Portrait of an NVA Vet

Medic’s friend Jeff Wolin hoped to follow up his Vietnam Veterans: Inconvenient Stories, a remarkable collection of 50 portraits/profiles of American vets, with a similar book featuring Vietnamese war veterans from North and South Vietnam. Since the book did not find a publisher Jeff posted much of it online.

Ho Phuc Ngon, Vietnam People’s Army Lieutenant Colonel

“The first battle I fought in was in 1954 in Quang Nam, just outside Da Nang. Our forces defeated the French at the Battle of Bo Bo. I served on a suicide team of three men-we were sure we would die. We wore red scarves over our shoulders to signify that we were Cam Tu, suicide fighters. We carried explosives onto the French base. When we arrived at the base that night I was spotted by a French soldier. We fought hand-to-hand but I was young and trained in martial arts and I prevailed.

Before the battle, our suicide team had high spirits; we were determined to carry out our mission. We were fortunate that our troops killed all the French soldiers and we did not have to detonate the explosives we carried. That is why I am still alive today.

I remained in the army after the French War. When the American War began, my job was to penetrate the American bases. I was Dac Cong, Special Forces. I was leader of a four-man team. We would quietly approach the bases at night, crawl in slowly and cut the fences-there could be three or four layers of barbed wire. We disabled the flares and mines surrounding the bases so our main force could attack.

In March 1966, American reinforcements arrived in Da Nang and about 25 artillery pieces were sent to build up a base at the village at Thanh Vinh. They were 105 mm and 155 mm artillery.

At midnight on June 17, 1966, we attacked the base at Thanh Vinh, 5 kilometers from Da Nang. I led a group of about 60 Dac Cong. We broke into the base from three directions and destroyed seven artillery pieces. The battle was short-it was over in 25 minutes. I fought in many battles in both the French and American Wars.”


Used by permission.