Tam Minh Pham was the first Vietnamese graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He returned to Vietnam about a year before the fall of Saigon to North Vietnam where he taught at the military academy before his arrest of imprisonment for nearly six years.
Education and career
Minh Pham had been accepted to attend Vietnamese National Military Academy in Da Lat but instead joined two South Korean and a Thai student in a congressionally mandated all-expense-paid program to earn a degree from the prestigious military academy. The program was led by West Point's new superintendent, and Vietnam War veteran, General William Knowlton.
Upon graduation as a second lieutenant, he returned to his native Vietnam, drawn by "what we were taught about duty, honor and country". He served as a Tactical Officer at the Vietnamese National Military Academy from 1974 to 1975 when he and the cadets he led stopped invading North Vietnamese tanks before they fled the academy. He was summoned by the North Vietnamese for re-education but was instead imprisoned for five years and eight months, along with other soldiers who had been trained in the United States.
Following his release as a prisoner of war, he taught English at the Teachers Training College in Saigon. According to a letter he wrote to the USMA alumni magazine Assembly in 1989, he married Trang Kim Chi.
Minh Pham and Kim Chi returned to the United States in May 1991 where he served as a teachers aide at Cardozo High School in Washington DC. Minh Pham was honored at a dinner where we was presented with a USMA class ring to replace the one taken upon is capture in 1975.
Tam Minh Pham was struck by a vehicle while crossing a Gaithersburg, Maryland street in February 2019 and died from his injuries two weeks later. He is interred at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery.