The Death Certificate indicates General Hieu died at 7:00 p.m. on 8 April 1975 in his office at Corps 3 Headquarters. His family was notified after 7:00 p.m. But then when I started to explore the truth surrounding his death, I encountered a hard to understand fact: some people put General Hieu's death at noon time, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., while others asserted that he died in the evening, between 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Time-frame: Noon Time
The first person who revealed to me that General Hieu had died at noon time was Colonel Nguyen Khuyen (Head of 3 Corps Military Security) in his letter dated July 18, 1998, when he responded to my letter inquiring about my brother's death. He still remembered vividly the scenario as follows: he met with General Hieu in his office at the 3rd Corps Headquarters from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; he drove back to his office which was located at approximately a 10 minute drive; he was about to go out for lunch with some friends who had come from Saigon to visit him, when he got the news of General Hieu's suicide.
At the end of August 1998, while I was in Virginia researching documents about General Hieu at the National Archives, I paid a visit to Brigadier General Tran Dinh Tho (Chief of Staff, Joint General Staff). He confirmed with me that General Hieu had died at noon time, because he still recalled that day, he was about to have a late lunch due to a busy schedule when Colonel Luong called to report General Hieu's tragic death.
I remember that Colonel Nguyen Van Y (Director of Central Intelligence Agency) told me in 1986 that General Hieu had died with an empty stomach for not having the chance to eat lunch.
Through Colonel Le Khac Ly (2 Corps Chief of Staff) as an intermediary, Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Toan (Commander 3 Corps) said General Hieu died at noon time.
In May 1999, I got the opportunity to meet Brigadier General Tran Quang Khoi (Commander of 3 Corps Assault Task Force) in Virginia, and in a subsequent telephone conversation in June 1999, he placed General Hieu's death at noon time, because that morning he met with General Hieu in Go Dau Ha at 8:30 a.m.; around 9:30 a.m. General Hieu flew back to Bien Hoa; a few hours later, he received the news of General Hieu's death. He specifically said that he had read Colonel Khuyen's letter and concurred with Colonel Khuyen's time-frame of the events.
In June 1998, after I had read the book entitled Memoir of 25 year War authored by Brigadier General Ly Tong Ba (Commander of 25th Division), I telephoned him to inquire about my brother. I was told: he met with General Toan that afternoon; after the meeting, on his way to the helipad, he passed by General Hieu's office and heard soldiers talking about General Hieu's being killed in his office; he did not linger for more information because he had to hurry back to his units.
In his letter dated January 4, 1999, Colonel Ta Thanh Long (Head of Vietnamese Delegation, member of 4-Party and 2-Side Combined Military Committee) confirmed that General Hieu had died in the evening. He recounted the event as follows: he participated in a meeting presided by General Hieu at 5:30 p.m.; also present were Brigadier General An, Colonel Luong and the American Consul General of Bien Hoa; after the meeting, when Colonel Luong invited General Hieu to go to supper, he went to meet with the chairman of the International Committee Monitoring the Paris Agreement; that meeting lasted 20 minutes; afterwards he returned to his office and got the news of General Hieu's death upon his arrival.
On January 23, 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Quyen, Commander of 3 Corps Military Police, stated to me that General Hieu died sometimes after 6:30 p.m. He recalled that day, the Military Police guards under his command was chased away from the 3 Corps Headquarters by Brigadier General Le Trung Tuong accompanied by a group of soldiers in combat outfit. That evening, after taking a 6:30 p.m. shower, he passed by the Headquarters and saw General Hieu still sitting at his desk in his office. He added that when he had to assume the investigation of the crime, he was afraid for the life of the investigators under his command and had to resort to a scheme to bring in the Police group of Captain Thinh Van Phuc, and the POLWAR group of Colonel Nguyen Hung Khanh, to alleviate the responsibilities of his investigation team and the pressure coming from higher authority.
