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The Bigfoot of the Vietnam War

Paratrooper Gary Linderer deployed to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne and often went out into the jungle with a six-man Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. During one patrol, he claimed to have encountered a creature with “deep set eyes on a prominent brow… five feet tall, with long muscular arms, walking upright with broad shoulders and a heavy torso.”

Linderer had no idea what he saw, but he wasn’t the first American to report seeing an ape-like creature while out on patrol, and he definitely wasn’t the last. Some Army platoons reported coming under attack from the apes and even fighting them in hand-to-hand combat. There are no known species of apes native to Vietnam, but that didn’t stop reports of large, ape-like creatures dwelling in the country’s jungles during the entire Vietnam War

US Troops Thought that They Saw Bigfoot in Vietnam

Bigfoot didn’t get drafted or come over to Vietnam as a figure of the American imagination, either. The Vietnamese, Cambodians and even Laos had a word for the apes: Nguoi Rung, or “People of the Forest.”

Like its Nepalese cousin, the Yeti, or it’s North American counterpart, Bigfoot, Nguoi Rung is a creature of Vietnamese folklore. And just like the Yeti, Bigfoot, or other cryptids, no one has ever captured a specimen or even captured credible photographic evidence of its existence. But as the Vietnam War progressed, so many PAVN troops reported contact with the great ape of Vietnam that the North Vietnamese government actually sent scientists to investigate its existence. 

The scientists sent by the Communist party in Hanoi actually did find something they believed proved the existence of the animals. Dr. Vo Quy, a respected environmental researcher, scoured the Central Highlands of South Vietnam and discovered a large footprint. He made a cast of a print that was much too large to be human but also too big to be any kind of recorded ape. 


North Vietnam united South Vietnam by force in 1975, two years after the United States ended its involvement in the country. With the fighting over, North Vietnamese scientists could conduct more research, and they did. Tran Hong Viet, another animal researcher, returned to the battlefields of the jungles and found even more footprints. 

He made casts of the prints in 1982 that were interesting enough to catch the eyes of zoologist John MacKinnon. MacKinnon is an expert on tropical climates and especially wildlife in Southeast Asia, who believed there was still much to discover in the jungles of Vietnam. He also discovered multiple new species of mammals in the country. 

MacKinnon had previously explored the sighting of other unknown great apes, similar to the legends of Nguoi Rung. In the late 1960s, he studied the rumors of an ape-like creature called Batatut in the jungles of Borneo. Based on his experience and research in Vietnam, he didn’t expressly declare the animal must be real, but he said its existence is possible. 

The Vietnamese bigfoot wasn’t the only mystery animal reported in the jungles of Southeast Asia. American troops also told tales of an enormous snake, 100 feet long – which would dwarf the largest-known snake by 75 feet – while on patrol in the jungle, which is far more worrisome to a sleeping trooper.

Read About Other Military Myths and Legends

If you enjoyed learning about the bigfoot of the Vietnam War, we invite you to read about other military myths and legends on our blog. You will also find military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog.  If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: 101st Airborne, Bigfoot, Dr. Vo Quy, famous military units, legends of Nguoi Rung, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, military book reviews, Nguoi Rung, PAVN troops, People of the Forest, veterans’ service reflections, Vietnam, Vietnam War, zoologist John MacKinnon


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