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Minh Nguyen

Minh Nguyen

Leaving Behind: A Family's Decision to Escape Vietnam

As Told By: Minh Nguyen

Minh Nguyen fled Vietnam by boat in 1980 with his father and younger sister, leaving behind his mom and other siblings. At 18 years old, he didn't hesitate to leave, as life under communism had deteriorated drastically since 1975. His father was in a re-education camp due to his previous government affiliation and their lives became increasingly controlled by the government.

Minh's family endured weeks at sea, running out of food and fuel, and encountering a typhoon that ultimately led them to crash onto an island controlled by the Chinese military. Suspected of espionage, they were detained for two weeks before being released. Eventually, they reached Hainan Island and then Hong Kong, where they were taken to a refugee camp. After four months, Minh arrived in San Diego. There was little Vietnamese community support at the time, but Minh pursued vocational education to learn a trade, as traditional high school was not an option for him due to his age and lack of prior education. Despite the challenges, Minh adapted to life in the United States, gradually feeling the sense of safety and opportunity that the country offered compared to the oppression they fled in Vietnam.


  • My Name is Minh Nguyen
  • I am based in Oklahoma City, OK
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  • Departure Location: Cam Ranh, Khánh Hòa, Vietnam
  • Departure Year: 1980
  • Camp 1: Hong Kong
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  • Resettlement Location: San Diego, CA, USA
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    My Story

    00:00 / 01:04

    Minh Nguyen [00:00:00] First of all. Hello everybody. My name is Minh Nguyen. I live in Cam Ranh Bay , Khanh Hoa, Vietnam. I left in 1980 -  June 5th, 1980. 

    Interviewer [00:00:15] By boat? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:00:16] Yeah. By boat, yes. By boat. 

    Interviewer [00:00:18] And do you leave with your entire family? By yourself? How was the process or the journey? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:00:24] No. I left with my dad and my younger sister. The reason we didn't left the whole family. Because, my dad's within the re-educational camp. That's how they call them. Because he's, he working under the Vietnamese government, in 197- before 1975. And, so after 1975, majority of the people that work under the, the Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, if you hi- high ranking officer, you go lo- longer in the camp. You know, you lower rank  you stay there less time than the others. But my dad is still in that camp. Today we left because, my mom drive him. She, she bribe him so my dad can go home that night. And then we took off that night. So only me, my dad and my sister took off that night. And my family, my mom and others, brothers and sisters, stay back. Stay behind. So. 

    Interviewer [00:01:34] How many brothers and sisters in total?  

    Minh Nguyen [00:01:36] Seven. And we had one adopted. So eight total. Uh, yeah. My, my, so my dad, like, escaped from the prison. Yeah, just like that. Because he's supposed to come back and show up, back, a day later. But he didn't show up. He went on and escaped from Vietnam. So, they they took my mom in. As for co-conspiracy. And, and they put her in there for a couple of years. So. 

    Interviewer [00:02:07] How old were you and your sister during that time? When, the day you escaped-

    Minh Nguyen [00:02:09] I was 18. My sister probably about four years younger. So she about 14, 15. Something like that. 

    Interviewer [00:02:20] Were you the oldest child? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:02:22] No. I'm the third child in the family. My, I have an older brother and an older sister, so. 

    Interviewer [00:02:29] Do you remember the reason why you were the son that got selected instead of the oldest son? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:02:36] The reason is my older brother already left, already escaped from Vietnam, and he's on his way to Canada. And I have a younger brother next, you know, to me. He escaped from Vietnam and got captured. And he's still in prison that time. And the other, the others. Yeah. Brother, sister too young to left with me. So my my mom keep them at home. So. So that's the reason why only me and my, my younger brother and my younger sister and my dad left that night. That's it. 