In May 1999, I was introduced to Colonel Le Van Trang (Commander of 3 Corps Artillery Unit) in Virginia. He told me that General Hieu had died in the evening. He recalled the event as follows: at 5:30 p.m., he had a brief meeting with General Hieu; Brigadier General An and Colonel Luong were also present; they planned for the next day's activities; after approximately 20 minutes, General Hieu ended the meeting; he and Brigadier General An returned to their home to have supper; General Hieu and Colonel Luong were making arrangements to have supper at the Officers' canteen when he departed; while he was taking a shower, he was told that Colonel Luong called him on the phone; when he returned the phone call, Colonel Luong announced the news of General Hieu's death.
In June 1999, I was able to contact Brigadier General Dao Duy An (3 Corps Deputy Commander in charge of Territory) by phone. He told me that General Hieu had died in the evening. His recollection of the event was as follows: at 5:30 p.m. of that day, he spoke privately with General Hieu in an unofficial meeting (with no other people present); afterwards, he returned to his family for supper, and was aware that General Hieu was about to head back - on his own (without Colonel Luong 's invitation) to his "trailer" where he was supposed to have his supper; not long afterwards, while supper was not ready yet, he received a phone call from Colonel Luong advising him General Hieu was just been shot; upon arriving at the Headquarters he saw General Toan was already there and General Hieu was dead sitting at his desk. That night, the Headquarters was plunged into total darkness, with all lights out. General Toan gave order to a Major to transport General Hieu's body on a red cross jeep to the hospital, without the benefit of the care and concern of any other officers.
In the beginning of July 1999, after several months of inquiring, I was finally given Colonel Phan Huy Luong's (Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of Operations) phone number. In our phone conversation, he provided the following details: around 5 or 5:30 p.m., General Hieu, Brigadier General Le Trung Tuong (3 Corps Chief Of Staff) and Colonel Luong, as a daily routine, chatted unofficially in the Chief Of Staff's office while awaiting for supper time; Colonel Luong invited General Hieu to go to supper; General Hieu went back to this office to pick up something; a moment later, a gun shot was heard in the Deputy Commander's Office; some Military Police soldiers ran in and came out to announce the news of General Hieu being shot; a moment later General Toan appeared; Colonel Luong said he was too upset by the tragic event to pay attention to what happened afterwards. He stated that he did not make any phone calls to anybody to communicate the news. He also added that to these days, he still did not know the results of the investigation, nor if the bullet had been found or not. He also let me know that Doctor Chi, the medical examiner, had died...
1. Those who placed General Hieu's death at noon time could be considered as being "outsiders" of the 3rd Corps Command Post. While those who placed General Hieu's death in the evening were more directly tied with the 3rd Corps Command Post.
2. There are no contradictions in the recollection of those who sided with the noon time-frame.
3. There are several conflicting details in the statements of those who placed General Hieu's death in the evening:
4. Colonel Luong confirmed that he did not make any phone calls. All the phone calls placed to General Tho, General An, Colonel Khuyen, Colonel Long and Colonel Trang should have been originated from the 3rd Corps Headquarters, using Colonel Luong's name.
5. Lieutenant Colonel Quyen (Military Police), stated that Military Police guards protecting 3rd Corps Headquarters under his command had been chased away by Brigadier General Le Trung Tuong during the day. Therefore those Military Policemen who exited from the Deputy Commander's office belonged to which unit or were they the perpetrators in disguise?
6. Colonel Luong was not aware of the meeting between General Toan and General Ly Tong Ba that day. He got the impression General Toan came over to General Hieu's office from his nearby house when he heard the news.
7. After General Hieu was killed, Colonel Luong feared for his own life, while Brigadier General An noticed that all the officers stayed away as far as possible of the crime scene instead of pouring in to express their sympathy, General Toan ordered all lights turned off and the Headquarters plunged into total black out... When the investigation of the crime was imposed on to him, Lieutenant Colonel Quyen feared for the life of his investigators. If it was only a mere accident then why such a gloomy atmosphere?
8. The discrepancy in times of death definitely suggests to a coverup scheme, especially if one adds to it the discrepancy in the location of the inflicted gun shot entry wound: chin (medical examiner), temple (Colonel Khuyen), mouth (3rd Corps spokesman) and eye (General Toan).
News updated: 05.06.2015
Nguyen Van Tin