Former leader in San Jose's Vietnamese community in coma in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KGO) -- A major figure in San Jose's Vietnamese community is near death tonight, after gaining worldwide fame for opposing communism.

ABC7 News interviewed Ly Tong in 2008 during his hunger strike to protest plans to rename San Jose's Little Saigon.

Tong flew for South Vietnam's Air Force, fighting alongside Americans, during the Vietnam War.

A Vietnamese-language newspaper reports he's been in a coma in San Diego since Tuesday. Tong is suffering from lung failure.

Many Vietnamese refugees consider Tong to be a freedom fighter.

Tong gained fame for a series of stunts to oppose communism in his native Vietnam and other places around the world.

During the war, Tong escaped from North Vietnamese captors after being shot down in his fighter plane.

In 1992, Tong hijacked a plane in Thailand and ordered its pilot to fly over Vietnam.

Tong then dropped 50,000 fliers urging the overthrow of Vietnam's government.

He also flew a small plane over Cuba in 2000 to distribute political newspapers.
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