Vietnamese re-education camp prisoner kept promise

By the Associated Press | September 9, 2011 | 3:05 AM EDT

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Every day, as the guards marched Thanh Dac Nguyen into the jungle for another shift of backbreaking labor, he tossed a pebble on the lump of earth where his friend was buried.

It was the only way he knew to mark the site so he could one day keep his promise to give him a proper burial.

Nguyen and his friend, both former South Vietnamese soldiers, were imprisoned at a re-education camp by the northern communists who took control of the country after the Vietnam War.

More than three decades later, Nguyen — now a 70-year-old retiree who fled to the U.S. — has returned to honor his vow. Nguyen founded The Returning Casualty, a Houston-based organization, to find those who died in re-education camps and put them to rest.