The Eleventh Orchid

Prolog

Serene Lăng Cô, Vietnam Coastline

Serene Lăng Cô, Vietnam Coastline

The following memoirs about the Le Tien family was recalled by Le Tien’s eleventh child from her memory and stories told by her mother, relatives and friends. This book of memoirs was written to retain memories and profiles as proofs for the family’s tradition of culture and kindness. Reading the book will allow all the family’s descendants to access and learn more about their tradition and origin, resulting in helpful lessons which can be applied to everyday life.

It is the same for all times, building a family always needs: heart, self-reliance, knowledge, talent and dignity.

Memoirs of LE TIEN by Le Thi Kim Thoa, the Eleventh Orchid and Author

October 2012, Hanoi

Mr. Le Tien was born in 1895 in Thai Phu, Vu Tien, Thai Binh and died on the eleventh day

Le Thi Kim Thoa, the 11th child

Le Thi Kim Thoa, the 11th child

of the third month of 1948 (based on the lunar calendar) at Con market, Hai Hau, Nam Dinh

His father was Le Van Thuy – a merchant who traded fabrics and his mother was Le Thi Dang – a farmer who worked dedicatedly on sericulture and weaving fabrics

Le Tien was the first child of the family and he had two younger brothers named Le Van Khue and Le Van Bich who lived and worked in Saigon port.

Memoirs of Le Tien’s life and career

As a smart and resourceful person, Le Tien had come to Hanoi with his father for studying and vocational training since he was 13, or 14 years old. With his smartness and independence, he was able to entered the first course of the Indochina University opened by the French. He had studied well so the French awarded him a special technical book at his graduation and entrusted him to build an ice company on Tran Nhat Duat Street of Hanoi. He worked as

Mr. Le Tien

Mr. Le Tien

the head of department and was granted a house located in front of Ton Dan Street. Here the family gave births to these following children Mr./Ms.: Tan, Tuyet, Thanh, Thai, Tiep, Thu, Thi, Thoa.

Later he opened a store on Quan Thanh street, selling for foreign wines and beverages. His aunt – Mrs. Sau and his older children were the managers of this store.

In 1939, with the desire to develop his knowledge and personal career, Le Tien resigned from the ice company and moved to 13 Son Tay Street, Ba Dinh District to exclusively sell manufactured welding electrodes and plastic electric tapes to The Railway Department of Hanoi.

He also invested in French techniques to produce carbonated soft drink which was rapidly consumed by provincial companies so his production could not meet demand. Then the

Le Tien's General Store and Family. ca 1936

Le Tien’s General Store and Family. ca 1936

family gave births to Thu, Thuy and Than.

In 1944, the General Governor of Indochina was aware of his open mind and came to his home to encourage him to open a brewery company, as there was only one brewery company in Hanoi at that time. However, this plan was halted by the revolution.

In this period of chaos, his family had to evacuate to his hometown of Thai Phu and then relocated to the Con market in Hai Hau. After the unsuccessful return, along with a sorrow caused by the loss of wealth and his previous achievements as well as a burden of many children and more than 20 workers, Mr. Le Tien passed away at the age of 53.

Le Tien Family 1939

Le Tien Family 1939

When he was alive, he had a farm of 7,200 square meters which was the biggest one in his hometown and was solely used for family vacations. The family of his uncle Mr. Huu took care of this farm. After the death of Huu, nobody was there to manage the farm so it was taken over by the government. In addition, he had more houses at 13, 15, 43 Son Tay and a manufacturing factory that ran from the beginning of Pham Tuan (Ong Ich Khiem) Street to the car factory near Ngoc Ha market in an area of over 1,000 square meters. Later when the revolution began, with the enlightenment, his son – Mr. Thai did let the government manage the factory. As the result, the factory was occupied.

Rendering of Le Tien vacation villa, Thai Phu

Rendering of Le Tien vacation villa, Thai Phu

Mr. Le Tien was a pioneer in his day. He achieved so many things in Vietnam at that time. He held French Indochina driving license number 002 and was the first Vietnamese to ride a motorbike and buy a car in 1934.

Mr. Le Tien was also a nature and travelling lover, he liked to learn about the outside world.

Mr. Le was the first Vietnanese to buy a car in 1934

Mr. Le was the first Vietnanese to buy a car in 1934

Every year he took his wife and children to different touristic sites in the country.

He was rich in kindness. The famine in 1945 killed many people from his company. He offered free porridges every day to wandering people, especially who came from his and his wife hometown. Many of the survivors later gratefully welcomed his family each time they saw his car heading to Co Le village.

During the occupation by the Chinese army (1945), there was an officer who was jealous with a Vietnamese that kept exchanging money with girls on the neighborhood so that officer hung that man and beat him with rifle butt to near death. To save him, Le Tien asked for intervention from the government to free this Vietnamese and then he succeeded and was forever appreciated.

