My family came to the United States in April of 1975. We left Camp Pendleton late in October of the same year. Our group of 128 was the very last of the refugees to leave the Marine base. The reason it took so long to get sponsors was because our families all came from Vung Tau in Vietnam and all of us were fishermen. Most of us could not speak English, and many of our parents were uneducated and could not read or write in their own language.
It was hard to find anyone to sponsor us, but thanks to CROSS, the Christian Redevelopment Organization for Social Services, we finally left the Marine base for our new homes in Orange County.
I would like to take this chance to thank Bishop William R. Johnson for doing such a good job in getting us sponsors and support from so many church groups. My people can't say enough for all the nice things he did for us. He and Elizabeth Kirsnis, the director of the U.S. Catholic Conference, were tremendous in seeing that the Vietnamese got homes almost immediately after our release from Camp Pendleton.
I have been supporting myself since I was 17 years old. My father, uncles and relatives had jobs within two weeks after leaving Camp Pendleton. We tried to keep off welfare; the only ones who had to get welfare help right away were three widows and their families, but we all helped them out when we went to work.