U.S. Attorney Tells of Childhood Rescue at Sea
Lauren Vuong, a 43-year-old San Francisco attorney, shared the story of her family's experience following the Vietnam War with local school children this week.
Vuong's parents were wealthy landowners in southern Vietnam facing persecution under communist rule. Like hundreds of thousands of others from the mid-1970's to the early 1980's, Vuong’s family decided to leave the country.
Crowded onto a small boat with 57 other refugees, Vuong, seven-years-old, left in secret with her family in 1980.
"It was almost like a suicidal mission. We said we got to leave at a time when there's less coast guard. What time is that? That's the monsoon season," Vuong said, reports NBC Bay Area.
“I was seven years old when my family was rescued from the South China Sea in June 1980. We were part of the "Boat People" crisis. We were ten days at sea, lost and depleted of food, water and fuel. Barring a miracle, death was an imminent certainty. That miracle appeared in the form of an LNG carrier flying the American flag, the LNG Virgo, an image that forever cemented itself in my mind as being synonymous with life and freedom.”
Vuong's family eventually settled in San Jose, and Vuong vowed to find the crew of the ship to thank them. After more than a decade, she was successful and eventually met up with Captain George Overstreet, now 86, and other crew from the era.
“Words cannot adequately describe the emotions as my parents and I embraced our savior,” said Vuong about the reunion.
His story, along with the other seamen who came to refugees aid during that time, needs to be shared, says Vuong. She has been recording her journey and is currently raising money so can complete a documentary. Vuong, however, doesn't want the film to be about her, reports NBC Bay Area. She wants it to be about the ones she considers the real heroes: the seafarers who helped her family.
"This little chapter, untold, is so beautiful and so healing in that it shows people coming together and helping each other with no political gains, no medal to be had, no treaty to sign. It's just the compassion of the human spirit."