Femmes et guerres

Viet Nam : Girls Under Fire

Time Magazine U.S. - Friday, July 23, 1965

In war and in peace, women have stood staun­chly beside Viet Nam’s men­folk for nearly 2,000 years. Sometimes, they have stood in front. Still cele­bra­ted are the two Trung sis­ters who moun­ted ele­phants to lead a revolt against Chinese over­lords in 40 A.D. More recently, Madame Nhu car­ried the banner in Saigon toward the end of the Diem regime and thought it only proper that her sloe-eyed daugh­ter, Le Thuy, receive a pistol for her 18th bir­th­day.

The better to shoot Viet Cong with, decla­red Madame Nhu, who knew only too well the uses that the V.C. were making of their own female stal­warts. One such is Kim Loan, a pistol-packing mama com­man­ding a guer­rilla com­pany near Saigon, who occa­sio­nally slips into the town of Tan An for a hairdo. Other tools are the thou­sands of fish­wi­ves and fruit­sel­lers in the market places of South Viet Nam’s cities. Their ven­ding stalls pro­vide handy plat­forms for picking up infor­ma­tion or pas­sing pro­pa­ganda and mili­tary mes­sa­ges.

Powder Puff. The French used to call Vietnamese women douces comme les man­gues (sweet as man­goes). One swee­tie sur­fa­ced from Viet Cong ranks last April when South Vietnamese police caught a « pretty, well-shaped and lova­ble » 17-year-old girl named Nguyen Thi Nga, which means « Moon Fairy. » She and two friends had been making them­sel­ves lova­ble around the U.S. offi­cers’ mess at Soctrang Airbase, which they plan­ned to blow up with plas­tic bombs fitted into talcum powder cans. The Viet Cong run a swee­ping intel­li­gence net­work by means of Saigon’s myriad bar girls, also have agents wor­king in most of the U.S. mili­tary ins­tal­la­tions around the coun­try. One know­led­gea­ble obser­ver esti­ma­tes that at least half of the female help employed at Danang also work for the Viet Cong. Though the V.C. often encou­rage wives to go along with their guer­rilla hus­bands, few women are actually com­ba­tants. An excep­tion was among the Viet Cong dead after last month’s bloody battle at Dong Xoai. There lay the body of a girl lieu­te­nant com­pany com­man­der.

The Communist press of late has been proudly recoun­ting the life story of 45-year-old Nguyen Thi Dinh, who has been a guer­rilla since 1940, now has risen to the rank of deputy com­man­der as well as member of the National Liberation Front pre­si­dium. Nguyen Thi Dinh got her Communist appren­ti­ce­ship in the V.C.’s Women’s Liberation Association, which func­tions in thou­sands of South Vietnamese vil­la­ges. The W.L.A. is a kind of Viet Cong ladies’ aid : besi­des nag­ging govern­ment offi­cials, the ladies write let­ters to boys draf­ted into the South Vietnamese army urging them to defect, recoun­ting wild tales of the govern­ment troops rava­ging the folks back home.

Tiger Lady. The govern­ment’s use of South Vietnamese women in the war is lar­gely confi­ned to some 1,800 dis­taf­fers—in the Women’s Armed Forces Corps formed last January to pro­vide clerks and other admi­nis­tra­tion per­son­nel or as mili­tary nurses, wel­fare wor­kers and inter­pre­ters. But in the nature of the dirty war, a uni­form is not neces­sary for bra­very. When a V.C. unit atta­cked a tiny out­post in Tay Ninh pro­vince last year while the post’s men were on night patrol, their wives grab­bed rifles and tommy guns and coolly held off the atta­ckers until the men retur­ned. In the Dong Xoai battle, Private Nguyen Van Ngoc was pinned down in his machine-gun pit by heavy fire. His wife was with him. Ignoring the cross­fire, she raced back and forth sup­plying him with fresh belts of bul­lets and gre­na­des until both were woun­ded.

Down in the Mekong Delta, the « Tiger Lady » of the 44th Battalion is Commander Le Van Dan’s wife. Though the mother of seven, she has the rank of a master ser­geant, totes a .45 pistol, often accom­pa­nies the bat­ta­lion in bat­tle—w­here she has won three medals for combat bra­very.

Source : http://www.time.com/time/maga­zine/a...

Source : http://www.time.com/time/maga­zine/a...