Category – In The Field

Records all VAF activities in the field.

TRC travels to Vietnam to excavate graves at Lang Da

On July 19th, we have a busy day in Hanoi. At nine o’clock, we meet with the U. S. Embassy officials. At lunchtime, we meet with a journalist from Associate Press. In the afternoon, we think we’ll meet with an officer from the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (although our meeting is not confirmed). Of course, the topic of conversation will be a small cemetery, across Thac Ba lake, outside the village of Lang Da. The lake is a beautiful sight, and the VNG intends that it become an ecological tourist destination, a modern idea found in a country determined maintain relevance in a competitive world.

Several decades ago, Lang Da was not such a welcoming sight for the men who occupied the reeducation camp in the forest. Twenty-seven men died in the camp while it was in operation, most likely from hardship and disease. At TRC, we don’t dwell on notions like justification or accountability for the camp. We come for the twenty-seven buried at the camp who want to go home.

TRC has this opportunity by permission of the VNG. The government is allowing TRC to recover all the remains, and to take DNA samples to match the remains with their families. Regardless of what may have happened at Lang Da in the past decades, today Vietnam demonstrates that it belongs in this modern world among nations who also have faced their difficult pasts. TRC recognizes the cooperation of the VNG at Lang Da, and we hope that the cooperation continues as TRC seeks the remains at other camps.


July 16th, 2010 | Category: In The Field

Updated: December 8, 2013 @ 7:27 am

ARVN Remains Recovery

Recently in Saigon, a construction crew uncovered the remains of 81 ARVN soldiers. The crew is building the new HCM Transportation University at the site of the abandoned Quang Trung National Recruit Training Center of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The construction crew quickly notified VAF of the find.

The remains were scattered throughout the area, indicating that the soldiers died in a firefight defending Saigon against North Vietnamese Army forces. Thirty-six of the soldiers still wore their ID tags. The ID tags of 6 of the soldiers are burnt and bent, suggesting that they died in an artillery barrage.

VAF recovered the remains with proper ceremonial honors. Then they took the remains to a temple to be attended until retrieved by family members. The following soldiers are identified by their ID tags. If you believe that one of the soldiers is your relative, please contact VAF for information.

  1. Cao, Van Tinh
  2. Tran, Van Sang
  3. Nguyen, Van Quoi
  4. Nguyen, Van Chuc
  5. Tran, Dinh Dang
  6. Bình Dinh
  7. Pham, Van Thang
  8. Ngo, Van Duc
  9. Le, Thanh Cong
  10. Dao, Xuan Sinh
  11. Nguyen, Tang Dao
  12. Bui, Van Quang
  13. Huynh, Van Khoe
  14. Kieu, Gia Long
  15. Nguyen, Van Hai
  16. Van Lam
  17. Le, Van Manh
  18. Lam, Van Ho
  19. Trang, Van Quan
  20. Tran, Van Ban
  21. Do, Van Dung
  22. Tran, Van Tham
  23. Le, Van Trai
  24. Nguyen, Dinh Hien
  25. Pham Dinh
  26. Nguyen, Van Cat
  27. Tran, Huu Duyen
  28. Bui, Hoang Sam
  29. Pham, Van Muoi
  30. Le, Xuan Quang
  31. Vu, Van BaoVu
  32. Nguyen, Van Hung
  33. Nguyen, Van Tuan
  34. Nguyen, Van Ma
  35. Nguyen, Van Lua


May 11th, 2011 | Category:  In The Field

Updated: December 8, 2013 @ 7:23 am

Lang Da DNA Analysis Completed

After months of painstaking analysis, University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) reported that the DNA lab had completed its analysis of DNA samples taken from the Lang Da camp gravesite. Of the twelve individuals recovered, eleven yielded viable DNA results. We were thrilled to hear the news, because soils in North Vietnam can be acidic, breaking down DNA at an accelerated rate.

Family members still living in Vietnam provided comparative DNA samples. As you can imagine, security of the comparative samples is important to be certain that matching remains will be reunited with the correct families. To this end, with the cooperation of the U. S. Department of State, TRC arranged for family sample collection at the U. S. Consulate in Saigon (HCMC).

First TRC sent sealed DNA collection kits to the Consulate, and notified family members of the time and date for their appointments to provide samples. The families then traveled to Saigon at the appointed time. The Consulate’s Fraud Prevention Manager confirmed identities; but the samples actually were collected by a technician from the International Organization for Migration. The technician sealed and marked the samples separately, and the Fraud Prevention Manager sent the samples by Fed Ex directly to the UNTCHI lab in Texas.

This month TRC’s President Mr. Thanh and TRC’s General Counsel Mr. Coddou met with Art Eisenberg, Co-Director of UNTICHI to discuss current TRC recovery operations. They also discussed future collaboration in Vietnam between Vietnamese American Foundation (VAF…TRC’s parent foundation) and DNA-ProKids ( After meeting with Dr. Eisenberg, Mr. Thanh and Mr. Coddou met with the UHR team, for a presentation of lab processes and data. They also took a fascinating tour of the lab.

At day’s end, the remains and gravesite relics carefully were loaded into TRC’s van for transport back to Houston, Texas. In Houston, the remains are kept in a Buddhist temple until they can be returned to Vietnam. Now that TRC and its families have experienced the process of DNA collection and analysis, this part of our operations will run smoothly.

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April 4th, 2011 | Category: DNA Analysis and IdentificationIn The Field

Updated: December 7, 2013 @ 2:41 am