Hero photograph

The Last Word

Leo Holt —

The following story is a story of heroism, respect, and evidence of how your actions today can shape your future tomorrow.

On January the 4th 1942 Tran Ngoc Hue, more commonly known as Harry Hue was born. A South Vietnamese who turned out to be one of the most influential ARVN lieutenants in South Vietnam’s fight for independence. He was the first lieutenant of the relatively unknown Hac Bao Company for the Army of The Republic of South Vietnam, more commonly known as ARVN. The Hac Bao Company was a fast action force of elite volunteer soldiers, serving their country in harsh guerrilla warfare.

Harry was different. As he grew up, he refused to run drugs and fall into the trap of corruption, something which was hard to avoid in the upper levels of the ARVN. He had the power to fight against the trend and stand up for his soldiers. In late January 1968, Harry awoke to his home town of Hue being bombarded by Communist North Vietnamese artillery. He immediately got dressed, left his family and called in the Hac Bao’s to defend the city in what became known as the Battle of Hue. They struggled and suffered large losses in the first week of warfare. But Harry persevered, they pushed through the tough times because what they had, was heart, they had guts, and above all, they had an undeniable desire to do what was right.

On the third of March 1968 after over 2 months of intense street warfare, Harry Hue, the Hac Bao Company and the mighty ARVN emerged victorious in recapturing the city of Hue. The Hac Bao Company has been thought to be the most influential company in the victory of Hue. Arguably the most famous story to come from the battle is Harry’s rescue of his friend, military advisor David Wiseman. The reason he did this was down to Harry’s values. He had the opportunity to help out a friend in need or leave him. He made the noble choice which ended up changing his life.

Harry’s devotion to the mighty ARVN and his soldiers did not stop there. In 1971 whilst searching for supply routes in the jungle, Harry was captured by the Viet Cong. He was sent to the Hanoi Hilton, the most notorious prisoner of war camp in Vietnam. In total, Harry spent over 13 years in varying prisoner of war camps, all the while refusing to give in to the North Vietnamese. Unbeknownst to Harry, over these past 13 years, David Wiseman, the man he saved back in 1968 was looking for him. Long story short, David found him. David had spent the better part of 10 years looking for the man who saved his life. In 1991 Tran Ngoc “Harry” Hue was rescued from a re-education camp and brought over to the United States with his wife and three daughters being granted immediate citizenship.

Harry devoted the next 30 years of his life to helping the United States Military improve troop relations with indigenous peoples when fighting overseas. He was instrumental in helping the United States army in developing relations with native people in the Iraq war.

In February 1968 Harry Hue did what was right. He fought for his beliefs and fought with integrity. He maintained his personal image in arguably the most challenging situation one can be faced with.

The act of saving David Wiseman’s life was incredibly noble. But in my opinion, there is one other action that was more noble than this. That is respect. Harry showed the highest level of respect to anyone he came across, regardless of creed, colour or cast. He refused to put his men in a bad situation and refused to leave their side. He fought till the end and didn’t once question his own moral code. This is how Harry led his men with such success.

As an Otago Boys’ boy, it is imperative that you show this same level of respect to your peers and teachers that Harry showed to his soldiers. Harry was an effective leader because of this. For you boys, if you want to succeed, show respect.

Respect your friends, respect your teachers, respect your parents, and all of those around you. For they are the ones who will be most influential in your life.

Make wise choices boys, because actions have consequences. Good actions can be life changing, bad ones can be too. You just might not realise it.


Respect for the men, gives power to the man.