Back Arts & Culture » Passenger in Infamous United Airlines Video Was an Accomplished Pre-1975 Musician in Saigon

As the story of David Dao, the doctor who was forcefully removed from United Airlines Flight 3411 last Sunday, continues to unfold, Vietnamese media outlets have recounted the Vietnamese-American passenger’s past during his time in Saigon in the 1970s.

Netizens all over the world were outraged after online footage surfaced of an embattled Asian man dragged off an airplane by police offers. The man was visibly distressed, with blood running down his face.

The video quickly went viral and turned into an ongoing massive PR crisis for American national carrier United Airlines, whose Chief Executive Officer, Oscar Muñoz, apologized to Dao on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, according to TODAY, Dao was still recovering from his injuries in a Chicago hospital.

However, as Tuoi Tre reports, it turns out that the unlucky doctor’s connection to Vietnam runs deep: Dr. Dao is Dao Duy Anh, a famous singer-composer who was based in Saigon before 1975.

Dao graduated from university in 1974 in Saigon, but he left the city for the US just a year later. His old music teacher, Nguyen Thuy Hoan – who is now in charge of a traditional music club in the southern hub – recognized him from the airplane footage. She once taught him at the Saigon National Music School.

While enrolled at music school decades ago, Dao founded a band named Bach Viet. The student music group consisted of his friends from engineering, medical, pharmacy and dentistry backgrounds.

David Dao performing on stage in 2013 at a cultural festival in Utah. Video via YouTube user Kim Long Vũ Huỳnh.

His musical career also includes two famous Vietnamese folk songs, 'Tat Nuoc Dau Dinh' and 'Ta Ve Ta Tam Ao Ta', the latter of which won him the top prize in a pre-1975 song writing competition.

However, Dao’s creative interests didn’t stop there. After settling down in the US, he dabbled in culinary arts as a student at Louisville, Kentucky's Sullivan University, where he assisted instructors in perfecting their Vietnamese cooking, according to the college’s newsletter.

“He prepared some very authentic Vietnamese dishes and gave us some guidance on a couple more authentic dishes during class,” Chef Katie Payne of the school’s National Center for Hospitality Studies told The New York Post.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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