Vietnam hotel honors war-era 'perfect' spy with plaque

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Hotel Continental Saigon puts up a bronze plaque to commemorate famous spy Pham Xuan An's stay there during the Vietnam War on September 20. An's former colleagues, including his instructor Muoi Huong (second right), were present.

The 7th death anniversary of "perfect spy" Pham Xuan An on September 20 was marked with Hotel Continental Saigon putting up a bronze plaque to commemorate his stay there while on missions during the Vietnam War.

An, who achieved posthumous fame through books like "Perfect Spy" written by American author Larry Berman, worked as a journalist for TIME, Reuters, New York Herald Tribune, which were based at the hotel for 16 years during the war, spying for the liberation forces.

The liberation forces won in April 1975, leading to the country's reunification.

"With a mission of Strategic Intelligence Officer of North Vietnam, Pham Xuan An had studied journalism in the US from 1957-1959 and later was official reporters for Reuters, Time and the New York Herald Tribune and had been working here until 30 April 1975," reads the plaque placed at the hotel entrance.

A similar smaller board will be put in front of the room 307 which An used.

Thuong My An, deputy director of the 133-year-old hotel, said many guests have asked about An.

"Putting up the plaques is a way to introduce the pride of many Vietnamese."

The hotel plans to turn room 307 into an archive and exhibition of An's life and work, the deputy director added.

Colonel Tu Cang, who headed An's H.63 intelligence agency, said at the ceremony on September 20 that they had used the hotel as the main base for a long time.

"Many memories of Pham Xuan An were written there," he said.

"An and me used to enter the hotel and US soldiers would reach out of their room windows to wave and shout out for us."

Tam Thao, An's colleague, said An always managed to remain in control despite living amidst the enemy and facing the risk of being exposed every day.

He managed to maintain his cover until the war ended.

Muoi Huong, 92, who was An's direct instructor, attended the ceremony in a wheelchair.

He also joined Cang, other colleagues, and reporters to visit An's tomb at a city cemetery.

Two young men were putting incense sticks on the tomb when the group arrived.

"We are his admirers," one of them said.

"We wanted to come here on his death anniversary and pay our respects."

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