    Interviewer [00:03:12] Yeah. I would assume at the age of 18, you probably know much already. And being at that emotional state where you may ask either yourself or your parents why are my parents separating from each other and not knowing if you are going to find freedom, or you might end up finding death instead. So any of that run through your mind? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:03:38] No. When they, the political situation and also the, the, the economic situation in Vietnam that time it pretty bad. Okay. And they ask me, I'm 18. I don't feel like, you know. Do I have to stay or do I have to go? All I know is a lot of people escape from Vietnam and they can go and escape and fight by the future. You know, not live under the communist control. So that's how I know. That's how, my motivation. That's it. 

    Interviewer [00:04:24] You were 18 years old. That means you have seen, and I'm sure probably remember a lot living under the, the communist regime. Can you explain how life was? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:04:35] Let, let's say, before 1975. You can go to the market, you go to the shopping, you can go to you can buy any other, supplies that, that you need for your family. It's always available. But after 1975, when the communists took over. If you need to get your clothes. They, they sell you some some, some, you know, just just vải only just just, just garment only. And everybody will get the same kind of garment - same color, same type. So every year, though, I don't remember exactly, how many yards or meters that they give to sell to each person. But that's the only source of of, garments and clothes that you can gather from. And there's no other, private industry that comes. Everything government is controlled. Even food even. You need the, what you call dầu lửa, Việt Nam kêu là gì, dầu lửa? Erosene? Is it a erosene? Kerosene. Kerosene. Yeah. You have no, no, no no electricity. So the only thing that keep the light on in houses just use the kerosene and and and that's it. So everything controlled by the communist government. 

    Interviewer [00:06:00] I know people in Saigon during that time, in order for you to eat, you have to have a ticket to go get in line. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:06:07] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:06:08] Oh, you got affected by that. Yeah. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:06:10] Yeah, yeah. All the land, all the, the, you know, I, I live, grow up in, in the farm. So, you know, I mean, my family is not farming, but my dad is a teacher, my mom is a nurse. So we are not farming, but all around us, you know, in the village, everybody, almost everybody farming and and, you know, the source of the food that we have is just, the rice. Okay. And we'll trade the rice to get the money to buy the, the other stuff. 

    Interviewer [00:06:45] When the communists took over, how how was your life at the farm, were affected? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:06:51] Yeah. That's. Yeah, it's affected a lot. I mean, you can't get anything free and everything controlled by the government, even the restaurant, the transportation and, like I say, the clothings and everything controlled by the government. Okay, so that's one of the reason why people see and people see the situation getting worse everyday. Okay. That's why a lot of people decide to, to leave the country by boats. Because that's the only, other groups of people, they left by, by land, by walking, to La and Cambodia. And so to get to Thailand and all  that so there's two different way of escape from Vietnam, from boat and from, from land from from walking. 

    Interviewer [00:07:38] What was the process? And I assume that your dad probably were involved in in the planning process? How how was the planning for all three of you to get onto that boat? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:07:53] My my dad didn't involve in the process. My mom is the one because my dad was in the prison. So he's only go home and take off with us that night. That's it. He don't know anything about, where the boat at, how much, how much diesel that we have ready and how much food we have ready, how much water we have ready. He don't know anything about it. All he have, all he does is just go to the, to the location with all the people, including me and my sister, just waiting for the pick ups, and that's it. He don't he not involved in any process of preparations and all that. No, not at all. 

    Interviewer [00:08:32] So the prior night, he got home. It's like, okay, honey, tomorrow you're going to be leaving the country. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:08:37] Yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah. That's it. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:08:40] Wow. Okay, so, when you got onto that boat, how long did it take you to get to the next island or to be saved?

    Minh Nguyen [00:08:49] We didn't get in, to any island in the first couple of weeks. We ran out of diesel. And the, the engine broke. And we try to wave at a lot of cargo ships in order on that, on that international lanes that a lot of ships go back and forth. None of them picked us up. So about three weeks and four weeks on that boat we have, we got into a typhoon in Vietnam. Called typhoon in Vietnam they call hurricane over here. So. So we got a typhoon and and then after several hours overnight with the typhoon, the boat, it crashed into an island, that called the, the one of the island that, belonged to Vietnam. But then the communist, Chinese government took it over. They, they took it over because 1979, there's a war between Vietnam and the Chinese, China in northern would you call it the ranh giới (border). Yeah. They, they was fighting there. So after like 3 or 4 weeks we crashed into that island and that island, and just military only. No, no, no civilian lives on that island. So when we crashed into there, the, the the soldier, the communist soldier, the Chinese communist soldier took us in because they suspicious that we may be, undercover, you know, do kind of undercover that, that, landed into the island. So they took us in and put it in the, the bunker for two weeks. So they can have one of the of their translator from China. They, they they he got on the ship and get it over because there's there's no, there's, there's, there's no, airports or anything on that island. So everything had to be by boat. So we have to wait about two weeks for that person from China to came over so he can interview us and find out who we are. Why why we end up in there? That military island, you know, and then after they after he investigated and he he found out I we just they're just a boat people. 

    Interviewer [00:11:25] How many people on the boat? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:11:27] About 43 people on the 13 meter boat. About 13 meter has about 39, 39 feet. 

    Interviewer [00:11:38] And the food preparation was enough for.. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:11:42] Yeah. There's none. And not completely, but not enough. Okay. It's a chaos when we try to go out on the boat because, you know, it's not like, officially, you can go in the boat and go. We have to escape from, from the military people from the local, military and also the we called the cán bộ (cadre). You know. Yeah. So, we're kept in the middle of the night, like midnight to two, three o'clock in the morning when everybody goes to sleep. That when we started slowly get to the sea. And then because the the big boat if parking far away from from the shore. And if they go too close, they won't be you called got stuck under. So they, they parking outside very far. So we have to, some people swim them out, swim out and some people get picked up by a small canoe and they take them out to the boat. 

    Interviewer [00:12:42] What were the age group on that boat? The youngest to the oldest? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:12:46] The youngest, the youngest, I would say like seven months. There's a lady. She got about one. She got, like, three kids, but one of them, like, seven months old. 

    Interviewer [00:12:58] What's the oldest? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:12:59] The oldest is one gentleman. He's probably, he probably, if he's still alive, he's about 90 now, I think. He's about 4 or 5 years older than my dad and my dad is 86 now, so I would I would think he's about 90 if he's still alive. So. 

    Interviewer [00:13:18] And how long were you, were I don't know if you call it detained or, forced to stay in that island? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:13:27] Two weeks. Yeah. The reason we have to stay that long, because they have to do, have that person came over from China. He's he's speak fluent Vietnamese. And that way he can interview us and find out who we are and why we're here. So after we find out that, you know, we we just boat people. So they release us a few days later. They release us. And, the the boat that we was on, it crashed into the shore and broke so that no longer usable. And they they capture one of the boat that probably.. those people got rescued by, by big ship. And then they just let the boat float in the ocean and they, they probably get catched in that boat and brought it in and then and then leave it there. So now we came in, they have that boat that they, they give it that boat so we can keep go on. So. 

    Interviewer [00:14:22] Wow. And it's pretty much the same size that it was able to fit 43 people? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:14:25] Yeah yeah yeah yeah a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger, a little bit roomier. Yeah. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:14:31] So, yeah. But, but you know, when you get in, you, you, when you get in it, you can see it bigger. But when you get, when are you approaching it. Because we're on top of the hill. When we look out the this is about this small look like the leaf and in the ocean. So we're just scared. But, but by the time we got on it, we feel safe because they gave us some guys some diesel, some, some rice and some water and, a few more food items so we can, travel from that island into Hainan, Hainan Island. You know where Hainan Island is? 

    Interviewer [00:15:09] Yeah, I was there. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:15:11] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it took us about two days to get there from that, from that island. It took two days to get there. So when we got there, we got stuck in there with another storm for another week. So we got stuck there, and stay there for another week before we can leave to Hong Kong. 

