IN MEMORY OF Lieutenant NGUYEN MANH DUNG (VNAF's 516th Fighter Squadron)
1946 - April 30, 1975
In 1970, Lt. Nguyen was assigned to the 516th Fighter Squadron, 1st Air Division in Da Nang after completing flight training in the US. He was one of the last Vietnamese fighter pilots who flew the A-37B Dragonfly to fight courageously against the advancing North Vietnamese troops (NVAs) with T-54 tanks just before Saigon was overrun.
In 1972, his A-37B was shot down by anti-aircraft fire while he provided aerial fire support to ground units (the South VN Marine). However, he managed to bail out to safety, during the NVAs Easter Offensive.
On March 28, 1975, while Da Nang air base was in chaos, he was assigned to reinforce the 6th Air Division in Pleiku and later, in Phu Cat. This air base was evacuated thereafter.
In mid-April, 1975, Lt. Nguyen's new assignment was to regroup into the 526th Fighter Squadron, 4th Air Division in Binh Thuy, Can Tho. He continued to follow orders from his superiors, and as always, flew into the hottest battle zones, to destroy the NVAs.
In April 30, 1975, at about 09:30AM - 10:00AM, he took off in his A-37B fighter from Binh Thuy air base with First Lt. Dong on his right for their last mission: Destroy the enemy's T-54 tanks that were on the way to attack Hoang Hoa Tham camp and Bay Hien. As usual, Lt. Nguyen did this in tandem with his FAC, L.19 spotter plane, the Hoa Mi 93. This plane acted as an advance scout for Lt. Nguyen's plane, spotting targets for him to bomb. Piloted by Capt. Mai Tri Dung, and First Lt. Bien, 122 OS, the Hoa Mi 93 had taken off a short time earlier from Dong Tam airport in My Tho. This was one of the last heroic missions of the South VN Air Force, which was once the fourth largest air force in the world.
After landing at Binh Thuy air base, Lt. Nguyen and Second Lt. Dong were stunned by news that Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam had surrendered bitterly. By then, the streets of Saigon, Can Tho and all of the cities of SVN, were blanketed with chaotic masses of people, all trying to find a way to escape the advancing NVAs. Lt. Nguyen then decided to take off again for the last time, with his beloved friend, the A-37B Dragonfly.
On this final flight, he ascended into the sky with a fuel tank nearing empty. Nobody has known of his fate since.
Lt. Nguyen, together with many SVN soldiers, was chosen to take a stand and defend our beloved country to the death. He and many others could have left the country and fled to Thailand, Singapore, or the Philippines, like so many did in those final days. They did not. They went above and beyond the Duty, sacrificing their lives for our country.
WE HAVE LOST YOU, LT. NGUYEN MANH DUNG; BUT WE'RE PROUD OF YOU!
Submitted and Remembered by:Proud friend: Second Lt. Huynh Bach Khoa, 516th FS, VNAF - Proud brother: Lt. Nguyen Cuong Viet, HQ 600, VN Navy (Reposted from The A-37 Association)
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