What Does The US Army Know About My Brother's Death ?


While I was at the National Archives, the archivist, who was helping me in my research of my brother's military documents, suggested that I contact the Military Intelligence Agency concerning my brother's mysterious death. The Military Intelligence Agency directed me to the Criminal Investigation Command. Let me take you down this trail along with me.

1. My request letter dated August 26, 1998

The FOI/Privacy Office
Department of the Army
U.S. Intelligence and Security Command
Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755-5995

Dear Sir/Madam:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I am seeking document in your possession pertaining to my brother, Major General Nguyen Van Hieu of the ARVN. Follows is his curriculum vitae which might help you locate his records:

1975 Deputy Commander of III Corps
1969 Commander of 5th Division
1966 Commander of 22nd Division
1964 Chief of Staff of II Corps
1963 Chief of Staff of I Corps
1963 Graduate of Command & General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth

I am particularly interested in finding out the circumstances surrounding his death which occurred in the Headquarters of the III Corps on April 8, 1975.

If there is a fee for your service, please let me know.

Your assistance on this matter is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Tin Nguyen

2. Response letter of US Army Intelligence and Security Command dated September 23, 1998

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This responds to your Freedom of Information Act request dated August 26, 1998, for records concerning your brother, Major General Nguyen Van Hieu. Your letter was received in this office on August 31, 1998.

In the event you are not fully aware of the system of records maintained by this command, let me explain that the U.S. Army Investigative Records Repository (IRR) consists of reports of intelligence operations and projects, and of investigations of persons, incidents, events, or organizations of intelligence interest. Identification of records in the IRR is through a computerized index known as the Defense Clearance and Investigations Index (DCII). Records in the DCII are not identifiable or retrievable by the name of the person or unit that originated the record. In order to determine if responsive records exist in the IRR, the DCII is queried as follows:

The MASTER NAME INDEX. This Index contains the names of specific individuals who have investigative files maintained within the Department of Defense. Information is retrieved from the MASTER NAME INDEX using the individual's full name and personal identifying data (date and place of birth, and social security account number).

The NAME ONLY INDEX. This index includes impersonal titles that identify an incident, event, project, operation, or organization of intelligence interest. The index is keyed to the requested "name only" and a determination of whether the file is identifiable with the subject requested can only be made through review of the file retrieved under that name.

Utilizing the information you provided in your request, checks were conducted of the DCII to determine the existence of Army intelligence records responsive to your request. No records responsive to your request were located. Fees for processing this request have been waived.

If you will provide additional identifying data, specifically, social security number, date and place of birth, of Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, more conclusive checks of the systems of records maintained by this command will be conducted.

In addition, if you are able to provide proof of death for Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, and records are located, this office will not have to protect Major General Nguyen Van Hieu's personnel privacy information (i.e. date of birth, place of birth, home address, etc.).

If you have any questions concerning this action, feel free to contact Mrs. Reilly (301) 677-4501. Please refer to case #2095F-98.

Sincerely,

Russell A. Nichols
Chief, Freedom of Information/Privacy Office

3. My follow-up letter dated October 1, 1998

Reference: case #2095F-98

Dear Mr. Nichols:

Thank you for your September 23, 1998 letter in which you requested additional identifying data regarding my brother Major General Nguyen Van Hieu.

Date of birth: April 15, 1929 (*)

Place of birth: Tientsin, China.

Attached please find his Death Certificate in Vietnamese, which indicates the date of death on April 8, 1975 at 7:00pm and the place of death in the office of the Deputy Commander, 3rd Corps Headquarters.

Sincerely,

Tin Nguyen

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(*) this DOB was given out wrong, the correct one is June 23, 1929

4. Response letter of US Intelligence and Security Command dated October 29, 1998

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This is in response to your letter of October 1, 1998, requesting a copy of records pertaining to Major General Nguyen Van Hieu. Your letter was received in this office on October 9, 1998.

