(This letter was sent by Colonel Ta Thanh Long, in which he
states that General Hieu died in the evening, rather than at noon time as stated
by the 1st Letter. I submit this letter, in all fairness and neutrality, to the
consideration of the general public.)
January 4, 1999.
Dear Mr. Nguyen Van Tin,
Pursuant to our phone conversation of January 2, 1999 at 8:00am, I confirm
that General Hieu died after the Operations Overview meeting which took place
every evening (around 6:30pm) instead of the rumor which has reached you and
which stated that General Hieu died at noon time and the report noted in the
evening. Here are the facts:
I, as the Head of Vietnamese Delegation, member of the 4-Party and 2-Side
Combined Military Committee, had the duty to attend the meeting at the 3 Corps
headquarters at 5:00pm every evening to take note and report Communist
breaches to the International Committee on Paris Agreement.
That evening, I attended the meeting and General Hieu presided. I was told
that General Toan, Commanding General, was busy at the Forward Command Post
stationed at Go Dau Ha, Tay Ninh. During the meeting, General Hieu sat in the
middle. At his left: General Dao Duy An, chief of Staff and Colonel Phan Huy
Luong, Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations. At his right: Mr. Peter, the Consul
General of Bien Hoa and I. The back row was occupied by Officers of the
After the meeting, General Hieu, General An and I walked into the guest
room to have tea. General Hieu told me in General An's presence: "My Pistol
Collection has reached the number of 37, I just got a P.38, and had the
grooves redone by the Equipment Unit, let me go get it and show it to you." At
that point, Colonel Luong stepped in to invite General Hieu to go to supper.
General An and I stood up and excused ourselves.
My car took me to Hotel de la Piscine, Bien Hoa (the office of the
International Committee), I visited there for about 20 minutes to brief about
Communists' breaches with the Colonel Chairman Member. Afterwards, I went
home. Upon reaching my office (still in my car), Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van
Thang, my deputy reported to me: "Colonel Luong needs to see you immediately,
General Hieu just died."
I returned to the Corps headquarters and saw Military Police cordoned the
headquarters. I asked Colonel Luong: "What happened?" Colonel Luong answered:
"After supper, General Hieu went back to his office, a few minutes later a gun
shot was heard, guards went in and saw General Hieu covered with blood slumped
at his desk, and sounded up the alarm. I invited you to witness so that the
proper authority could investigate the cause, because you and General Hieu
were classmates and you were the closest to him in this headquarters."
With my handwriting and signature, as well as my statement, I hope that you
rewrite clearly your "career and life" of your brother who is also a very dear
friend of mine.
1. I take note of time discrepancy in the statements between Colonel Nguyen Khuyen and Colonel Ta Thanh Long: around 12:30pm and around 6:30pm. Who
recalled with accuracy, who did not? Their statement should be verified with
other witnesses. Colonel Khuyen attended the Anti-Corruption Committee once a
month; Colonel Long attended his meeting every evening at 5:00pm; who is more
prone in making error in reminiscing?
2. Brigadier General Ly Tong Ba stated that he was in a meeting with General
Toan at the 3rd Corps headquarters, and not the Forward Commanding Post at Go
Dau Ha as stated by Colonel Long. General Ba said that after the meeting, when
he walked by General Hieu's office, he heard a commotion among soldiers
mentioning General Hieu was shot in his office.
3. Until now, General Hieu died before going to lunch or supper. This
letter states General Hieu died after supper.
4. Until now, General Hieu invited Colonel Luong to go to eat. This letter
states Colonel Luong invited General Hieu to go to supper.
5. Until now, the pistol in question had been said to be sent to have the
safety device repaired. This letter states that it was sent to have the grooves
6. Colonel Luong was the first to be at the scene when a gun-shot was heard.
This letter states guards went in first and sounded up the alarm.
7. Besides, I have obtained the following additional details:
a. On April 8, 1975, a group of soldiers in combat outfit commanded by
Brigadier General Le Trung Tuong came to the 3rd Corps headquarters and chased
away all Military Police Unit guards. The prior month, General Tuong had
cowardly resigned from the command of the 23rd Division when the Communists
invaded Ban Me Thuat. When General Hieu was killed, there were no guards in the
vicinity of General Hieu's office.
b. Lieutenant Colonel Vinh Ho, an intelligence officer of the 2nd Corps of
General Toan in the past, came down from Pleiku to visit General Toan after the
2nd Corps units were disseminated. While waiting to be seen, he heard two shots,
not only one shot, echoed from General Hieu's office, then heard feet thumping.
(I have been told Lieutenant Colonel Vinh Ho had died from cancer).
c. The pistol that General Hieu held in his hand was said to fit the bullet
found by General Toan (naturally, but it did not fit the small holes at General
Hieu's chin and head!) and was an antiquated and very heavy French made pistol
used by the "Legionaire" officers. Because it was unusually heavy, General Hieu
did not carry it with him, but kept it in his office.
d. A Colonel, who used to work in the Military Security unit, disclosed: the
pistol used by the assassin in General Hieu's death had to be a very special
type of silencer pistol that the Americans only provided to a handful of special
force units. Therefore, the proper investigative authority would not have any
difficulty to discover its provenance, if wanted to.
e. A Vietnamese Special Forces Captain determined that the pistol that had
killed General Hieu ought to be a Browning, of the small type, 3/4 of a hand
palm size, without a silencer, using 8 mm bullets. The person who uses this type
of pistol, in order to subdue his victim, used to press the pistol against the
victim's left sided chin. If the victim stands still, the bullet pierces the
left sided chin and emerges behind the neck. If the victim tilts his head
(General Hieu's case), the bullet exits near the right side of the top head.
f. The next morning, Lieutenant General Cao Hao Hon was present at the crime
scene, sent over by President Thieu.
g. On 10 April 1975, a Captain, relative of the family, went in the 3rd
Corps headquarters to visit General Hieu's body. General Toan's men were all
over the place. General Hieu's father was also present. He addressed aloud to
the newcomer: "A roulette pistol would not go off easily, right?" Our Captain
whispered back with fear: "Yes, sir." At that right moment he noticed, from the
corner of his eyes, hundreds of eyes were watching the two of them. Upon leaving
the scene, he was aware that two officers climbed onto a jeep to follow his
Vespa (a type of Italian made motorbike). He had to maneuver through narrow
alleys in order to escape... If there were no conspiracy, there would be no need
for such surveillance tactics.
8. In a phone conversation after I had received the above-mentioned letter,
Colonel Long admitted: "In all fairness, I have to admit it 's unlikely that a
P38 pistol could fire up by itself. In order to fire that pistol, one needs to
perform two actions consecutively: 1. release the safety device, and 2. press
9. I gladly honor all facts and details pertaining to the mysterious death of
General Hieu, with the hope that the review and close examination of these
provided facts and details, the truth will be made known.
10. Colonel Long added on January 20, 1999: "In this tragic loss, due to
intentional act or to negligence, light will be exposed."
Nguyen Van Tin 24 January 1999 Updated on 08/29/1999