A Sinecure Position

After General Hieu was relieved of the 5th Division command following the retreat of Snoul in June 1971, he was "promoted" to the position of 1st Corps Deputy Commander/Operations, assistant to General Hoang Xuan Lam. Upon arriving in Da Nang, General Hieu felt immediately that he was assigned to a sinecure position. The proof was that although General Hieu held this position until January 1972, when General Lam was asked on 1/2/1999, he did not recall General Hieu ever had served as his deputy commander.

Nevertheless an American advisor named Gary recounted having met General Hieu in the 1st Military Region: "I was fortunate enough to have met the General. I was assigned with the ARVN Division at Chu Lai in 1972. They later went to Quang Tri after the Easter invasion of 1972. They then went to Phu Cat in August for the siege there. I happened to attend a few meetings where the General attended. These were meetings for strategy (not at Chu Lai)." ( Readers' Comments, # 188).

One particular incident occurred when General Hieu left the position of Deputy Commander of the 1st Corps to become Minister of Anti-Corruption under the aegis of Vice President Tran Van Huong in February 1972. Prior to the announcement of that date, he had been invited by the Commander of the American 7th Fleet to visit the American armada. Colonel Phan Dinh Soan was assigned to replace him. After consultation with his soothsayer to select a good day, he requested General Hieu to switch the date to an earlier day, prior to the 7th Fleet's visit date. General Hieu reluctantly acquiesced to the request, not wanting to miss the much coveted visit to the 7th Fleet. So, the newly installed Deputy Commander of the 1st Corps had that honor. Unfortunately, on the way to the 7th Fleet, the helicopter carrying the Deputy Commander blew up in the sky. General Hieu wondered if this mysterious accident was not aimed at him?!

Nguyen Van Tin
01 January 2001

Updated 09/16/2002