I wrote a piece for women’s history month and the notes got lost on my desk and it did not make it when intended….
Dien Bien Phu was the battle that took France out of Southeast Asia….a little background is probably needed for Vietnam is quickly becoming a war to forget for most Americans…..
In November 1953, the French, weary of jungle warfare, occupied Dien Bien Phu, a small mountain outpost on the Vietnamese border near Laos. Although the Vietnamese rapidly cut off all roads to the fort, the French were confident that they could be supplied by air. The fort was also out in the open, and the French believed that their superior artillery would keep the position safe. In 1954, the Viet Minh army, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, moved against Dien Bien Phu and in March encircled it with 40,000 Communist troops and heavy artillery.
The first Viet Minh assault against the 13,000 entrenched French troops came on March 12, and despite massive air support, the French held only two square miles by late April. On May 7, after 57 days of siege, the French positions collapsed. Although the defeat brought an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina, the United States soon stepped up to fill the vacuum, increasing military aid to South Vietnam and sending the first U.S. military advisers to the country in 1959.
The “angel”…..Her name was Genevieve de Galard…..
Born into a storied family, Geneviève de Galard was shaped by its patriotic spirit and even as a youth felt a need to prove herself worthy of its heritage. Only 14 at the outset of World War II, she faced the horrors and hardships of Nazi occupation in her most formative years. Completing her education after liberation, she eschewed a life of privilege to pursue a path of giving through nursing. Fueled by patriotism and intrigued by the raging colonial conflict in Indochina, she became a flight nurse for the French airforce and made her first tour to Vietnam in April 1953 as the war against the Viet Minh grew more desperate. Based in Hanoi, in January 1954 she began working on evacuation flights from Dien Bien Phu, the isolated outpost that quickly became the focus of the war as some 11,000 French soldiers came under siege. By March 28, de Galard had flown dozens of evacuation missions to and from the outpost and had no reason to fear the flight that day would be her last—and that over the next 56 days, as the only woman at the base, she would become a worldwide icon of hope and compassion.
I will be writing more on the debacle of Dien Bien Phu later…..
I apolgize for not posting this when the interest would have been high…..none the less this fascinating women deserves all the accolades she has received.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”