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Saigon Kids Memories: November 1, 1963 Coup

by Kathy (Conner) Dobronyi – (ACS)

Saigon Kids community — sharing stories and concerns.

Sharing memories, joys, and fears.

But when I was in Saigon from June 1963 until March 1964, I don’t remember being part of a community. I lived with my parents and brother in a set of two duplexes on Yen Do. Three of the units were occupied by American families, and one had a French family. The three American families were associated with the military – Ryan and Wood.

During the crisis of the November 1, 1963 coup, we didn’t join with our neighbors to support or defend each other. The Ryan family and mine were in the same duplex; we shared the same wall. My father and Major Ryan were comrades in arms, working for the same unit at Davis Station at Tan Son Nhut. Yet we didn’t check on each other during the coup. It was as if an island formed in each house restricting normal neighborly contact.

In the stories shared about that day on this site, people tell of fathers who armed their family members and the defensive measures that were taken.

I was wondering if anyone has any stories of Americans supporting each other during this crisis?

Or did each family stand alone in personal defense?

Did any families reach out to another family or friend at this time?

Share your memories, experiences and stories of your days in Saigon.

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3 comments to Saigon Kids Memories: November 1, 1963 Coup

  • Maile Doyle

    Kathy, I was home during the attempted coup earlier that year (We left in the summer of 1963). My mother, a 4th grade teacher, one sister & one brother were ont he bus going to the ACS building. Another brother, who missed the bus, was in a taxi on Cong Ly headed for school. I was home with my father and little sister who was sick. I was to take her to the dispensary and then go to school. All that changed when our houseboy, Kee, came running into the dining room, “Col-o-nel, Col-o-nel, Come see…big smoke!” Dad and I went to the front door to see a huge mushroom cloud coming from the vicinity of the palace. We also heard an airplane and the rumble of tanks close by. (Our house was two blocks from the palace.)My father, calmly, had me put myself and my sister on the floor on couch cushions in the middle of the house in a small area where our stairs went up. He got on the phone to someone to try to find out what was happening. Then the door bell rang and it was the civil defense patrol out making sure Americans were OK. The sounds of gunfire and bombs were deafening and scary! The reverberation knocked our screens out of the downstairs windows. I remember seeing a speck of dust under the cabinet in that area and wishing I was that small!! Needless to say, I did not take polly to the dispensary nor did I go to school. My mother and siblings got to the school just fine and MPs were all over the place guarding them.

  • Kathy Conner Dobronyi

    I didn’t know there was a civil defense patrol. Do you know if they were they American soldiers/MPs?

    I’m glad you and your family were safe.

  • Laurie Methven

    I remember this coup well. We lived in GaiDinh province outside Saigon. I remember that all of us kids/adults were in one of two places during the fighting which as I recall went on for over a day. We stayed under the concrete stairs or under the beds during the worst of it.
    A funny memory; when the shooting etc. ceased for awhile, us kids snuck outside – my brothers (who were 9 & 10) went to check to see if any bullets got their sandbag fort – I went to an outbuilding to check on my dog and her puppies. I remember my mom freaking out when she realized all of us had gone outside when it wasn’t deemed safe yet 🙂

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