December 2023
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Submitted by John Brendza (ACS)

My name is John Brendza. My father Lt. Col. Joseph Brendza was one of the military (Army) advisors stationed in Saigon from 1960-64.

Our family (Mom-Marie, Brother-Bill, Sister-Bea and myself) joined our dad in early 1961.

We attended the American Community School. Some of you might remember my brother Bill, he was in a wheel chair and had a good friend named John Tich who was always with him.

Although I was young (2nd-4th grade) during the time in Saigon, I remember it well.

We ended up leaving in late 1964, after having our home bombed for reasons associated with what my dad was doing as an advisor.

I have some photos and documents from that time and an original copy of the school year book the Gecko. I think it was from 1963.

Finding this site was the result of my 23 year old son having recently traveled to Saigon and he went to a museum that apparently was at or near the location of the school. It was a total trip to find this site and I hope to continue to hear from others.

Thanks and I hope to hear from others who shared this amazing experience.

Take care.
John Brendza


  • Maile Miller Diyle

    Welcome John! I know just how you feel about finding this site. It is wonderful to connect and reconnect with folks whose experience is like yours and so unique.

  • Mike McNally

    The incident at the Brendza residence is mentioned in a news report from September 1963. Click here to read the newspaper story…Mike McNally

  • Bruce Berger

    Hi John – I do remember your brother Bill. My brothers and I were in Saigon from 62-65. I was a sophomore when we were evacuated in 65. My oldest brother and I went back in 2013. The school is now the 7th Military Zone Museum.

    Here is a link to the blog I wrote about our trip in 2013. Other than the Introduction, all of the posts have pictures. Our trip included Cambodia and Laos, too. It was great to go back

  • John A Thich

    It was around this time that Bill Brendza and I along with one other cohort pulled a rather stupid prank at school over a weekend. Bill egged me on to climb up the water tower on the school grounds and hang one of those multi-colored flags. It was raining at the time and there was some lightening in the area…hard to believe I actually survived all that and went on to graduate school in Chemistry many years later! We were never identified as the culprits although there seemed to be quite a bit of suspicion that we were somehow involved. Bill was quite a character as many who knew him can attest to. Sadly, he passed away several years ago in Denver after a long struggle with a number of ailments related to his lifelong confinement to a wheel chair.

    It was thanks to the Brendza family that I was able to emigrate to the US in Jan 1964. Col Brendza was a very strict but generous and kind hearted individual. He will forever be in my thoughts.

    Anyone out there remember the Boy Scouts at ACS? We went on that great camping trip to an island off of Nha Trang. The scout troup took a DC3 in which I got to sit in the right seat on the way up. A team of US marines(?) made sure the island we were going to camp on was cleared of any potential “problems” and a small military boat was anchored in the bay the whole time we were on the island. Of course, the scout master was packing a .45 and I believe an M16. Scouting in Vietnam…definitely different! One distinctive feature of our uniform was the Australian bush hat…very suave!

    A couple of memories…

    • Jay Oyler

      That trip to Nha Trang was awesome. A week camping out in the sand. About Wednesday, there was some fighting close by and we were rounded up and spent most of the night in the mess hall. That was summer 1964.

  • Laurie Methven

    I remember girl scouting was quite an adventure and am curious if any others out there remember. Fuzzy on the yr (lived in Saigon ’62-65) we went camping. I remember we had to have guards (American soldiers) and I remember us girls checking out the cute ones!

  • John Griswold

    John and Bruce, you might remember my sisters, Ellen and Debbie, who were in fifth grade about the same time, I think. We lived in JDP. My dad was a prof with Southern Illinois University and USAID. I was born in Saigon in May 1963.

  • frank

    Bill and I talked several time before the 2000 Saigon Kids reunion. I never met him in person, but by our phone calls we became friends.He so much wanted to come to the 2000 Saigon Kids Reunion. We just could not make it happen. He sent me copies of the School Year books that I did not have. He told me that he wished he could have been a service member, even though he already felt like he was a Vietnam Vet.. I think he was a Vet also. He also said that he was the longest person in Colorado that had been in a wheel chair. He certainly had an impact on me. Again, we never met in person, but I certainly would like to think that I knew him. He, sadly indicated to me in our last conversation that he did not have much time left. Love Ya Man!

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