To determine the existence of Army intelligence investigative files pertaining to Major General Hieu, a check was made of the automated Defense Clearance and Investigations Index (DCII). This index reflects the holdings of all investigative elements within the Department of Defense. The results of the DCII check indicated no record of any Army intelligence investigative file pertaining to Major General Hieu.

The DCII check further indicated that the U.S. Army Crime Records Center (USACRC) might have a record pertaining to a Hieu, Nguyen Van. We have forwarded your request to that office for direct reply to you. Should you wish to contact them the address is:

U.S. Army Crime Records Center
ATTN: CICR-FF
6010 6th Street
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5585

If you have any questions regarding this action, feel free to contact SFC Byrd at (301) 677-4502/4501. Please refer to case #64F-99.

Sincerely,

Russel A. Nichols
Chief, Freedom of Information/Privacy Office

5. Response letter of US Army Criminal Investigation Command dated December 7, 1998

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This is in response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for release of information from the files of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) pertaining to your brother Nguyen Van Hieu. Your request was referred to this headquarters by the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command in Fort Meade, Maryland on November 16, 1998.

You are advised that your request is being processed in accordance with paragraph 1-503b, Department of Defense (DOD) Regulation 5400.7-R, which states, in part:

"When a component has a significant number of pending requests that prevents a response determination being made within 20 working days, the request s shall be processed in a multi track processing system, base on the date of receipt, the amount of work and time involved in processing the requests... Determinations as to whether a request is simple or complex shall be made by each DOD Component..." and paragraph 1-503c which states, in part: "Expedited processing shall be granted to a requester after the requester requests such and demonstrates a compelling need for the information."

It should be noted that we are currently processing requests received in June of 1998. Your request is being processed in chronological order based on the date it was received.

Any questions regarding this response should be provided in writing to the Director, U.S. Army Crime Records Center, Attention: Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Division (F98-2387), 6010 6th Street, Building 1465, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5585.

Sincerely,

Philipp J. McGuire
Director, Crime Records Center

6. First "no record" response letter from the Crime Records Center dated August 24, 1996

Dear M. Nguyen:

This is in response to your Freedom of Information (FOIA) request for release of information pertaining to Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu, and supplements our response of December 7, 1998.

You are advised that the U.S. Army Crime Records Center (CRC) is a records holding facility for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) Reports of Investigation (ROI) and Military Police Reports (MPR). Records on file at this headquarters are indexed by dates and places of birth, and other pertinent data to enable the positive identification of individuals. A search of the Army criminal file indexes utilizing the information you have provided, revealed no USACIDC files responsive to your request.

This "no record" response is made on behalf of Brigadier General David W. Foley, Commander, USACIDC, who is the Access and Amendment Refusal Authority for USACIDC records under the Privacy Act (PA) and the Initial Denial Authority for USACIDC records under the FOIA, and may be appealed to the Secretary of the Army. If you decide to do so, your appeal must be submitted within 60 days of the date of this letter. In your appeal, you must state the basis for your disagreement with the denial, and you should state the justification for its release. Appeals are made through this center and should be addressed to the Director, U.S. Army Crime Records Center, Attention: FOIA/PA Division (P98-2387), Building 1465, 6010 6th Street, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5585, for forwarding, as appropriate, to the Office of the Secretary of the Army.

I trust this will be of assistance to you.

Sincerely,

Phillip J. McGuire
Director, Crime Records Center

7. My response letter dated August 28, 1999

Dear Mr. McGuire:

Thank you for your letter dated August 24, 1999 in which you advised me that there is no record on Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu based on information I have provided to the U.S. Army Crime Records Center.

When I checked back the information I had provided to Mr. Russel A. Nichols, Chief, FOI/PA of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command in my letter dated October 1, 1998, which was forwarded to your Center, I realized that I had made a big mistake: instead of providing the date of birth - which is June 23, 1929 - I had given the date our family celebrates my brother's death anniversary - which is April 15 (my brother actually died on April 8, 1975, as indicated by the death certificate that had also been provided to the Intelligence & Security Command).

