A Likable Fellow and A Revered Commander

While inquiring and researching about General Hieu, one salient fact struck me: everybody agreed that General Hieu was a likable fellow and a revered commander. These testimonies have been reported in different places of this homepage. They are hereby collected and assembled in this article to form a rosary of praising beads.

Military Cadet Hieu

Hieu was the one I admired the most...He was very jovial and very pleasant. Whoever met him for the first time would like him immediately...He had the appearance of a professor, Vietnamese and French instructors equally respected and liked him. (Cadet Dinh van Chung).
I sincerely praise Hieu concerning his magnificent attitude and character. (Cadet Nguyen Van Men).
He possessed an even-tempered, loyal and pleasant character. Tran Hung Dao's classmates all cherished Major General Hieu... (Cadet Hoang Xuan Lam).
We were not very close, but like the other classmates, we all cherished Hieu, because of his friendly and very humble character, although he was a young man with a high level of academic background. (Cadet Nguyen Van Toan).
All of us 3rd Class cadets cherished Hieu because he was very virtuous and competent. (Cadet Do Trong Nhuan).
I liked him right at the moment of our first encounter, because he appeared very congenial and humble. (Cadet Lu Mong Lan).
The inspector officer was Captain De Taine, commander of cadets Division. In an inspection, Hieu's pair of boots was used by Captain De Taine as a model of boots polishing. In reality, any cadet's pair of boots were polished thoroughly atop, but if the sole was closely examined, the majority had traces of dirt around nails' ends. But Hieu's pair of boots was spotless and sparkling upside down!... The day after the graduation, newly graduated officers departed to different avenues to serve the country, I retained a few soul-mate classmates in my memory, and among them Hieu occupied a special spot. (Cadet Quan Minh Giau).

Lieutenant Hieu

I resided at the bachelors' quarter of the General Staff compound and had as roommate Lieutenant Nguyen Van Hieu. Since then we knew each other well. He was a kind, religious and polite officer, extremely helpful toward his comrades. (Tran Ngoc Nhuan).

Captain Hieu

After the splitting of the country into two parts, I was transferred to G3 staff at the Joint General Staff, in charge of the General Research section; not long afterwards, Hieu was also transferred here as Deputy Head. I was overjoyed by our reunion. The first thing I noticed was he remained the same in his behavior and attitude, as in the old days. During the period we worked together at G3, I noticed that Hieu was very intelligent and diligent, sharp and quick in making decisions in strategy matters. Every staff member held him in high-esteem. (Colonel Quan Minh Giau).

Major Hieu

Major Wagner introduced me to the Vietnamese Deputy Chief of Operations in this Corps Area, Major Nguyen Van Hieu, a slight, alert, well-scrubbed individual whom Wagner, in an aside to me, characterized as "very bright." (A USMC Officer).
He was well liked and respected by his classmates. (Report Card, US Command and General Staff College).
I met an American adviser some years back who went to school with your brother (can't remember name) but remember him bragging about how good your brother was in school, and saying that he WOULD be a General very early! (Beverly Haire).

22nd Division Commanding General

More than 20 years had gone by, reminiscing Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, I cannot repress my strong emotions nor can I resist from admiring a competent, virtuous General...Not only myself, one could say that even to this day, the great majority of ARVN admire likable traits of Major General Nguyen Van Hieu...General Hieu's working style drew admiration and respect from soldiers at all levels at the 22nd Infantry Division, and everybody was proud to serve under his command. Toward those under his command, he was magnanimous, intelligent, non-partisan, incorruptible, accepting bribery from no one. Toward American and allies units, he commanded extreme respect and admiration for his dedication to the country and to the army...The Korean Major General of the Tiger Division respected Major General Hieu... (Colonel Trinh Tieu).
I admired two Generals the most. First, General Do Cao Tri...Second, General Hieu because he fought with high class...It is without saying that General Hieu excelled in strategy, but he was also excellent as a tactician...One could not possibly compare General Ngo Quang Truong to General Hieu... (Colonel Le Khac Ly).
I was glad we had spent so much time working with the 22d Army of the Republic of Vietnam Division on airmobile tactics, since the 22d, under the able leadership of Colonel Nguyen Van Hieu, would have to bear the major burden in Binh Dinh Province for a time. (...) During Operation PERSHING over 29 joint operations were conducted with the 22d Army of the Republic of Vietnam Infantry Division. The 40th Regiment of this division played a major part in the Battle of Tam Quan. (Major General John Tolson)
My best memory of him is that he was a very proud man who was respected by his troops. (Jason Kaatz).

