REQUIESCAT IN PACE

In memory of Lt/Colonel Nguyen Van Thieu, Commandant of the Dalat National Military Academy, President of the Republic of Viet Nam

By Pham Hau, Class 12 – Dalat National Military Academy

1. THOSE  MONTHS AND YEARS OF SORROW

      Once I was invited to a dinner with my colleagues of the Armed Forces Radio, the Eagle Daily and the Press Corps of ARVN in the garden of the Presidential Palace. After that, I relinquished my command of the Armed Forces Radio Station to Van Quang for a training class at the Command and Staff College. Upon graduation, they assigned me to the Directorate of Psychological Warfare and then transferred me to the Broadcasting  Directorate of the Ministry of Information. Mr. Hoang Duc Nha then Private Secretary and Advisor to the President made the transfer possible. Thirty years later he told me that when he recommended my name among several others pushed by various organizations and VIP’s, the President looked at my file, smiled when he saw that I was graduated from the Dalat Military Academy, class 12 and said, “I still remember this guy”!

     Since the time I managed the Radio Broadcasting Directorate, Ministry of Information (July 20, 1971), which later became the Viet Nam Broadcasting Network, Ministry of Mass Motivation and Open Arms, later on they promoted me to the position of Director General of Viet Nam News Agency (Viet Nam Press), both organizations were critical to the Second Republic through the “Fiery Summer” with Heroic Binh Long, Fearless Kontum and Resurrection of Tri-Thien on to Black April of 1975, like  a Tsunami engulfing our beloved country.

     In recollection of the tragic days leading to my complete life change, I had written a few articles depicting my last minute flight to freedom (1) and the Memories from our Broadcasting System (2)days. On the publication of Class 12 Yearbook, at the age of wisdom, I want to write something about President Nguyen Van Thieu. If this Yearbook gets to outside readers, please dig further into the great sadness and tragedy befalling Free Viet Nam.       

2.  SITUATION UNDER THE SECOND REPUBLIC.

     Unlike during the First Republic, America tried to impose an American style democracy, which they are very proud of as a showcase to other under developed countries. Nevertheless, the arrogant ally subjected Viet Nam to so much pressure. They sent permanently to Viet Nam two to three envoys while on the military side, they assigned Generals bedecked with stars. Additionally, there was the presence of more than half million allied soldiers, US, South Koreans, Australians, New Zealanders, Thais and the Philippines. US, advisors were down to battalion level. There were separate radio stations for American troops as well as those for the South Koreans. They used script money and bankrolled their own militias.

American armies streamed into Viet Nam during the time of Prime Minister Phan Huy Quat of the Dai Viet party. Engineer Phan Khac Suu who took the rein of the nation and other leaders who followed him, did not dare to voice their strong opposition. It is such a pity that they assassinated President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother for opposing American direct involvement that the presence of foreign forces would deprive us the just cause to fight Communism.

    Recently, Dr. Mark Moyar, lecturer at the Marines University in Quantico, Virginia, in his book “Triumph Forsaken: the Viet Nam War, 1954-1965”, had rejected the traditional explanation of the role of the US in the war. Dr. Moyar’s greatest contribution was his statement that the American decision to abandon President Diem and help in his overthrow was the gravest mistake in the war” (3)

3. RESPECT OF THE LAW OF THE NATION

     In successive coups and counter-coups, stars just sprouted up like mushrooms under the rain. There were Generals of all calibers, quite a few of them incapable and unruly; and those despicable politicians disregarding the supreme interest of the country and pursuing their own interests, were sapping the morale of our soldiers. Under the rules of law, President Thieu chastised them accordingly. He was also extremely careful when awarding medals, especially the National Order with Palm.

     He unexpectedly penalized several Generals; among them were some group commanders in the northern army corps, Division commanders or Government Ministers in the First Republic – a time when he was only a captain – for infraction of military regulations or discipline. He prosecuted or placed under house arrest pending trial Mr. Nguyễn Tấn Đời, Dr. Trần Kim Tuyến and Senator Nguyễn Văn Chức.

