A Quora - what happened to left behind South Vietnamese ?
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2021-01-23 16:31:37 UTC
Đặng Chí Công
Updated Thu
Lives in Vietnam

What happened to many officers in the South Vietnamese armed forces
after North Vietnamese forces overran Saigon and Vietnam was reunified
under communist rule?
After South Vietnam government surrendered, besides the task of
collecting documents, creating a working government body which would
include North and South personnel, dealing with WIA/ KIA soldier, etc
etc… , one important task remained: what to do to with more than the one
million soldiers and officers of the ARVN remaining in Vietnam?
A small number of ARVN officer/ politician jumped ship before it was too
late and traveled to other countries as refugees. The prime example
would be Nguyen Van Thieu, the last president of South Vietnam, and
Nguyen Cao Ky, chief of the South Vietnam air force/ former prime minister.
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu - Wikipedia
Nguyễn Cao Kỳ - Wikipedia
Some officer would take the matter in their own hands and took their own
life with a bullet through the head. One of the most famous quotes by
those officers was “I was willing to choose death, if the general could
not keep the country, could not protect the city, he had to die
according to the city.”
Lê Văn Hưng - Wikipedia
Nguyễn Khoa Nam - Wikipedia
Officers and politicians who cooperated with the new united Vietnam
government would have a better life compare to their colleagues who did
not. Most of them would only have to endure a short life inside
re-education camp, and some even didn’t have to go through those camp
and enjoyed significant freedoms, which included the freedom to travel
aboard, and as Hanh Than Chet mentioned, some even made huge
contributions to Vietnam.
Dương Văn Minh - Wikipedia
Two Doctors From Vietnam Among 100 Top Asian Scientists in 2019 - Saigoneer
Beside the above cases, most of average ARVN soldiers and officers would
be required to go through re-education camp, aka prison/ concentration
camp. Inside those camps, they were required to go through political
lessons and farming lessons, which included growing rice and vegetables
and raising chickens, cows and pigs. Depend on how dangerous they were
to the newly united Vietnam, their stay inside those camp ranged from
days to decades. The shortest stay was 4 days, while the longest was 17
Below is the certificate of a private who had completed his re-education
tour, which was 4 days:

One stayed for 17 years straight:
Lê Minh Đảo - Wikipedia
After their “volunteer” tour of re-education camp, most of them would
return to civilian life, although they suffered from lots of prejudice
and were blocked from certain careers (their children were also blocked)

(My barber was one of those. Father was an ARVN officer, family
stayed with him in camp. It was clear their future was VERY
limited, so child left, eventually made it to Thailand,
then eventually to USA!)

such as being a soldier, politician, or teacher. However, the Vietnamese
Communist party and government otherwise left them alone. Of course it
goes without saying that wounded, disabled and KIA ARVN soldier and
officer did not receive any pension from the current government.
Thankfully, those limitation and prejudge have slowly disappeared over
time, although with still some limitations applied to military careers.

A noteworthy key point was that soon after 1975, the Khmer Rouge would
attack across the border numerous time which lead to war between
Cambodia and Vietnam in 1979. Amongst the soldiers marching into Phnom
Penh were a huge number of ex-ARVN soldiers, technicians, pilots and
officers, either draftees or volunteers as a way to escape the
re-education camp. Many of them would return to Vietnam with several
medals on the chest and received full benefits as just another
Vietnamese soldier from the government. The man in the following story,
unfortunately was not so lucky.
Vietnam's old soldiers struggle to survive

Edit: special thank to Albert Ma for suggested edits to my answer and
fixed bunch of grammar error.
2021-01-23 18:36:15 UTC
Post by a425couple
Đặng Chí Công
Updated Thu
Lives in Vietnam
What happened to many officers in the South Vietnamese armed forces after
North Vietnamese forces overran Saigon and Vietnam was reunified under
communist rule?
Most wound up running liquor stores on the Left Coast...