Letters from the Front-Line

It was a pure stroke of luck that Dung, my brother's eldest son discovered three letters that General Hieu wrote to his wife from the front-line, while directing Operation Snoul. These three letters are extremely personal, my nieces and nephews would prefer to keep them private. However I noticed the contents of these letters reveal the innermost personality of General Hieu and decided to have them exposed to the public. While reading these letters, you will undoubtedly detect:

To what degree General Hieu cherished his wife and children (through his loving and attentive words and thoughts);

To what degree General Hieu was incorruptible (his salary barely covered a month);

To what degree General Hieu was simple (his style was plain and to the point);

To what degree General Hieu possessed equanimity (these letters were written during the peak period of Operation Snoul);

To what degree General Hieu possessed style and finesse (through his elegant penmanship);

To what degree General Hieu was religious (he always included his Christian name when he signed his name: P. [aul] Hieu);


Nguyen Van Tin (9/1998)

1. Letter dated 23 March 1971.

23 March 1971

Sweetheart Huong,

Today I am going to Loc Ninh to command an operation in Kampuchea. Although the operation will last an indefinite period of time, I will certainly have the opportunity to return to Lai Khe. As of returning to Saigon, it will depend on the situation over there.

I take the opportunity of Dong's return to send you March paycheck, if I wait for another opportunity I am afraid you will run out of spending money.

If Hoang is still opinionated, you should use some psychology in reasoning with him and avoid talking badly about him in front of other kids or other adults. On the contrary, if he does something worth praising, you should speak up in front of other persons.

Our Benjamin has undoubtedly grown a little bit more and has learned some more tricks.


P. Hieu

2.Letter dated 21 April 1971

Lai Khe, 21 April 1971

Sweetheart Huong,

Since I am sending you 2 boxes of oranges and apples given by the 7th Regiment, I have Dong bring you back April paycheck. I had put half a dozen of oranges and half a dozen of apples into the refrigerator. This paycheck has additional living standard subsidy and is exempted from monthly income tax deductions.

I stayed up in Loc Ninh last Monday and has just returned to Lai Khe Tuesday evening and depending on the situation will stay here until next Monday. Do you plan to come to Lai Khe this Sunday?

Ty behaves well and is lovely. She is in the easy period until a few more months when her teeth start to grow, then she will start to be restless.

Hasta a la vista.


P. Hieu

3. Letter dated 25 May 1971

Lai Khe, 25 May 1971

Sweetheart Huong,

I will only have the opportunity to go home at the end of the month, that is why I am sending you in advance May paycheck. This month they deduct income tax according to the tax chart.

I am also sending back 12 batteries for Dung, Cam and some pears. I was away the last few days and this Sunday the children did not come to Lai Khe. Consequently, nobody ate those pears stored in the refrigerator.

Hang has learned how to turn over and should be rolling all over the bed like a top.

After this operation, things should ease up a little bit because the rainy season is here soon.

Doctor Hoan, the Head of Military Medicine told me that he promises to help your younger brother Phuc and will give him high mark in consideration of his family situation.

Madame Four Star General Tri sends out invitation for a religious ceremony and dinner commemorating 100 days on 2 June 1971. Do you plan to go?


P. Hieu