General Truong's career started in 1964, when he was commanding one such battalion. During a military operation, he had courageously saved the life of a critically wounded advisor, Captain Thomas B. Thockmorton, son of Lieutenant General John Thockmorton, second in command of MACV. Many officers were aware of Truong's aptitude, they expressed their endearment and were very supportive of him.
Dependent on the favorable result, General Cao Van Vien was also supportive of Truong when Vien was the Commander of the Airborne Division. As a result, Truong had many opportunities to advance his military career. In 1967, he was appointed as the Commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Military Region 1, then in 1971, he was recommended for the post of Commander of the Army Corps IV, Can Tho. In 1972 Truong was designated to replace General Hoang Xuan Lam to command the Army Corps I in Da Nang. The relationship between Truong and General Vien was close. On the night of February 20, 1975, General Vien relayed Presidetn Thieu's order to Truong that only one enclave can be defended due to limited support. General Truong was no stranger to conflicting and controversial orders, but he became confused and discontent to the point that he had offered his resignation in the midst of battle.
After the war and their arrivals at a refugee camp in the U.S., both General Vien and Truong were approached by an organization called General Research Corporation. They were offered contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense's military history center to write documents relating to the Vietnam War. The inconsistencies between Vien and Truong then became more apparent. At one point during a meeting to compile information for the U.S., Truong asserted the failure to "Bad Leadership, Central Government lack of talent". Lieutenant General Dong Van Khuyen sided with General Vien and voiced his protest. Brigadier General Tran Dinh Tho, Assistant Chief of Staff J3, argued, "General Staff did all that it could. If there was any available means, it was always reserved for the Army Corps 1/Military Region 1. Both the Airborne and Marine Divisions, which were the general reserved forces, were sent to support the 1st Army Corps. Even after the objective was achieved, General Truong retained these divisions and utilized them as the local forces instead of sending them back to the Joint General Staff to maneuver other areas. What is there to criticize?"
During the heated conversations, General Vien did not utter one word. But after the meeting, General Vien pulled Khuyen and Tho aside and said, "They adapted to the new life over here! In Vietnam, those types would have their necks wringged." The fallout continued to be greater until one day in 1985, when General Vien summoned the Generals of the ARVN to Washington to discuss the Vietnam Veterans Association, General Truong had a very disobedient attitude, from the choosing of his seat to the methods of discussing the topics. Afterward, Truong was never present at the subsequent meetings.
General Truong never had such an attitude before, especially toward General Vien, the man to whom Truong should be indebted. When asked about it, General Truong revealed, "The faith has been lost, upon arriving in this land what remained is only the feelings, duties and love?"
Moreover, Truong blamed Vien for not seeing and following the changes in the newly developing situation. Meanwhile, a number of other generals also bitterly criticized Truong. Major General Nguyen Duy Hinh, Truong's former Chief of Staff gravely remarked, "Truong's knowledge was mediocre; during a meeting or conference he never gave out orders or instructions. His fame and reputation were only fictitious."
Major General Bui The Lan, Commander of the Marine Division, who was Truong's classmate seriously commented, "Upon facing the danger (the withdrawing from Da Nang), could one assess the bravery and real capacity of an individual." Having served as his deputy for three years, I commented, "Even if Truong lack great knowledge, he knew how to choose his staff members and utilize their expertise. This was very commendable. When confronted with danger, if one were placed in Truong's situation, with his wife and small children whisked away by the CIA many months before, even a man with a heart of stone would have to succumb."
Then I pointed to them, "both of you were promoted from Colonel to Brigadier then Major General in a short period of time due to your merits of course, but mainly it was because of Truong's full support. I am not grateful for money and ranking, but I just want to bring out the voice of conscience. I need to add that in the year of 1960 when I had the rank of full Colonel, Truong was only a First Lieutenant. If all commanders of the four Army Corps had Truong's work ethics, (General Chief of the Joint General Staff as well as President Commander-in-Chief of the ARVN) and fully performed their duties, then the U.S. would not have forsaken Vietnam., Hanoi communist would not be able to drive us out. It was our fault that caused us to lose this war. This unforgivable mistake had forced us to abandon our motherland, our comrades (alive and deceased), and our people to runaway and live shamefully in a foreign land."
The ARVN rarely have a commander who worked through seven days a week, never requested or asked for anything from the units under his command. Truong always shared the interests, finances, medals and promotions, etc. Few set better example than Truong. During his stay in the Fort Chaffee refugee camp, Arkansas, he only had a twenty dollar bill given to him by a friend (advisor). People remaining in Vietnam and Vietnamese abroad are still waiting for Truong to form a resistance group. But all is just a dream, Truong like most of us is not the type of person who seeks personal fame.
The fact that these generals elected to write documents for the U.S. Military History Center remains a disturbing question for many. It was not understood what General Vien and General Truong were thinking when they accepted this shameful offer.
Hoang Van Lac and Ha Mai Viet