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Before Saigon: Kathy (Connor) Dobronyi

by Admin and Richard Turner, Contributing Editor
© SaigonKidsAmericanCommunitySchool.Com

Kathy (Connor) Dobronyi August 1963

Kathy (Connor) Dobronyi (1963-64)

My father came home with orders for Indonesia after we had been in New Jersey for three years. Time to move. I was devastated to hear that we were going to Indonesia where I was sure the Communists would get us and we all would die. The following week the orders were changed to Saigon, Vietnam.

I was filled with relief!

You can bet that I learned my geography after that! (I eventually became a secondary social studies teacher who taught history, geography, AND political science.)

We didn’t seem to have much time to get ready to go. My parents put everything into storage, bought a new Renault Dauphin (1962), and scheduled a battery of inoculations. Didn’t mind most of them, but will never forget the plague shot which felt like a syrup injection.

We took a quick trip to Washington, D.C. where we sat in the stark corridor while my father picked up a manilla folder. Never knew what was in it.

We arrived the first of June 1963 after a layover in Honolulu. It was hot and humid as we stepped out of the pressurized air conditioned Pan Am jet. I could barely catch my breath.

My father was an officer with the 3rd RRU, and a staff car met us. We had a nice tour of the city, but as we drove past the Cathedral downtown, I noticed a charred spot in the grass. When I inquired about it, I was met with chilled silence. I have never been able to discover what happened at that spot, although ten days later Quang Duc set himself on fire in protest to the policies of the Diem regime.

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