Latter-day Saint Life

Watch: LDS Veteran Shares Touching Story of How He Brought a Vietnamese Family to the Gospel During the War


The following video is from Hi Five Live.

Vietnam veteran Mel Palmer wasn't expecting to serve in the military. 

Some of his friends did. In fact, their patriarchal blessings alluded to serving and defending their country through military service. 

There was nothing like that in Palmer's blessing. 

"Mine said that I would preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, which, to me, didn't have anything to do with the war."

Palmer had already served his mission in New Zealand and was called as a stake missionary.

But nonetheless, Palmer, like so many young men at the time, was drafted into the Vietnam War. He left for Vietnam on Valentine's Day, leaving behind his wife of three-and-a-half months. 

However, because he had a college degree and knew how to type, Palmer was spared direct combat. Instead, he helped with the processing unit of the war and was later called to serve as a district missionary. 

Most of the people in Palmer's branch were soldiers, except one family, the Thach family.

Palmer had the privilege of teaching Brother Thach's wife and seven children the missionary discussions, with Brother Thach, who had previously been baptized, translating the lessons into Vietnamese.

"The Spirit was huge in that humble home," Palmer says. "I love that family and it was one of the greatest blessings in my life to be able to teach that humble family."

Later, Palmer baptized Brother Thach's wife and some of their children.

Though the war was unpopular in both Vietnam in the U.S., Palmer says he didn't have an opinion either way until one particular church meeting.

"One Sunday, Brother Thach stood up and bore his testimony and with tears, thanked us for being there to protect their freedom," Palmer says. "And that's all I needed."

But, eventually, the U.S. military pulled out of Vietnam. 

When the North Vietnamese Army broke through to South Korea, Brother Thach was targeted for his relationship with American military personnel and, as a result, brutally tortured. 

"One of the things that happened to him I found out later was they took one of his legs and pulled his leg up and pulled it out of the hip socket and tied it to his chest. He was left that way for four months," Palmer says.

Though he suffered severely, Brother Thach held on to his faith in the gospel and was able to get out of Vietnam.

And 25 years later, Palmer was with Brother Thach in the Jordan River Utah Temple when Brother Thach, his wife, and some of his children were sealed for time and all eternity. 

"They [Brother and Sister Thach] have both passed away now, but I know that they are together and that they are finding great joy and happiness on the other side of the veil," Palmer says.

Since his service in the Vietnam War, Palmer has reflected on the power of missionary work.

Referring to Jacob 5, Palmer showed how the Lord uses opportunities to spread the gospel, especially by soldiers at war. 

"We are all soldiers, and that's the battle between good and evil," Palmer said. "We need to fight hard. We need to rally in the war and protect the freedoms that we enjoy because that's how the gospel will be able to be sent to the whole world, is through the freedoms we now enjoy. So as you think about Veteran's Day next time or in this weekend, think about the fact that you're going to be a veteran of this great war between good and evil. And I pray that one day you will be able stand worthily and gratefully, that you were able to serve in that war, and that you were faithful and true to your covenants and lived the gospel and shared it with the wonderful people who so far don't have the gospel in their lives."

Lead image from Hi Five Live Facebook page
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