Warrior spirit: Story of a man who had his legs slowly hacked off during Vietnam War

By Quynh Tran   July 27, 2017 | 01:58 am PT
He was captured working as a spy during the war, but refused to give in to excruciating torture.

Major Nguyen Van Thuong, 80, worked as a secret agent during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. 42 years have passed since the war ended, and now Thuong sits in his home in the southern province of Tay Ninh, telling the story of his life: how he fought, how he resisted and how he lost his legs.


“In 1969 I was assigned to carry classified documents from Saigon. I was caught but I had enough time to hide the documents. The Southern Vietnamese tried to bribe me with dollars, houses, cars and beautiful girls, but I kept turning them down.”


After three months, they became tired of trying to convince Thuong to give up his secrets, so they tortured him. They broke his toes, smashed his feet and slowly chopped off sections of his legs in six places in total.


Thuong sacrificed his entire youth for the war, spending years in prison and enduring torture before regaining his life in 1973.


When the war ended, he returned to his family. His wife Tran Thi Em, 80, was also a soldier.


“The war is over, but it has left its scars. He struggles every day and cannot travel far from home,” Em said.


Thuong had a pair of prosthetic legs but he didn't feel comfortable using them. “There’s not much left of my real legs so it was difficult to put on the fake ones. I spend most of the time at home watching TV, reading the news or just sitting by the door. I'm always excited when someone stops by for a chat.”


Despite losing his legs, Thuong still does his best to help his wife manage their daily chores, and every morning and evening, he goes out with his wife and grandchildren for a tour of the neighborhood.

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