What's ironic was that only the promotions of low-ranking officers endured complicated and unjust regulations. As for the promotions of high-ranking officers, they were subjected to the pleasure of high authority, or depended on the fact one was or was not a member of the clan. When President Thieu visited An Loc after the siege, after he had pinned the Third Class National Honor Medal on Brigadier General Hung and me, and after he had promoted some officers, Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Minh suddenly asked: "Truong, did you already have a Third Class National Honor Medal?". Colonel [Mach Van] Truong answered: "Not yet, Sir." Lieutenant General Minh hastily picked up a Third Class National Honor Medal and passed it on to President Thieu to be pinned on to Colonel Truong.
(A couple of weeks before, when An Loc's situation was extremely hot, Lieutenant Colonel Truong came along together with a few of his bodyguards to my provincial headquarters, with bandages around his neck as if he was wounded, asking to be evacuated. But Colonel Luong and myself had given orders to the personnel in charge of the medevac landing zone, situated South of the provincial headquarters to reserve medevac priority to heavily wounded fellow combatants, or those incapable of standing up on their feet. The rest should be treated at the provincial hospital).
On the contrary, Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Minh, who replaced General Do Cao Tri who died on a helicopter accident in Tay Ninh, treated an elder honest General who was well liked by the population, Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, former 5th Infantry Division Commander, with disrespect and contempt, just because the 8th Infantry Regiment commanded by Colonel Bui Trach Dan in 1971 suffered heavy losses in the Snoul withdrawal back to Loc Ninh and Major General Hieu was immediately replaced by Colonel Le Van Hung. (The officer who was more qualified to command the 5th Infantry Division was Colonel Le Nguyen Vy, an honest officer, with many years of experience with the 5th Infantry Division in the 3rd Military Region).
In similar circumstances, units of the 5th Infantry Division suffered heavy losses in Loc Ninh, the Commander was promoted to full Brigadier General on the battlefield, although General Hung wore the rank of provisional Brigadier General just recently and the battlefront of An Loc had not yet begun.
Such was the calamity of partisanship and favoritism that ravaged the entire South Vietnam at that time. What was unacceptable was the fact that those officers who had served at the 21st Infantry Division (the royal Division), established by General Tran Thien Khiem (who held the position of Prime Minister at the moment), were all placed in high key posts in the army, in preparation to back up General Khiem to become the next President. Therefore this promotion was not out of the ordinary because Generals Quang, Nghi, Minh, Hung and Lieutenant Colonel Truong, etc. all originated from the 21st Infantry Division.
Brigadier General Tran Van Nhut