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The Vietnamese teenager who captured a French general

Published on May 4, 2014 1:12 PM
 
This picture taken on March 27, 2014 shows 79-year-old Dien Bien Phu veteran Hoang Dang Vinh holding a photograph where he (second left) was meeting with late general Vo Nguyen Giap (centre) during an interview with AFP at his home in the northern province of Bac Ninh. One of vietnam's last surviving veterans of the battle of Dien Bien Phu recounts with pride the day in May 1954 when, aged just 19, he captured the commander of French colonial forces. -- PHOTO: AFP

BAC NINH, Vietnam (AFP) - One of Vietnam's last surviving veterans of the battle of Dien Bien Phu recounts with pride the day in May 1954 when, aged just 19, he captured the commander of the French colonial forces.

Hoang Dang Vinh's display of military prowess earned him the supreme honour of meeting revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh - "Uncle Ho" - the future founding president of modern Vietnam.

Sixty years ago, after two months of hard fighting in the Dien Bien Phu valley, Vietnamese troops unexpectedly but conclusively defeated the country's colonial master France.

"The sky was filled with tall columns of black smoke from burning vehicles. The fields were covered with dead soldiers and destroyed military equipment," said Vinh, now a 79-year-old retired colonel.

 
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