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[rec.scouting.*] Scouting Around the World Pt. 1 (FAQ 8)
Section - Vietnam

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Top Document: [rec.scouting.*] Scouting Around the World Pt. 1 (FAQ 8)
Previous Document: Scouting in the USA
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1992 14:52:09 GMT

My name is Hung Le, and  I'm a  former cub Scout, boy Scout,
venturer, rover Scout and Scouter of BSVN (Boy Scout of Vietnam).
Currently,  I'm  with  the  Santa Clara County Council, BSA
as a unit commissioner.

I would like share with all fellow Scouts out there on  the  Net-
work some personal experiences that I have had with the Scout or-
ganizations, especially with the BSVN. These experiences  are  so
valuable  to my life and my children as well... When I joined the
Boy Scouts of Vietnam, my country was  torn  apart  by  the  war.
Everywhere  I  went, there were always fighting leftovers. It was
dangerous to travel, abeit going camping, but even so, we managed
to  have  wonderful  times,  troop  leaders were very creative in
finding places for kids to camp,  to  have  a  meeting  location.
Scout  meeting  was  always  outdoors,  in the open air. A lot of
times we went camping without a Scoutmaster because of the  mili-
tary  draft. During my 6 years as a boy Scout, I had three Scout-
masters and their average age was about 19 years old.

I remember taking my Panther patrol (yes, a Blank Panther), on  a
trek  to a remote waterfall. Each member had to be separated by a
distant of 10 meters, so that a bobby trap grenade would not  de-
cimate  the whole patrol. I learned valuable survival skills from
the boy Scouts, during the war, not only to help myself, but help
to  my family and other beings as well. Beside learning knots and
semaphores, we also learned camouflaging, how to recognize  booby
traps, different type of ordnance (by default), and servicing re-
fugee camps.  Servicing refugee camps was a constant activity for
the  troops and the posts. Sometimes the pack would chip in their
help in making greeting lines for some big  shots  who  come  and
visited  refugee  camps. During the Tet offensive of 1968, my ex-
plorer post managed a makeshift refugee camp  in  Dalat  province
for  more than 3 months. This included security for people in the
camp (A lot of problems came from rowdy bands of government  sol-
diers trying to intimidate the female refugees, but when they saw
the Scouts, they thought another military unit was  handling  the
refugee  camp). This also included searching for food (mostly, by
contacting GI units and the government in the area) for refugees.
Sanitation  was  always  the  biggest task of the day: Talk about
cleaning the out-houses for refugees!!!  At  times  we  organized
'dare-devil'  teams  to go into battle areas to retrieve civilian
and, sometimes, military bodies to bury or to take  back  to  the
city morgue. The morgue was always full during those days. In the
city, there was another youth group organized by the  Red  Cross,
and we competed with them in collecting the wounded and the dead,
along with other war trophies.  One time we collected a  "broken"
bomb  and  decorated  it  as a gate for our refugee camp.  It was
quite a deterrent for those who passed through that gate.

The war also took a personal toll in my life. My very first  cub-
master  was  blown  up  in his Jeep from an ambush. I went to his
funeral without seeing his face since there were nothing left  to
see. The second cubmaster was killed and left behind his pregnant
wife and two small girls. The third cubmaster  spent  almost  ten
year  in  the  re-education  camps. My first patrol leader volun-
teered for Airborne division at the age of 17, and came back in a
light casket.  His mother told me that after he was killed in the
DMZ area, he had to wait for a few months for  transport  of  his
body  back  home...  There  were  so many Vietnamese Scouts in my
area that I know never made it to 18th  year  birthday.  Frankly,
without Scouting, it would be very hard for me to find solace for
those senseless killings. Looking back, I admired all of my Scout
leaders.  They  were true men (unfortunately, I never had any fe-
male leaders, even at cub age) of their word,  who  lived  up  to
Scout  promises  and  Scout  laws.   At times, they weighed their
lives light as a feather, but sometimes, as heavy as the  biggest
mountain in the north.  At that time, deserting from the Army was
rampant, but I rarely saw or heard of Scouts were deserters.

Even in that bloody environment, I had a  blast  when  I  was  in
Scouting.  I  had so much opportunities to learn about myself and
about other people. Nowhere else in life have I found  such  deep
and emotional relationships. It was not unusual that my whole pa-
trol attended Christmas mass with one Catholic member, although 6
out  7  members  were  Buddists.  My favorite patrol member was a
Chinese who came to the Scout meeting with Chinese  goodies  from
his  father.  Many times my patrol went camping near the National
Military Academy so that at night times, we  could  look  at  the
sky,  watching  the  yellow flares in searching for communist in-
truders. During teen age, I traveled up and  down  the  coast  of
Vietnam,  hitch  hiking with two other Scouts to the Delta areas.
We spent two days in a notorious, scary Cambodia village near the
border  with Vietnam, and had a chance to observe how people were
trafficking at the border. A few times, my troop went camping out
of town by trekking to the military airstrip. We got in there be-
cause we knew well the soldiers at  the  entry  post.  Besides  I
heard  that the American Senior Military Advisor there was also a
former eagle Scout. We waited for the  next  empty  cargo  plane,
asked  the  pilot  where is his next stop, then asked for a ride.
Many times we had to camp at the dirt spot nearby. It was  adven-
turous and a lot of fun, and a lot of disapointment too.

During the Spring offensive of 1972, I went to the national  jam-
boree with more than 10,000 Scouts camping in one of the very hot
spots near Saigon.  The GI Star and Stripes newspaper  called  it
the  "Warboree".  Every  night, there were skirmishes between two
ranger batailons and the local communists from  the  neighborhood
village.(It  was possible that some of the local boys also parti-
cipated in the Jamboree). The opening night  was  festooned  with
"Fire  Dragons"  tracers,  shot  from  C-47  aircraft circulating
ahead. Laying their backs on a  green  grass  field,  the  Scouts
tried  to  decifer  beautiful  colors  from  different flares, or
'pfuff pfuff' noise from different types of gunship  helicopters.
Unforgettable experiences!!

The Boy Scouts of Vietnam Association, ceased officially to exist
as  a  member  of the World Scout Bureau when the communists took
over the South in 1975, but thousands of  Vietnamese  still  join
Scout  organizations  in  the country they resided in. Many Scout
units were formed in the refugee camp  in  Philippine,  Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.  I believe in France, there is
an official Vietnamese  Scout  Association  operating  under  the
Scout  Federation  of France. It is estimated that there are more
than 3000 Vietnamese Scouts in Vietnamese Scout units world-wide.

In 1990, we had the Third International  Vietnamese  Jamboree  in
Cutter  Camp, Boulder Creek, California, with more than 700 Viet-
namese Scouts from 6 countries. The event was also to commemorate
the 60th anniversary of the Boy Scout of Vietnam.


End of FAQ 8 Part 1

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