The Extended Family

of Robert Ruseckas and Dang Thanh Tu

Updated in 2007

1. NGUYEN Thi Dam, matriarch of the family, 68 years old, widowed, passed away in Libertyville, IL in 2000 at the age of 93.

2. DANG Hong “Khanh”, elder sister, 36 years old, single, secretary working for USAID, now working for Honeywell in Minneapolis, married with a son, residing in Richfield, MN.

3. DANG Thanh “Trinh”, elder sister, 33 years old, single, earned her BA degree in Business Management at Dalat University. After graduating from college attended the College Training Program at US Army & Air Force Exchange Service (BX) and became a Supervisor and then Assistant Manager at the Ton Son Nhat airport BX. Now working as a Service Assurance Tech, Project Manager, Systems Administrator for Qwest in Minneapolis, still technically single but living with a long time partner in New Hope, MN.

4. DANG “Ngoc Tu”, younger sister, 28 years old, single, law student at the University of Saigon, now a sales clerk in Minneapolis, married with a son and two daughters, residing in Golden Valley, MN.

5. DANG Thong “Nhat”, younger brother, 25 years old, single, senior year at Faculty of Pedagogy, University of Saigon, now an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools and Vietnamese Language Teaching Specialist at University of Minnesota, holds a Masters of Education in Second Languages and Cultures, recipient of a Fulbright Memorial Fund for Teachers and numerous awards in education, married with a daughter and two sons, residing in Brooklyn Park, MN.

The Dang Gang after Nhat'&Le wedding reception in June 85 copy
Most of the evacuees 10 years later at Nhat’s wedding reception. This photo was taken after brother-in-law Nhat (whose arrest at the airport in Saigon and me absconding him out to the U.S. military base resulting in me not being on the last Pan Am flight out) got married. The family is gathered due to his wedding. Mentioned in the article: Then wife and Pan Am stewardess Tu, front center right of photo, wearing a traditional Vietnamese “Ao dai” dress, is also wearing the famous “Pan Am pearls” necklace. Tu now flies for United. Trinh is center of the photo, with her elbow on a knee and her hand near her face. Khanh is wearing glasses and behind and just above Tu’s head. Nhat is in the red and white striped shirt, wearing glasses and his arm is resting on the table.

NOTE: Two of the above, #2 Khanh and #5 Nhat did not go on the Pan Am flight but left with the following people on a US Air Force C-130 cargo plane used as a refugee evacuation flight on 26 April 1975:

6. DANG Duc “Nghiem”, older brother, 35 years old, Captain in the South Vietnamese Army and Medical Doctor, now a general surgeon practicing in Westminster, CA, has written several notable books chronicling the life of a Vietnamese doctor in Viet Nam and the US. He established Medical Education Outreach Education in 1996, a non profit organization providing health services and medical education to third world countries, married with two sons and a daughter (also evacuated and listed separately below), resides in Huntington Beach, CA.

7. DANG Kim “Van”, wife of Nghiem above, 30 years old, housewife, received her BA degree from The State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo in French Education and currently manages her husband’s medical practice office in Westminster, CA.

8. DANG “Steve”, son of Nghiem and Van above, 6 years old, received his BA in Biology from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1993, currently studying Physical Therapy at Western University in Pomona, CA. He is married to Lynh Nguyen, and advertising executive, and they have a newborn son Brandon and reside in Southern California.

9. DANG “Mark”, younger son of Nghiem and Van above, 3 years old, received his BA in Biology from USC in 1994. He received his Juris Doctor (JD) from the Marshall School of Law in 1999. He currently has a successful law practice in Las Vegas, NV. He is married to Esther Tan, an optometrist, and they have two young girls Emilia and newborn Iris. They reside in Henderson, NV.

10. DANG “Titi”, daughter of Nghiem and Van above, 1 year old, received her BA in Biology from USC in 1996. She received her Doctorate in Dental Medicine from Tufts University in 2000. She has a dental practice in Huntington Beach, CA. Married to Michael Cao, a Physical Therapist, they have a young son Mason and live in Huntington Beach, CA.