In brief, Le Tien was a talented person with strong will. He had great a self-built career and nice traditional Eastern Asian family that were built on the basis of absorbing the Western lifestyle. He hated drinking alcohol and playing cards, it was unacceptable for his children and employees to play cards after the third day of each new lunar year.

He had wide relationships with many social classes such as Son Phung Giay Cuong label in Hang Da market, famous Dong Luong sweet soup, Han Bich family on 11 Hang Ma, Tan An pastries on Gia Long Street (Tran Hung Dao) which was also his wife’s family.

It was a pity for a person like that to die so soon with many uncompleted intentions and a lack of time to train successors. None of his sons continued the handed down family career because of their excitements for the revolution.  (“People’s Revolution” ~ 1945 – 1954) Mr. Tuoc was the only son who was similar to him in terms of business potential however he was incompatible with his father.

In 1950, the family returned to Hanoi. The Railway Department came back to order manufactured welding electrodes as well as plastic electric tapes but nobody could take over the handed down career. This technique was lost after unsuccessful tries of Tuyet and her husband.

This valuable French book of technique had lost its value.

Memoirs of LUONG THI THE

Mrs. Luong Thi The was born in 1903 and died on the sixteenth day of the fourth month ofLuong Thi 1985 (based on the lunar calendar) at number 16 of Son Tay Street. She was born in Ngoc Lang Village, My Hao District, Hung Yen Province. She was the oldest daughter of Mr. Luong Van Cap and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Bien.

Luong Van Cap was a soldier who helped the military to build villages in the North. Therefore, all people there were named after his family name to show their gratefulness. Nguyen Thi Bien was a trader who lived in Hang Dong, Hang Sat, Hang Long near Hang Co station (near Southern Street) where many of their relatives also settled. They had nine children: Luong Thi The, Luong Van Tang, Luong Bao Loc, Luong Van Tuy, Luong Van In, Luong Thi Sau, Luong Van Bay, Luong Van Tinh (Tam), Luong Thi Phuong.

Cu Luong van CapAccording to oral history about Cu Luong van Cap:

“For his actions it is said that he received honors from the Emperor. The formal attire he is wearing in photograph is Hanfu and worn at court. The Chinese characters on his left may be a certification bestowed by the Emperor.”

Memoirs of Luong Thi The’s life

She was a beautiful girl in the village. And, her parents were smart enough so at the age of 19 she could marry Le Tien who was a middle age widower and three innocent children: Le Thi Ty, Le Van Tuoc, Le Thi Tuat. She was scared of possible responsibility but her parents encouraged and wanted her to marry him. Continue reading

A Warrior’s Footprints

Ralph “Scott” Camburn died in March 2013. His soul may have crossed the rainbow

Ralph “Scott” Camburn's 90th birthday party.

Ralph “Scott” Camburn’s 90th birthday party.

bridge, but we, as a nation, should mourn the loss of yet another veteran who spent his life in service to the country he loved. Lt. Col. (Ret) Camburn’s 91 year old weathered, tired body housed memories of flying a B-24 Liberator on 35 bombing missions over Germany with the 8th U.S. Air Corps during WWII and memories of conflicts in Korea, Laos and Vietnam. When he retired his uniform in 1965, service was in his DNA and he kept on serving with Air America where he was assigned to Binh Thuy Air Force Base, IV Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam, as an ’AA’ Flight coordinator. And yet, I cannot find a single obituary for this soldier. Is there no one to weep for him save a single friend and comrade?

A Consolidated B-24 Liberator emerges from "Flak Alley" over Vienna, Austria with its No. 2 engine smoking

A Consolidated B-24 Liberator emerges from “Flak Alley” over Vienna, Austria with its No. 2 engine smoking

The B-24 Liberators were the key to achieving the third objective of the war against Germany.  That objective was to conduct an intensive strategic bombardment of Germany in order to destroy its military, industrial, and economic system. Bomb they did and Scott was in the thick of it with his 35 missions between August 1944 and March 1945. “The B-24 Liberators flew 400 bombing missions over Europe during WWII, losing some 10,000 airmen and 1,000 aircraft between 1942 and 1945.”[1]

The average life expectancy of Eighth Air Force crews’ mission completion rate in

448-Bomb Group, 714th Squadron: Scott is in the Front Row Left

448-Bomb Group, 714th Squadron: Scott is in the Front Row Left

1943/1944, was only 11 missions, so Scott beat the averages. Why was the life expectancy so very low? The B-24 Liberator was not as able to take as much punishment as the B-17 because its complex construction, in particular, the wing, was relatively weak. If the wing was hit just right it gave way completely. Photographic records of WW II show B-24’s plummeting from the sky with two wings folded upward like those of a butterfly. In contrast, the sturdiness of the B-17 was almost unbelievable, sometimes returning to base with major components, tail-sections, engines, even wings, very badly damaged, and even on occasion partly missing. The Liberator became the bomber of choice because it could deliver a larger payload.

