Đặng Thùy Trâm

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Đặng Thùy Trâm
In this Vietnamese name, the family name is Đặng, but is often simplified to Dang in English-language text. According to Vietnamese custom, this person should properly be referred to by the given name Trâm.

Đặng Thùy Trâm (born November 26, 1942 in Huế, Vietnam; died on June 22, 1970 in Đức Phổ, Quảng Ngãi Province, Vietnam) was a Vietnamese civilian doctor who worked as a battlefield surgeon for North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She was killed, in disputed circumstances, at the age of 27, by American forces while travelling on a trail in the Ba Tơ jungle in the Quảng Ngãi Province of south-central Vietnam. Her wartime diaries, which chronicle the last two years of her life, attracted international attention following their publication in 2005.

One of Trâm's handwritten diaries was captured by U.S. forces in December of 1969. Following her death in a gun battle on June 22, 1970, a second diary was taken by Frederic (Fred) Whitehurst, a then 22-year-old U.S. military intelligence specialist. Whitehurst defied an order to burn the diaries, following instead the advice of a South Vietnamese translator not to destroy them. He kept them for 35 years, with the intention of eventually returning them to Trâm's family.

After returning to the United States, Whitehurst's search for Trâm's family initially proved unsuccessful. After earning a Ph.D. in chemistry he joined the FBI and as such wasn't able to get in touch with anyone from the Vietnamese embassy. In March 2005, he and his brother Robert (also a Vietnam War veteran) brought the diaries to a conference on the Vietnam War at Texas Tech University. There, they met photographer Ted Engelmann (also a Vietnam veteran), who offered to look for the family during his trip to Vietnam the next month. With the assistance of Do Xuan Anh, a staff member in the Hanoi Quaker office, Engelmann was able to locate Trâm's mother, Doan Ngoc Tram, and from then on obtained connections to the rest of her family.[1]

In July 2005, Trâm's diaries were published in Vietnam under the title Nhật ký Đặng Thùy Trâm (Đặng Thùy Trâm's Diary, also known as Yesterday, I dreamed the peace in the USA), which quickly became a bestseller. In less than a year, the volume sold more than 300,000 copies and comparisons were drawn between Trâm's writings and that of Anne Frank.[2][3]

In August 2005, Fred and Robert Whitehurst traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, to meet Trâm's family. In October of the same year, the family visited Lubbock, Texas, to view the diaries, archived at Texas Tech University Vietnam Archive, then visited Fred Whitehurst and his family in his home state of North Carolina.

The diaries have been translated into English and the English version was published in September 2007. It includes photographs of Dang during high school and with her family. Translations of the diaries have been published in at least sixteen different languages.

In 2009 a film about Tram by Vietnamese director Đặng Nhật Minh, entitled Đừng Đốt (Do Not Burn It), was released.


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