DUBLIN -- The sacrifice that U.S. troops made in Vietnam was not in vain, two natives of the country told veterans Saturday at a welcome home ceremony.
Yung Krall was 11 years old when the U.S. began a rapid troop buildup in 1965. She went on to become a spy for the U.S. and now lives in Atlanta.
She was the keynote speaker at a ceremony Saturday at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center to welcome home the troops and recognize the 50th anniversary of the war. She was joined briefly on stage by her friend, Hai Cao, who also grew up in Vietnam during the war and now lives in Lawrenceville.
Both of them said that they and many other Vietnamese people owe their lives to the American war effort.
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Krall said she played a role in the arrest and conviction of two U.S. citizens who were passing secret information to the North Vietnamese.
“That was one way for me to pay back, as I had promised, (U.S. troops) who kept my mom and my sisters safe,” she said.
Krall said she has a death sentence against her in Vietnam that is still in place, and she cannot travel to the country because of it. Her son is actor and comedian Lance Krall.
Cao said he and many other Vietnamese people are thankful for what the U.S. troops did.
“There is a lot of us, my generation, that has always appreciated the intervention of the Americans,” he said. “We honor you, we would not be here without your help. ... What you heard from Walter Cronkite, and those guys, that’s not true.”
Krall’s father became a communist and went to the north, but her mother opposed that ideology and stayed in the south. She and her sisters remained with her mother, and it left her with conflicted feelings. She wanted the south to win, but she knew that would mean she would likely never see her father again.
She cried a lot, she said, and that’s why she named her autobiography, “A Thousand Tears Falling.”
Also speaking at the ceremony was Cary King, at Atlanta attorney who served in the Army infantry in Vietnam. He was awarded five Bronze Stars, two of which were for valor.
He remembered when he came home that he got on a plane from San Francisco to Baltimore, and a man sitting next to him got up and moved because King was a soldier.
“Those are still very painful memories to me, so I am honored and happy to say that this 50th anniversary is to bring us home,” he said. “We were treated as if we were carrying some form of disease.”
About 300 people attended the ceremony, including many Vietnam veterans.
Joseph Bivens, an Army veteran of Vietnam, was among those in attendance.
“It’s very nice,” he said of the ceremony. “We weren’t even recognized as a war when I left from over there. We were a conflict. Now they are giving us this. It’s nice.”
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.