Preface


Why write about General Hieu when a quarter of a century has gone by? There would be not much and definitely nothing interesting related to him, why bother to write about him. Even if there was, then that task should be left to a military historian or at least to someone who is not related to him to ascertain objectivity.

I totally agreed with these opinions. That was why during all these 23 years, although from time to time I had the yearning to write something about my brother for the sake of his children and grandchildren who were fortunate to have as a father and a grandfather that had attained some degree of celebrity, I was unable to materialize my budding intention because I discovered that I did not possess much information about him, especially details pertaining to his military career.

I was more anchored into the conviction that my brother did not have worthwhile things to write about, when the numerous newspapers, magazines and books, in English as well as in Vietnamese that I laid my hands on from friends' bookshelves, in bookstores or in public and private libraries, failed to mention General Hieu, if any that he was killed while in his office. General Nguyen Chanh Thi published his book. General Tran Van Don published his. General Nguyen Cao Ky published his. General Cao Van Vien published his. General Ngo Quang Truong published his. General Nguyen Duy Hinh published his. General Dong Van Khuyen published his. General Tran Dinh Tho published his. General Vinh Loc published his. General Huynh Van Cao published his. General Ly Tong Ba published his: no one mentioned the name of General Hieu. Boston Publishing Company published a series of 23 books with the main theme "The Vietnam Experience", his name was nowhere to be found in the index.

That was the end of it: he should be relegated into oblivion.

But all of a sudden, in the end of May 1998, an unknown force within me directed me to go to my desk, turn on my computer and start typing the first words "Anh Toi, Tuong Hieu" (My Brother, General Hieu). Then, I kept on typing without an outline, without thinking clearly, without knowing all the details of a fact, without knowing the date of an event narrated, just typing in general. And thus, within two days, eight hours in total with interruptions, I wrapped up the article and sent it to be published in Van Nghe Tien Phong magazine. When my article appeared in the 541 issue at the end of July 1998, I devoured the article: I was surprised that the editor did not make any correction - since when am I such a good writer?

In a tandem with the article sent to VNTP, I also posted it into the Internet under the name of General Hieu's Homepage, black and white, just the naked article, without any pictures or illustrations.

I then received a few phone calls from friends who offered some details and suggested some corrections. From these inputs, I revised the article which increased from six to 16 pages!

Then I received phone calls and e-mails from strangers reacting favorably to my article, which enticed me into wanting to know more about my brother. I went into a frenzy process of researching, inquiring and was able to come up with "General Hieu's Military Career", based on information related to Generals whom I knew my brother was associated with.

Then I heard of and obtained the article " Major General Nguyen Van Hieu - Profile of a Competent and Virtuous General" authored by Colonel Trinh Tieu. I also found a chapter entitled "The Fate of a Patriot" about my brother in the "Fallen Leaves" authored by Nguyen Thi Thu Lam, a book forgotten among my father's piles of books.

I thought that was it. But something pushed me to contact the Pentagon, although I did not succeed with the CIA in the past: perhaps they might possess a dossier on my brother. The Pentagon advised me that after 20 years, which was 1995, all documents related to the Vietnam War had been declassified and sent in bulk to the National Archives. The National Archives told me I contacted them at the right moment because next week, the last week of August 1998, all documents related to the Vietnam War would be released 100 percent to the general public. Without saying, I hurried up to go down to Maryland and started hunting and fishing: not only did I find evaluation reports on my brother written by American Advisors, which was my initial intent, I also discovered other important documents I did not know exist, especially documents related to military operations and operation orders of General Hieu.

Furthermore, while in Maryland, unexpectedly one of my nephews without me asking, told me:"Do you want pictures of my dad?", resulting in me having all types of pictures of my brother, dating from the days prior to his entering the Military Academy in 1950 to 1975, even the three letters my brother wrote to his wife from the front-line, letters that none of my nephews and nieces knew were lying undetected among the piles of pictures all these years.

It seemed that my brother guided me to these pictures, to these letters, to the military documents so that they could be made known to the public about him, about his life, about his military exploits, about his abilities, and even about his unjust death.

I got the impression that my brother's spirit engulfed me, manipulated my heart and my mind and dictated to me the articles signed Nguyen Van Tin in this Homepage.

I am only an instrument of my brother:
General Hieu's Homepage is a SELF-EXPRESSION.


Nguyen Van Tin
(25 September 1998)

Nota Bene (08/22/2010) - I was deadly wrong when I stated on the outset of this preface that There would be not much and definitely nothing interesting related to him, why bother to write about him and I was more anchored into the conviction that my brother did not have worthwhile things to write about. Indeed, the time spent in searching and collecting documents related to General Hieu has to this date been exactly 12 years and the result is a website enormously documented not just for the sake of the military career of General Hieu as an individual but also for the entire military history of the ARVN as a whole.

Through the unfolding of this website, from a relatively unknown military figure, General Hieu has been recognized progressively as a competent general, then as the best general among the ARVN generals, and recently - a couple of months ago - one of the four military geniuses of Viet Nam (Tran Nhan Tong, Tran Hung Dao, Nguyen Hue and Nguyen Van Hieu).

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