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  • Two young North Vietnamese girls learn how to handle a machine gun on a makeshift bamboo structure.

    Two young North Vietnamese girls learn how to handle a machine gun on a makeshift bamboo structure. | Photo: Archive

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The army inspired millions as a result of defeating the Japanese, French and U.S. imperialists.

The Vietnam People’s Army, founded on Dec. 22, 1944, by communist leader Ho Chi Minh, celebrated its 72nd anniversary today.

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General Vo Nguyen Giap was the first to organize the troops — initially only 34 soldiers, but grew to over 1 million people by 1975.

The People’s Army was famous for defeating the imperialist armies of Japan, France and the United States. Che Guevara, inspired by the national resistance in Vietnam, famously called for “two, three … many Vietnams,” as a way of weakening U.S. military power.

Among the most famous victories is the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which marked the first historical victory of an Asian colonial country over a European imperialist power, putting an end to the French occupation of Vietnam after over 80 years.

Later during the U.S. war came the Tet Offensive. Beginning on Jan. 30 1968, the People's Army launched a general offensive in more than 60 cities and towns throughout southern Vietnam. In coordinated attacks, the U.S. embassy in Saigon, the presidential palace, the headquarters of southern troops, TV and radio stations, Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Saigon were attacked and invaded by commando forces.

The offensives caught the world's attention and demoralized U.S. troops and the U.S. public.

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The fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, marked the end of the U.S. war in Vietnam, with the North Vietnamese capture of the southern capital. The war lasted from 1955 to 1975 and was the first defeat for U.S. imperialism in history.

Scenes of U.S. personnel fleeing by helicopter from the U.S. embassy after the liberation of Saigon inspired millions around the world and humiliated what was once considered an invincible military.

The United States, having at its disposal the most advanced technological and chemical weapons at the time, committed horrific atrocities that continue to affect Vietnam and its people to the present day. Over 3 million Vietnamese fighters and civilians were killed during the U.S. war.

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