And so, with this rectification - d.o.b. June 23, 1929 - I request that you release information pertaining to Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu, my brother.

It dawns on me that there might be a possibility that your Center's file indexes might have a different place of birth of my brother: Shanghai (as some people have), instead of Tientsin, China. If you need other pertinent data for positive identification of my brother (like photos), please let me know.

I deem that your Center can still handle my request and I don't need to make an appeal to the Secretary of the Army at this stage.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Sincerely,

Tin Nguyen

8. Second "no record" response letter of the Crime Records Center dated September 7, 1999

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This is in further response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for release of information pertaining to your brother, Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu and supplements our response of August 24, 1999.

As state in our previous response to you, records located at this center are U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) Reports of Investigation and Military Police Reports. Records on file at this headquarters are indexed by personal identifiers such as names, social security numbers, dates and places of birth, and other pertinent data to enable the positive identification of individuals. Another search of the Army criminal file indexes utilizing the additional information you have provided failed to reveal any USACIDC files which may be responsive to your request. In the event you are able to supply this headquarters with your brother's Vietnamese identification number and/or last known home address, an additional search will be conducted.

This "no record" response is made on behalf of Brigadier General David W. Foley, Commander, USACIDC, who is the Access and Amendment Refusal Authority for USACIDC records under the Privacy Act (PA) and the Initial Denial Authority for USACIDC records under the FOIA, and may be appealed to the Secretary of the Army. If you decide to do so, your appeal must be submitted within 60 days of the date of this letter. In your appeal, you must state the basis for your disagreement with the denial, and you should state the justification for its release. Appeals are made through this center and should be addressed to the Director, U.S. Army Crime Records Center, Attention: FOIA/PA Division (P98-2387), Building 1465, 6010 6th Street, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5585, for forwarding, as appropriate, to the Office of the Secretary of the Army.

Sincerely,

Phillip J. McGuire
Director, Crime Records Center

9. My response letter dated September 14, 1999

Dear Mr. McGuire:

Thank you for your letter dated September 7, 1999, in which you requested additional information about my brother, Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu.

His last known home address was: QQ18, Cu Xa Si Quan Chi Hoa, Saigon, Vietnam. His death certificate, which you have in your possession, indicated his address as simply Binh Truoc, where he was stationed at, and also the place of his death: the 3rd Corps Headquarters in Bien Hoa.

If this last additional information still results in a "no record" response, I would respectfully request the following action:

Since Mr. Russell A. Nichols, of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, indicated in his letter dated October 29, 1998 that "the U.S. Army Crime Records Center (ASACRC) might have a record pertaining to a Hieu, Nguyen Van", and since you might have record on only one Hieu, Nguyen Van, please retrieve that record and take a close look to determine that that individual is not my brother who was:

Major General, 3rd Corps Deputy Commander (1973-1975)
Major General, in charge of Anti-Corruption, Vice-President Office (1972-1973)
Major General, 1st Corps Deputy Commander (1971-1972)
Major General, 5th Division Commander (1969-1971)
Major General, 22nd Division Commander (1966-1969)
Colonel, 2nd Corps Chief of Staff (1964-1966)
Colonel, 1st Corps Chief of Staff (1963-1964)
Major, Graduate of U.S. Army College of High Command and General Staff (1963);

and that that record does not contain report pertaining to the death of Major General Nguyen Van Hieu which occurred on April 8, 1975 at the 3rd Corps Headquarters, as indicated in his death certificate.

If the outcome of this examination is positive, then I would request that you release information contains in that record to me, which, in this case, pertains to my brother. If, on the contrary, the result of this examination is negative, then please so state, so that I can be certain, without any doubt, that records at your Center do not have any information on my brother's death, and our family can come to a closure.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Sincerely,

Tin Nguyen

10. Response letter from US Criminal Investigation Command dated September 28, 1999

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This is in further response to your request for release of information pertaining to your brother, Mr. Van Hieu Nguyen and supplements our previous response.