5th Division Commanding General

General Hieu is an above average commander...He is rated better than the average US Division commander in his overall performance. (Colonel John G. Hayes).
In those numerous times when our C&C helicopter was hit by enemy fire, General Hieu used to tell jokes in order to alleviate the tension and fear of the other passengers. (Major Edgar C. Doleman).
I served as the Personal Security officer for General Creighton Abrams. I can tell you he had great respect for General Hieu and always spoke highly of his integrity, honor and valor. (Raymond E. D'Addario).
When I saw his picture on the home page, I remembered him one time in Cambodia...The high ranking guy I was with said that if Vietnam had this man in control, we would be pushing the NVA back from where they came. I wished I could have met General Van Hieu just once just to have known one of the real fighting men. (Claude Stevens).
Among the three Divisional Commanding Generals of the 3rd Corps (the 5th, the 18th and the 25th), General Do Cao Tri valued General Hieu the most...In General Hieu's life, two individuals loved him the most: Vice-President Tran Van Huong and General Do Cao Tri... (Colonel Nguyen Khuyen).
During the period Hieu was Commanding General of the 5th Infantry Division, I was a House Representative of the Congress, representing Binh Long sector...Because he was a very able Commanding General, competent equally in strategy and tactics, and with his straightforwardness, directness, non-partisanship, honesty, he was respected by many people, but also disliked by a few. (Duong Van Thuy).
I was an opponent of Vietnamization.... I will tell just one story. I visited (some units in the field) and tried to understand the program of Vietnamization of the war...it was in the headquarters of 5th Division. I discussed the question with the commander of the division, General Nguyen Van Hieu, a most honest general, and capable, too. I was surprised by his answer; it opened my eyes. I asked him, 'What do you think of Vietnamization?' He said to me, 'It's impossible to be implemented.' 'Why?' He said, 'The 5th Division covers an area where there were two other divisions, Americans, and now with the departure of the two American divisions I have only my division to cover the whole area. I have three regiments for this area and must use one regiment to replace one division. How can I face the enemy like this? I have become weaker.' He looked very disappointed. I was surprised; he was a quiet man, a polite man, and he tried to do his best. But he said to me that this was impossible. 'How can I cover a bigger area with less units?' So the Vietnamization of the war means that we are becoming weaker. (General Tran Van Don)

3rd Corps Deputy Commander

I took delight in conversing at length with General Hieu. He was not like other Generals. He was more of a literary-like type than a soldier-like type." (Colonel Phan Huy Luong).
He was really a competent General and especially an incorruptible one. The image of a General young, handsome but simply dressed, calm, friendly and unpretentious is still vivid in my memory...During all the years I served in the Military Security, I had read numerous reports concerning high-ranking officers' and generals' misdeeds, corruptions and abuses of power during that period, but I had never come across any report that talked badly about General Hieu. (Colonel Nguyen Khuyen).
We, class of Tran Hung Dao, are very proud for having a friend as loyal and as self-confident as Major General Nguyen Van Hieu. (Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Lam).
It was not until November 1974, when I was assigned to the 3rd Corps that I met Hieu again, who was holding the position of Deputy Commander in charge of operations at the Corps. We cooperated very amicably and efficiently. He was still able to maintain his friendliness and humility as before...The battlefield situation was very critical at that time... Major General Hieu always denoted a high degree of competency and always performed his duties admirably. (Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Toan).
If the ARVN had more Generals of General Hieu's caliber, Vietnam should have not been lost. (General Tran Van Don).
In the ARVN, only General Hieu had the ability and the charisma of handling troops at the Corps level; the other Generals were only able to hold units up to the divisional level. (An American General).
The Vice-President and Mr. Van dearly loved General Hieu...Upon receiving the news of General Hieu's death, the Vice-President and Mr. Van personally went to the scene to pay their respect before his body was passed on to the funeral director. (Brigadier General Ly Ba Hy).
A few years ago, Colonel Trinh Tieu...mentioned Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, with an absolute love and respect toward a Commander who was gallant, honest and most revered. (Lieutenant General Lu Lan).
General Hieu was an honest and virtuous general, with a clear vision of the political and strategic behind-the-scenes in the national and international stages. He was indeed a visionary and charismatic leader of the Republic of Vietnam that Vietnam had lacked for more than a century; however, opportunity presented itself too late to allow him to deploy his talents. In late 1972, he had demonstrated to me his anti-communist patriotism and shared with me his predictions pertaining to the new policy adopted by the United States after the visit to Red China by Nixon. Just one hour eating lunch with him at the An Dong Officers’ Club in late April 1974, I knew he was an outstanding international strategist, besides his outstanding intellectual and military talents. He understood clearly the danger of losing the country after the Paris Agreement, the anti-war movement in the United States, the Watergate scandal of President Nixon and the law limiting the war power of the United States President. Nevertheless, he remained steadfast with policies of “Drinking to the Last Drop”, “Finishing the Job Despite Allies’ Dropout”, “Fighting Tooth and Nail Against the Enemy”… He had a ready plan for “Delaying Tactical War” with a diplomatic line of action in the international arena; however, “Man Proposes and God Disposes”, and conditions did not allow him to save the match move against the Republic of Vietnam. When I accompanied him to the parking lot, I came to realize that a new mission which was not in line with the TO&E was awaiting me when General Hieu revealed to me the letter President Nixon had sent to President Thieu in which he promised with Thieu the United States would intervene in the Vietnam War if the VC transgressed seriously the agreement. I respectfully saluted the visionary and charismatic leader, a “Samurai” warrior of the 20th Century. (Tran Van Thuong).

Nguyen Van Tin
01 April 2000.

Updated on 07.21.2006