EDELWEILER, Germany – U.S. Air Force Col. Mark Wells reads names of service members killed during a mid-air collision of two C-119 Flying Boxcar transport aircraft in 1955 while Army Chap. (Col.) James Hoke, Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Bohannon and others look on, Aug. 11, 2006. (Department of Defense photo by Air Force Maj. Pamela A.Q. Cook)

EDELWEILER, Germany – U.S. Air Force Col. Mark Wells reads names of service members killed during a mid-air collision of two C-119 Flying Boxcar transport aircraft in 1955 while Army Chap. (Col.) James Hoke, Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Bohannon and others look on, Aug. 11, 2006. (Department of Defense photo by Air Force Maj. Pamela A.Q. Cook)

Flying in close formation with other transport planes near Chungju on Jan. 24, 1951, a C-119 Flying Boxcar of the Far East Air Force?s combat cargo command spews out its of rations and gasoline to fighting U.N. ground troops anxiously waiting on a snow-covered battlefield a few hundred feet below. More than 300 tons of supplies were airdropped. (AP Photo) (Courtesy of U.S. Military Photo Store

Flying in close formation with other transport planes near Chungju on Jan. 24, 1951, a C-119 Flying Boxcar of the Far East Air Force?s combat cargo command spews out its of rations and gasoline to fighting U.N. ground troops anxiously waiting on a snow-covered battlefield a few hundred feet below. More than 300 tons of supplies were airdropped. (AP Photo) (Courtesy of U.S. Military Photo Store

Scott’s number did not come up in WWII and he survived the Korean conflict as well, although he had a close call. He was a member of the Crew 66 of the “Boxcars”. While it was never clear exactly what that reference meant, a troll through newspapers turned up an August 11, 1955 Ocala Star Banner Article, about the crash of two Flying Boxcars, C-119, into the Black Forest; 66 soldiers were killed.[2] Nine Flying Boxcars took off in formation, two collided. The survivors formed Crew 66.

The Flying Boxcar is one of those aircraft that owes its success to its ability to do a lot of different jobs. It was purpose built as a military freighter, yet it could take as many as seventy five passengers in a seated arrangement, on litters or as paratroopers according to John Refett. It was built with the ability to deliver over ten metric tons of freight to very short airstrips designed for small aircraft but also had the range and equipment to fly to anyplace in the world on its own. In the Korean War, the C-119 was important in transport and airdrop roles; dropping both supplies and airborne troops. During the Vietnam war C-119s were used as third generation “gunships” (these are sideways firing ground attack airplanes that orbit a target). They are workhorses! The military operated them with a maximum takeoff weight up to 100.000 pounds for as long as the engines held together.

As Korea drew to close, Laos and Vietnam

Air America Logo

Air America Logo

were hotting up. Scott, not one to cover his Alpha Sierra Sierra, headed out to help and ended up in the thick of it once again. The Vietnam war in 1964 was the backdrop of Scott’s last tour of duty in uniform. Following his retirement in 1965, Scott joined the Air America team in Viet Nam and was assigned to Binh Thuy Air Force Base, IV Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam, as an ’AA’ Flight coordinator.

What Scott did in Laos is not clear. The Cold War was filled with secrets and this is one of them. Connecting the dots, however, perhaps he was involved with the CIA and the Secret War. Continue reading

The Central Intelligence Agency – Eisenhower and Asia’s Back Door

This is the second in a series of articles that explores the iconic CIA and its use as a tactical weapon by the presidents of the Cold War (1947-1991). The first of the series was The Central Intelligence Agency – In the Beginning

In the late 1940s, the CIA grew quickly as it acquired the political turf and added the expert

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) 34th President of the United States (1953-1961)

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) 34th President of the United States (1953-1961)

staff required to keep the president informed on who was doing what to whom around the globe. The National Security Act of 1947 added covert operations coupled with ‘plausible deniability’ to the mix of collecting and analyzing data. Covert operations weaponized the agency. Now, not only could the CIA convert data into information it could, at the behest of the president through the State Department, act on it with impunity; the CIA had become a tactical weapon.

Presidential elections tend to return with grueling regularity in the U.S. and by 1952 it was time, once again, for Americans to choose a leader through the Electoral College.  Truman, who announced he would not run again, took an historic step when he required the CIA to brief the presidential candidates so they would know what-in-the-world was happening. In Chapter 2 of the CIA Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-1992, John L. Helgerson states, “Mindful of how useful the weekly briefings were to him, Truman determined that intelligence information should be provided to the candidates in the 1952 election as soon as they were selected. In the summer of 1952, the President raised this idea with Smith. He indicated he wanted the Agency to brief Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Governor Adlai Stevenson, remarking at the time, “There were so many things I did not know when I became President.” Smith suggested to Truman that Davidson might be the proper individual to brief both Eisenhower and Stevenson to ensure they were receiving the same information.[1] It was an unprecedented step based on Truman’s early experience in office and the beginning of a tradition that is still respected. Continue reading