANG Naval Base Refugee Camp in Singapore about 2 and half month before settle in Sam Jose, CA.

I also remember Dung, the mechanic, he was former Airborne officer in South Vietnam Army, he was excellence mechanic.

Please give me some time to collect, organize and write more complete and details story from the journey when we left, when we spot the USS San Jose AFT 7, how we signaled them, and also the experiences about 2 and half months in the refugee camp. Our boat has total 55 people, 15 children under 18 years old, most of them under 15. (I remember exact number, since I wrote down in my memoir) The boat was 10 meter long, 1.5 meter wide, with 2 BLUE Yanmar, Japanese made engine (The small version, the Silver is bigger version.) I do have few pictures of the camp and Singapore at the time I was there.

I remember vividly, Mr. CHUAN, THE UNHCR’S Camp Liaison from UNHCR office in Singapore City, (about 1 hour from Sembawang), request the adults in my boat to take over the Administrative function of the camp. The result was all 40 adults, including myself volunteered to become the Camp Staff.

Doctor Nguyen become Camp Leader, my boat Capt. Quoc Pham in charge of Camp Security,( he was former South Vietnam Navy officer). I took care of the Camp Technology and Education, I organized a small informal Coed Children Scout Troop, (I was former Vietnamese Scout Member) I was coordinated with Mrs. Diva, another UNHCR officer, in charge of Education for the Camp. She provided 8mm movies for me to project for the refugee to watch once a week. I remember, one of the movie was “The Longest Day” (WWII movie).

Thanks you for create the website, it help me bring back all unforgettable memories in my life. By the way, I forgot to inform you, after I arrive at the Camp about 2 month, my, Father, my elder sister and younger brother, was rescued by German ship, CAP ANAMUR 3, (rescued the 3RD time) and also arrived and stay at my Camp.

I contacted my sister and sent her the link of your website and asked her to provide her experiences and any pictures she got.

By Di Thien Ho

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