by Michael Do
Ex Captain Dennis S. Q. Kim is a Korean Chinese American who was commissioned in the United Armed Forces on June 12, 1964. After being trained with various courses such as: Infantry Officers Basic Course, Military Assistance Training Advisor, Airborne and Ranger Schools, Kim served 2 tours in Vietnam. The first tour was from June 1966 to June 1967 as assistant Senior to the ARVN 38th Ranger Battalion, then Senior Advisor to ARVN 34th Ranger. Back to Vietnam in his 2nd tour, Kim was assigned Senior Advisor to the Chief of Tactics at Duc My Ranger Training Center.
In the image taken just before the 34th Battalion was heli-borne to the D War Zone, Kim was standing next to the Battalion Commander, Major Nguyen Van Xien.
Though a retiree who was enjoying his time at the paradise Hawaii, Kim still misses his old Vietnamese comrades-in-arms, particularly the Rangers. In his house, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of Vietnam War related items he has collected for years.
Last April, Dennis Kim made a one week trip to Vietnam. Unlike other travelers who go to Vietnam to enjoy sight-seeing or to experience the Vietnamese culture, Kim went to Vietnam to visit his old folks who over 50 years ago, fought and shared with him the horrible time during the bloody war in Vietnam.
There, he spent time and money to travel difference places, visiting the ARVN Military Cemetery in Bien Hoa, the graves of the late President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Đinh Nhu. He stopped at the grave of the late General Tran Van Hai and the late Lt. Colonel Nguyen Van Xien. Kim met General Hai when the General was Commander of the ARVN Ranger. Lt. Colonel Xien was the Commander of the 34th Ranger Battalion who the young advisor Kim admired as a father.
Kim also visited a mass grave of ARVN soldiers who were killed at the eve of the war end. People living in the area had collected the remains of the soldiers and built this mass grave in the land now claimed by the communist authorities for a future developing project.
On the 2nd day of the trip, Kim and his old Vietnamese friends travelled south bound to visit a lady, daughter of an old comrade that he knew when she was only 6. In his memoir, Kim expresses his deep sympathy as he witnessed the miserable life of the family, as well as families of former ARVN soldiers due to the persecution, discrimination from the communist regime. He wrote: All have suffered under the present rule, and have continued to suffer under the victor’s boot. No matter what is told, I have seen and better understand NOW what they and their families are presently experiencing 44 years later.
On his 6th day, Kim visited the graves of General Hai and Colonel Xien. There, he prepared the meals and wine as seen in any Vietnamese traditional rite. He also gave money to the people living around the area and asked them to take good care of the graves.
The short trip to Vietnam left in Dennis Kim both good and bad memories. In Saigon, he met a group of Ethnic minority from North Vietnamese who he described as honest and charming.
Before leaving, Dennis Kim received a special gift that had been given to him 3 years ago but he did not know how to sneak out of Vietnam. That is the miniature of the Ranger Memorial built at Nga Sau, Saigon before 1975.He also received a helmet given by a former ARVN Air Borne soldier. The most touching memory is when Kim saw a graffiti on the wall of a school he visited in Chau Doc written in English “You Me”. It was like a short welcoming message to him.
After reading his reports posted on Kim’s face book page, we, honestly speaking, was deeply moved. An American soldier, an advisor who doesn’t forget his old friends, old counterparts although it has been half a century! We happened to compare with many former ARVN soldiers, now American citizens, who came back to Vietnam to invest, collaborate with the enemy, to marry new wife, to enjoy their time surrounded by young girls and a table full of exotic foods.
We are very grateful for what you did, Dennis Kim. You are such a loyal friend of ours.
Texas, Memorial Day – May 25, 2020