87 years young, wartime spy enjoys a life of peace

By Quynh Tran   May 1, 2019 | 12:05 pm GMT+7
44 years after the Vietnam War, former intelligence officer Nguyen Thi My Nhung leads a normal, peaceful life.
87 years young, wartime spy enjoys a life of peace

Lieutenant Nguyen Thi My Nhung, aka Tam Thao, is a former member of the H.63 intelligence group of the Vietnam People's Army.

She now lives on Nguyen Trong Tuyen Street in Saigon’s Phu Nhuan District.

"My parents were traders in Ben Thanh Market so I was born to a well-off family. When I was 12 years old, I saw a female soldier spread leaflets and fell in love with the work. So I joined the army four years later. I did internal communication work and took officials across the river in boats before becoming an intelligence officer."

Nhung was assigned the task of transferring confidential documents collected by Pham Xuan An, one of the Vietnamese Army’s key agents, to the war zone. She practiced dancing and learned English and French as part of her cover.

Nhung said that one of the highlights of her work as an intelligence officer was the time when she passed through many guard posts and stations to deliver 24 documentary films to Cu Chi in 1961. The information in the film helped the army know of strategic moves planned by the Americans.

"This is a picture of when I was an interpreter for the Naval Command of the former Saigon government in 1964. The Americans were suspcious of all the staff, so I had to always act in ways to please them."

Nhung added that she was able get information like diagrams, Naval Command force arrangements, U.S. assessment documents and information compiled by the former Republic of Vietnam on the 1968 Tet Offensive.

87 years young, wartime spy enjoys a life of peace - 1

In late 1969, she received orders to withdraw to the base and met the love of her life. Nearly a year later, they got married.

"After resuming normal life, I worked in the City Information Department. In 1976, we adopted a baby girl, since we did not have any children," Nhung said.

Her husband died of cancer in 1998. She now lives with her grandson and great-grandchildren. Her daughter, in her sixties, lives nearby.

She tends to some flowering plants on her balcony every day.

Nhung does light, simple exercises in her room everyday to remain fit.

"For many years, I spent my free time reading English books, so that I don’t forget the language when talking with foreigners."

Since retirement, she spends most of her time with her family. The National Reunification Day is a special day for her. She meets up with old comrades and also accepts invitations to talk about her former life as a spy.

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