4. KEEPING FOREIGN PRESS UNDER CHECK

     In the late sixties, a flock of foreign reporters streamed in and out of the country. The American ones were free to roam around our country, ignoring our laws and regulations, with disregard for our police, national press corps and our people.  Mr Hoang Duc Nha, a cousin of President Thiệu, became his Private Secretary (1968), then concurrently Press Secretary (1969) and subsequently Minister for Mass Mobilization and Open Arms, had first issued orders to the National Press Center to keep an eye on those rowdy foreign reporters and have them respecting the law of the land. Most of our staff at the National Press Center, graduates of foreign universities with advanced degrees, had volunteered to serve with much less than, one half and sometimes one fifth of what American, French, Australian, Japanese companies would pay them.  It was the case of Trần Khánh Vân, Deputy Director of Foreign Information Services, Ministry of Mass Mobilization and Open Arms.  In 1964, Van graduated first in his class at the University of Missouri, School of Mines, with the highest grade point since the founding of the school.

      In coordination with security forces, the police had arrested quite a few foreign reporters for disorderly conducts, driving under influence, fighting overgirls in public places who complained to the police … which happened to be there at the time! They handcuffed those journalists in public places, in hotels, in restaurants, and took them to the police station for stays that could be a few hours to a few days. Mr. Van’s office was the savior of those journalists; and depending on the personal curriculum vitae of each journalist, would help in a different way. Some stayed a few hours, just long enough to be bitten by mosquitoes; others had to stay longer and had to put up with fleas and the smell of urine. There were special instances when three to four journalists were expelled from South Viet Nam, including the case of the expulsion of the New York Times Bureau Chief in spite of the intervention from Ambassador Bunker with Mr. Nha.

This was a spectacular case when Mr. Van, on instructions from Mr. Nha hadshown those reporters that they have to respect the law of the land, an accomplishment that had never been done before under President Diem, Dr. Phan Huy Quat or General Nguyen Cao Ky.

5. COURAGEOUS AND COMPASSIONATE FOR THE SOLDIERS

President Thieu is among a few general officers with the Airborne badge. While a junior officer, he served in the Third Military Region of North Viet Nam at the time, with   senior officers like Trần Thiện Khiêm, Phạm Văn Đỗng, Dương Quý Phan, Nguyễn Bảo Trị, Tôn Thất Đính, Trần Văn Cường, Đỗ Ngọc Nhận, Đỗ Mậu, etc. When he became President, upon learning that  high officers diverted the Military Saving Funds for special personal interest, he gave orders to close the Funds, returning money to their members and meting out disciplinary action against the offenders.    

     During the Fiery Summer of May 1972, President Thieu went to inspect the Tri-Thien front. He sat in the first Jeep next to General Trưởng, Commander of Military Region 1 while the second Jeep had the Cavalry Regiment Commander and the Staff of MR 1. General Dặng Văn Quang rode in the third vehicle with Hoàng Đức Nhã and a few staff officers. The communications team and bodyguards were loaded on the last Jeeps. During the whole trip, artillery shells and rockets fell along the highway, at the front and in the rear of the convoy. Shells missed people and not vice versa; no one would try to duck. That was in the front line during the battle to recapture Quang Tri. In addition, on 7-7-1972 the President and General Cao Văn Viên suddenly landed by helicopter in An Loc to inspect the troops under heavy artillery barrage.  The following is an excerpt of the reportage by Cùi 12 TBX.

     “President Thieu knelt down in front of the monument forfallen soldiers from ourSpecial Airborne 81unit. He stood up wiping off his reddened eyes with his handkerchief and instructed General Cao Văn Viên to specially promote all soldiers one rank up and create a special commemorating medal, the “Courageous Binh Long” medal, for all participants in this battle. Artillery still rained down nearby, and when the President just finished his words, shells fell a few hundred meters away) All,from President Thieu to the generals to the civilian Private Secretary Nha, kept their cool in the billowing dust. Then President Thieu turned to French General Vanuxem saying, “They lobbed in their shells as usual, perhaps to give me an appropriate salute”. Everyone burstinto laughter.    

 A number of people and soldiers gathered in the Vòm Chợ area expecting the President who came, standing on top of a tank among the many burned out enemy armored vehicles to deliver his impromptu but rousing speech. He cited the people of An Loc for not giving in to communist aggression, well deserving the names of Heroic Binh Long and Proud Kontum. He praised the exploits of local forces and militias fighting as well as regular units. They killed many enemy tanks, among them the powerful T-54’s supplied by the USSR. He added that if General Hưng and Colonel Nhựt were able to stand fast with their soldiers in An Loc it was owing to the unflinching support of the people of An Loc. Just a few days later an American helicopter dropped off General Tallman and his party and quickly flew away. The Communists were ready with their recoilless 75 gun in the Đồi Gió Hill aimed at the landing pad and killed General Tallman and some of his officers” (4).

6. DETERMINED TO SAFEGUARD THE COUNTRY

     Free Viet Nam was doomed thirty years ago. Through memoirs of personalities such as Nixon, Kissinger, Johnson, Ford or the recent honest writing of Dr. Lewis Sorley (5), one can see that President Thieu had fought to the end for the interests of Viet Nam during the Peace Talks in Paris. In the meantime, the people and the military had waged several heroic battles against the Communist aggressors like the 1968 Tet offensive, the Laos campaign and the 1972 summer offensive of Võ Nguyên Giáp. In his translation of Dr. Sorley’s article, as a conclusion, the translator had said: “I sympathize with his pains and efforts during his ten years at the helm of the country, confronting American pressure, the threat of coups d’état and the extreme complexity of state affairs. Having read the interview of Nguyễn Văn Ngân, Special Assistant to the President for Liaison with the Legislature by Trần Phong Vũ, I fully realize the real solitude of an intelligent and resourceful leader who was born in a not so auspicious time. I sympathize even more with his misfortune and raise this question: “Would another leader do any better or would we go through a much worse scenario”?

     Besides, we can now dig into the recently declassified documents, i.e. the talks between Chu Ạn Lai and Kissinger on 6-20-1972. They showed the deal between the great capitalist and the international communist whereby the US and China would be the major players, putting the USSR (6) on the sideline.

Nevertheless, there was still no clear answer to the withdrawal from Military Regions II and I.

     I remember July 2000, at the wedding of the daughter of Thunder Tiger Đoàn Hữu Đ of Virginia, members of Thunder Tiger in the area were there, one third of them having just arrived in America after their release from the communist prison camps. Upon hearing that President and Mrs. Thiệu will be present, they wanted to share the joy of their friend and provide a discrete protection to their former President. There were many Generals, except General Ngô Quang Trưởng. A Lt/Colonel who was one of President Thiệu’s students and who was promoted to Captain before General Trưởng, flew from Seattle for the occasion. He took his wife and kids to greet a very healthy and jovial President Thiệu.  No one would realize one year later on the wedding of the same Thunder Tiger Đinh’s second daughter, when President and Mrs. Thieu did not come because he had recently died of a cerebral hemorrhage.  

7. HEARSAYS AND QUESTIONS

     On 2-7-2007, I came across two press articles a recent one by Nguyễn Kỳ Phong and a reprint by Phạm Kim. In late January 2007, General Trưởng passed away and they wrote many articles about him. Pham Kim related details about General Trưởng, with no rank insignias, dressed in green Navy ensign uniform, sitting on the beach, awaiting rescue by the Navy. He was put under arrest right the moment he docked in Saigon. The city was awash with rumors, such as threats of coups from General Ky. One General, who just got stars pinned on his collar by President Thieu before assuming command of a sizeable military unit, revealed in an article while in exile that he asked his classmate General Trường to join him in his plan to destroy the Independence Palace. However, General Trường refused. Let us give him peace, REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

