Air-defence hero in 1972 Christmas bombings

(VOVWORLD) - 45 years have passed, but memories of the 12-day battle against  the US carpet bombing in Hanoi are still fresh in the mind of Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Phiet, who together with his comrades shot down B52 bombers.  The “Dien Bien Phu in the Air” victory was a milestone in Phiet’s military career. 
Air-defence hero in 1972 Christmas bombings - ảnh 1Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Phiet (Photo: 

In a small house on Le Trong Tan street, Hanoi, Nguyen Van Phiet is proud of his collection of memorial objects, certificates of merit, and medals awarded by the State, government, and the People’s Army.

Phiet was born in 1938 in a farming family in An Thi district, Hung Yen province. He joined the army and worked in a radar regiment. In 1965, he was sent to study air defense missiles in the Soviet Union.

On the morning of December 21, 1972, Phiet’s battalion 57 shot down 2 B52 bombers with just 2 rockets in 10 minutes.

“At the time, I decided to shoot 3 rockets at 3 groups of fighter jets but one rocket failed. The airplanes flew right at the altitude we had predicted. We followed our plan and hit the target,” Phiet said.

Air-defence hero in 1972 Christmas bombings - ảnh 2

The second missile was fired as groups of B-52 bombers came within the 32- kilometer  range. One B-52 was hit at 5:09 am and fell in Sam Nua forest, Laos. With only one missile left, Phiet’s battalion still managed to shoot down another B-52 at a range of 24 kilometers near Doi mountain in Soc Son district, Hanoi.

“When a journalist from the People’s newspaper told me our battalion shot down 2 B-52 bombers, we all burst into cheering. During my time in battalion 57, we destroyed 10 US airplanes, including 4 B-52 bombers”, Phiet recalled. 

Dozens of B52s were shot down during the bombing campaign in Hanoi from December 18 to 30, 1972.

Colonel Vu Ngoc Hoang, political commissar of Air Defense Division 377, said: “Battalion 57 was one of the two battalions which shot down the most airplanes during the Dien Bien Phu in the air campaign. The great determination and fighting spirit of Lieutenant general Nguyen Van Phiet and his comrades were a lesson for us to follow”.

After leaving the army, Nguyen Van Phiet set up the Hong Duc Humanitarian Center to support war veterans poisoned by Agent Orange/ dioxin and their children.