The Tale of the Taels: The Little-Known Story of the Refugees of the Vietnam War


By Michael Checkan, Co-Founder and Chairman of Asset Strategies International (ASI), tells this first-hand story of how precious metals helped Vietnamese refugees rebuild their lives after fleeing their country following the Vietnam War. His experience was so moving, that it motivated Michael and his partner Glen O. Kirsch to found ASI with its 30 plus year mission of helping you Keep What’s Yours. Michael will be at FreedomFest this year. 

It was May 1975 when I was sent by Deak-Perera to help Vietnamese refugees exchange whatever wealth they salvaged for dollar denominated travelers checks. Deak, the renowned precious metals and foreign currency dealer was appointed by the U.S. State Department as the exclusive money exchangers for all five refugee camps.

As each family approached the exchange table, I saw the displaced children, the frightened eyes of the elders, and the uncertainty in the faces of the patriarchs. How much would whatever they were able to carry afford them in the New World? To where would they relocate? Could they ever hope to educate their children?

Their net worth had nothing to do with their bank accounts; all the banks in Vietnam had nationalized. Or their real estate; all had been confiscated. At that moment, the fate of hundreds of families was written at the exchange table at Eglin Air Force Base.


There were two types of Vietnamese who arrived at Eglin: those with bags filled with piastres, the currency of former South Vietnam, and those with taels, wafer thin sheets of pure, 24-karat, .9999 fine gold commonly traded in the Far East. This form of gold, produced mainly in Vietnam and Hong Kong, contained 32.15 grams of gold – one troy ounce.

Those with paper money left Eglin penniless. I saw first-hand how the paper promises of a government that no longer existed made a lifetime of toil empty and meaningless. On the other hand, the Vietnamese with taels were immediately able to convert to dollar denominated travelers checks at the exchange rate of gold.

The safety of investing in gold and silver is timeless and knows no international borders. Remember, the families with the taels did not make a last minute exchange of currency for gold or silver. These people accumulated their wealth through long-term stockpiling. We have made it very easy for you to do the same. Discover our low-cost thresholds to start a protection program with divisible silver coins. Click here for all the details.

And, look out in your emails for future stories of how gold and silver have protected wealth and the lives of their owners throughout the ages.