     The article by Pham Kim appeared in the Vietnamese dailies in Southern California and on Quán Văn since 4-2005. Pham Kim told the writer of this article that on 2-12-2007, Admiral Chung Tấn Cang, a quiet defrocked Catholic priest, had asserted that it was totally true that VNAF aircraft had mistakenly strafed Navy ship 404 with General Trưởng on board, killing several military personnel, among them Lieutenant Nguyễn Độ, friend of Pham Kim. Kim was a well-known Navy Press Officer prior to 1975. Captain Nguyễn Văn Tấn, the last Navy Commander installed by Dương Văn Minh and the longest incarcerated by the Communists, had also vouched for the veracity of Pham Kim’s article.

     Again, for those who are not any more in this world, let them rest in peace. History will clarify. Who gave the order to General Chức to admonish General Trưởng, “Who gave you permission to go back to Saigon?” (7) The new Minister of Defense, General Đôn or President Thiệu? In his most recent article on General Trưởng, after being questioned repeatedly on his withdrawal from I Corps  by Nguyễn Kỳ Phong, a young but respectable historian, General Trưởng replied that “A defeated General could not say that he is a hero. How a self named strategist who failed the country can boast to be resourceful?” (8).      

     Possibly, with the wisdom of age, after studying the many declassified documents, Mr. Trưởng might know the secrets behind Black April 1975. In addition, if he were in President Thiệu’s shoes, what would he do? Would the situation be any better? Could he save Viet Nam, whether or not we withdrew from Military Region II?

Aside from those unanswered questions, I still believe that General Trưởng is an outstanding and disciplined General of the Airborne. Besides, he is a well-mannered man with integrity. Though Commander of Military Region I, as a Lt General, he would be at the airport to salute respectfully Airborne Commander General Dư Quốc Đống, his former boss, whenever General Đống came to MR-I, though both had three stars.

The military situation was not that desperate. We retook the Old Citadel of Quang Tri, let alone defend Hue even in circumstances that could not be worse then during the 1968 Tet Offensive. However, so many urgent orders came from the Independence Palace and from JGS. For those matters of state, everyone was all mixed up, and how one could decipher the mind of the General at the front line at the time?

“Order to stand fast in the morning,

“And to abandon Hue in the evening

“Cinder ash scattered in four corners of the city,

“Which speck of ash would fall on the Citadel”?

     (by Nhất Tuấn)

 At the time of President Thieu’s death, General Truong was living in Virginia, and though President Thiệu had disciplined him for his defeat in MR – I, General Trưởng still went to Boston to attend his funeral while other generals, Ministers, Ambassadors who had benefited from President Thieu’s favors, but at the moment of his death did not bother to show up at the funeral though they live not too far from Boston where Mr. Thieu died. General Truong, and the K12 graduates such as Mach Van T., Luu Vinh L, had outshone those dignitaries by being present at President Thiệu’s funeral!

Several times Mr. Nhã confided to the writer on the great loneliness in the Independence Palace situation room during the days of talks with the American delegation led by Dr. Kissinger.  Around the table no one was willing to stand up to our ally even though it was clear that they pressured us mercilessly, and the country’s fate was gradually doomed. Only the two men from Phan Rang, President Thiệu and his Private Secretary Nha , were steadfast in their opposition to the bad deal imposed by the US fulfilling their responsibility to the people and the troops days and nights fighting the enemy. When confronting a veiled threat from the white skinned General with blond hair, Mr. Nhã bluntly said, “Ultimately you guys would most likely assassinate us, would you?” (9).

One afternoon in mid October 1972, Mr. Kissinger was in Saigon to coerce President Thiệu to sign the draft Accord that Kissinger had previously concocted with the Communist North Vietnamese. Ambassador Bunker and Kissinger had to wait for more than half an hour before President Thieu received them at the Independence Palace.  But Kissinger had no success with his promise that peace negotiation would be concluded on the preset date. In the meantime, the official National Broadcasting kept up its commentaries criticizing Kissinger and McGovern by names, explaining that the proposed Paris Peace Accord would be a sell out of South Viet Nam to Communist North Viet Nam.

Lately, some historians had carefully researched on Le Ngoa Trieu, on the Tay Son, on the pro French Vietnamese traitor Nguyen Than, who during the Can Vuong rebellion had excavated Phan Đình Phùng’s grave, burned the body into ashes, them mixed it with gunpowder to fire in the four directions (10)

8. HISTORY WILL REASSESS

 Let history judge President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. After his death, in spite of some local opposition, the officers of K-12 of North West America were all there. They arranged a solemn funerals consecrated by the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple Reverend who was also a former 12 classmate. That class being the first of the Republic had many serving as aide to President Ngô Đình Diệm like Đỗ Thọ, Lê Công Hoàn, Nguyễn Cửu Đắc. Several others had become Representatives, District Chiefs or General like General Mạch Văn Trường of Division 21, the hero of An Lộc.

      After graduation, I did not serve under Mr. Thiệu. I was a Captain since 1960 overseeing the Nha Trang Broadcasting Station. Lt/Col Vũ Đức Vinh, Director General of the Office of Radio and Television promoted me to Major. The rank of Lt/Col came in 1972 per the annual promotion roster for those meeting JGS’s longevity criteria. Being a manager of an intermediate government agency, I received daily reports from front lines reporters and knew first hand the military situation (11).  Besides, I had the opportunity to work close to the highest level during the critical period of our nation, and felt the anguish and humiliation of the leaders of a weak country. That is why I respect the patriotism of Mr. Nhã and President Thiệu, fighting to the end for the country in total solitude, regardless of threats of coups d’état and assassination. Could someone do any better during that very trying time? Some people might not like this writing, but I cannot keep quiet for so long when I knew the courage and steadfastness of my leaders under so much pressure during their unselfish service of the country.

     I still have due respect for my former Commander, Lt/Colonel Nguyễn Văn Thiệu during our class 12 of the Dalat National Military Academy (12).   Half century ago we eagerly joined the school with full hair and all the nice dreams in life. Between 1949 and 1950 Colonel Thieu had been sent to France and the US for training on military leadership at Division level as well as in the coordination of Divisions in joint operation. Especially at the Command and Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was successful even though the curriculum was as tight and difficult as ascertained by many American students and the framed letter of a former trainee President Eisenhower.

     As a human being, President Thieu would have made mistakes in military and in politics. People raised many questions but only history can give the right answers. In 1973-1974 our troops fought heroically on many battlefields and the morale of the nation soared highin spite of the massive attack of twenty communist divisions through the Ben Hai River. However, while we could still have saved the country, why we lost half of the territory and two Corps without a fight in 1975 (13). Why South Viet Nam with an adequately equipped and battle hardy Army evaporated in merely 40 days (14)?

     Why those brave Generals of ARVN, especially General Trưởng of the four reputable warriors of the Airborne Division- were incarcerated?  Why another general and some influential ladies known for shady dealings were still at large? In addition, was there controversy in the arrest of Dr. Trần Kim Tuyến and Senator Nguyễn Văn Chức?  That mystery could be unraveled by the Judiciary branch.  Anyhow, it is more important to ask, “What were President Thieu’s achievements and failures? Though not an historian, I can say that he was responsible for the loss of South Viet Nam”.  However, I am certain that he did not do it for his own sake. He did neither yield to foreign pressure to save his skin nor play the anti-American game for money. Frankly, in the circumstances, who could have enough ability and ingenuity to preserve Free Viet Nam? 

It is easy to criticize and many did so; however, as Prof. Nguyen Ngoc Linh under his pen name Rau Cao  wrote in a recent article severely criticizing South Viet Nam’s leaders from Mr. Thieu, Mr. Huong, Mr. Minh and said that  “ I just criticized for the sake of criticism, but even ten Mr. Thieu, Mr. Huong, Mr. Minh could not salvage a situation when the US were determined to cut off military aid in such a way that in the final days of the war, South Vietnamese soldiers were given only a few rounds of ammunition and a grenade a day”.(15)  Frankly speaking, in those circumstances, who could have a magic wand to save South Viet Nam? Or, “would another person who had seized power do better or we would suffer a worse fate” as Trần Đỗ Cung – who did the English translation of the Vietnamese text of this article – had said previously?