As state in our previous response to you, records located at this center are U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) Reports of Investigation and Military Police Reports. Records on file at this headquarters are indexed by personal identifiers such as names, social security numbers, dates and places of birth, and other pertinent data to enable the positive identification of individuals. Another search of the Army criminal file indexes utilizing the additional information you have provided failed to reveal any USACIDC files which may be responsive to your request.

This "no record" response is made on behalf of Brigadier General David W. Foley, Commander, USACIDC, who is the Access and Amendment Refusal Authority for USACIDC records under the Privacy Act (PA) and the Initial Denial Authority for USACIDC records under the FOIA, and may be appealed to the Secretary of the Army. If you decide to do so, your appeal must be submitted within 60 days of the date of this letter. In your appeal, you must state the basis for your disagreement with the denial, and you should state the justification for its release. Appeals are made through this center and should be addressed to the Director, U.S. Army Crime Records Center, Attention: FOIA/PA Division (P99-1742), 6010 6th Street, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5585, for forwarding, as appropriate, to the Office of the Secretary of the Army.

Sincerely,

Phillip J. McGuire
Director, Crime Records Center

11. My response letter dated October 3, 1999

Dear Mr. McGuire:

Thank you for your September 28, 1999 letter in which you notified that the additional last known address information had still generated a "no record" response.

It appears to me that your generic letter did not allude to my out-of-ordinary request of retrieving the file of Hieu, Nguyen Van that exists in your records to determine if that individual was or was not my brother and if that file contains any report pertaining to the death of my brother that occurred on April 8, 1975. I would appreciate that you explicitely address and respond to such a request.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Sincerely,

Tin Nguyen

12. Response letter from US Criminal Investigation Command dated October 21, 1999

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This is in further response to your request for release of information pertaining to your brother, Mr. Van Hieu Nguyen and supplements our previous response.

As stated in our previous response to you, records located at this center are U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) Reports of Investigation and Military Police Reports. Searches of the Army criminal file indexes utilizing the information you have provided revealed no USACIDC files pertaining to your brother. There is no indication that the U.S. Army has conducted a criminal investigation or Military Police Report regarding your brother.

The "no record" response issued to you earlier may still be appealed through this center to the Secretary of the Army.

Any questions regarding this response should be sent to the Director, U.S. Army Crime Records Center, Attention: Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (P99-1742), 6010 6th Street, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5585,

Sincerely,

Milton O. Webb
Acting Director, Crime Records Center

13. My response letter dated October 31, 1999

Dear Mr. Webb:

Thank you for your October 21, 1999 letter. May I point out again that you still haven't responded to my request. Allow me to rephrase it: regardless of the information I have provided,

1. Do your records have or don't have a file on an individual named Hieu, Nguyen Van as indicated by Mr. Russell A. Nichols, Chief, FOI/PA of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, who had forwarded my initial search from his command to yours (see attached copy of the mentioned letter)?

2. If yes, does this file contain a report of MG General Nguyen Van Hieu's death that occurred on Arpil 8, 1975 at the 3rd Corps headquarters in Bien Hoa?

I hope that you would understand my persistence in pursuing the truth pertaining to my brother's mysterious death.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Sincerely,

Tin Nguyen

14. Response letter from US Criminal Investigation Command dated November 9, 1999

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

This is in further response to your request for release of information pertaining to your brother, Mr. Van Hieu Nguyen and supplements our previous responses.

As stated in our previous response, searches of the Army criminal file indexes utilizing the information you have provided revealed no U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command files pertaining to your brother, Mr. Van Hieu Nguyen.

The "no record" response issued to you earlier may still be appealed through this center to the Secretary of the Army.

Sincerely,

Phillip J. McGuire
Director, Crime Records Center

Conclusion

A this point, I feel like I am listening to a scratched compact disk which causes the same ensemble of sounds to repeat itself indefinitely, instead of dialoguing with a live official...


Nguyen Van Tin
15 December 1998

Updated on 11/18/2000

generalhieu.com