May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ray Holley (23) watches a drill during the rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

A Dallas Cowboys Never Been To Dallas (NBD) Story


My father fled Vietnam on April 30th, 1975. He lost the war. He lost everything.

His home? Part of the past. His life? Gone. His struggles? Just about to begin.

But he found solace. He found something to look forward to. He found The Dallas Cowboys. America’s Team, was his team — not so different from many Vietnamese who crossed the ocean frantically in a boat.

Trust me on this: You do not have to be from Dallas to be a Cowboys fan. This whole idea that you must be born from a city to love this, or like this, or vote for this and that, is pure garbage.

My father recalls his war memories vividly after visiting the Vietnam Memorial for the first time in Washington D.C. He tells us how he fled his country with fear in his eyes and pain in the heart. Fighting for your country, only to lose, is painful enough. But not knowing what to call home underneath your feet is another thing.

After some hesitation on my dad’s part, the Americans got through to him by insisting he was in danger if he remained in the country. He fled by helicopter, and then by boat into the Philippines, where he surrendered his uniform and firearms.

My father, a soldier, salutes soldiers he fought alongside.

This is when he saw his flag go down.

He tells us how the natives cried. He tells us how he cried, and that he never forgot that moment.

While he explains this, I try to picture my dad crying. To this day, I’ve only seen him cry once. He does not cry when he tells this story, but I can see it in his body language. I see it in his eyes.

I think The Dallas Cowboys saved my father. The team gave him a home away from home. America’s Team is responsible for his transition. He wanted to know America. He wanted to adapt. He wanted to change. He wanted to start over. My dad lost the war, but he was determined not to lose this next battle: His life.

The Cowboys were splattered everywhere. Success gets you television time. My father recalls his love for the “Star.” Tom Landry was a model figure. The uniforms were clean and crisp. But more than anything, The Cowboys were accumulating something he desired, something he needed.

They were accumulating wins.

I once told my dad that I liked The Philadelphia Eagles when I was a kid. Hey, my favorite color was green (still is). I remember my dad almost having a heart attack. It was either that or he wanted to fart on my face and offer me up for adoption. Luckily, I corrected myself before this happened.

I have never been to Dallas. So, I guess I suffer from NBD. Well, this is my head and I’ll choose what to fill it with. And I say this: You don’t have to be chained to something you don’t believe in. My father didn’t fall for this. He believed in something, and he was willing to give his life for it.

My father believes in America. His faith rests with The Dallas Cowboys — forever. And no, he was not born in Dallas (nor resides there). You know what? It’s okay to be from here and there to love this and that. Take it from my father.

You don’t have to originate from Switzerland to like Roger Federer. Right? You don’t have to be Chinese to like chinese food. Right? And you can give birth to children in Illinois and raise them as Cowboy fans, if you wish. Right?

Absolutely.

We fans, we suffer from NBD. Go ahead, diagnose us. Our disease is loving the best dang sports team in America. Heck, the world.

And if you are ever around the Iowa/Illinois border, feel free to stop in for a visit with my father. Do mock him about being a Cowboys fan, and explain to him he has NBD.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you. This soldier has fight left in the tank.

Tags: Featured NBD Nfl Offseason Popular The Dallas Cowboys Vietnam War

  • ‘mericas_team2013

    Michael Vu- Illinois/Iowa border… Where at exactly?

    • Michael Vu

      Quad Cities. Familiar?

  • Kerrie Wong

    Great job Michael! This is an article that really appeals to me since I’m a displaced Cowboys fan as well.

    • Michael Vu

      Thanks Kerrie. Glad we’re not the only displaced ones.

  • Ron J.

    I’m in the worst place in the world to be a Cowboy fan (DC). I was a Redskins fan as a child, but as a man, I put away childish things. Never been to a Dallas game in Dallas but looking forward to going in October, then I can be taken off the NBD Roster!

    • Michael Vu

      Well said, Brad. You make some really good points about the term America’s Team. Some points I will consider beyond this article.

      The Cowboys are more than just a landmark. Or a Star. More than a team. It’s been a symbol, as you’ve said; and for some, their savor.

      I will pass your comments to my dad. Thanks man.

  • BradAustin

    Great article. I’m always fascinated with hearing stories of brave people who fled the only country or home they ever knew and started a completely new existence and a completely new, unknown land. It takes a level of courage and perseverance many will never know. I truly admire those who have done it successfully. The majority of my Vietnamese friends have taken what this country had to offer and ran with it, becoming very successful and wonderful people in society and important to my life.

    As for the Dallas Cowboys…this is what people don’t get when they ask why we are still “America’s Team” when we win 1 playoff game in 17 years. The Dallas Cowboys are not just a football team…we are a symbol, a way of life. You absolutely do not need to be from Dallas to be a Cowboy. I’d say the large majority of fans aren’t from Dallas. A high number are from Texas, however sales for our merchandise is #1 worldwide for a reason. We have fans all over the country and the world…moreso than any other football team on the planet.

    There’s something about the star, the silver and blue sharp uniforms, the storybook history…it all touches people deeper than just a sports team. I see new fans jump on bandwagons of other teams all the time. It was the Patriots in the early 2000′s, as well as the Packers. Now the Ravens are getting some play. Soon many people will claim to be 49ers. These are the types who grab onto the latest flavor and sport their clothes as lifelong fans yet are imposters.
    There are huge amounts of these bandwagon fans in the world. For some reason Dallas attracts very few, even when we were winning titles. Those types always seemed to fight against us even during the prime years. I love it that way. Cowboys fans are simply a different breed. The vast majority have never left the Cowboys’ side once they fell in love with the star.

    It has been a VERY painful 15+ years for us, we like to complain and moan and have every right to, but we still are loyal to our Boys and still have renewed hope each and every August. We are Dallas Cowboys, plain and simple. It’s not just our colors, or even our team, it’s our way of life and we love it that way.