It does make sense that those historians coined the above remarks. Dr. Viet Nguyen had also brought it up in his article on Ngay Nay 574.  According to a book by Canadian historian Margaret McMillan, “China had provided logistical support to NVN up to 20 billion dollars from 1950 to 1975. They have shipped down hundreds of thousands of weapons, various military equipments and mosquito nets. A total of 320,000 Chinese troops were sent down up to the sixties, building bridges and roads and to provide training on the use of anti aircraft guns and SAM’s. So far the NVN Army had free hands in their fight to defeat the Republic of Viet nam and the US.”(16)

Since 1955, Lt Colonel Thieu did not blindly follow orders from the US, as evidenced when he took my side in an incident as follows: I had an argument with an American instructor who taught English at the Dalat National Military Academy. This instructor wrongly accused me then asked to wear a side arm when teaching at the Academy in order to protect himself from Cadet Pham Hau.

At a dinner in the Independence Palace with ten members of the Legislative branch, including my former upper classman at Chu Văn An High School, Airborne Doctor Ngô Văn N., to seek their approval of the legitimacy of the Thiệu-Kỳ ticket, there were no threats or promises of reward according to rumors. At the end of the dinner meeting Mr. Thiệu said, “The national business concerns us all. If you agree with us, we shall work together. In the contrary, let’s disregard the present chess game and start another round”!

Ever since 1970 I still recall these words of advice from President Thieu “do not listen to what the Communists say, but see what they do”. These words still ring true today!

9. BETRAYALS

Following are remarks by General Vanuxem on the disintegration of ARVN and the tragic collapse of Free Vietnam. He cited the betrayals in Chapter 7 of his book titled “The death of Vietnam” which was translated by former Colonel Duong Hieu Nghia, top graduate of class 5, Dalat Military Academy. Colonel Nghia wrote about the French General as follows.

The author of this book is General Vanuxem who was a high ranking officer of the French Army in the front line of North Vietnam up to 1957. He often visited Free Vietnam as a special guest. He was a reservist of the French Army. Before draft he was a professor with Doctorate Degrees of Letters and Mathematics as well as Sciences. He was summoned to Vietnam as aid to General De Lattre De Tassigny as a Lieutenant. Anyhow when he came he volunteered to command a tactical unit serving in the front line of North Vietnam which was in a very tense fighting situation. During the succeeding two years he was three times promoted while in the front line to higher rank. Transferred to take over the School of Regimental Command and Leadership, short named Tactical Course, he was promoted to the rank of L/Colonel and Colonel. This school was the precursor of the Command and Staff College of ARVN and most of our generals were through this establishment. Being a very popular casually dressed officer he stood out   from the majority of French officers. He was admired by all students for the clarity of his teaching as well as his character.

He was transferred afterwards to Tactical Group 3 of Southern Zone of the Forces Army of North Vietnam. Repatriated in 1957 with Colonel Ranks, he often visited Vietnam. During the first part of 1975 he was permanently in country and was kicked out by the communist in May 1975.

He passed away in 1982 and did not forget to remit to General Tran Van Trung President of the Vietnam Veterans Association in France his cherished souvenir from the landing by helicopter in An Loc with President Nguyen Van Thieu, the flag of Vietnam that was offered him by the commanding staff of war zone Binh Long.

Especially his constant presence in Saigon from the onset of 1975 gave him a detailed analysis of the reasons and facts leading to the forced death of Free Vietnam. It was very crucial for Vietnam, France and the whole world.

General Vanuxem said that the disintegration of ARVN and the tragic defeat of Free Vietnam were from betrayals of all sides.   

