Nguyen Xuan Vinh, aerospace scientist and author   

Toan Phong is the pen name of Dr. Nguyen Xuan Vinh, Commander of
the South Vietnamese Air Force from 1958 until 1962 when he
resigned and came to the United States. In 1965 he received his
doctorate, the first Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering Sciences
conferred by the Univesity of Colorado. In 1972 he was awarded a
national doctorate in Mathematics by the University of Paris, France.
He joined the University of Michigan in 1968 as an associate professor
of Aerospace Engineering and was promoted to the rank of professor
in 1972. As a scientist and educator, he has published three books
and more than 100 papers in mathematics, astrodynamics and
trajectory optimization. He is a member of the International Academy of
Astronautics and a foreign member of the French National Academy of
Air and Space.

In 1960, to promote a cadet recruitment program for the newly created
Air Force Academy in Vietnam, he wrote a novel: Pilot's Life. The novel
became a best seller (now in its sixth printing) and the author was
awarded Vietnam's National Literature Prize. The novel is in the form of
a series of letters written by a pilot to his sweetheart. The Eagle's
Wings is a translation of one such letter. It was originally published in
Empire Magazine with the illustration by Oliphant, a cartoonist winner
of a Pulitzer prize.
Dr. Vinh's real-life sweetheart, his Cung Thi Toan.  
They have been married more than fifty years.

Mrs. Toan is pictured here distributing presents to children in
South Vietnam during Tet, 1962.  

Mrs. Cung Thi Toan passed away in San Jose, California in
September 2008.

The father of Mrs. Vinh was a national hero, an athlete  and
political leader.  Cung Dinh Van was executed by Ho Chi Minh
along with other nationalist leaders in September, 1946,
following the "glorious revolution."  Cung Thi Toan was fourteen
years old. Two of the nationalist political leaders who were
executed at the same time were Pham Quynh, a scholar, and
Ngo Dinh Khoi, the brother of Ngo Dinh Diem who would
become the president of the Republic of Vietnam in 1954 and
attempt to lead his country into the free world.  
fffFamily values are critical to the
success and acculturation of many
Vietnamese Americans.  All four
children, now adults, lead productive
and interesting lives in business,
science, and the arts.

Doi Phi Cong, the
letters of a pilot in
South Vietnam to his
sweetheart -- 1961
National Literature
Prize


City of San Jose Citizens Award,
April 17, 2007