General Toan's Attaché
Captain Do Duc's Testimony
Through the intermediary of a friend, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk on the phone with Captain Do Duc, General Toan's personnel attaché. Following is the content of our conversation pertaining to General Hieu's death.
I served as an attache of General Toan for 7, 8 years until the fall of Saigon. So that you believe what I am about to say is the truth, let me tell you something about my background. I am a Vietnamese of Chinese origin. I was born and grew up in Chau Doc Province. The reason I joined the army was because I was infuriated by a group of policemen who despised me for being a rich draft dodging Chinese when they stopped me in the street. I graduated with Class 25 of Thu Duc Military Academy and was sent to the 5th Regiment, 2nd Division. When General Toan witnessed my bravery in combat, and since I knew several Chinese dialects, he chose me to be his attaché. In that position, I accompanied him everywhere. When I started serving with him, I was an Aspirant 1st Lieutenant, and ended my service as a Captain.
I left the country with General Toan on April 29, 1975. At that time the 3rd Corps Headquarters had moved to the Armor Command Headquarters in Go Vap. That evening, at 5:30 p.m., our group comprised of General Toan, Lieutenant Colonel Ly Ngoc Duong, MD (General Toan's Bureau Chief), Colonel Hoang Dinh Tho (III Corps G3 Chief), Colonel Le Trong Dam (2nd Military Region Police Chief) and I boarded a helicopter piloted by Major Vo Van Luong as pilot and Lieutenant Phi as co-pilot. We took off at Go Vap and headed directly to the U. S. 7th Fleet.
I like General Toan because he was a good warrior and he was good to his soldiers. He only had a big bad trait which was liking girls too much.
I also like General Hieu because he was competent, honest and virtuous. I knew him since the days he was still Commanding General of the 22nd and the 5th Divisions.
Let me talk now about what I knew pertaining to the day when General Hieu died. That day, the atmosphere was very tense. There was a 100 percent base camp curfew. All day long, General Toan worked in his office at the 3rd Corps Headquarters. I sat on duty in the adjacent room. My room faced General Hieu's office. I recall that day General Toan did not meet with General Ly Tong Ba, 25th Division Commanding General, because whoever wanted to see General Toan had to go through me. At 5:30 p.m., General Toan had me called up his car to go back to his residence, located next to the Bien Hoa Administration Building, a mere 10-15 minute drive with a siren police military escort. After dropping off General Toan's briefcase, I went out drinking in the company of Air Force Major Luong, who had recently been transferred to the 3rd Corps from the 2nd Corps at my recommendation, and Air Force Major Cuu (still in Vietnam), who was well known as pilot of several Commanding Generals of the 3rd Corps. After 10 to 15 minutes into partying, we were told that General Toan had hastily returned to the Headquarters with his bodyguard. I dropped everything and speeded back to the Headquarters. When I arrived, the place was already crowded with military policemen working at the scene. General Toan had ordered General Hieu's office cordoned, and so, I did not get to see the crime scene. I heard General Toan gave order to speed up the investigation process to get to the bottom of the matter. After half an hour, I accompanied him back to his residence. Later, I heard the rumor that General Hieu liked to play with guns and might have accidentally shot himself.
What I am certain of is that General Toan could not have shot General Hieu, because I was with him all day long until he went home after 5:30 p.m. He respected General Hieu very much. He always addressed him as "Anh" (Elder Brother).
If General Toan stated that he heard General Hieu's accident news while in the air, he erred due to his diminished health condition as a result of a by-pass operation. Both his two pilots, Major Luong and Major Cuu, were partying with me; he could not have been up in the air at that moment.
If General Hieu was assassinated, then the assassin had to be someone who was very familiar with the maze inside the 3rd Corps Headquarters building. Even after been there 2, 3 months, I still got lost when I had to go from one office to another one. I rarely had the opportunity to enter General Hieu's office, except when I was asked by General Toan to invite General Hieu to step over to meet with him.
Comment (07/03/2004) - The odd presence of Colonel Le Trong Dam, Commander of II Military Region Police Force, on General Toan's evacuation helicopter flight let one to wonder why he received such a special treatment, while there were so many others close subordinates in III Corps. Either he had to be a very close relative or an intimate friend of his, or he had rendered a special service to General Toan. Perhaps General Toan was reciprocating favors because Colonel Dam had taken up the dirty job of eliminating General Hieu (either by pulling himself the trigger or by ordering one of his close subordinates, a policeman from II Military Region, to carry out the assassination)?
It was likely that when General Toan was ordered from his superiors (Thieu? Quang? Khiem?) to eliminate General Hieu, for lacking trusted subordinates within III Corps since he arrived here less than two months ago, he had to rely on elements coming from II Corps, like General Le Trung Tuong who was the one who lead a contingent of solders that chased all guards belonging to the Military Police unit of Lieutenant Colonel Quyen away of III Corps headquarters that day. General Toan and Colonel Dam had no difficulty of planting the assassin in General Toan's office, who just nêded to make a few steps to gain access into General Hieu's office which was situated close by, then to return quietly to General Toan's office to hide through, waiting for the situation to calm down, before beeing escorted away unnoticed by General Toan and Colonel Dam from the crime scene.
News updated.- On May 06, 2015 a military intelligence source revealed to me:
At 10:45 am when General Hieu entered his III Corps Deputy Commander's office, the assassin jumped over from behind, delivered a chopping blow at the back of neck causing a temporary immobilization, then used a small Browing P6.35 mm
caliber pistol to shoot at the chin. The bullet pierced the chin, traveled up to the brain and lodged inside the skull without exiting the head.
The assassin was General Toan's bodyguard, Captain Đỗ Đức, a third-degree black-belt Taekwondo.
Lieutenant Đỗ Đức standing behind General Toan (5/1972, Kontum)
Right after the killing, General Toan called President Thieu to let him know: "Mission accomplie".
-Hello, may I speak to Do Duc.
- Who is this?
- I am Tin. Is Duc available?
- Oh, hi Tin. this is Duc. Is there anything I can do for you?
- Have you been going in generalhieu.com recently?
- No, not at all. Is there anything new?
- I just updated the page about General Hieu's death. My brother let me know through "psychic pen" that you were the one who shot him.
- What did you just say? I did not hear clearly. Can you repeat? These days I have a hard-hearing.
- My brother let me know through "psychic pen" that you were the one who shot him.
- Preposterous. There is no such thing. I am a good man..
- How can I possibly know the matter. My brother let me know through "psychic pen" that you were the one who shot him.
- One has to back up one's words with proof.
- My brother told me through "psychic pen" to ask you, who gave you the pistol P6.35mm
- (long pause) I don't want to talk to you. (phone abruptly cut off)
(This telephone conversation occurred at 16:00 hours on May 17, 2015)
Nguyen Van Tin
14 August 1999
Updated on 05/17/2015