Psychic Pen Phenomenon (2)

I wrote in the Preface: "I am only the instrument of my brother. General Hieu's homepage is self-expression." And in the Epilogue: Psychic Pen Phenomenon (1), I have briefly touched upon the psychic pen phenomenon that I have been experiencing while designing and constructing this homepage. At this present time, I would like to go further into detail about a few typical instances concerning this unusual psychic pen phenomenon (automatic writing is a more familiar term).

The Front Page Photo.

I obtained this photo not long before the time I started establishing General Hieu's homepage. It fell into my hands under the following circumstances: Following the days Saigon fell into Communists' hands in May 1975, one of my cousins passed by my brother's house in the Chi Hoa Officers Housing Complex and saw the house was turned upside down with papers and photos littered all over the rooms. She took home a few photos. At the end of 1989, she escaped by boat and brought along with her this photo with the purpose of showing it to the immigration authority as proof that she was related to a Vietnamese officer and thus would be admitted into the United States. Once in the United States, she gave it to my father. At the beginning of July 1998, when I needed a photo to illustrate my article, My Brother, General Hieu, on the Internet, my father gave me the only photo as a general of my brother in our family's possession at that time. This photo is entirely appropriate to this website in that it includes all elements expressed in this homepage: military, intelligentsia, virtue, religion, American advisors, etc... I realized that my brother had chosen this photo to be inserted into his homepage. If it is indeed so, he has laid the foundation for this homepage since 1975!

The Legend of Di Linh Leprosarium

When my cousin learned that I was writing about my brother, she told me that when she was still in Vietnam, she had seen a photo of my brother taken with Monsignor Jean Cassaigne, the founder of the Di Linh leprosarium who was dying of leprosy at the Di Linh leprosarium. That photo was published in a book she had found in the library of a Benedictine Order in Thu Duc. I urged her to provide me with a copy of that book or at least a copy of that photo so that I could have proof that my brother used to spend time at a leprosarium. Otherwise, who would believe an army General's presence at such a place. Nonetheless, before obtaining any proof, when I wrote the article entitled Virtuous and Religious Traits in General Hieu, I wrote, or, instead, my brother made me write, that General Hieu used to visit Monsignor Jean Cassaigne at the Di Linh leprosarium.

Then one Saturday, I went to the Public Library on 42nd street to search for pictures of tanks. While I was scrolling down titles of books under the "Vietnam" section on a computer monitor, my eyes suddenly caught the title of a book in French: La Vie de Monseigneur Jean Cassaigne (Biography of Monsignor Jean Cassaigne). I immediately submitted a request for that book to be retrieved with the hope of finding that intriguing photo. To my great disappointment, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, I read the following sentence (in French): At 9:30 a.m. on April 12, 1972, Major General Nguyen Van Hieu entered the bedroom of Monsignor Jean Cassaigne and bestowed him with the 4th Degree of National Honor Medal." So, at least I got proof of General Hieu's appearance at Di Linh leprosarium.

Then, what happened next was incredible. My cousin went back to Vietnam to visit her family. She seized this opportunity to go back to the Benedictine Order's library in Thu Duc to seek out the book in which she had seen the photo in question, but the book was nowhere to be seen. That night, my brother appeared in her dream and ordered her to go up to Di Linh, where she would find photos of him. The next morning, with apprehension, she made the trip to the remote area of Di Linh. And low and behold, when she was introduced into the visitors' room, she saw quite a few photos of General Hieu hanging on the walls! She was permitted to make copies of these photos and, once back into the United States, mailed them to me. And I put up two of these photos (1) and (2) on my web site. And so, my brother had urged me not to hesitate to write something, because he would provide me with the proof later on!

General Hieu, Deputy Commander of Corps 1.

When my brother was fired from the command post of the 5th Division after the battle of Snoul, I recalled vaguely he was transferred to Danang, Center of Vietnam, as Deputy Commander of Corps 1, under Commanding General Hoang Xuan Lam. But then when I tried to verify this fact among several officers - Captains, Majors, Colonels, and Generals - nobody seemed to recall my brother ever held that position in Danang. One day, Colonel Ta Thanh Long told me by phone that he was about to meet General Lam at a wedding ceremony and would ask him directly and in-person that question. The following week I received a letter from him stating that General Lam's response was negative: "No, General Hieu had never been his Deputy Commander." General Hieu, seeing that everybody seemed to have a short memory immediately sent me - through the intermediary of my cousin - those photos taken at the Di Linh leprosarium in April 1972. One of these photos showed General Hieu wearing the insignia of Corp 1! Afterward, I received a letter from General Lam apologizing for wrongly stating to Colonel Long that General Hieu had never been his Deputy Commanding General; he did so briefly!

Harvesting Documents At The National Archives.

When I was nudged by my brother into approaching the National Archives at the end of August 1998, my sole purpose was to find evaluation reports of American Advisors regarding General Hieu, because I thought those were the only types of documents that the American Advisors would have brought back from Vietnam.

Regulations and rules established at the National Archives were stringent: no pens are allowed in the building, pencils will be provided; no hats or handbags are permitted; all types of transcripts and photocopies must be reviewed and stamped at the exit; all documents are allowed to be copied but each time prior approval must be granted; all researchers are closely monitored, with archival staff showing up to ask questions at any infraction or suspected move; any request slip of documents must be accurately filled out and must be reviewed and countersigned by an archival staff prior to submission; the maximum of each request is 22 boxes loaded on a cart; the waiting time of each request is one hour and a half.

Because of all those strict regulations and rules, one must proceed with careful planning and decisive decision-making in the selection of documents to be copied. Initially, I was looking for pages in which General Hieu's name appeared and photocopied them. But at a very early stage, I commenced to function on an automatic pilot mode: choosing this page, discarding that page without knowing why or why not. I thus operated like a zombie, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break at noontime, starting on Monday and finishing on Friday of that week. I carried home a pack of approximately 400 pages of photocopied documents, not knowing how I would exploit and make use of these documents because, among them, I only got four pages regarding evaluations of General Hieu.

But as one can see, the outcome was that, from these inordinate documents, my brother had produced more than 200 8"x11" pages discoursing about General Hieu. One should know that those articles were generated without any pre-planning from my part. Usually, a sudden title sparked in my brain, then at 3:00 a.m. I went to my desk, turned on the computer, started to type without any outline, beginning the introduction paragraph without having any idea what the main body and what the conclusion would look like! Each time a backup document was needed, my hand just reached out and pulled out the right documents without any painful search. The writing process was extremely smooth and easy: I was working under my brother's guidance. In other words, my brother was using a psychic pen in me.

Someone suggested that I was able to write because I had the documents in my hands. Let me offer you the following metaphor: You and I, we go to the supermarket and carry back home vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, etc... Once, in the kitchen, you ask me to cook a 9-course meal, to which I vehemently protest because I have never learned how to cook. But then, since you insist, I roll up my sleeves and attack my task of coming up with nine dishes. You taste and like each one of them and scold me for having lied to you in saying I did not know how to cook! Dear reader, you should know I have produced more than 30 articles dealing with military subjects while I have no military background whatsoever! Was that not a psychic pen phenomenon?

Virtuous and Religious Traits in General Hieu.

Let me narrate how I put together this article. One day, I phoned to Colonel Le Khac Ly to ask him one piece of information concerning my brother. He answered that he did not know it; he then carried on the conversation with "bric and brac" memories about his relationship with my brother. A few days later, I had to call Colonel Ta Thanh Long to resolve a particular matter; afterward, he went on reminiscing about my brother. The following week, I called Colonel Nguyen Khuyen to thank him for sending me an article, and we freely exchanged thoughts about General Hieu. In all these telephone conversations, I did not pay much attention to, nor did I jot down any notes of our exchanges. Nevertheless, a few days later, the psychic pen drew out the article entitled Virtuous and Religious Traits in General Hieu, the content of which was woven with details provided by our above-mentioned three Colonels in non-related telephone conversations.


When my brother wanted me to discourse about "Blitzkrieg" tactic in the article entitled General Hieu, A Competent General, I felt totally at a loss: I did not have a clue about this tactic; I might have heard of it when I studied global history in high school (but then I was not very fond of history). I roamed the hallways where I worked, stopping any social studies teachers that I could from enquiring about the "Blitzkrieg" tactic, without receiving any enlightened responses. While experiencing a feeling of a total loss, I accessed and aimlessly surfed the Internet. All of a sudden, my mouse clicked to a web site with the name Achtung Panzer, a German title the meaning of which escaped me. A second click of the mouse brought me to the site with a heading Concept of Blitzkrieg! It has to be my brother, who leads me to this site!

With the theory of "Blitzkrieg" in my possession, I was further guided to the battle of Svay Rieng narrated in the Vietnam Experience series that I had posted in my article entitled Deputy Commander of 3rd Corps. Low and behold, I discovered to my amazement that there was a perfect match between the theory as spelled out by the textbook and the implementation of that theory as realized in that particular battle. There is no possible denial that the Svay Rieng battle employed the "Blitzkrieg" tactic.

Attack versus Retreat Posture

In the article General Hieu, A Competent General, when I reached the section The Art Of Military Retreat, I was stuck because I did not know how to discourse about the military retreat. I was forced to turn off the computer and planned to look for books dealing with military retreat, especially books written by Pham Kim Vinh, whom I had heard used to be an instructor of strategy and tactics in Vietnamese Military Colleges. But at 3 o'clock a.m. of the following day, upon starting up my computer as usual, my fingers began to type lines which matched one by one between attack and retreat postures (action/reaction, phases well defined/undefined, solid/loose coordination, element of time at/not at one disposal, with/without firepower supports, uni/quadri-dimensional front line, targeted/untargeted enemy, high/low troops morale), while my eyes followed wide opened the appearance of these lines that, although were the direct products of my fingers, but definitely the lines of thoughts were not mine!

The Unique Combat Style of General Hieu.

Since I have no military background and have never undergone military training, I have no idea what combat consists of, how could I possibly describe the unique combat style of General Hieu ?! That was why I was startled when all of a sudden, I started to type the title of this article.

After I finished typing the first paragraph, approximately one page long, in which I was able to attribute the unique style of General Hieu to his general staff background, I was so happy, and turned off my computer, assuming my task was done. But to my amazement, the next morning, I continued to type: unique due to 3 factors: intelligence, recon units, and tandem infantry-armor formula, without any premeditation, and without having a clue to how I was going to develop these three headings!

Then, the first section - the emphasis on intelligence gathering - was produced without much difficulty because I just had to rely on the documents already in hand. However, when I reached the second section - the usage of recon units - I bumped into a dead-end street because the documents in hand did not mention about this element. At that moment in time, I switched into looking up my e-mails. Low and behold, an e-mail pop up whose author was Tran Hoai Thu, a former recon officer of 22nd Division Commanding General Hieu. And so the content of that unexpected e-mail became the content of the second section!

I have to confess that when my brother used the psychic pen to make me write the section "Tandem Infantry-Armor Formula" was the very first time I came to be aware that he excelled in the usage of armored vehicles because I knew he did not originate from armor units.

The Battle of Snoul.

When I tackled this article, I was in the dark in terms of the starting and the ending dates of this operation, and thus was unable to select which operational order documents to rely on in the reconstruction of this operation. It was the discovery of the three letters which my brother had sent to his wife from the front-line that allowed me to pinpoint the starting date and the ending date of this Snoul operation. The result was a report, with all the details of Snoul operation under the own eyes of the Commanding General, who had designed and commanded this battle.

A Bold Statement.

When I wrote the sentence: An American General once told me: "Within the ARVN, perhaps only General Hieu has the ability and the charisma to handle an army corps with effectiveness; the other Generals are only capable of handling units up to a division," in my very first article My Brother, General Hieu in June 1998, when I still did not have any military documents related to my brother, I felt very reluctant because this statement sounded so bold, how the other Generals would take it. I intended to erase that sentence so many times but was unable to act on my intention, and it was as if an invisible force prevented me from doing so.

Afterward, I focused my attention on digging up instances in which my brother commanded an army corps, to no avail. The documents at hand only mentioned his command up to the division level, as Commanding General of the 22nd and 5th Division, followed by the position of Deputy Commander of the 1st and the 3rd Corps. Perhaps what our American General meant was that General Hieu had the potential ability but not the actual exercise of Corps level command. But then suddenly, at the end of December 1998, my brother revealed to me that General Hieu had indeed deployed units of the entire 3rd Corps in the battle of Svay Rieng in April 1974, described in the article 3rd Corps Deputy Commander. His command to me was: write, I shall provide proof!

Another Bold Statement.

In the article Competent General, my brother dictated to me:

When God creates an individual with a special mission, He stamps a distinctive mark on that individual right at the moment of conception. Therefore, one doesn't have to be a physiognomist to be able to recognize the aura of a General in General Hieu's physiognomy. Just by looking at General Hieu's pictures, one would not hesitate to state that he possessed the features of a General more than any other ARVN Generals...
When I typed to this point, I whispered to my brother: "Well, well, well, aren't you boasting a little too much!?"
Meanwhile, my fingers continued typing: ...or any other Armies,...
I burst out: "What are you saying!?"
My fingers did not stop typing: ...of ancient as well as modern times.
I yelled out loud: "Don't make me write as such, I would not dare post it up onto the internet: people will laugh at me and think I am deranged and preposterous!"

But then I could not erase this paragraph. And I waited in anxiety for the day readers would protest vehemently. But strangely, this article was consecutively selected and printed in 6 Vietnamese magazines (that I was aware of) - 3 in Canada, 2 in California and 1 in Atlanta - verbatim, without any modification or erasure! So many readers had read it without any reaction. It seemed that everybody accepted it as an ordinary assertion and gobbled it with ease!

Captain Do Duc, General Toan's Attache

How was I able to find Captain Do Duc? Captain Do Duc found me, or instead, my brother caused him, led him to me in the following fantastic chain of events.

I lent a copy of General Hieu's Page to a friend of mine, who then gave it to a friend of his. This friend has a friend who has a brother living in Little Rock, Arkansas. This brother of his, Captain Do Duc, came to Brooklyn, New York, to visit his brother, who took him to his friend's house. Upon entering this house, Captain Do Duc noticed the copy of General Hieu's Page on the table, and picked it up to read by curiosity, then revealed to his brother's friend that he is General Toan's attache and would like to talk to General Hieu's brother!

A Low-Key and Discreet General

A reminder: this article, like the other articles, was typed without a preplanned outline, which means under the psychic-pen phenomenon as follows.

When I started to type the title of the article, A Low-Key and Discreet General, I thought I was about to write about my brother's modesty. I did not know the outcome would be the opposite of my preconception.

The first subtitle appeared under my fingers, One Among Other Competent Generals. "Well, that's strange", I thought to my self.
Then the second subtitle appeared, The Most Competent General. "My God! How am I going to prove such a terrible assertion!? Through statistics? Draw up a comparison between General Hieu and the other Generals on the number of significant battles, of enemy KIA, of weapons, collected, of tanks, destroyed...? Where can I dig out back up documents? I do possess some documents about to General Hieu's military exploits, but how about to the other Generals, where do I find time to seek them out? Furthermore, I do not have the military expertise for that task.
These lines of thoughts swirled in my head, and my body became tense with resistance, but my fingers proceeded to type with nonchalance: One thing is sure: be it, enemy or friend, be it American or Vietnamese mass media, be it military professional or civilian public, everyone agrees that General Do Cao Tri was the best tactician. And yet General Tri seemed to admire General Hieu the most.

The rest is left to the reader to peruse and taste for him/herself...the psychic-pen phenomenon!

The Battle of Pleime

In June 1998, I inadvertently found the book entitled Thu Gui Nguoi Ban My (Letters To An American Friend), authored by General Vinh Loc. In the book, the battle of Pleime is briefly mentioned. General Vinh Loc asserts that if this battle is compared to the battle of Lang Vey, the ARVN appeared better combatants than the US Army, which had allowed this Special Forces Lang Vey outpost to be overrun before the siege of Khe Sanh. The book also points to other books written by the same author, among which one can find the title Pleime published in 1966.

I immediately sent a letter to General Vinh Loc in care of Ngay Nay Publishing, in which I asked General Vinh Loc about the role played by Colonel Hieu, 2nd Corps Chief of Staff, in the battle of Pleime, and I offered to purchase the book Pleime. This letter has yet to receive a response.

Two years June 2000, an inner force pushed me to write a letter to the library of West Point Military Academy requesting to be allowed to use its facilities to research the Vietnam War. I was elated when I received a positive response. In two trips to the library, I was able to find among approximately 500 books on the Vietnam War a few books that mentioned the battle of Pleime, and I copied the pages that touched upon this battle. When I sat down in front of my computer, however, after typing the title The Battle of Pleime, my fingers froze. A few days later, I went back to the library and found additional documents about the battle of Pleime that I had previously missed. Armed with this other data, this time, when I sat down before my computer, lines after lines came out with ease, like water pouring out of a stream. The result was a recount of the battle under the perspective of the very one who designed and executed the battle plan!

Do Xa Campaign

I thought I would never be able to write about this battle since it happened so long ago - in 1963 or perhaps 1964 - nobody would remember it, and I would not know where to find documents on this battle.

Suddenly one day, in February 2000, in a telephone conversation with General Lu Lan, he fortuitously mentioned that he was involved in the Do Xa Campaign. At that time, he held the position of 2nd Corps Deputy Commander/Operations, and Colonel Hieu was the 2nd Corps Chief of Staff. I immediately asked him to write an essay about this campaign. He declined under the pretext that it happened so long ago, and he did not recall much of it. Nevertheless, he did throw out a few scant details, such as Major Son Thuong, Major Phan Trong Chinh, 50th Regiment of the 25th Division, creek Nuoc Lah, NVA General Nguyen Don, the incident of the C&C helicopter been shot at, free fire zone...

The scarcity of these details did not allow me to write up an essay. However, in the three to four subsequent days, in a fortuitous manner, without any intentional research from my part, I bumped into a picture of Major Son Thuong in General Nguyen Chanh Thi's book entitled Viet Nam - Mot Troi Tam Su, a picture of Major Phan Trong Chinh in a volume realized by the Joint General Staff G5 Bureau entitled QLVNCH trong giai doan hinh thanh 1946-1955, the participation of Captain Ngo Quang Truong and his Airborne units in this battle in Tran Ngoc Nhuan's book entitled Doi Quan Ngu, peak Ngoc Linh's height (2598m/8524ft) in an internet website, a map showing the location of Do Xa also through the internet. The discovery of all these details had allowed me to realize the article of the Do Xa Campaign in the blink of an eye.

That's not all. While I was typing its conclusion, a phone call from a friend of mine interrupted me. When I told him I was in the middle of writing about Do Xa Campaign, he immediately offered a piece of vital information: the previous year, General Nguyen Khanh had also launched an attack into this VC sanctuary. He had to shun a press conference because he dreaded having to answer questions a horde of reporters coming up from Saigon might raise regarding the news of the loss of an entire battalion that had occurred the day before.

My brother had indeed delivered directly into my hands all the necessary information, which made it possible for me to churn up this article!

A Dozen Portraits

I still recall while in primary and secondary schools, I dreaded the most when the teachers assigned an essay with the following topic: describe a person that you admire the most. In such instances, it required my great efforts to be able to accomplish such an assignment.

And yet my brother had gently guided my hands in realizing a dozen of General Hieu's portraits without any difficulties, with each portrait depicting a different trait of General Hieu's personality: General Hieu And His Rapport With Others, Valiant General Nguyen Van Hieu, Virtuous And Religious Traits Of General Hieu, A Competent General, A Low-Key And Discreet General, A Lonesome General, A Martial Arts Master, I Knew The General, A Likable Fellow And Revered Commander, Quarterback Versus Head-coach.

"It's Not Over Until I Tell You It's Over"

Upon reviewing the Chronological Order of Articles Posted, I notice that several times, I hastily concluded that the construction of this website was done, and to have my brother gently reminded me each time that "It's not over until I tell you it's over"!

In fact, on September 25, 1998, after I had posted approximately thirty articles, I determined the project done and proceeded to write the Preface (as a common practice, the Preface is placed at the beginning of a book, but is only written after the manuscript is done). Within the following month, four other articles came out. Thinking it was over, on November 23, 1998, I wrote the Epilogue. But twenty-one additional articles saw the light afterward. Thinking it was sufficient, on October 12, 1999, I wrote the Foreword, showing the two ways the readers can adopt in perusing my homepage that I considered as done. And on November 12, 1999, I wrote the Acknowledgments, thanking all those who had contributed to the realization of this homepage. To my surprise, some fifty other articles came to life, among which I authored seven (I Knew The General, A Lonesome General, A Martial Arts Master, Military Cadet Hieu, Do Xa Campaign, Quarterback Versus Head-coach, Eagles Claw 800 In The US 1st Cavalry Division's Operations Context), the remaining articles are documents related directly or indirectly to General Hieu, that someone had sent to me, or that I had found on the internet.

Besides, by March 2000, after I had written the article Do Xa Campaign - which I determined to be the last one - I considered my job done, and thus I prepared the manuscript in book format intending to contact publishers to have my book published.

Nevertheless, to this day, December 10, 2000, I am under the impression that this project is not yet finished, and I am adopting a wait-and-see attitude...

Although this homepage is not yet quite finished, I notice that no other Generals in any Armies in the world, still living or already dead, have a tribute webpage as rich and as thorough as this one. The ARVN should be proud of having such a competent General of the first-class caliber among its rank and file...

"Didn't I Tell You So?"

As stated in the previous paragraph, since December 10, 2000, I was adopting a wait-and-see attitude, which means that I did not exert myself in looking for documents and did not think hard to write, and yet since then to today 08/09/2002, approximately 40 articles appeared on General Hieu's Page:

08.04.2002: US Army 52nd Aviation Battalion Supporting Do Xa Campaign
07.29.2002: Translation of July 14 Speech by General Hieu
07.25.2002: Hopes and Disappointments of the Anti-corruption Investigator
06.30.2002: Brigadier General Tran Van Nhut
06.22.2002: General Hieu and the Delta Clan
06.13.2002: Third Letter Stating the Fact Updated on 06.18.2002
05.24.2002: Report on SMASF's Scandal
05.17.2002: Corruption Case of Colonel Tran Trong Nghia
05.16.2002: General Hieu's Review of Anti-Corruption Work
05.15.2002: Three Corruption Cases: Dung, Judicial Police and Phung Hoang
05.14.2002: Corruption In Judicial System
05.13.2002: Seven Colonels Were Punished In The SMASF Scandal
05.12.2002: General Hieu's Talk on Special Decree On Corruption
05.11.2002: General Hieu's Talk on Corruption
05.05.2002: Vice-Admiral Hoang Co Minh
05.02.2002: ARVN Generals In 1967
04.21.2002: General Hieu's Apolitical Stance
04.21.2002: Colonel Hieu and the 09/13/1964 Military Putsch
04.16.2002: Military Situation on April 8-9, 1975
03.31.2002: General Hieu's Opinion About The Vietnamization Program
02.15.2002: Major General Nguyen Xuan Trang Updated on 03.04.2002
01.17.2002: A Conversation With General Le Minh Dao
01.06.2002: Battle of Duc Co
01.05.2002: General Patton and his Counterpart General Hieu
12.06.2001: Do Xa Strike Mission
11.17.2001: Interview of Richard Peters
10.19.2001: Nguyen Van Thieu
10.17.2001: General Hieu's Page In The Internet
09.09.2001: Deputy Commander Of the Saigon Area Is Found Shot Dead
09.01.2001: General Patton and his Counterpart General Hieu
08.25.2001: Snoul Battle As Reported By The New York Times
08.24.2001: Thieu Ousts Defense Minister in Scandal
08.19.2001: Vietnamese Army: Marketing the Product
08.07.2001: Khiem's Apparatus: All in the Family
07.27.2001: American Perspective of Pleime Battle
07.25.2001: Vietnam Corruption Case
02.18.2001: The Battle of Xuan Loc
01.14.2001: Commanders of 5Div and 22Div
01.01.2001: A Sinecure Position
12.27.2000: Anti-corruption Investigator
12.26.2000: The Corruption Plague

These articles complement and shed more light on issues addressed previously, in particular, General Hieu's anti-corruption efforts, his role as III Corps Deputy Commander, and the operations of Do Xa and Pleime. If I completely stopped working on the construction of General Hieu's Page on 12/10/2000, wouldn't it be greatly truncated and inadequate? My brother brought these late documents and put them into my hands and facilitated my discoveries and contacts with General Nguyen Xuan Trang, Consul General Richard Peters, General Le Minh Dao, General Le Trung Tuong, General Tran Xuan Nhut... Well, Didn't I tell you so?

Last, but not least?

When two months passed by - the last article was posted at the beginning of August - without anything happening, I thought it was over. But at the beginning of October, I suddenly felt the urge to write about my brother's general staff period. I then wrote the article A Sketch of the General Staff Period by gathering testimonies scattered here and there in General Hieu's Page. I thought that would be sufficient, but lo and behold my brother made me produce seven other articles by introducing me to Captain Am and Colonel Mataxis so that the next generation knows about his outstanding strategic skills!

12.14.2002: Colonel Hieu and Colonel Mataxis, II Corps Chief of Staff and II Corps Senior Advisor
11.29.2002: II Corps Coping With VC's Attacks in Phu Bon, Pleiku And Kontum Provinces
11.24.2002: VC's 1965 Dong Xuan Campaign and II Corps' Strategy
11.16.2002: Rescuing Duc Co CIDG Camp
10.30.2002: Attack and Counter-Attack on Highway 19
10.20.2002: Road-Clearing Operation
10.13.2002: II Corps Chief of Staff Updated on 10.19.2002
10.03.2002: A Sketch of the General Staff Period Updated on 11/16/2002

In the past, I boasted about General Hieu's exceptional strategic skills, but only now does my brother provide documents that back up my assertion.

With this series of articles about the general staff period, I think General Hieu's Page is complete and thus done. That is why I entitle this section Last, but not least? with a question mark, because, one never knows, some more documents might emerge...

It's Not, Indeed, Finished Yet!

In 2003, my brother sent me the following persons: Colonel John Hayes, Senior Advisor of 5th Division, Lieutenant Colonel Roy Couch, Deputy Senior Advisor of 5th Division (who died in a helicopter accident in 2/1970) and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lott, Deputy Senior Advisor of 5th Division. These witnesses provided additional personal traits of General Hieu.

Furthermore, General Hieu waited until 10/2003 to produce his 1/8th Battalion Commander who wrote the thorough and professional article entitled The Truth of a Forgotten Battlefield that restitutes his honor.

General Hieu Identifies his Murderers

In my attempt to uncover the mystery of my brotherís death, I did not believe I would reach a resolution, because it happened more than two decades ago in Vietnam, while I am now living in the United States; furthermore, I do not possess the investigative skills of a detective to decipher a crime scene or a law formation of an attorney to know how to prosecute a case in the courthouse. Nevertheless, my brother used my ineptitude in the identification of those who had killed him.

First of all, he leads me to the main witnesses who were present at III Corps Headquarters on the day of the crime, to shed some light on this murky act. It is quite strange: I did not know the names of these individuals, and yet even after more than twenty years, I found them and got their phone numbers or addresses which allowed me to contact them. And is more incredible is that each one of them was willing to answer my question: ďWhat do you know about the death of my brother?Ē Suppose they responded with a stern no and kept silence, I would not be able to discover anything. On the contrary, their lengthy answers allowed me to compare, analyze and match different testimonies to determine who told the truth, who told lies; who exaggerated, who omitted; who said they knew and yet did not know much, who said they did not know and yet knew quite well. However, I must honestly confess that I remained confused with all the contradictions and discrepancies in those obtained testimonies. I was blinded by the thick screen smoke.

Then, in September 2004, after contacting some last key witnesses (Doctor Ly Ngoc Duong and Police Colonel Le Trong Dam), my brother dictated to me the article Final Report on General Hieuís Death. It was a psychic pen phenomenon, because I typed it in one shot, without any preparation and pre-planning, without an outline, without any prior thoughts. And when the article concluded, I was startled when the final argument ended as such.

The Art of Troop Withdrawal

I was puzzled when suddenly this title appeared in my mind because in the past my brother had dictated to me a short paragraph about this topic in the article A Competent General as follows:

In the military milieu, everyone knows that the withdrawal of troops is the most difficult act in a military operation, especially if the retreat is to be done in a weakened and under pressure posture when the enemy has already encircled the units. In an attack posture, one is in full control - one acts: everything has been anticipated and determined, all combined movements between combat units have been well-coordinated in advance, firepower supports are in the ready to assist, targets to attack are well focused, enemy's positions are well known, the front-line is "uni-dimensional", the element of time is at one's disposal, soldiers' morale is high ... In a retreating posture, one is controlled - one reacts: everything is uncertain, combined movements between combat units depend largely on unpredictable enemy's intention, firepower supports cannot be used, targets to destroy are scattered, enemy's positions are unknown, the front-line is "quadri-dimensional", the element of time is not at one's disposal, soldier's morale is low ... One must be an exceptional General to be able to overcome all these negative variables to maintain confidence among the combat troops and the soldiers' fighting determination.

Nevertheless, I responded without resistance to this inner impulse and opened my computer and started typing the keyboard without having any idea concerning what I was about to write this topic. Consequently, I was in shock when my fingers types: In analyzing the two military withdrawals realized by General Hieu (1) at Thuan Man in 6/1965 in the Highlands and (2) at Snoul in 5/1971 in Kampuchea, one can sort out the elements that render a troop withdrawal successful. You as a reader should be advised that I had never analyzed nor compared these two troop withdrawal operations to this point. Then my fingers progressively typed the announcement of the first element, provided a short explanation, illustrated this first concept with extracts taken from the two articles Thuan Man and Snoul; then typed the announcement of the second element, provided a short explanation, illustrated this second concept with extracts taken from the two articles Thuan Man and Snoul; then typed the announcement of the third element, provided a short explanation, illustrated this third concept with extracts taken from the two articles Thuan Man and Snoul; etc..., until reaching the 8th and last element, then ended with the conclusion. Let me stress again that at the outset I had no clue how many elements General Hieu would consider as necessary for the success of a troop withdrawal.

Without military background, with no basic and advanced training in military conduct, with no studies in the art of troop withdrawal, without prior analysis and comparison of the two articles Thuan Man and Snoul, then writing in one breath without thinking and no outline. Isnít it a typical case of a psychic pen phenomenon?

Nguyen Van Tin
June 25, 1999

Updated on 07.22.2006