Betrayals of those who vouched to help with weapons and ammunitions. Without ammunitions our army was forced to give up fighting.

Betrayals of the enemy who negate the peace agreement. They took advantage of it to increase their army strength and weaponry overpowering our forces.

Betrayals of a very weak government that was incapable of forcing a strict necessary discipline to the army and providing leadership to the people in the participation in the war effort.

Betrayals of the people who want to keep their leisure life. They mind their own interest while their representatives were fraught with corruptions. They would not care of the necessities and needs of war and did not ardently share in the war efforts.  Of course a too lengthy conflict had created a climate of common lethargy.

Betrayals of the false intelligentsia. Their absurd and useless discussions were not in the interest of the country. Their anti war professing accommodation with the enemy instead of continuing to fight sapped the morale of the troop.  

Betrayals of the populace who did not stand fast. They selected to run at the advance of the enemy creating the panic of a low morale army.

10. THE FINAL SAY

     To live as a man is difficult, but to be a leader is thousand times more so! In our history, our national hero Nguyễn Huệ, after his brilliant defeat of the Thanh Army, had his tomb excavated and his skull used as urinal.  They subjected his closest officers to trampling by elephants. Several hundred years later, the Nguyen Dynasty archives still called his dynasty heretical (15).  They successively killed the President of a powerful country beyond the Pacific Ocean and his brother during the election year. The dead men did not know who was behind and the assassin did not even know the reason except that he got the order to pull the trigger.

     As for President Ngô Đình Diệm, the Communists buried alive his older brother and nephew in 1945. Nearly ten years later, the Generals of the Free Viet Nam he founded killed him and his brother in an armored car.  President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, though not murdered, had the worst fate when the enemy soldiers desecrated his ancestral tombs. Then during 26 years living in exile, he suffered the humiliation of criticism from the boat people, the prisoners of the Communist reeducation camps and the orphans and widows because he was the leader during that most trying time. For his eight years as President, all he got was thirty years of bitterness until the day he passed away.              

     I had not heard from my former classmates a single word of hate for President Thiệu. They only praised his meticulous attention to details and his keen memory in the conduct of business, making sure that every issue would be managed in perfection. He assigned capable men to handle the appropriate tasks. For my K-12 classmates and me, he is an outstanding and courageous General, very patriotic and loving his men. Just like his predecessor Ngô Đình Diệm, he fought and tried to protect our beloved Free Việt Nam. They did not achieve the ultimate goal. Since time immemorial, no one could measure heroism through success or failure. In conclusion, let us say once again, REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

Phạm Hậu

English version translated by Robert C. Trando

2-23-2007    

REFERENCES

(1) – A very late thankyou, by Phạm Hậu in the monthly periodical Khởi Hành, issue 42 of April 2000

(2) – Souvenirs of the Radio Broadcast System, by Phạm Hậu, Special issue, the Traditions of the Nation, 2005

(3) – Here and There column, by Râu Cáo (pen name of Professor Nguyễn Ngọc Linh, 

Former Director General of Information and former Director General ofVietnam Press).

Ngay Nay daily issue 590 – Feb. 2007 (* in this column Prof Linh ad summarized the book on the assassination of President Diem, quoting Dr Moyar as saying that “the military coup that overthrew President Diem on November 11, 1963, conceived by US Ambassador Cabot Lodge without the consent of President Kennedy was a mistake of the US that led to the defeat of the US and that pushed South Viet Nam into the hands of the Communits in a most non sensical way”.

See Dr. Moyar’s book “Phoenix and the birds of prey: The CIA’s secret campaign to destroy the Viet Cong” 11/1997

(4) – Bush goes to Bagdah and Thiệu to An Lộc, by Cùi 12 TBX, Omni Special Magazine, 2001

(5) – Reassessing ARVN by Dr. Lewis Sorley, translation by VNAF Col. Trần Đỗ Cung, full details on website: www.kbchaingoai.net/XacDinhGiaTriQLVNCH.html.

