Nguyen Van Thieu
President of South Vietnam
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965-75. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a scheduled election. He established rule over South Vietnam until he resigned and left the nation a few days before the fall of Saigon and the ultimate communist victory. Born in Phan Rang-Tháp Chàm, Thiệu was a descendent of the Tran Dinh dynasty of Annamese nobles.
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Five Stupendous Lies Told By Buglers for Military Intervention in Syria
Huffington Post - 4 months
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her fellow buglers for greater United States military intervention in Syria build their case on five stupendous lies. 1. Lie Number 1: The world will not forgive us for inaction in the face of mass atrocities in Syria. Nothing dries faster than a politician's tear. International relations are unsentimental. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. The world has "forgiven" us for inaction while Stalin and Mao collectively murdered over 100 million, genocides unfolded in Rwanda and Cambodia, and Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews. At present, the world is not rebuking us for inaction during the killings of more than 5 million Congolese in an ongoing civil war and during the mass atrocities and starvation that are besetting the South Sudanese people. Today, we enjoy a semi-alliance with Vietnam despite dropping 388,000 tons of napalm and killing more than 2 million civilians during the Vietnam War. ...
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The US, Russia, and a History of Meddling
Huffington Post - 6 months
Some U.S. officials believe that Russian intelligence agencies spied on the Democratic Party by intercepting emails sent by Democratic National Committee chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Back in July, these emails were made available to the public on WikiLeaks. If the Russian government (presumably on orders from Putin) hacked the DNC emails out of a desire to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential race, what, from the perspective of our federal government, would an appropriate response to such a hack look like? What does it mean if our country's domestic matters are vulnerable to foreign influence? Historical records are peppered with incidences of Russia-and other nations-attempting to curry favor abroad and advance their own interests by interfering in American politics. This sort of ill-intentioned meddling was especially prevalent during the Cold War in the 1950s and 60s. To put the DNC hack in context, the U.S. and Russia have a history of interfering ...
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Is Putin Really as Foolish as We Are?
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Nixon lied. Surely this is not a shocker. But what's interesting about the latest revelation about the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War is that the most duplicitous president in U.S. history actually knew that the U.S. air war in Southeast Asia was a dismal failure. Even as Nixon was telling the media that the saturation bombings of Vietnam and Laos were "very effective," he was privately acknowledging the opposite. "We have had 10 years of total control of the air in Laos and V.Nam," Nixon wrote to his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, on January 3, 1972. "The result = Zilch. There is something wrong with the strategy or the Air Force." The Obama administration has unleashed a similar air war in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State. The results have been comparable to Nixon's "zilch." The Islamic State has not replaced its black flag with a white one, nor has it shrunk appreciably in size. Obama's attempt to unseat Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has not produced ...
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Mitt Romney as Commander in Chief: some troubling signs
Oxford University Press Blog - almost 5 years
By Andrew J. Polsky Now that Mitt Romney has established himself as the certain Republican nominee in the 2012 president election, Americans will begin to scrutinize his record and his statements more closely. The economic problems that have beset the United States over the past four years mean that much of the attention will focus on Romney’s economic proposals. The ongoing controversy over “Obamacare” assures a focus on the Republican’s stance on health care. However, with an ongoing war in Afghanistan and continuing tensions over the Iranian nuclear weapons program, we also need to consider how Romney understands the role of the president as a commander in chief. Some of the signs are disturbing. Early this year, Romney called for defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. This has not been the American goal at least since President Obama announced his troop surge in late 2009. At that point, recognizing that the American people would not support a protracted counterinsurgency c ...
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Obama’s Afghanistan Plan: Echoes of Vietnam in the U.S. Exit Strategy
Global Spin- TIME - almost 5 years
To understand the historical significance of President Barack Obama’s visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, imagine that President Richard Nixon had, in the spring of 1972, flown to Saigon to signal American voters that the Vietnam war was coming to an end — and to ink a deal with President Nguyen Van Thieu codifying a long-term [...]