11. SOUM T Dinh, mother of Van above, 57 years old at the time, living with family in Huntington Beach, CA.

12 & 13. Pham “Judy”, younger sister to Van above, 25 years old and pregnant with son James, she received her BA in Social Studies in 1979 from the University of Missouri, resides in New Jersey.

PHAM “James” is a lawyer in New Jersey.

14. PHAM “Bill”, husband of Judy above, 29 years old, currently a pathologist and resides in New Jersey.

15. PHAM “Jacqueline”, daughter of Judy and Bill above, 1 year old, received her BA in Biology from Johns Hopkins University in 1996. She then received her JD at Rutgers University in 1999. She is a lawyer in New Jersey, married to Alan Dalsass, also a lawyer. They have one young daughter and are expecting another girl just before the 33rd anniversary of the refugee evacuation.

16. DANG Thi Ngoc “Loan”, older sister, 43 years old, Piano Music Teacher, housewife in the US, together with husband Thang have five sons listed separately below.

17. NGUYEN Nhat “Thang”, husband of Loan above, 45 years old, a former Physics Teacher, drafted into the South Vietnamese Army and held the rank of Captain serving in the Engineering Branch (like a US Navy SeaBee) when evacuated. Upon relocation to Michigan, served as a Teacher’s Aid in a bilingual program of the Pontiac, MI school district from 1975-77. From 1977 joined Ford Motor Company and became Senior Engineer, Lab Specialist at the Central Lab of Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI, specializing in polymers and was leader of the Polymer Group until retirement in 2002.

18. NGUYEN Nhat Ton “An”, son of Loan and Thang above, 12 years old, 7th grader in Viet Nam, PhD in Physics from the University of Michigan 1998. Single and living in Pontiac, MI.

19. NGUYEN Nhat Ton “Duc”, son of Loan and Thang above, 9 years old, 5th grader in Viet Nam, PhD of Biology (Genetics) from the Albert Einstein Medical College, NY. Currently a Research Assistant at Yale University. Single and living in New Haven, CT.

20. NGUYEN Nhat Ton “Van”, son of Loan and Thang above, 8 years old, 4th grader in Viet Nam, graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Chemistry in 1990, currently a Medicinal Chemist working for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in Wallingford, CT with his name on at least 3 patents, numerous publications and patents. Divorced, one daughter, Audrey-Thien Huong Nguyen, living in CT.

21. NGUYEN Nhat Ton “Nguyen”, son of Loan and Thang above, 6 years old, 3rd grader in Viet Nam, University of Michigan double major BS degree in Biology and a Masters in Architecture from the Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia, PA. Currently runs his own business in creative architecture in Chicago, IL.

22. NGUYEN Nhat Ton “Dinh”, youngest son of Loan and Thang above, 4 years old, on moving to the US, started in the Head Start Program in Pontiac, MI. Moved 4 years later to Auburn Hills, MI where he was able to skip the 6th grade completely. In 1988 graduated from Pontiac Northern High School, started at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and was accepted into the Interflex program (a 7 year program that combined the undergraduate with the medical school – only 44 applicants are accepted into this program per year). In 1995 graduated from medical school with an undergraduate BS degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Doctor of Medicine Degree. Started a General Surgery Residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Graduated from the residency program and accepted into a fellowship in Trauma Surgery at Hurley Medical Center at Flint. In 2001, graduated from the Trauma Surgery Fellowship and relocated to the decidedly non-Vietnamese community of Los Banos, CA starting a solo practice in general surgery. Board Certified, Dr. Nguyen is the primary general and trauma surgeon in the area. He is literally saving and improving lives on a daily basis while giving back to the rural community where he lives. Single with an active social life.

23. NGUYEN Thi Dich, Thang’s mother, 70, widow, passed away in Pontiac, MI at the age of 93.

24. NGUYEN Mau “Hoang”, Thang’s younger brother, age 43, married with 5 children (2 girls and 3 boys) listed separately below. A Medical Doctor, an Ophthalmologist, Dr. Nguyen was Director of Public Health of Central Viet Nam (Tactical zones 1 & 2). He was also Director of the Nursing School of Central Viet Nam, and Director of the Public General Hospital in Nha Trang (Central Viet Nam). His positions were of such stature that he was deferred from compulsive military service. Once in the US, after 2 months in the Fort Chaffee Refugee Camp in Arkansas, Dr. Nguyen accepted a sponsorship in Canada to relocate and settle his family in Montreal. After three years residency at the Montreal University of Medicine Hospital he was able to continue his career as a physician in Montreal, Canada where he remains to this day.

