The General Homer Smith Prize

Honoring a U.S. citizen's distinguished contribution which makes one proud to be an American


The darkness of Wednesday, April 30, 1975, was thick.

The helicopter rotor blades were cutting through the fog of despair, lifting an American general who had stayed until the eleventh hour. He left Saigon just a few hours before the penetration of the dawn...of the death of South Vietnam.

Goodbye Saigon...

America. Twenty-six years later. New millennium, 2001.

Reunion of The Saigon Mission Association.

This special group of Americans gather each year on the weekend of April 30. They are “the last Americans to leave South Vietnam.”

Generals Homer Smith, Ben Register, and Jim Piner were amongst us on this 26th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon.

By divine intervention, my life’s journey has been blessed. It has crossed paths with these Americans.

In their presence, at the banquet, I gave a speech written from my heart (without notes).

I noticed tears rolling down on a face, and I was deeply moved.

The words made me feel as dreamy as if I were in the air, above a flowing river nestled in a green forest.

“Hello papas-san! My name is Linh D. Vo. I am the baby-san the Americans saved in the Vietnam War. More than 58,000 died so that I could live; and now I am in America, with three children, born in the U.S.A.”

These words led me into a pure sharing of my love and gratitude for the nation that is second to none in possession of kindness and generosity, of giving and sacrificing for others around the world.

I told them about my book of poetry, “Dear Daddy”, which was coincidentally published in the same year (1995) as Offerings at the Wall: Artifacts from the Vietnam Memorial Collection. In the latter, on page 239, a bronzed poem, Dear Daddy, seemingly embraced the 58,000-plus souls.

I told them about the honor that was bestowed upon me by history professor John A. Phillips, University of California at Riverside. He nominated my book for a Pulitzer Prize.

"Dear Daddy" (the piece of my life) led to a second book of poetry, titled “To America, Love and Gratitude,” published in 2000.

In it, General Smith blessed me with his foreword.

Like a morning breeze, my thoughts wandered, seeing the precious "Dear Daddy" being embraced by the Pulitzer’s white cloud, in abstract.

Then, suddenly, a moment one could not freeze; yet, it framed a thought: The General Homer Smith Prize.

This prize will honor a U.S. citizen whose distinguished contribution truly makes one proud to be an American.

It has become the sun if the Pulitzer were the moon; the day if the latter were the night.

I then briefed my dear audience about Mr. Joseph Pulitzer, whose “yellow journalism” business brought him tons of money that was eventually used to endow the Columbia University School of Journalism.

A Hungarian-born immigrant, Mr. Pulitzer’s early life parallels that of a Viet refugee who came to America, feeling at loss at a teen age, speaking no English...

I concluded my inspired-from-the-heart speech by sharing my sixteen-year-old daughter’s words: “Dad, this ‘General Homer Smith Prize’ exceeds the Pulitzer Prize.”

I am leaving you with my auspicious hope.

Linh Duy Vo  

The boy in the Poem

Memorial Day 2001©  


Our U.S.A. Flag, taken out of DAO Headquarters, Tan Son Nhut Airport, Saigon, 29 April 1975.

I am honored to be given to by Louis Schuster in honor of the Last Commanding General of the Vietnam War.

Photo taken on July 4, 2007.







© Copyright by Linh Duy Vo.  All rights reserved.