(6) – The truth of the so called Great Spring Victory, by Trần Bá Hợi, 2007

http://www.calitoday.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=dc447bc760cc7e73e63af0769c06dbed 

(7) – Westward evacuation. (Nguoi Viet Cali 4/2005 and NV Tay Bac Online, 2/2007)

Lieutenant Pham Kim, Navy Press Officer, standing behind Admiral Chung Tan Cang had heard the followings when General Truong disembarked from Navy Ship 404 at Bach Dang Quay in front of the Navy Shipyard. Lt Kim still acknowledged his remembrance on 02-13-2007 and on 05-18-2007 sent an email for two minor corrections:

a/ Lt-General Truong in army uniform sat on the beach pending the Navy rescue. While aboard, he was offered a grey outfit and slept on the crew bunker.

b/ Several soldiers died from the VNAF strafing mistake (?) of Navy Ship 404, to be changed as, “It was not certain to be Navy Ship 404. It could have been a destroyer which was reported through radio communications as Warship type 400. Nevertheless, according to Vice-Admiral Ho Van Ky Thoai, “at that time of extreme confusion, the possibility of Destroyer Van Kiep being hit is not the matter. There was not any more precise reporting”.  http://www.nguoiviet-taybac.com/btl-haiquan30-4-1975.html

(8) – In commemoration of Gen. Ngo Q. Truong (1929-2007) Nguyen K. Phong

http://www.tqlcvn.org/tqlc/tl-tuongniem-tuong-ngt.htm

(9) – With such friends, who needs enemies? By Hoàng Đức Nhã, in North California VNAF Quarterly, Spring  2005,

(10) – Nguyễn Thân – Duke of Diên Lộc, by Nguyễn Đức Cung. Nhật Lệ Publisher 2002. Kearney, NJ 07032

(11) – Diary of a Vietnam Radio reporter in 1972, by Nguyễn Mạnh Tiến, Special issue, the Traditions of the Nation, 2005

(12) – The Graduation of December 1956. L/Col Nguyễn Văn Thiệu requesting President Ngô Đình Diệm to baptize Class 12 as Class of the Republic

(13) –  Articles in Vietnamese newspapers, 1976-1986 by former L/Col Nguyễn Đạt Thịnh, former Director of Diều Hâu periodical and Director of Psywar Press Bureau Directorate of Political Warfare prior to 1975 (email address <nguyendatthinh@aol.com>)

(14) – Write for Fun, “Courage in Defeat”, by Tú Gàn, in Little Saigon Periodical issue 537, March 30, 2007

(15)– Here and There column by Rau Cao (* pen name of Prof. Nguyen Ngoc Linh, former Director of the National Broadcasting Directorate, Director General for Information, and Director general of Viet Nam Press)

Ngay Nay daily issue 594, April 15, 2007

(16) – From Houston Newsroom column by Viet Nguyen.  Ngay Nay issue 594 April 15, 2007

http://www.nguoi-viet.com/absolutenm/anmviewer.asp?a=58487&z=100

About Pham Hau

Pham Hau is a former Airborne Sergeant and a graduate of the National Military Academy of Da Lat class 12 in 1956.  He was a Lt. Col. in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam where he served in various positions to include; Correspondent for Chien Sy Cong Hoa Military Magazine, Company Commander Special Mission Directorate of PsyWar, District Chief of Minh Long District, Quang Ngai, Manager of Military Radio Station in Dong Ha, Hue and Nha Trang.  Pham Hau was also assigned on temporary duty as a General Manager of the Vietnam Broadcasting System and, subsequently, General Director of Vietnam Press of the Ministry of Information

After the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in April 1975, Pham Hau and his family initially resettled in Copperasscove, TX.  In late 1975, he relocated to Olympia, WA.  While working for the State of Washington as a civil servant, Pham Hau continued to pursue his college education at Seattle City College and received a Bachelor degree in Business Administration in 1981. Pham Hau served the State of Washington as a Retirement Benefits Specialist until his retirement in June 1994.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *