Third Letter Stating The Fact

(Following is Brigadier General Le Trung Tuong's letter, III Corps Chief of Staff, in which he talks about General Hieu's death.)

Saigon 5/26/2002

Dear Tin,

I have received your letter through Su's introduction; I make efforts to answer you. The events are 27 years old and although I am near 80, they are still fresh in my memory, which allows me to remember them clearly in order to answer to your inquiry.

Hieu was a good friend of mine since the days in Hue then in Saigon, our paths crossed while we held different positions. As a close friend, every morning, noontime, evening, we took our meals together after office hours.

Hieu was a person who liked to tinker with pistols. He was a national champion pistol shooter when he was in I Corps. He always modified the trigger device of his pistols, in order to gain discharge's speed in practices as well as in competitions.

I remember the day the unexpected event occurred as you already knew, Hieu upon returning from a mission came into my office to invite me to have dinner together. At that moment I was too busy with paperworks and told him that after I finished reading the officials documents I would go to his office to invite him to go to dinner. He went back to his office, which was located about 30 meters away.

After about 15 minutes, a gun shot was heard, Hieu's staff members came over to my office to announce that a gun shot was heard coming out of Hieu's office. I immediately gave order to call the Judicial Military Police to come to open the door to investigate. After a few minutes, the Judicial Military Police arrived; they opened the door and saw Hieu lying nearby his desk with a pistol. The bullet went through his head, the gun shot wound was too serious and caused him to die on the spot ... Next the Judicial Military Police and the Security Police draw up the report. From that day to April 30, the situation in III Corps remained very critical until the day South Vietnam collapsed, the Army disbanded, some people left the country; as for me, at the last moment I was incarcerated for 13 years in the re-education camps.

As you can see those are the past events I try to remember to report them to you.

Allow me to stop here. Farewell. May you remain in good health, happy and I only wish that your family will always pray that Hieu's soul find peace in God's hands.

N.B.: Life nowadays has totally changed, let's correspond in friendship and not mention past military rankings.



Comments: In comparing statements made by General Tuong, Colonel Khuyen, Colonel Luong, Colonel Long, Colonel Trang, General An, General Toan, one can notice they are all different.

1. Before, it was said that General Hieu used to take meals together with Colonel Phan Huy Luong, Assistant to 3 Corps Deputy Commander/Operations; here is the first time it is said that General Hieu always eat together with General Tuong and that General Hieu invited General Tuong, not Colonel Luong to dinner.

2. Colonel Luong recalled that day, three persons, General Hieu, General Tuong and Colonel Luong, sat talking informally in General Tuong's office while waiting for dinner time. General Tuong said otherwise.

3. Reading official documents does not seem to be that important not to accept General Hieu's invitation to go to dinner immediately. Furthermore, why not ask General Hieu to sit down and wait a while, rather than tell him to go back to his office and wait there to be fetched? Wasn' t there a hidden intent?

4. When General Tuong wrote that "Hieu's staff members came over to my office to announce that a gun shot was heard coming out of Hieu's office", he confirmed Lieutenant Colonel Quyen's statement that there was no military guards nearby the offices (Lieutenant Colonel Quyen had stated that on that day General Tuong chased away all military guards units from the 3rd Corps HQ).

5. It is quite strange that when staff members of General Hieu's office heard a gun shot they ran to look for General Tuong instead of entering General Hieu's office to examine the situation. (The office door was not locked: General Hieu's body guard had testified that when office hours were long over and General Hieu's still had not emerged from his office, he went in and found General Hieu dead).

6. The fact that when he was told that there was a gun shot coming out of General Hieu's office, General Tuong immediately gave order to call the Judicial Military Security to come and investigate, instead of forming a group of soldiers to come to the rescue of General Hieu, gives indications that there were arrangements already in place to make things appear like it was a deathly - either intentional or unintentional - self-inflicted gun shot wound.

7. The statements of so called "witnesses" only concur the fact that General Hieu was a champion pistol shooter; besides that, all the other details differ among them (the incident happened before or after dinner; prior to it, what was General Hieu doing or with whom was he talking to; locations of bullet's body entrance). This fact leads us to the conclusion that there was a concerted - but poorly rehearsed - cover-up and that General Hieu did not die at the alleged time (5:00 to 6:00 pm) and location (his office).

"I saw his body," Hieu's father told us later that day. "Not only am I convinced that Hieu did not shoot himself, I am sure they shot him somewhere else and brought the body back. Like my daughter-in-law said, "there was no blood anywhere-just a speck of it under his chin." (The fate of a patriot).

Nguyen Van Tin
12 June 2002
Updated on 06.18.2002