On October 15, 1964, Nguyễn Văn Trỗi was executed by a firing squad.
Nguyễn Văn Trỗi (1940-1964) was a militant in the Việt Minh or the National Liberation Front (NLF). In 1963, the United States escalated its criminal war against the people of Vietnam. The policy of 'strategic hamlets' and 'carpet bombing' destroyed the Vietnamese countryside, but did not break the spirit of the people. Trỗi attempted to blow up a bridge and assassinate the United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and the US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. He was captured in the attempt.
Trỗi was sentenced to death for the assassination attempt. The Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) - a Venezuelan communist guerrilla group formed by the Communist Party of Venezuela - kidnapped US Lieutenant Colonel Michael Smolen in revenge for Trỗi's sentence. The group threatened to kill Smolen if Trỗi was executed. After negotiations, Smolen was released unharmed. The FALN and the NLF were promised that this would save Troi’s life. The promise was broken. Trỗi was shot by firing squad shortly thereafter.
The execution in Saigon of Trỗi was filmed. He remained defiant to the end. His last words before his execution to news correspondents were, 'You are journalists and so you must be well informed about what is happening. It is the Americans who have committed aggression on our country, it is they who have been killing our people with planes and bombs ... I have never acted against the will of my people. It is against the Americans that I have taken action'. When a priest offered him absolution, he refused, saying, 'I have committed no sin. It is the Americans who have sinned'.
As the first shots were fired, he called out, 'Long live Vietnam'.
Long may live the memory of Comrade Nguyễn Văn Trỗi.