25. BUI Thu Thi “Thuy”, Hoang’s wife above, age 35, housewife then and now.

26. NGUYEN Thi “Chau”, daughter of Hoang and Thuy above, age 13, 8th grader, received her degree as a Doctor of Dentristry in 1986 from the University of Montreal (Faculte de Medecine Dentaire). Married to a Pharmacist and has four children.

27. NGUYEN Thi Bich “Ngoc”, daughter of Hoang and Thuy above, age 11, 6th grader, received an MBA in Financial Management from the University of Montreal. Divorced with two children.

28. NGUYEN Tuong “Thuy”, son of Hoang and Thuy above, age 9, 5th grader, became a Technician in Informatics. Divorced and no children.

29. NGUYEN Mau “Huan”, son of Hoang and Thuy above, age 7, 3rd grader, became a Medical Doctor receiving his degree from the University of Montreal Faculte de Medecine in 1999. Single, never married.

30. NGUYEN Mau “Hiep”, son of Hoang and Thuy above, age 4, 1st grader, received his Mechanical Engineering MBA from McGill University. Married to an Optometrist, one son.

31. NGUYEN Huy “Han”, brother of Thang above, 41 years old, PhD of Law from the University of Saigon, a lawyer, and administrator, graduate from the National Institute of Administration of Saigon (1961), Director of the National Immatriculation Services (an English equivalent would be a National Registry of Motor Vehicles). He was the Director of Revenue Income Tax of South Viet Nam (1965-1975), a Ministerial position roughly equivalent to the Director of Internal Revenue Service in the US. He was actively working on an attempt to put together a coalition of government Ministers and others to overthrow the inept leaders then in control in the last days of the South Vietnamese government and attempt a bridge to the North Vietnamese then deemed to be ready to take over the South (for more information see: http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Han_Nguyen_674586714.aspx ) when he was urged by family members to join them in the exodus out of Saigon. His sense of duty may have made him the reluctant evacuee and (in Ruseckas’ opinion) most adversely affected by leaving in this manner. Clearly depressed amongst his group and family, Ruseckas encouraged Uncle Han to write his life’s story and received several hand written chapters to that effect until Han got re-settled and put his efforts into the next chapter of his life.

Interestingly enough, Han dedicated his life to his extended family and adopted country in a unique way. He started out by working to organize a cooperative market importing then rare food items coveted by Southeast Asian refugees and making them available at affordable prices. In 1977 he opened an ethnic Vietnamese restaurant named “WE” (West-East) in Pontiac, MI which gained national and international acclaim for being the first of its kind in bringing to customers the concept that they were eligible for profit sharing by paying for a meal at WE. Ruseckas had heard that Han was profiled on “60 Minutes” but an internet search soon found a “TIME” in partnership with CNN article about his restaurant (for more info see: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,948165,00.html). Han kept a ledger based on a customers meal receipts. At the end of the year he’d share profits with the customer based on their purchase receipts amounts. He and his single sister Quyen (see below) worked themselves to the point of exhaustion, and at the sacrifice of any personal life, Han retired some years later due to poor health. He remains a bachelor dedicating his whole life’s efforts to family and the two societies he worked so hard to improve.

32. NGUYEN Thi Kim “Quyen”, Thang and Han’s sister, 39 years of age, single, Lab Specialist in Viet Nam, in the US she assisted her brother Han in supporting their elderly mother and in operating the WE restaurant (see Han above). She never married.

33. DANG Thi “Oanh”, cousin, 24 years old, single, occupation unknown, single and living in San Francisco, CA.

 

 

One thought on “

The Extended Family

  1. What a marvelous story! And the accomplishments of these courageous Vietnamese people is nothing short of impressive! I note there are a few USC grads (Fight On!) as well as lawyers (my profession). Well done, my friends…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Alert: Content is protected !!