Open main menu

Đỗ Kiếm, writing as Kiem Do (Hanoi, 1933) is a former officer of the Republic of Vietnam Navy, who was serving as Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) when Saigon fell in 1975. He secretly organised the evacuation of over 30,000 refugees aboard 32 naval ships.[1]

Đỗ Kiếm
Born1933 (age 85–86)
Hanoi, French Indochina
AllegianceSouth Vietnam Republic of Vietnam
Service/branchRepublic of Vietnam Navy
Years of service1955-1975
Battles/warsVietnam War


Kiem was born in Hanoi, and by the age of 13 was a scout for the Viet Minh, fighting for Vietnam's independence from French colonial rule. Following the end of the First Indochina War, Kiem was sent to France to be trained at the École Navale in Brest.[2]

Kiem was the commander of the submarine chaser Van Don (HQ-06) during the 1963 coup.[3] He later served as the Commandant of the Vietnamese Midshipman’s School, Chief of Staff of the Mobile Riverine Force, District Commander of the IV Naval Zone, and Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations).[4]

With the help of Richard L. Armitage, Kiem secretly organised the evacuation of the Republic of Vietnam Navy fleet of 32 ships accompanied by several cargo ships and fishing boats with over 30,000 naval personnel and their families aboard. This fleet left Saigon on 30 April 1975, and the next day rendezvoused with USS Kirk off Côn Sơn Island to be escorted to the Philippines.[5][6]

After settling in the United States after receiving political asylum, Kiem taught high school math and science, studied in the MBA program at the University of New Orleans, and worked as a cost engineer for the Louisiana utility company Entergy for more than twenty years.

Since retirement in 1997, he has been active as a leader in the New Orleans Vietnamese community and has lectured frequently on the Vietnam War at local universities and before veterans groups. He and his wife of thirty-nine years Thom Le Do, have five children, and six American-born grandchildren.

Kiem's wartime memoirs, co-authored with Julie Kane, was published in May 1998 and entitled Counterpart: A South Vietnamese Naval Officer's War.


  1. ^ Shapiro, Joseph; Bartlett, Sandra (1 September 2010). "At War's End, U.S. Ship Rescued South Vietnam's Navy". NPR. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Counterpart : A South Vietnamese Naval Officer's War". Mobile Riverine Force Association. 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  3. ^ Hovis, Bobbi (2011). "U.S. Navy Nurse in Saigon, 1963, During Vietnam Conflict". Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  4. ^ "2009 Honorary Chair". Louisiana Folk. Spring 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  5. ^ North, Don (28 June 2011). "How to Steal a Navy and Save 30,000 Refugees". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Frequent Wind". USS Kirk FF-1087 Association. 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.

External linksEdit