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Interview with Nguyen Thi Ngo, 1981

Summary
Nguyen Thi Ngo describes political and economic repression under the Ngo Dinh Diem regime. She recalls in the women of her village helping Viet Cong soldiers with food and first aid during the Battle of Ap Bac.

“Interview with Nguyen Thi Ngo, 1981.” , 03/12/1981, WGBH Media Library & Archives, (accessed 18 Sep 2014)
http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/vietnam-975432-interview-with-nguyen-thi-ngo-1981

Transcript

Repression caused by Diem's policies

SR 2090
NGUYEN THI NGO
657, Take 1
Clapstick
Interview with Nguyen Thi Ngo, village woman, 55.
Interviewer:
What were Diem's policies like?
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
Diem was extremely brutal in his policies. He rounded the people up and relocated them. He expropriated and usurped our land. His scheme was to attack the people and press their heads down. And he wanted our people to be under his control. He wanted to be an overlord on our villages and our country, our Vietnam. He repressed, oppressed, killed, attacked and destroyed. He killed and he made the people suffer. He wanted to be an overlord.
Interviewer:
During the period when Diem was in power, was there any incident that you remember most and that, in your opinion, was indicative of the Diem's policies? Did he arrest you or force you to do something?
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
He arrested the people and caused much suffering to them. He did not allow the population freedom. He made our people suffer and he did not allow us any freedom.
658 Take 1
Clapstick
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
At that time, when the husbands were known to have regrouped to the north, then the wives were taken to the military posts to sleep at night. We had to go out there to report ourselves. We did not have any freedom. He forced us to do corvée labor, to cut grass at their military posts. They made us suffer a lot of hardship.

Description of the Battle of Ap Bac

Interviewer:
During the Battle of Ap Bac, when the guns were blaring, what were you doing?
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
On January 2, at around 8 a.m., our troops came into the village to rest. When they heard the rumblings of the vehicles, they prepared their positions by digging foxholes and trenches. A moment later, there was an alert saying that the enemy was coming to the village. Our troops then went into their foxholes and trenches. At 8 a.m. on January 2, gunfire started.
SR 2091
Beep tone
Roll 91 of Vietnam project
660, Clapstick
Interview with Nguyen Thi Ngo continues.
Interviewer:
What did you do that day when you heard the gunfire?
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
When I heard the gunfire I herded my children down to the shelters. When the gunfire abated, I ran out and cooked and then took the meals to our fighters. When the fighters got wounded, I took first aid kits into the trenches to allow the fighters to bandage each other up. When the gunfire ended and when I came out of the trenches, I saw several helicopters down on the ground, damaged armored vehicles, and smoke all around me. I also rushed water out to the fighters in the foxholes. I kept running back and forth from trenches to trenches to see if anything happened to the fighters. If any of them got wounded, then I tried to help out.
661 Take 1
Clapstick
Interviewer:
Did you see the paratroopers jump down that day and what were your feelings at the time?
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
At that time I thought that this was the battle in which we gained the biggest victory, therefore I was very enthusiastic. The other women were also very enthusiastic and happy to see that their own fighters were achieving such victory.
Interviewer:
Did you actually see the paratroopers coming down?
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
I saw the paratroopers jump out and our fighters shoot at them. They fell dead all over the place.
Interviewer:
Please tell us of the period when your husband had been regrouped to the north and when you were still living and home and subjecting yourselves to Diem's whims.
Nguyen Thi Ngo:
After my husband regrouped to the north, they made me suffer in every way. They forced me to go to the military post and sleep there at night. I could not stay home as I wanted to. They were really brutal.