With many wrinkles on their faces, these now grey-haired commandos recalled magnanimously and vividly their memories of and stories about their combat against foreign invaders, which they could never forget. For those little women, nothing could dominate their iron will and high sense of determination.
On the morning of January 31, 1968, a mother embracing her two-year-old child joined the forces in the attack direction towards the enemy’s Naval Command. The mother is Doan Thi Nho, former member of the Steering Board of Cu Chi Liberation Women’s Association. Nho was wife of Senior Colonel Nguyen Duc Hung, alias Tu Chu, the commander of the Saigon commando force. Hung was most wanted by the enemy, which offered millions of USD for information leading to his capture.
Regarding her decision to bring along her baby while guiding 11 soldiers from Tay Ninh to Saigon on the afternoon of the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Monkey in 1968 to take shelter in a secret house there, Nho was touched and told that all troops of that direction of attack sacrificed their lives.
She recalled that when they reached the targeted house, its owner suddenly refused to support the force. In that emergency case, Nho decided to take the troops to a theater, joining a game and merging into the crowd. Nho herself embracing her child found the way to another home owned by Dang Thi Hai, alias Muoi Loi.
|Former female commandos at the exchange|
“At that time, I was so worried as I could not find the exact address while my kid was thirsty for milk and cried continuously. Luckily, I found Dang Thi Hai’s home at last, in Binh Thanh district. I sent my kid to a revolutionary base near the National Administrative University (on present 3/2 (February 3) Street in District 10) and then guided all the troops to Muoi Loi’s home”, Nho said.
For Hero of the People’s Armed Forces Vo Thi Tam, she could not forget her days with different jobs in the past. She worked as a maid, sold ice cream and vegetables with the aim of collecting information and getting used to all streets in Saigon.
Tam said that in 1964, she was assigned to working for the T4 Saigon-Gia Dinh armed forces and tasked to connect operatives, scout and get all information to make good preparations for the last battle. In late December 1967, Tam was entrusted with a scout and guide for the Front Commander of Sub-region 2. Tam three times took troops to attack inner Saigon.
She emphasized that due to her mission, she had to mix with crowds across inner Saigon to follow closely any developments there to prepare forces. It was locals’ wholehearted assistance though they knew that she was a revolutionary that created favorable conditions for her to complete outstandingly her tasks.
The old female commando held that she used to be ignored at least once by an officer of the past regime when she was distributing leaflets.
Thanks to her good contacts with the public, she could legally operate in inner Saigon.
Tam recalled that at the third time when she took forces of Sub-region 2 to launch an attack in inner Saigon, she got a serious injury on her face, resulted in much bleeding and her eye damaged. However, she was determined to not leave her unit.
Tam reminisced about the last night living in a house on Ngo Nhan Tinh street, the regiment’s commander Hai Hoang ordered her to disguise herself as a civilian to find the way out because as a female civilian, she could legally get out of danger. At 0430 on June 17, 1968, she reluctantly accepted the order.
“I snaked through alleys and reported Regiment 31’s achievements and the oath of the ten remaining troops of “Better to sacrifice ourselves than surrender” on leaders of Sub-region 2”, Tam said.
Meanwhile, the people’s heart and soul were the lesson that commando Nguyen Thi Mai understood thoroughly when she talked about her combat time during the Tet Offensive.
As a native of Dai Loc district, Quang Nam province, Mai worked as a liaison officer for the district’s armed forces since she was young. In 1964, at the age of 21, she asked her mother for joining commando group 90C in Saigon-Gia Dinh to combat, communicate and transport weapons and other important documents from revolutionary bases to Saigon.
Once, she was caught by the enemy when she was carrying secret documents and 30 detonators. They barbarously tortured her, leaving her badly wounded. Despite that, she escaped from a hospital in a base to join her comrades in the Tet Offensive campaign.
Mai reminisced about the combat that her unit was tasked to launch a counter-attack at Chi Hoa Jail in the Mau Than General Offensive and Uprising in Spring 1968. She took the post as head of the reconnaissance team. Her 90C team was dispersed by the enemy, thus they were not able to approach the target. Many comrades sacrificed themselves. However, reconnaissance troops did their utmost to both combat to support our troops and transported wounded soldiers to Truong Van Thang’s cellar.
“At Bay Hien Front, I was supported by the locals while working as a liaison officer, scout and nurse. Despite the enemy’s fire, I exerted all-out efforts to take injured soldiers to the dug-out”, Mai recalled.
She went on when the injured were carried to the home front, the enemy found the dug-out. They arrested five remaining soldiers, Mai herself and Nguyen Thi Nam whose husband was Truong Van Thang. They tortured them brutally for many days and Nguyen Thi Nam died.
In recognition of the feats-of-arms of the Saigon-Gia Dinh commando force, including dauntless and loyal women, the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam presented them golden words of “Wholehearted solidarity – Incomparable cleverness – Extreme bravery – Undaunted loyalty”.
Translated by Mai Huong
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