August 5, 2002

BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: Well, it’s one bellicose woman, really: Anh Duong, explosives expert for the Naval Research Center, who took the lead in developing thermobaric cave- and bunker-busting bombs. Excerpts:

Much of the world would gasp. Greenpeace called it inhumane; a Russian geologist blamed it for deadly earthquakes; critics would dub the weapon “thermo-barbaric” – so unfathomably lethal that it should never have been created.

Fulfilling an obligation

But, for Duong, a former refugee from Vietnam who came to the United States in 1975 and studied science in Maryland’s public schools and universities, it would fulfill an obligation that she had pledged to repay her whole adult life.

When she settled in Maryland 27 years ago, Duong promised herself she would fight for the principles of her adopted homeland. And now, if all went as planned, the BLU-118/B would slice into a tunnel in the Afghan mountains, unleash the chemically engineered hell that she and the rest of the country’s top explosives experts had wrought, and America’s enemies would die.

“It was different than anything we had done before,” said Duong. “Not making a new explosive; we’ve done that. But having a purpose – knowing where it was going and what it was going to be used for. This was one of the proudest achievements of my life. Not just professionally, but personally. We were fighting a war. And it was the chance for me to give something back to the country that had adopted me so generously.” . . .

A slight woman with a broad smile, Duong becomes fiery when she talks about America and opportunity, and the history that has made her appreciate her home with such passion.

“I had this ideal of mine, and I wanted, in some way, to get involved in the fight for freedom, to preserve this great country that had taken me in,” Duong said. “Working for the U.S. Defense Department seemed like the right thing. I felt like I could do something good there.”

Yet another reason to be in favor of immigration — so long, at any rate, as it’s immigrants like Duong, who come here to be Americans.

UPDATE: Reader Thanh Nguyen writes:

Some day, it might go down into history that OBL died at the hands of a bunch of American female scientists! How ironic!

I am so proud of Anh Duong. In Vietnamese, her name means “a ray of sunlight”. Well, she turned out to be a very lethal ray of sunlight indeed for cave-dwelling OBL and his terror gang, who represent the darkness of evil.

It would be ironic. Delightfully so.

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