Nguyễn Lạc Hoá

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Father Augustine Nguyễn Lạc Hóa (c. 1908 – c. 1989), a refugee Chinese Catholic priest in South Vietnam, led a militia called the Sea Swallows that carved out an anticommunist enclave in the Viet Cong's Ca Mau Peninsula stronghold. The "fighting priest" and his "village that refused to die" attracted admiring media stories, and in 1964 he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in the Public Service category.

In January 1961, Edward Lansdale visited Father Hoa and Binh Hung. Back in Washington, he was surprised to find that President John F. Kennedy had taken a personal interest in his report on Hoa, and wanted it published in the Saturday Evening Post.[1] It was attributed to "an American officer."[2] The town of Newburyport, Massachusetts adopted Binh Hung as a sister community,[3] and the Post followed up with another story on Father Hoa.[4] Other correspondents who took up the story of the Sea Swallows included Dickey Chapelle[5] and Stan Atkinson,[6] who remembered Father Hoa decades later as the "most unforgettable character" he met in his travels.[7]

Father Hoa's success inspired others to join his Sea Swallows, including a company of "Nung tribesmen." Declassified documents would reveal that the Nung fighters were actually a contingent of Nationalist soldiers from the Republic of China.[8]

As the political situation in Saigon deteriorated, Father Hoa saw the battle turning and little chance of winning. Discouraged, he left Binh Hung, and retired to a parish in Taipei.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Al Santoli, To Bear Any Burden, Dutton, 1985, pp. 78-81
  2. ^ An American Officer, "The Report the President Wanted Published," Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1961
  3. ^ Don Schanche, "Last Chance for Vietnam", Saturday Evening Post, January 6, 1962
  4. ^ Don Schanche, "Father Hoa's Little War," Saturday Evening Post, February 17, 1962
  5. ^ Dickey Chapelle, "The Fighting Priest of South Vietnam," Reader's Digest, July 1963[page needed]
  6. ^ "The Village That Refused to Die"
  7. ^ Stan Atkinson, "Stan Remembers: Father Hoa and his little army", July 23, 1999 Archived January 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ George MacTurnan Kahin, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam, Knopf, 1986[page needed]
  9. ^

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