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Lược sử binh chủng Nhảy Dù VNCH (Tiếp theo và hết) - Người Việt
Google News - over 5 years
Tất cả để thực hiện một sách lược gọi là “Ðầu bé-Ðít to” của chính Tổng Thống Việt Nam Cộng Hòa Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. “Ðầu bé” là vùng Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên, vùng đông dân cư Bình Ðịnh, Khánh Hòa; và “Ðít to” tức là vùng Sài Gòn-Chợ Lớn, đồng bằng Sông Cửu
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Chuyện Tổng Thống Thiệu đi coi cải lương - Người Việt
Google News - over 5 years
Tổng Thống Nguyễn Văn Thiệu và phu nhân nói chuyện với nghệ sĩ Năm Châu và minh tinh Thẩm Thúy Hằng. (Hình: Bộ sưu tập của Ngành Mai) Thật vậy, hôm ấy nhằm ngày 6 Tháng Tám 1966 tại rạp Thống Nhứt, Sài Gòn, dưới sự bảo trợ của Bộ Xã Hội, đoàn cải lương
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This Day in History - August 19 - Jamaica Observer
Google News - over 5 years
1971: General Duong van Minh withdraws from presidential elections in South Vietnam, leaving President Nguyen van Thieu unopposed. 1982: Svetlana Savitskaya is the second Russian woman to go into space when she is launched with two crewmates aboard a
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Thursday, August 19 - msnbc.com
Google News - over 5 years
1971 - General Duong van Minh withdraws from presidential elections in South Vietnam, leaving President Nguyen van Thieu unopposed. 1974 - US Ambassador Rodger P. Davies is shot and killed at the American embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, during a protest by
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Hình thành nhóm nghiên cứu về chiến tranh Việt Nam - Người Việt
Google News - over 5 years
Chỉ ít năm sau, một nhân vật thân cận Tổng Thống Nguyễn Văn Thiệu đã bật mí chuyện “thâm cung bí sử” giữa tổng thống VNCH và tổng thống Hoa Kỳ trong cuốn sách “Bí mật dinh Ðộc Lập” và tiếp theo là “Khi Ðồng Minh tháo chạy
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阮高祺告別式 350親友出席 - 世界日報
Google News - over 5 years
在私底下他是個花花公子,常穿飛行軍裝並戴紫色圍巾。1967到1971年間他在政治對手阮文紹(Nguyen Van Thieu)之下擔任副總統。1975年阮文紹政府所在的西貢為共軍占領,阮高祺避走美國,並和家人定居南加州西敏市(Westminster),過著遠離政治的平靜生活。
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The Lessons of the Ky Government - Commentary
Google News - over 5 years
Such was the case with Ky, who became the prime minister in 1965, then continued in government from 1967-1971 as the vice president under his sometimes-rival Nguyen Van Thieu. As with most governments born in turmoil, the legitimacy of the Ky and Thieu ... -
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Jane Fonda blogs 'the truth' about Hanoi trip - Syracuse.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
... 1973 Actress Jane Fonda holds her arm up in the air as she joins a group of anti-war demonstrators on a march toward the Western White House to protest the visit of South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu in San Clemente, Calif. on April 2,
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Nguyen Cao Ky, South Vietnam Leader, Dies at 80
NYTimes - over 5 years
Nguyen Cao Ky, the flamboyant former South Vietnamese Air Force commander who served for two years as his country's wartime leader, then fled to the United States when Saigon fell to the Communists, died Saturday at the age of 80. Mr. Ky died at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was being treated for a respiratory infection, a nephew,
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Nguyen Van Thieu
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2001
    Age 77
    He died in 2001, aged 78, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, after having collapsed from a stroke at his Foxborough home and having been put on a respirator.
    More Details Hide Details He was cremated and interred in Boston. Before the last breath he told his relatives 'My biggest mistake in life is murdered my master former President Ngo dinh Diem and history proved we are wrong'
  • 1995
    Age 71
    Thiệu continually predicted the demise of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s grip on power and warned against the United States establishing diplomatic relations with the communist regime; however, Bill Clinton did so in 1995.
    More Details Hide Details Thiệu said that when the communists were deposed and when “democracy is recovered” that he would return to his homeland, but their hold on Vietnam remained unchallenged during his lifetime. He futilely offered to represent the refugee community in reconciliation talks with Hanoi to allow exiles to return home.
  • 1992
    Age 68
    Thiệu's aversion to public appearances was attributed to a fear of hostility from South Vietnamese who believed that he failed them. He acknowledged his compatriots’ low esteem of his administration in a 1992 interview, but said, “You say that you blame me for the fall of South Vietnam, you criticize me, everything.
