Feature

What makes the ‘Bomb Lady’ tic

Anh Duong is an unlikely weapons genius, says Laura Blumenfeld in The Washington Post. A suburban mother of four, she doesn’t let her kids read Harry Potter books because they’re too violent. “We don’t want our kids to think violence is the answer,’’ she

Anh Duong is an unlikely weapons genius, says Laura Blumenfeld in The Washington Post. A suburban mother of four, she doesn’t let her kids read Harry Potter books because they’re too violent. “We don’t want our kids to think violence is the answer,’’ she says. But this 47-year-old, 5-foot-1 Vietnamese refugee is one of the U.S. military’s most skilled arms designers, known around the Pentagon as “the Bomb Lady.” During the 1990s, Duong helped develop 18 different kinds of missiles, bombs, torpedoes, and projectiles for the military. After 9/11, she led almost 100 scientists in a crash program to create America’s first thermobaric, bunker-busting explosive, which was used to devastating effect in Afghanistan. Duong traces her career to the last days of the Vietnam conflict; she was 15 years old when Saigon fell, and she and her family escaped with the help of U.S. soldiers. “I’m here because in Vietnam, we ran out of bullets. I don’t want to ever be in that position again. My life is payback. I’m indebted to the soldiers and to Americans.” Despite the nature of her work, Duong says she hates war. She builds weapons, she says, as a deterrent. “By building bombs, [you make] the others guys realize they shouldn’t mess with us. If you have a gun, I have a bazooka.’’ Once the bombs are built, she says, how they’re used is out of her hands. “You have to have faith in our leadership.’’

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