HƯỚNG ĐẠO SINH DƯƠNG VĂN CHÁNH – A RED-BERET HERO
Ban Thông Tin - HĐTƯ-HĐVN
On October 26, 2019, the Vietnamese community solemnly honored the remains of 81 parachutists from the 72nd Company, 7th Airborne Battalion of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) in a memorial tribute at the Freedom Memorial Park and at the Vietnamese Memorial Cemetery in the City of Westminster, California. Among the remains there are those of Hướng Đạo Sinh (HĐS) Dương Văn Chánh, the youngest brother of Trưởng (scout leader) Dương văn Hoá, Dương thị Kim Sơn, and Dương thị Kim Chi.
HĐS Dương văn Chánh had been a Boy Scout of Hoa Lư Troop and a Rover Scout of Nguyễn Trãi Crew under the guidance of Trưởng Trần Trung Du and Trưởng Nghiêm Văn Thạch throughout the 50s and the early 60s. HĐS Dương văn Chánh was in the same Patrol with the late prominent Trưởng Trương Trọng Trác, a former National Commissioner of Viet Nam Scout Association, a.k.a, Hướng Đạo Việt Nam, before 1975, also a close friend of Trưởng Trác.
Like many patriotic men during the war time, anh (brother) Chánh along with many of his fellow HĐS of Hoa Lư Troop, volunteered to join the ARVN to defend the freedom and protect the people in the South, while he was a second-year law student at the University of Saigon.
Graduated from the Infantry Officer Training Academy in Thủ Đức, anh Chánh volunteered in the Airborne Force. Only 3 months after his graduation, anh Chánh participated in the very fierce battle at Đồng Xoài. After the battle of Đồng Xoài, anh Chánh along with his 7th Airborne Battalion comrades continued to engage in another battle in Pleiku province. Once the battle in Pleiku was ended, the 7th Airborne Battalion were supposed to return to the home base in Biên Hoà province for resting and recharging; instead, they were ordered to participate in the relief operation for the Tiger Division, a South Korean Force, at Tuy Hoà. On the flight path from Pleiku to Tuy Hòa, the misfortune C123 airplane carrying 81 parachutists of the 7th Battalion/ 72nd Company together with the 4 American flight crew hit the 4000-foot mountain cliff at the coordinate 37 degree of northwest Tuy Hoà in the dense fog. Anh Chánh along with 80 comrades and 4 US flight crew were killed in the accident on December 11th, 1965. He was only 25 years of age, 6 months after his graduation from Thủ Đức Infantry Academy.
Anh Chánh's family lost their youngest son at the end of 1965. Only three years later, anh Chánh’s family again lost their eldest daughter and their son-in-law. Their eldest daughter Dương thi Kim Thanh was a nurse graduated from the Croix Rouge Francaise, serving at Cộng Hoà General Army Hospital. She was one of the first seven female Paratroopers of the ARVN. After being discharged from the ARVN, she was a staff member at the International Foster Parents Agency and USAID Public Health. She was the spouse of former Brigadier General Trương Quang Ân, commander of the ARVN 23rd Infantry Division (before that, he was the former commander of 2nd Airborne Regiment). Both of them – husband and wife - were killed in a helicopter accident while inspecting the Buprand-Đức Lập front and on their way to visit the military family home bases on September 8th, 1968. General Trương Quang Ân was only 36 years old, so was his wife Kim Thanh at the time the accident happened.
After nearly 54 years of being killed in the accident, and 33 years in the container at POW/MIA in Honolulu Hawaii, the ashes of 81 airborne soldiers were transferred to the memorial tribute at Freedom Memorial Park and Vietnamese Memorial Cemetery in the City of Westminster, California. Thanks to the persistent insistence, devotion, and assistance of former Senator Jim Webb - former USMC Colonel and a Vietnamese War veteran, USMC Colonel (Retired) Gene E. Castagnetti - also a Vietnamese War Veteran, Attorney Mc Fadđen and a few high ranking officials of the US government, the ARVN Red Beret Family (Gia đình Mũ Đỏ), the Lost Soldiers Foundation, the ashes of these 81 Vietnamese Airborne Heroes were finally transferred to their resting place in the center of the de-facto capital of the Vietnamese diaspora on October 26th, 2019. Representatives of the ARVN Navy, Army, and Air Force and hundreds of Vietnamese residents gathered for the solemn Memorial Services in the morning of October 26th, 2019 at Freedom Memorial Park, the Interment Service and the Candlelight Vigil Memorial Ceremony in the evening of the same day. Besides anh Chánh’s brother and sister - Trưởng Dương Văn Hóa and Duơng thi Kim Sơn were present at these Memorial Services, Trưởng Hồ Đăng and Trần Xuân Đức from the International Central Committee of Vietnamese Scouting, also participated in the ceremonies.
“ Hướng Đạo một ngày, Hướng Đạo một đời” - “Once a Scout, Always a Scout.”
HĐS Dương Văn Chánh has set an example of “Self-sacrifice for the Country” for us and the future generations to reflect upon.
REST IN PEACE, BROTHER DƯƠNG VĂN CHÁNH
And we all bow our heads to venerate all the heroes and heroines who have sacrificed their lives for Freedom, among those include Brigadier General Trương Quang Ân, his wife Dương thị Kim Thanh and our Hướng Đạo Brother Dương văn Chánh.