    More Details Hide Details I let you do that. I like to see you do better than I.” The Vietnamese-American community heckled Thiệu at a rare comedy routine he delivered in Orange County, California, the area with the most Vietnamese-Americans in the United States in the early 1990s.
  • 1990
    Age 66
    He settled in London, having obtained a visa there as his son was studying at Eton College. Thiệu kept a low profile, and in 1990 even the Foreign Office claimed to have no information on his whereabouts.
    More Details Hide Details In the early 1990s, Thiệu took up residence in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where he lived reclusively. He never produced an autobiography, rarely assented to interviews and shunned visitors. Neighbors had little contact with him or knowledge of him, aside from seeing him walking his dog while wearing his Patriots foam finger.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1975
    Age 51
    Immediately following the speech, Vice President Trần Văn Hương took the top job, but the tide could not be stopped, and the communists overran Saigon on 30 April 1975, ending the war.
    More Details Hide Details In his farewell speech, Thiệu said, “I resign, but I do not desert”, but he fled to Taiwan on a C-118 transport plane five days later. According to Morley Safer, the CIA was involved in the flight of Thieu, his aides, and a "planeload of suitcases containing heavy metal albums".
    On 21 April 1975, Thiệu, under intense political pressure, resigned as president after losing the confidence of his closest domestic allies.
    More Details Hide Details In his televised farewell speech during which he was close to tears, he admitted, for the first time, having ordered the evacuation of the Central Highlands and the north that had led to debacle. He then stated that it had been the inevitable course of action in the situation, but blamed the generals. In a rambling and incoherent speech, Thiệu went on to excoriate the U.S., attacking “our great ally the leader of the free world … The United States has not respected its promises” he declared “It is inhumane. It is not trustworthy. It is irresponsible.” He added, “The United States did not keep its word. Is an American’s word reliable these days?” … and, "The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men."
    On 2 January 1975, Thiệu held an emergency meeting with General Dư Quốc Đống, who was in charge of the Phuoc Long situation, and other senior military figures. Đống presented a plan for the relief of Phuoc Long, but it was rejected because a lack of reserve forces of sufficient size available, a lack of airlift capability, and the belief that the besieged defenders could not hold out long enough for reinforcements.
    More Details Hide Details Thiệu decided to cede the entire province to the North Vietnamese, since it was considered to be less important than Tây Ninh, Pleiku, or Huế — economically, politically, and demographically. On 6 January 1975, Phuoc Long City became the first provincial capital permanently seized by the communists. Less than a sixth of the ARVN forces survived. However, the more important result was that the Americans showed complete apathy to the communist violations of the ceasefire, severely denting South Vietnamese morale. Lê Duẩn declared that “Never have we had military and political conditions so perfect or a strategic advantage so great as we have now.” The communists thus decided to initiate a full-scale offensive against the central highlands, which had been named Campaign 275. General Văn Tiến Dũng planned to take Buôn Ma Thuột, using 75,000 - 80,000 men to surround the city before capturing it.
  • 1974
    Age 50
    As North Vietnam needed to replenish its armed forces in 1974, Thiệu decided to go on the attack.
    More Details Hide Details
    This started between March and November 1974, when the communists attacked Quang Duc Province and Biên Hòa.
    More Details Hide Details The U.S. failed to respond to the communist violations and the ARVN lost a lot of supplies in the fighting. Thiệu expressed his stance on the ceasefire by publicly proclaiming the “Four Nos”: no negotiations with the communists; no communist political activities south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ); no coalition government; and no surrender of territory to the North Vietnamese or Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), which went against the deal. Thiệu believed the American promise to reintroduce air power against the communists if they made any serious violations of the agreement took place, and he and his government also assumed that U.S. aid would continue to be forthcoming at previous levels. On 1 July 1973, however, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that all but prohibited any U.S. combat activities over or in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. On 7 November, the legislative branch overrode Nixon's veto of the War Powers Act. In 1973-74, U.S. funding was slashed to $965 million, a reduction of more than 50%. Despite Nixon's growing political difficulties and an increasingly hostile working relationship with the legislature over Vietnam, Thiệu, and most of the Saigon leadership, remained optimistic about ongoing aid. According to Vietnamese Air Force General Đổng Văn Khuyên, “Our leaders continued to believe in U.S. air intervention even after the U.S. Congress had expressly forbidden it... They deluded themselves.”
  • FORTIES
  • 1973
    Age 49
    He stretched his own forces thinly by launching offensives that regained most of the territory captured by PAVN forces during the 1973 campaign, and retook 15% of the total land area controlled by the communists at the time of the cease-fire.
    More Details Hide Details In April, Thiệu launched the Svay Rieng Campaign against communist strongholds in eastern Cambodia near Tây Ninh, in what was the last major ARVN offensive. While these operations were successful, the cost in terms of manpower and resources was high. By the end of the year the military was experiencing equipment shortages as a result of decreased American aid, while communist forces continued to gain strength. By the end of October, the North Vietnamese had formulated their strategy for 1975 and 1976. In what became known as Resolution of 1975, the party leadership reported that the war had reached its “final stage”. The army was to consolidate its gains, eliminate South Vietnamese border outposts and secure its logistical corridor, and continue its force build-up in the south. During 1976, the final general offensive would begin. The communists decided to start by attacking Phước Long Province, around 140 km north of Saigon.
  • 1971
    Age 47
    In 1971, Thiệu ran for re-election, but his reputation for corruption made his political opponents believe the poll would be rigged, and they declined to run.
    More Details Hide Details As the only candidate, Thiệu was thus easily re-elected, receiving 94% of the vote on an 87% turn-out, a figure widely held to be fraudulent. The signing of the Paris Peace Accords in March 1973 failed to end the fighting in South Vietnam, as both sides immediately violated the cease-fire and attempted to make territorial gains, resulting in large battles. In late 1973, the communists issued Resolution 21, which called for “strategic raids” against South Vietnam to gain territory and to gauge the reaction of Thiệu and the American government.
    When Thiệu rose to become president, Minh blamed him for the assassinations. In 1971, Minh claimed that Thiệu had caused the deaths by hesitating and delaying the attack on Gia Long Palace, implying that if Diệm was captured there, junior officers could not have killed him while in a small group.
    More Details Hide Details General Trần Văn Đôn, another plotter, was reported to have pressured Thiệu during the night of the siege, asking him on the phone “Why are you so slow in doing it? Do you need more troops? If you do, ask Đính to send more troops—and do it quickly because after taking the palace you will be made a general." Thiệu stridently denied responsibility and issued a statement that Minh did not dispute: "Dương Văn Minh has to assume entire responsibility for the death of Ngô Đình Diệm." Diệm remained a taboo subject until Thiệu became president. His regime first approved of public memorial services for Diệm upon the eighth anniversary of his death in 1971, and this was the third year that such services were permitted. Madame Thiệu, the First Lady, was seen weeping at a requiem mass for Diệm at the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica.
  • 1968
    Age 44
    During the Lunar New Year of 1968, the communists launched a massive attack on the cities of Vietnam in an attempt to topple Thiệu and reunify the country under their rule.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of the attack on Saigon, Thiệu was out of town, having travelled to celebrate the new year at his wife's family’s home at Mỹ Tho in the Mekong Delta. Kỳ, who was still in the capital, stepped into the spotlight and took command, organising the military forces in Saigon in the battle. The ARVN and the Americans repelled the communist onslaught. Kỳ’s overshadowing of his superior during South Vietnam's deepest crisis further strained relations between the two men. Although the communists were repelled and suffered heavy losses, South Vietnam suffered heavily as the conflict reached the cities for the first time in a substantial way. As ARVN troops were pulled back to defend the towns, the Việt Cộng gained in the countryside. The violence and destruction witnessed damaged public confidence in Thiệu, who apparently couldn't protect the citizens.
  • 1967
    Age 43
    On 3 September 1967, Thiệu ran successfully for the presidency with Kỳ as his running mate.
    More Details Hide Details Thiệu took 34% of the vote and held the position until 21 April 1975. He promised democracy, social reform and vowed to “open wide the door of peace and leave it open”. However, the poll was the start of a power struggle with Kỳ, who had been the main leader of South Vietnam in the preceding two years. The military had decided that they would support one candidate, and after both men wanted the job, Kỳ only backed down after being promised real influence behind the scenes through a military committee that would control proceedings. Thiệu was intent on concentrating power into his own hands.
    In 1967, a transition to elected government was scheduled; and, after a power struggle within the military, Thiệu ran for the presidency with Kỳ as his running mate—both men had wanted the top job.
