Sunday, April 30, 2000
Vietnam: Chemist escaped to U.S. and P&G
Inventions helped create key products
In April 1975, Toan Trinh was a chemistry professor at the University of Saigon.
He, friends and family members made emergency arrangements to leave the country they rented a villa in the port city of Vung Tau and had a boat standing by.
Toan Trinh, upper right, his wife Nga Yen Tran and their three boys.|
(JEFF SWINGER photo)
| ZOOM |
Our plan was to sail, 50 of us, to Australia, which had already opened up to Asian immigrants, said Mr. Trinh, a technologist and developer of consumer products at Procter & Gamble's Sharon Woods Technical Center.
But he, his parents and three of his siblings didn't need the boat. On April 23, a week before the fall of Saigon, he and his five family members were among those flown to Guam aboard a U.S. military cargo plane.
Some of his eight siblings were already U.S. citizens, and Mr. Trinh had earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He had returned to South Vietnam in 1972 to teach.
My intention was to give back to my country, he said. I could stand all of the misery of living in a developing country, but communism was something I just couldn't be under.
He returned to UW in 1975, winning a Ford Foundation grant to assist Vietnamese intellectuals who had fled Vietnam. He was recruited by P&G and came here in 1976.
In his 24 years with the company, Mr. Trinh has invented or been co-inventor of a variety of fabric and home-care products Bounce, Febreze and Downey Premium Care among them that earned 125 U.S. patents.
The Maineville man is married to Nga Yen Tran, an accountant who stays at home to care for their three sons. He is also a former president of the American-Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Greater Cincinnati.
The anniversary of the fall of Saigon brings a flood of memories of hectic and fearful days.
People had the clear impression that the end was near, Mr. Trinh said. People did not know if there would be a rampage like there was in Cambodia, where the pro-communist Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodians) killed 2.7 million people between 1968 and 1987.
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