|A bust of Cuban leader Fidel Castro at a park named after him in Dong Ha city in Quang Tri province. (Photo: VOV)
Nguyen Thi Huong, a resident of Quang Tri, will forever cherish the day when her life was saved by the intervention of leader Fidel Castro after a harrowing incident.
It was on the fateful afternoon of September 16, 1973, when 17-year-old Huong, along with several other young individuals, was engaged in the courageous task of filling in bomb craters along the banks of the Ben Hai River. While working, tragedy struck as a bomb unexpectedly detonated, causing severe injuries to Huong and five other individuals.
Huong endured a ruptured intestine, a punctured aorta, and numerous soft tissue wounds.
During that very moment, a delegation of Cuban officials led by leader Castro had just arrived at Ben Hai. Mr. Castro personally commandeered a vehicle from his convoy to transport Huong and the other injured victims to Vinh Linh Hospital. Huong’s condition was critical as she had lost a significant amount of blood. Leader Castro arranged for a car to be dispatched to neighboring Quang Binh province to collect blood, ensuring a timely blood transfusion that ultimately saved Huong’s life.
Following their hospitalization for a week, Huong and the other injured individuals received gifts from leader Castro. Huong, in particular, received not only essential medicines and supplements but also a personally inscribed business card bearing his name and contact number.
“As I reminisce about that day, when I was gravely injured yet managed not only to survive but to lead a normal life with good health, with a loving husband and children, I regard leader Castro as a second father, one who granted me a second chance at life,” said Huong.
|Former Secretary of the Cam Lo District Party Committee Duong Tu Anh
The people of Cam Lo district remain steadfast in their recollection of the courageous tale of the Cuban leader, who fearlessly stood amidst bombs and shells, gracing the battlefield with his presence. Duong Tu Anh, who served as the Secretary of the Cam Lo District Party Committee back then, reminisced about the afternoon of September 14, 1973.
On that day, Quang Tri officials received a hushed message, hinting at an upcoming meeting in Cam Lo the very next day. Everyone was buzzing with excitement when they learned that the gathering had been shifted to Base 241 and would feature a “special guest” in attendance. It was a day filled with surprise and awe as officers, soldiers, and local residents gathered at Base 241, warmly welcoming none other than Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
|Base 241 in Cam Lo district (Photo: VOV)
Base 241, once an enemy artillery stronghold, bore the remnants of battle, with tank wrecks and artillery shells scattered about. It was within these hallowed grounds that President Fidel Castro made an indelible declaration: ”For Vietnam, Cuba is willing to shed its blood.” This powerful statement has left an enternal mark in history, nurturing the friendship between Vietnam and Cuba.
Secretary Tu Anh said that the meeting took place in an incredibly precarious situation, with the enemy base watching us from just 12 kilometers away. Yet, in a poignant and symbolic gesture, Fidel Castro held aloft the flag of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. The people in attendance, along with district and provincial officials, erupted into thunderous applause, he added.
On September 15 at around 10:00 a.m. following the gathering at Base 241, leader Castro paid a visit to the Headquarters of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam in Cam Lo district where he had lunch with the officials there.
Nguyen Minh Ky, Chairman of the Quang Tri Provincial People’s Committee from 1999 to 2004, who had the privilege of welcoming leader Fidel Castro, said that the narrative of Fidel’s journey from the shores of freedom in Latin America to Vietnam in 1973, following the signing of the Paris Agreement, to reach the fiery land of Quang Tri, is an event truly etched into memory.
"A prominent leader from a Latin American nation came to Vietnam, specifically to Quang Tri, amid the tumultuous backdrop of a rain of bombs and shells. This remarkable act served as a tremendous source of inspiration for the people of Quang Tri. Leader Castro emerged as an idol, not only for the residents of the South but for all Vietnamese people," Mr. Ky said.
The historical site of Base 241, once a symbol of the wartime struggle, has transformed into today’s Tan Phu village in Cam Thanh commune blanketed by lush green forests of rubber, melaleuca, and pepper plants. The road that once led to Base 241 has been expanded and is now flanked by neatly spaced houses. It’s a testament to the resilient spirit of the people and the efforts of the local government.
Nguyen Thanh Bac, Vice Chairman of Cam Lo District People's Committee, said that leader Castro’s visit to Base 241 provided a tremendous boost to the morale the officers and soldiers stationed there. This visit not only galvanized the people of Cam Lo district but also inspired the entire nation to persevere and ultimately achieve victory and unification in the spring of 1975, he added.