    More Details Hide Details To allow the two to work together, their fellow officers had agreed to have a military body controlled by Kỳ shape policy behind the scenes. The opposition claims that the election was rigged, though 16,9411 36,00.html[an article in Time magazine] from 1967 quotes South Vietnamese citizens saying that they thought the election was more fair than any under Diem. Leadership tensions became evident and Thiệu prevailed, sidelining Kỳ supporters from key military and cabinet posts. Thiệu then passed legislation to restrict candidacy eligibility for the 1971 election, banning almost all would-be opponents, while the rest withdrew as it was obvious that the poll would be a sham; Thiệu won more than 90 percent of the vote and the election was uncontested, while Kỳ retired from politics. During his rule, Thiệu was accused of turning a blind eye to and indulging in corruption, and appointing loyalists rather than competent officers to lead ARVN units. In 1968, he was caught out by the Tết Offensive due to complacency, and during the 1971 Operation Lam Sơn 719 and the communists’ Easter Offensive, the I Corps in the north of the country was under the command of his confidant, Hoàng Xuân Lãm, whose incompetence led to heavy defeats until Thiệu finally replaced him with Ngô Quang Trưởng. After the signing of the Paris Peace Accords—which Thiệu opposed—and the American withdrawal, South Vietnam resisted the communists for another two years until the communists’ final final push for victory, which saw the South openly invaded by the entire North Vietnamese Army.
  • 1966
    Age 42
    In 1966, with Kỳ leading the way, Thi was sacked in a power struggle, provoking widespread civil unrest in his base in I Corps; Quang led Buddhist protests against Kỳ and Thiệu and many units in I Corps began disobeying orders, siding with Thi and the Buddhist movement.
    More Details Hide Details Eventually, Kỳ's military forces forced the dissidents to back down and defeated those who did not. Thi was exiled and Quang put under house arrest, ending Buddhist opposition and any effective threat to Kỳ and Thiệu's regime. Under U.S. insistence for constitutional rule, elections for the presidency and legislature were scheduled.
  • 1965
    Age 41
    In mid 1965, Thiệu became the figurehead chief of state of a military junta, with Kỳ as the prime minister.
    More Details Hide Details After a series of short-lived juntas, their pairing put an end to a series of leadership changes that had occurred since the assassination of Diệm. Kỳ and Thiệu's military junta decided to inaugurate their rule by holding a “no breathing week”. They imposed censorship, closed many newspapers that published material deemed unacceptable, and suspended civil liberties. They then sidelined the civilian politicians to a “village of old trees” to “conduct seminars and draw up plans and programs in support of government policy”. They decided to ignore religious and other opposition groups “with the stipulation that troublemakers will be shot”. Kỳ and Thiệu were more concerned with attacking the communists than their predecessors. The generals began to mobilize the populace into paramilitary organizations. After one month, Thích Trí Quang began to call for the removal of Thiệu because he was a member of Diệm's Catholic Cần Lao apparatus, decrying his “fascistic tendencies”, and claiming that Cần Lao members were undermining Kỳ. For Quang, Thiệu was a symbol of the Diệm era of Catholic domination, when advancement was based on religion. He had desired that General Thi, known for his pro-Buddhist position, would lead the country, and denounced Thiệu for alleged past crimes against Buddhists.
    There were claims that Thiệu ordered the military to capture and extrajudicially kill Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo, who died in 1965 after a series of coup attempts between various ARVN officers.
    More Details Hide Details Other sources blame Kỳ. During this period, Thiệu became more prominent as other generals fought and defeated one another in coups, which forced several into exile.
  • 1964
    Age 40
    On 15 September 1964, Thiệu became the commander of IV Corps, which oversaw the Mekong Delta region of the country, and three divisions.
    More Details Hide Details This came after the Buddhists had lobbied Khánh to remove General Dương Văn Đức from command of IV Corps; Đức had responded with a failed coup attempt, along with Lâm Văn Phát, on 13 September. During the coup attempt, Khiêm and Thiệu's torpor, combined with their criticism of Khánh was seen as tacit support of the rebels. U.S. Embassy logs during the coup claimed that Thiệu and Khiêm “seem so passive that they appear to have been either tacitly supporting or associated with his move by Đức and Phát”. However, after the coup faltered, the pair “issued expressions of firm support for Khánh somewhat belatedly”. Thiệu was part of a group of younger officers called the Young Turks—the most prominent apart from himself included commander of the Vietnam Air Force, Air Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, commander of I Corps General Nguyễn Chánh Thi and Admiral Chung Tấn Cang, the head of the Republic of Vietnam Navy. They and Khánh wanted to forcibly retire officers with more than 25 years of service, as they thought them to be lethargic, out of touch, and ineffective, but most importantly, as rivals for power. Specific targets of this proposed policy were Generals Minh, Trần Văn Đôn, Lê Văn Kim and Mai Hữu Xuân.
    In August 1964, the junta head, General Nguyễn Khánh, decided to increase his authority by declaring a state of emergency, increasing police powers, banning protests, tightening censorship and allowing the police arbitrary search and imprisonment powers.
    More Details Hide Details He drafted a new constitution, which would have augmented his personal power. However, these moves only served to weaken Khánh as large demonstrations and riots broke out in the cities, with majority Buddhists prominent, calling for an end to the state of emergency and the abandonment of the new constitution, as well as a progression back to civilian rule. Fearing that he could be toppled by the intensifying protests, Khánh made concessions, repealing the new constitution and police measures, and promising to reinstate civilian rule and remove the Cần Lao, a Catholic political apparatus covertly used to maintain the Diệm regime in power by seeking out dissenters, etc. Many senior officers, in particular the Catholics, such as Khiêm and Thiệu, decried what they viewed as a handing of power to the Buddhist leaders, They then tried to remove Khánh in favour of Minh, and recruited many officers into their plot. Khiêm and Thiệu sought out U.S. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor and sought a private endorsement for a coup, but Taylor did not want any more changes in leadership, fearing a corrosive effect on the already unstable government. This deterred Khiêm's group from following through on their plans.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1963
    Age 39
    Despite this, Thiệu agreed to join the coup against Diệm in November 1963 in the midst of the Buddhist crisis, leading the siege on Gia Long Palace.
    More Details Hide Details Diệm was captured and executed and Thiệu made a general. Following Diệm’s death, there were several short-lived juntas as coups occurred frequently. Thiệu gradually moved up the ranks of the junta by adopting a cautious approach while other officers around him defeated and sidelined one another. In 1965, stability came to South Vietnam when he became the figurehead head of state, while Air Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ became prime minister, leading a junta that ended the cycle of coups with two years of continuity, although the men were rivals.
  • 1962
    Age 38
    He remained in the post until 8 December 1962, when General Đỗ Cao Trí took over.
    More Details Hide Details Twelve days later, Thiệu was appointed commander of the 5th Division, which was based in Biên Hòa, the 7th having been moved to Mỹ Tho. Diệm did not trust Thiệu's predecessor, Nguyễn Đức Thắng, but Thiệu's appointment proved to be a mistake. Thiệu turned against Diệm late, and led his 5th Division in the revolt. Late on the night of November 1, as light drizzle fell, Thiệu's tanks, artillery, and troops advanced towards the grounds of Gia Long Palace. A little before 22:00, infantry started the assault, covered by tank and artillery fire, which flattened the Presidential Guard barracks. Demolition units set charges to the palace, and rebel flamethrowers sprayed buildings, as the two sides exchanged gunfire. After a lull, shortly after 3:00, the shelling resumed, and just after 4:00, Thiệu ordered the start of the final stage of the siege. By 6:37, the palace fell. He was then made a general by the junta after they took power. Diệm had been promised exile by the generals, but after running away from the palace, was executed on the journey back to military headquarters after being captured. Dương Văn Minh, the junta and coup leader, was generally blamed for ordering Diệm's assassination, but there has been debate about the culpability.
  • 1961
    Age 37
    On 21 October 1961, Thiệu was transferred to command the 1st Division, based in Huế, the former imperial capital in central Vietnam.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1960
    Age 36
    On 11 November 1960, Colonels Vương Văn Đông and Nguyễn Chánh Thi launched a coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm, but after surrounding the palace, they stopped attacking and decided to negotiate a power-sharing agreement.
    More Details Hide Details Diệm falsely promised reform, allowing time for loyalists to come to the rescue. The rebels had also failed to seal the highways into the capital to block loyalist reinforcements. Thiệu sent infantry from his 7th Division from Biên Hòa, a town just north of Saigon, to help rescue Diệm. As the false promises of reform were being aired, Trần Thiện Khiêm's men approached the palace grounds. Some of the rebels switched sides as the power balance changed. After a brief but violent battle that killed around 400 people, the coup attempt was crushed.
    In November 1960, he helped put down a coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm.
    More Details Hide Details During this time, he also converted to Roman Catholicism and joined the regime’s secret Cần Lao Party; Diệm was thought to give preferential treatment to his co-religionists and Thiệu was accused of being one of many who converted for political advancement, although he claimed to have converted because his wife was a Catholic.
  • 1957
    Age 33
    In 1957, and again in 1960, Thiệu was sent to the United States for military training.
    More Details Hide Details He studied at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and in weapons training at Fort Bliss, Texas, as well as at the Joint and Combined Planning School of the Pacific Command in Okinawa.
  • 1956
    Age 32
    In 1956, he was appointed as head of the National Military Academy in Đà Lạt, and held the post for four years.
    More Details Hide Details There he formed ties with many of the younger officers and trainees and who went on to become his generals, colonels and majors when he ascended to the presidency a decade later.
  • 1955
    Age 31
    Thiệu was a lieutenant colonel when the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) was founded and officially gained full sovereignty after the withdrawal of French forces in 1955, following the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
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  • 1954
    Age 30
    By 1954, he was a major and led a battalion that attacked a Việt Minh unit, forcing the communists to withdraw from Phan Rang.
    More Details Hide Details At first the Việt Minh retreated into Thiệu’s old family home, confident that he would not attack his own house, but they were mistaken.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1951
    Age 27
    In 1951, Thiệu married Nguyễn Thị Mai Anh, the daughter of a wealthy herbal medicine practitioner from the Mekong Delta.
    More Details Hide Details She was a Roman Catholic, and Thiệu converted in 1958. Critics claimed that he did so to improve his prospects of rising up the military ranks, as Diệm was known to discriminate in favor of Catholics. The couple had two sons and one daughter.
  • 1949
    Age 25
    Thiệu transferred to the National Military Academy in Đà Lạt. In 1949, upon graduation, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant from the first officer candidates’ course of the Vietnam National Army, which had been created by former Emperor Bảo Đại who had agreed to be the Chief of State of the State of Vietnam to fight against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam of the Việt Minh.
    More Details Hide Details Thiệu started as the commander of an infantry platoon fighting against the Việt Minh. He quickly rose up the ranks, and was known as a good strategist, albeit cautious, with an aversion to attacking unless victory appeared almost assured. He was sent to France to train at the Infantry School at Coëtquidan, before returning home to attend the Staff College in Hanoi. Nevertheless, Thiệu was regarded as “very much a country boy, lacking the manners of more sophisticated urban dwellers who aspired to become officers”.
  • 1946
    Age 22
    Thiệu said, "By August of 1946, I knew that Việt Minh were Communists … They shot people.
    More Details Hide Details They overthrew the village committee. They seized the land." He defected and moved to Saigon and joined the forces of the French-backed State of Vietnam. With the help of his brother, Nguyễn Văn Hiếu, a Paris-trained lawyer who served in the upper echelons of the State of Vietnam government, Thiệu initially was enrolled in the Merchant Marine Academy. After a year, he was given his officer’s commission, but he rejected a position on a ship when he discovered that the French owners were going to pay him less than his French colleagues. This incident was said to have made him suspicious of foreigners. Thiệu later became known for his paranoia and distrust of his American allies when he rose to the top of politics.
    He rose to be district chief, but left the movement after just one year, following the return of the French to southern Vietnam in 1946 to contest Việt Minh control.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1942
    Age 18
    During World War II, Imperial Japan invaded French Indochina and seized control. Ninh Thuận was taken over by the Japanese in 1942, but the reaction from the locals was muted, and Thiệu continued to work the ricelands alongside his father for another three years.
    More Details Hide Details When World War II ended, Thiệu joined the Việt Minh, led by Hồ Chí Minh, whose goal was to liberate Vietnam from French colonialism. With no rifles, Thiệu's class of Việt Minh recruits trained in jungle clearings with bamboo.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1924
    Age 0
    According to some reports, Thiệu was born in November 1924, but adopted 5 April 1923, as his birthday on grounds that it was a more auspicious day.
    More Details Hide Details His elder brothers raised money so that he could attend the elite schools run by France, who were Vietnam's colonial masters. Although not yet a Catholic (he would convert later in life after getting married), Thiệu attended Pellerin, a French-run Catholic school in Huế, the imperial seat of the Nguyễn Dynasty. He returned to his hometown after graduating.
  • 1923
    Born
    Born on April 5, 1923.
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