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The unsung hero of a second grader in Kontum

We were almost done with the school year that morning. My teacher, the pregnant wife of an officer who volunteered her service, was sick often. Nobody was there to tell our class that school was canceled. We were just running around playing with no adult in sight.

At about 10:00, the rockets started. Students who lived near the school all ran straight home. Five of us were left crying, huddled under the tables inside an empty classroom. Four of us were officers' children. We lived inside the army bases quite a distance away and were droped off by a driver that morning. Being 5 and 6 years old at the time, we did not know our way back. The other one was an older classmate; I could not recall his name, just that he was a bit taller. Being in the same class he could not be more than two years older than us. He also live nearby but decided to stay back.

After about one hour into the bombardment, he bravely led us home. From the school we walked up a hill to the big church- the streets were completely deserted. Rounds of NVA artillery continued to fall but we pressed on. Near the church complex was the airport- it was under heavy attack. Half running and half crawling on the road along the airport, we had to cover our ears and shield ourselves from the deafening explosions. Past the airport was a series of army bases where we lived. They were also under attack. Seeing familiar terrain the younger kids broke out running into the nearest bunker. Instead of following us to safety, our older friend just turned around and walked back home. We did not go back to school after that. I had no way to find out if our hero made it back to his home. In my mind I hoped and prayed that he did.

Nguyen <>
LA, CA USA - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 01:01:51 (PDT)

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