Asian Americans in the US Military fighting in Vietnam

by David O. Chung
(Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation)

The epitome of American mainstream were Asian Americans who were drafted or volunteered to go to Vietnam has been also misunderstood. Media has always ignored this topic because "living with the face of the enemy" creates a problem with who they either depict as the enemy, or who are the real Americans fighting this war?

They can't possibly show off or write their stories about Asian Americans that are the topic of being "Baby Killers"! It just wouldn't sell!

As I was transporting the Vietnam Women's Memorial across the country to Washington, DC, I was confronted by media who were shocked to see an Asian running the operations. I was even more shocked when I was asked why I would even think about doing this when Americans had killed my people. I explained to the reporter that I was from Chicago, and that I was a Vietnam Veteran, not Vietnamese. She then said, "it's not the story her agency was looking for", and walked away. I realized she was looking for a White, Black or Hispanic that would have more suited her report on who was actually bringing the Women's Memorial to Washington,DC for Dedication on Veterans Day, 1993. In other words, she was looking for what she thought Vietnam Veterans are supposed to look like.

My wife also served in Vietnam as a Nurse. They too were misunderstood.

I saw this web site, and thought I would like to comment on it. I would hope someday, someone would take the time, and tell our interesting story of "Americans Living With the Face of the Enemy".


David O. Chung

Ed. note: Thank you, David, for taking the time to share that story, and your perspective, with us. If you would like to take the time to write your story of "Americans Living With the Face of the Enemy," we would be proud to publish it here, with our Vietnam veterans stories.

Comments for Asian Americans in the US Military fighting in Vietnam

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Asian-Americans in Viet Nam
by: Ken Delfino

Ken writes:

Thank you for your comments, David.

As an American of Filipino descent, I had similar comments thrown my way from people who were good friends in high school. When I returned from serving 22 months in IV Corps on PBRs, they asked why I would do such a thing to 'my people' or fellow Asians. They were upset with my response of my duty being that of killing communists, not South Vietnamese! Something I had to deal with and no one really bothers me with anymore today.

Regarding the Nurse's Memorial, I do have fond memories of those ladies who took care of me at 3rd Surgical (Dong Tam), 3rd Field (Saigon), another hospital in Japan, on my Air Force ride to Dover, DE, and my six month stay at Philly Naval Hospital. I have fond memories and great love and respect for all of them who took care of all of us. I have not forgotten their faces, names (except LT Wade at 3rd Field). Please thank your wife on my behalf and give her a big ol' hug from this retired sailor.

I was in contact briefly with Dianne Evans when the project started and I and my veterans group in CA proudly donated to its construction.

Ken Delfino
Colfax, CA
United States Navy (ret)
River Division 533, TF-116
P.S. I am also a native Chicagoan...St. Lukes in '45...Waukegan H.S. '61-'63

Living with the face of the enemy
by: Anonymous

David, I feel you are the right person to tell that story. I would read the book.

Similar experience
by: Sel Louis

David, thank you for posting your story. Mine is not that much different than yours.

I am Chinese and enlisted in the Marine Corps the summer of 1967. I spent 14 months outside of Danang, Vietnam and was very fortunate to make it home.

After reading your story, I felt compelled to write and post mine on this website. See My Story - Asian-Americans Fighting in Vietnam.

Regardless of my ethnic background I feel then and now that I was first an American and proud to be given the opportunity to serve.

Sel Louis, USMC

Asian Americans who served in Vietnam
by: Kerwin Louis

A heartfelt Mahalo to all vets who served in Vietnam.

David & Ken, it was because of your stories that I asked my oldest brother, Sel, to share his story on this website.

It was a volatile time in our history and ALL Americans should be grateful for your service and sacrifice. I'm very proud of my brother and others like you.

Looking for E-6 USAF David O. Chin

I haven't read your book but I've been looking all over for you. Please get in touch if you are able.

I am giving you my VSR's email, she will get in touch with me.

eober (at)

Roger from Chicago (fedex)

Asian Americans and Vietnam
by: Tony Chan

Just a note to tell you that I just received a note from Ken Burns who is interested in purchasing my 4-part series on Asian Americans and the Vietnam Collection (1989-2007) for his 2016 series on Vietnam.

Asians in the West:
Asian Americans and Vietnam Collection

85,000 enlisted Asian Pacific American men and women served in the United States armed forces during the Vietnam war (1961-1975).

This four part documentary film series is the first to chronicle the lives of combat nurse Lily Lee Adams, military journalist Don Lau, and serviceman Cole Lew from a purely Asian Pacific American perspective.

They recount their time in Vietnam, enduring friendly fire, racial discrimination, combat experience, and the loss of comrades while suffering from shame and post traumatic stress disorder after their return to the United States.

Their story is an untold, unique glimpse into Asian Pacific America and its wartime experience.

Lily Goes Home, 2007
The Insanity of it All, 2002
Sweet Heat, 1998
American Nurse, 1992

Producer/director, Tony Chan

Thank you so much for sharing that information with our readers.

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