    Interviewer [00:15:25] So how were you able to survive finding food in Hainan? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:15:30] Oh, in Hainan. Yeah. Food, because, this was, when we crashed into, Hainan. We we we went into one this, fishing village. Okay. So they have a lot of fish and stuff like that, but as far as, like clothing and other item, there's a market about 15km away. So there's no bicycle, no, no transportation, just walking. So we walk in the morning if, if we go to need to get something, because when our boat get in that island, Hainan Island, the boat is leaking. So we have to get the boat off the water and do some prepare on, repair on it so we can continue on, after a week. But, on Hainan Island, there's a lot of food. Okay. And at the market, we have to walk 15km in the morning. So we're walking to noon, we got to the market, and I pick up some items. We don't have any money, but we have some watch, some, some gold. And. But they're willing to trade for us. They willing to trade. It seems like they, they really want, especially watches they want. So we're gonna be able to trade for high value on that and, get a lot of food and prepare for the next trip.  

    Interviewer [00:16:50] Yeah, same with us when we were in the boat, our boat the propeller broke and my dad, replace his watch to buy a new propeller for us. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:16:59] Okay. When was that? 

    Interviewer [00:17:00] That was back in 1982, in Hainan, yeah, it's right near there. Yeah, right before we head to Hainan our propeller just broke. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:17:08] Oh, okay. 

    Interviewer [00:17:09] Well, for my Hainan to the next island or the next stop. How long did it take you? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:17:14] Two days. 

    Interviewer [00:17:15] Another two days? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:17:16] Yeah. Another two days. From Hainan to Hong Kong. 

    Interviewer [00:17:19] Oh. So the total of the entire trip is how long? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:17:22] We left, like I told you, June 5th. We got into Hong Kong 1st of August. So almost two months. And, come back to the food. There's no food and almost nothing. You know, I don't know. We were not prepared about, you know. You know, the people that owned the boat, that then they they wanted your money first, and then they can use that money to prepare for food and diesel and water and all that. But we don't know how much they prepare, how much they have enough for this, for the, the trips or not. We don't know. So by the time you get on the boat a few days later, nothing left. Yeah. Nothing left. So we survive on rainwater. Just so after we took the engine off the boat and throw it away. Because there's no, no need for because, you know, you need no, you have no diesel. The engines are broke, so there's no no reason to keep it on the boat. It's too heavy. You know, so, we we have a little sailing things on, on the boat that we can sail with that instead of the, the propeller engine. So that very much depend on on the wind direction.  Whatever it take. So we we just live on an ocean for like 2, 3 weeks, and there's no food, no water. So every time we see, like, the dark cloud, we suspicious that going to be some rain. So we try to get to that dark cloud so we can get some rain. Okay, get some water. But there's no buckets to, nothing to to to to to capture the rainwater. So we very much have to use our clothes to soak in water and then squeeze them out and get the water out of it. And you know how that tastes like. So because those clothes we wear, like 2 or 3 weeks and a lot of sweat and dirt and all that bit. You had no choice. You can't drink that salt water. It'll kill you. 

    Interviewer [00:19:25] So when you got rescued at Hong Kong, where did they take you? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:19:30] They took us to the refugee camp. Yeah, there's, there was a lot of people we didn't know that that was many people in Hong Kong. They have, like four different refugee camps over there. But majority of people that, in those camps, is people from the north. 

    Interviewer [00:19:49] What year was this? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:19:50] 1980. Okay. So actually. The South people is the one that that got, you know what, they country got took over by the communists, but not the North. The North have no reason to escape from from the country. If they escape, they should escape before 1975, not after 1975. Because they take advantage of it, that that's what it is. Because when they when they land. Basically when you, when you, when you land in other country all they know is you a Vietnamese, they don't ask you where, what city you come from and you know, or they say, okay, you from Hanoi, you not qualify for boat people. It's not like that. All Vietnamese, they took it in as a boat, people as a refugee. That's it. But. 

