Legendary Vietnamese General Turns 100

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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Vo Nguyen Giap, the ex-Vietnamese general who defeated the superior military forces of both France and the United States, turned 100 years old Thursday.

Giap marked the personal milestone at an army hospital in Hanoi, where he has been living for the past several months. His former secretary, Colonel Nguyen Huyen, said the general remains alert and recognizes his old comrades.

Giap led an ill-equipped guerrilla army to a shocking victory against French colonial forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which secured Vietnam's independence and ended France's rule throughout Indochina.

More than a decade later, he led North Vietnam's communist forces in their long struggle against U.S. forces supporting South Vietnam in that country's civil war, eventually forcing the Americans to withdraw in 1975.

Despite being shoved out of the inner circle of power after the country was unified, Giap remains a living legend in Vietnam, and is revered second only to the late independence leader Ho Chi Minh.

A special photographic exhibit in Hanoi depicts Giap's life and career, including photos from the decisive victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu.