Vietnamese veteran returns from the grave after 33 years

By Cuu Long   February 23, 2018 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnamese veteran returns from the grave after 33 years
Truong Van Chong and his mother in Can Tho City. Photo by VnExpress/Huy Nguyen
His 87-year-old mother fainted when the son she thought had died on the battlefield walked back into her life.

A household in Can Tho City in southern Vietnam went into shock at the start of this week when a family member they believed had been killed on a battlefield in Cambodia over 30 years ago walked back into their lives.

Can Tho officials have asked higher authorities what they should do about the case of Truong Van Chong, who was identified as being killed in 1985 during the Cambodian–Vietnamese War during which Vietnamese troops helped remove the Khmer Rouge from power between 1975 and 1989.

Chong, 53, said he went off to war in 1983 before suffering severe injuries two years later that forced him to seek refuge in a forest, where he was rescued by local Cambodians.

Later, he married a Vietnamese woman in Cambodia, but suffered a stroke and could not remember exactly where he was from.

It was not until 10 years ago that he brought his wife and kids to Vietnam and started a new life in Tay Ninh Province, which shares a border with Cambodia.

Thanks to encouragement from his own family and the guidance of a man from Can Tho whom Chong met in Tay Ninh, the missing man finally made his way home after 33 years.

Chong’s mother, now 87, fainted when she realized that her son was still alive and had returned.

“When I heard Chong had disappeared I went to Cambodia to look for him. After that I received his death certificate and cried my eyes out,” she said.

Her family has already been honored for Chong’s sacrifice during the war, and she was granted a house by authorities in 1994.

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