    Interviewer [00:20:38] Right when I was in, Hong Kong camp, because it was a lot of north too. And we ended up the North fighting with the South. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:20:46] Oh, yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Happen all the time. 

    Interviewer [00:20:47] During your time I was gonna ask this.. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:20:49] Yeah, yeah, yeah. People from, from, like Đà Nẵng and Quy Nhơn. They very, they, you know, hang on together. Very good. And that's why maybe fight broke out between the North people and the Đà Nẵng and Quy Nhơn people. Yeah. They, they fight with the lead pipe, they break the lead pipe, they don't have no guns or anything like that. But the metal pipe. Yeah. They fight like that. 

    Interviewer [00:21:21] How long were you at the camp?

    Minh Nguyen [00:21:23] Just for 4 months.  

    Interviewer [00:21:25] And then after that where do you go? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:21:27] I went to San Diego. 

    Interviewer [00:21:31] You skipped, you skipped the Philippines. For us, we had to go to the Philippines. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:21:36] Oh, I think that is it a requirement for you to learn some custom English, isn't it? 

    Interviewer [00:21:41] That's right. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:21:41] Okay, okay. That's what I heard. 

    Interviewer [00:21:43] So you bypassed that. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:21:44] Yeah, I bypassed that. I don't know if, if, Hong Kong they have that that program because a lot of people came after me, they who were in the same boat, but they arrive in U.S. After me. They don't have that kind of, you know, step that they have to go through there.  

    Interviewer [00:22:05] So your first, place in America was, San Diego?  

    Minh Nguyen [00:22:10] Yes, San Diego. 

    Interviewer [00:22:12] How did that feel being in, the land of the free? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:22:17] I don't feel right away after you land on it, but time, time. time. You know, you lived there long enough you know. Okay. This is safe country. Yeah. And then, you know, you do not worry about, any food, any local government, you know, harder on you thing like that, but yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:22:42] In 1980, in San Diego, were there a Vietnamese community yet when you arrived? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:22:50] No, not really. There's a tax preparer person. Maybe a legal assistant that working for a American lawyer that help with the Vietnamese or Asian people that just came in and they don't know anything about their laws and stuff like that. And, yeah, there was no community there yet. There might be, but I don't remember. 

    Interviewer [00:23:22] So at 18 is the age where.. too late for high school. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:23:30] That's correct. 

    Interviewer [00:23:32] But soon enough for a GED. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:23:34] Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:23:34] So what was your education like? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:23:36] Yeah, I'm like in a catch-22. I only finished my ninth grade in Vietnam. And after ninth grade, you go to high school, right? So you have to take a test to go high school. But my dad is under the old Vietnamese government. So, I mean, you go to the bottom for only people that can get to school is people that work for the Communist. You know, you have friends that go to school with you and you don't know who he is. But then after 1975, you know that the family is a hero? Their dad is go to, guerilla. You know, it's guerilla for Communist fight with the South Vietnamese people. And his his family got a lot of benefit after 1975. So after 1975, we found out. Okay. That guy, my neighbor.. his dad was communist. You know, we slowly you find out the people around you who work with the Communists and those people got all the benefit. That was benefit they got. They got to go to school. They got benefit. They, you know, all kind of stuff. But not for the people like us. 

    Interviewer [00:24:59] But then, when you were in America, how how was schooling for you then? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:25:03] Oh, yeah. When I, when I got here is 18 years old. I can't go to high school because if you go you have to go through 12 grades, right? And they have no English and I have no basic education for the 12 grades because I only, I only finished ninth grade. That's it. So I have to go to a vocational school. Yeah. To learn the trade. So, so I can get back on my own. 

    Interviewer [00:25:33] So what did you learn? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:25:34] I learned machinist. 

