Blog (12/23): "USS Kirk captain (Paul Jacobs) and crew DESERVING of medal after 40 years" - Need your help!
Often times I get asked by strangers and even among close friends the following question “so how did you get involved with this ‘film’ (Last Days in Vietnam)?” My typical answer is always “well… this was not an overnight thing. This happened in April 29, 1975 for me as a 6.5 year old boy.” From there onwards we lived the American dream, from rags to “not-RENTING”, and putting three kids through college! As with any early refugee in 1975, my parents started here with basically no money and little understanding of this language and culture + 3 young kids. Needless to say it was not an easy cake walk to start a whole new life all over again.
It was not until July 5th, 2009 that my life basically started to flip (nearly 35 years later). In 1975 my dad found the USS Kirk in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and in 2009 the USS Kirk found my dad all the way on this side of Washington [the state]. It was an amazing connection for the both of us. The US Navy flew out a few months later to interview my mom and me. During this time-frame my father was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s (Dementia) - I'll blog about this later.
In early summer of 2010, the US Navy documentary, “The Lucky Few”, written by Jan Herman, US Navy historian, was finally complete. The film centered on the USS Kirk and its captain (Paul Jacobs) and crew during April 1975 (it also includes my family's story as well). In July 2010, our family was invited to Washington DC for a reunion as well as view “The Lucky Few” (see pictures above). What a special moment as we got the chance to personally say “Thank you to Captain Jacobs and the USS Kirk crew for having a big heart and compassion in helping so many Vietnamese families flying out that day including my family.” My fate would not have been the same if the USS Kirk was not there at the right time on April 29, 1975.
At the reunion, NPR was there to cover the film and cast members. From 2010 on wards, the story of the USS Kirk, my father’s crazy helicopter ditch at sea, and the “The Lucky Few” film continued to get more attention in the media. In early 2013, I worked with WGBH and with Rory Kennedy (Moxie Film) on a new documentary about what happened during the last few chaotic days of the fall of Saigon.
Finally in 2014, at Sundance Film Festival, the cast and crew saw the premier of “Last Days in Vietnam”. We all knew this film was special. This was not about the tactics of war, nor heavy in politics – it was about individual heroism, bravery, courage, sacrifice, doing the moral thing, overcoming obstacles and never giving up. These themes resonate today!
Well by early 2015, “Last Days in Vietnam” was nominated for Oscar.
In all of this, the only individuals that did not get proper formal recognition is Caption Paul Jacobs and his crew of the USS Kirk for their acts of compassion, valor and precision in how they carried out the rescue mission (as can be seen in both films above). The USS Kirk organization has been trying for a while now to lobby for formal US Navy commendation and recognition – with limited success. Well the Universe is amazing as I was at the right place at the right time on 11/10/15 (PeaceTrees Vietnam Luncheon in Seattle).
Just one table next to me was the Admiral of the US Navy from 1978-82, Admiral Thomas B. Hayward and his lovely daughter. Well… long story short, we are crossing our fingers that Admiral Hayward can help push for this recognition through his US Navy contact. My family’s fate and hundreds of others would not be the same today without the kindness and cleverness that the captain and his crew displayed that day in rescuing so many pilots and their families.
I want to do whatever I can to help the captain (Paul Jacobs) and crew of the USS Kirk receive their due recognition and commendation from the United States Navy. Please join me in sharing this out to your network.
Miki is a renowned motivational speaker and author. He appeared in the 2015 Oscar nominated film "The Last Days in Vietnam" directed and produced by Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. He often speaks to others on the ways in which they can better their lives. His history is well documented in the documentary that shares the amazing story of his father Ba Van Nguyen and his bravery during the last few days in the Fall of Saigon. His message is one of enlightenment and courage. Miki has overcome many obstacles as he and his family worked hard to create a life in the United States while their homeland was being torn apart. Through his father’s example of courage and commitment to a better life for his family Miki is inspired to be the best he can be and be of service to others by sharing his and his family’s experiences in an effort to give hope to all refugees who take the enormous risks of leaving everything behind in hopes of a better life.
Miki is available for speaking engagements on a number of topics and also has a new book to be published soon that will offer instruction and inspiration through the recanting of his life and his experiences in this extraordinary world we all call home. For more information visit http://www.mikinguyen.com