April 2024
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Leri Thomas Finds Blog

Leri has joined our Blog. Leri was at ACS from 1955 to 1960 for the 1st – 5th grades. Leri may be one of the few (if not the only) Saigon Kid, so far, who attended classes in the *HUTS* before the new school was built. I don’t think we have any other members of our Saigon Kids family who were in Saigon in 1955 or earlier either.

I bet Leri has some great memories and experiences to share with everyone. Last I heard Leri was digging out old Gecko’s and things.

Leri is currently living in central Virginia area. I’ll let Leri fill everyone in on all the details.

Great having you join us, Leri. Welcome home to your Saigon Kids family.    🙂

Feel free to make Posts to the Blog and leave Comments to others Posts.

Everyone give Leri a BIG Welcome!!   🙂


9 comments to Leri Thomas Finds Blog

  • hi bob and leri, welcome leri to our clan. and bob, you do good. thanks. the years leri was in saigon made me realize how much we all represent a body of memory of our presence in vietnam in a historical context. leri, can you say what your dad was doing there and what life was like for you???

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Welcome Leri. So glad you are now a part of the Saigon Kids and can share your memories with all of us. I love reading the thoughts that are shared on this blog. They bring back old and new memories for me of my days in Saigon.A friendly jog of the ol’ memory bank is a good thing.

  • Leri

    Greetings all and thanks for the good words! My father worked for USOM (United States Operation Mission) training people in news coverage. His staff was a wonderful collection of people – Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Matisse – Henri Huet, honored photographer for UPI, was one of my father’s trainees. I believe another of the fellows who worked for him is now in Seattle and has done some serious translating of Buddhist texts. Another fellow worked for the Voice of America in DC. My father had been a combat photographer in WWII, and ironically, several of Huet’s shots were similar to some of my dad’s WWII shots. I guess the most famous of Huet’s appears at the end of the movie, The Quiet American, having run on the front page of the Washington Post. Having worked in graphics and such, he helped assemble the first Gecko. I think we might have gotten the second one in the mail – not sure. I still haven’t been able to dig mine up, but I know I have them.

    Saigon was an exciting place! When we arrived, we stayed at the Majestic. I lived on Rue D’Arfeuille, and Duy Tan. I remember everyday in school, the elephants at the zoo would take a walk to the presidential palace and back. We could see them pass from our classrooms in the “huts” (a term that is new to me). We didn’t go to the new school until I was in the fourth grade. Mrs. Nivock was my teacher and Mrs. Donahue was my fifth grade teacher. There are so many memories, but some of our books really stood out. The second grade Calvert system spelling book, virtually duplicated cursive writing. Believe it or not, I still know my first column of spelling words from that book.

    Our departure was delayed by the first coup (that failed). We lived down the street from the palace, and there were crowds watching the palace guards fighting with insurgents. The guards fired into the crowd and there was an exodus down our street, leaving crushed bicycles, book bags and all sorts of other paraphernalia in the wake. A general who lived across the street, and who sympathized with the wrong side (whatever that was) was shot and killed, and people were flooding the local store there. loading up their cyclo’s with 100# sacks of rice and cases of beer. Anyway, that’s good for starters.

    . . . and it’s great to finally connect with you.

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      I always thought USOM stood for United states Overseas Mission, but you are correct. I looked at my old ID card and it spells it out clearly:
      United States of America Operations Mission to Vietnam.


      • Ken – It must have been the Ba Muoi Ba, it did have a way of distorting things – LOL – 🙂

      • Ken – USOM was used for both *United States Overseas Mission* – AND – United States Operations Mission. But, primarily for United States Operations Mission prior to June 1966 under the direction of United States Agency For International Development. After June 1966 USOM was dropped and replaced with USAID.

    • Leri – Thanks for the great comments and sharing your memories of Saigon. Until you find your copy of the *first* Gecko, there is a copy of it in the Photo Gallery, you can view – 🙂

      I bet some of the older Saigon Kids who worked on putting together the first Gecko will remember your father, since he helped with it.

      Be sure to sign up for “The Saigon Gecko” Newsletter. The sign up box is at the top right side of the Blog pages.

      Again, welcome home to your Saigon Kids family! 🙂

  • Leri

    I don’t think I ever knew want MAAG stood for, but we were definitely ID’d based on whether we got on the MAAG bus or not.

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