    Interviewer [00:25:36] Yeah I heard that back then. That's what a lot of Vietnamese, especially those who were at your age. Like, you know, can't get an education. You can't go to college. Then ended up with vocational school. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:25:49] Yeah. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:25:50] How did that change your life? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:25:52] Changed a lot. Yeah. When I got here the first six months, I got help with the local government. You know, they give you a four, three, four hundred dollars a month for you to pay rent, maybe buy a bus ticket. And buy some food. That's it. But I live with my dad and my sister. My dad will be able to get some help from the government because my sister was, like, under 18. You know, she's, he's still, he has dependents and people support, family with kids younger than 18 and all that. So I'm stick with him so we can share that to share the cost of living. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:26:36] How long do you stay in San Diego before you decide to move to Oklahoma City? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:26:40] I stay until, 89. Oh, no, 91, 92, 91, 92. We move here. I met my wife in San Diego. So we marry. So after a couple of years, I lost my job. She lost her job. And then, we decided, we moved the family here because her mom is here. And, she got married with other person. And then she got a family and she got.. So we got a lot of support over here. So after I lost my job, she lost her job. So we decided to move over here so you can get help from grandma and grandfather. So, that's the reason why we move here. 

    Interviewer [00:27:31] You say 91. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:27:32] 91, 92, something like that. 

    Interviewer [00:27:35] When you move here did your dad also move over? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:27:39] No, my dad say back in the San Diego. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:27:42] With your sister? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:27:43] Yeah, with my sister. 

    Interviewer [00:27:44] How about your mom and everyone else? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:27:46] They came, yeah, they came in 90. Just my mom and my brother came in 1990. 

    Interviewer [00:27:55] How did they come? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:27:57] They came by flying. My dad sponsored. They fly over. My other brother and sister, they couldn't come because of the original sponsor paperwork. You know, they without family. But, you know, after 4 or 5 years, waiting for the paperwork, they got married, and now the sponsorship got more complicated. You have to send supplements and other newborns and all the, certificates, birth certificates and all that stuff. So it dragged along 92 until 1997 or something like that. They'll be able to get over here. 

    Interviewer [00:28:43] How was your life change ever since you moved to Oklahoma City? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:28:47] It changed a lot. Yeah. We own a little house in California. Before we moved here, we sold the house. So we're able to get some money out of it and some, you know, like some equities out of it. And my wife decided to open up a little video store.  Because the video cassettes and all the filming. 

    Interviewer [00:29:14] This was in California? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:29:15] Yeah. No, no, we got we moved over here, and we opened the shop over here. After we got laid off over there, we moved here. So she got the shop open, and I got, I got hired back by, I got hired by Continental Airlines. Okay. So I'll have to go back to California working. And, I work four days a week which is ten hours a day. So I flew out there working four days and flew home three days. So, since you work for airline, you don't have to pay for any traveling costs, so. But, as long as there's a seat open, otherwise, you can't get on it. Our standby situation. So. 

    Interviewer [00:29:58] And as of today, you still have the video shop? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:30:01] No, the video shop is still. But we sold it to my brother in law, and he's working on it, so I, I go open up a Lee's Sandwiches. That's that's who we are. 

    Interviewer [00:30:17] So I want to talk about the Lee's Sandwich, which is a very well known basically in all big cities where Vietnamese are like California, Houston, now Virginia. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:30:33] Yeah. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:30:34] And to my surprise I just found out there's one here. And it's owned by you. So I get to interview by the owner. How does that feel for you to be able to open up a Lee's Sandwich, which really represent what the Vietnamese fast food is. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:30:51] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. It started back six, 17 years ago. We was on vacation in California. You know, we go back and see my family all the time like, maybe twice a year. So one time we went back and see my family. We went to Orange County, which is the most populated Vietnamese community. So we went there. And we saw one of the first Lee's Sandwiches opened in California in Southern California. They all originate from Northern California, but Southern California, that's the first store they have in Southern California. And we happened to be in at that time. So we drove by and we see the big crowd in the front of the store. So we kinda curious, you know, find out what it is. So we found out with just a bánh mì store. I mean, they just bánh mì and coffee, but after a few, few time, we come back and forth. We, we try the food and see the, the operations and all that. I have a feeling that, okay, this this one can work over here in Oklahoma. I can maybe I can get out of, the video store business and in, get into this business, because that time the video business start getting pretty slow because there's the internet and everything on YouTube. Anybody can go YouTube and find all the films and all music and everything. So that means that that's the end of the, end of, video cassette, the end of CD, the end of DVD, the end all that is recorded. Materials whatever that, that start that it obsolete so that business is no longer surviving. 

    Interviewer [00:32:51] How long have you had this Lee's Sandwich now? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:32:54] 15 years. 

    Interviewer [00:32:56] Wow. 

    Minh Nguyen [00:32:56] Yeah, yeah. 15 year. And, surprisingly, in Oklahoma. Anybody you know, I know you surprising a lot of people. Surprised, too. And, it's it's one of the biggest too. See, a lot of people I have to close that area, because every time you have a construction, you have to fence everything up, you know, and you put in "opening soon". We sell bánh mì. Everybody can drive out and say this guy crazy. I mean, why open up 11,000ft² of bánh mì here in Oklahoma, you don't have customer here. There's no way for you to survive. I don't know. I don't know if I survive or not, but, I guess I was just a little bit crazy. So. Yeah, but what we do. Yeah, we we work hard and we make it works. And, so far, we're doing okay. Yeah. 

    Interviewer [00:33:52] Do you have any children? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:33:54] I do have two. 

    Interviewer [00:33:55] What are their ages? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:33:57] 34 and 33. 

    Interviewer [00:34:00] Seems like your daughter is involved with the Vietnamese community. But do you ever talk to your kids about your Vietnamese? Your journey on that boat coming to the U.S.? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:34:09] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Interviewer [00:34:10] Yeah. And how do they feel about it? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:34:11] Yeah. They. My daughter, she went on Ted Talk one time and she talk about my my escape from Vietnam and about my experience and also the sacrifice that we have to have in order to to have the freedoms and all that. And, she told that story at Ted Rradio. 

    Interviewer [00:34:34] Why do you think coming here, sharing your story to our audience, it's going to help uplift someone? 

    Minh Nguyen [00:34:44] First of all, I would say, I'm just here to tell my story. That's it. Okay. Just that, first of all, tell story. Secondly. I would say the opportunity here in America is so great. Okay, everybody can go out and, you know, try hard enough and, you know, be on the safe side of the law, you know? You mean the good side, the law, whatever. And you be successful one way or the other. You know, the longer you try to, the more success gonna be. And, that's that's that's why I'm here. I mean, a lot of people think that I success, but then I don't think I really success. It just, you know, you work hard and you can can you can have anything that you want. So, this a land of opportunity, you know. Everybody know that. So. And, by telling my story, to let the other. Maybe in people, Vietnamese people in my, younger age. Like my age of my children. Like you my children's age. I think that that they'll learn that there's nothing come free. You know, you have to fight for your freedom. You have to fight for your future. You have to fight for you you survive in your, you know, every day, expense and all that. So this is not free. Not easy. But but it's there. I mean, you you have to you go out, you work for it you get it? That's it. I would recommend everybody come and share the story. Okay? Especially, if they you'll be able to to share it in English that even better, because majority of Vietnamese somehow, they have relayed it into the, in the I mean, at least they know somebody or somebody in the family or, you know, the neighbors that went through the situation like I did, like, like, you know, escaped by the boat and all that, but for the one that not know anything about it, you know, is, is is like I say, you know, you, you you have to work hard for it and you in order to, to get what you want and also share in your experience, I mean, I yeah, I highly recommend anybody share that. Share your story. 

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