Lê Trọng Tấn
|Lê Trọng Tấn|
October 3, 1914|
Hoài Đức, Hà Đông, Tonkin
|Died||December 5, 1986
|Allegiance|| Viet Minh
|Service/branch|| Vietnam People's Army
|Years of service||1945–1986|
|Commands held||Deputy Minister of Defence of Vietnam
Chief of the General Staff
Deputy Commander of the Viet Cong
Director of the National Academy of Defence
|Battles/wars||Second Indochina War
General Lê Trọng Tấn (October 3, 1914–December 5, 1986) was an officer of the Vietnam People's Army who held several senior positions of the Army during his military career from 1945 to 1986. Lê Trọng Tấn participated in the Viet Minh movement before the August Revolution in 1945 and gradually became one of the most important figures of the Vietnam People's Army during the Second Indochina War. Being one of the key figures of the North Vietnam armed forces in Vietnam War, Lê Trọng Tấn was Deputy Commander of the Viet Cong and second commander of the 1975 Spring Offensive that effectively ended the war. Afterwards, he became Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defence of Vietnam until his death in December 1986. Lê Trọng Tấn was appreciated by his comrades, including the general Võ Nguyên Giáp, as one of the finest commanders of the Vietnam People's Army.
Lê Trọng Tấn was born on October 3, 1914 as Lê Trọng Tố, his father was a scholar who once participated in the Tonkin Free School movement before retiring in the village Yên Nghĩa, Hoài Đức and deceased when Lê Trọng Tố was 7 years old. In his youth, Lê Trọng Tố studied at Bưởi High School and was known for his football skill that gained him a position in the Eclair football club in Hanoi. Lê Trọng Tố was admitted to the Viet Minh in late 1943 and became the military deputy of the revolution committee in his hometown Hà Đông during the August Revolution (1945). After Viet Minh took over the authorities, Lê Trọng Tố enlisted in the Vietnam People's Army (Cứu quốc quân) and changed his name to Lê Trọng Tấn.
At the beginning of the First Indochina War, Lê Trọng Tấn acted as commander of the E206 Regiment (Sông Lô Regiment). In the Biên giới Campaign (1950), Lê Trọng Tấn was the deputy commander of the Vietnam People's Army at Đông Khê front, later he became the first commander of the 312th Brigade and led his brigade engaging in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. From 1954 to 1960, Lê Trọng Tấn was appointed Director of the Vietnam Academy for Infantry Officers and Deputy Chief of the General Staff (Phó Tổng tham mưu trưởng) from March 1961 to 1962.
Lê Trọng Tấn began to directly involve in the Vietnam War from 1962 when he was chosen as Deputy Commander of the Viet Cong. During two years 1970 and 1971, Lê Trọng Tấn was the special envoy of the Vietnam People's Army at Laos front where he commanded troops in Plain of Jars battlefield. In 1972 he was appointed commander of Vietnam People's Army in the First Battle of Quảng Trị, one year later he returned to the position of Deputy Chief of the General Staff and held at the same time the position of commander of the 1st Corps (Quân đoàn 1) and Director of the Military Science Academy. In 1975, Lê Trọng Tấn was commander of the Hue-Da Nang Campaign in March 1975 and second commander (Phó tư lệnh) of the 1975 Spring Offensive. During the last days of the 1975 Spring Offensive, Lê Trọng Tấn was responsible for the east wing of the Vietnam People's Army attacking Saigon. It was the 4th Company of 1st Regiment, 2nd Corps under his command that arrived first at the Independence Palace, the workplace of the President of the South Vietnam, and arrested the president Duong Van Minh coincidentally it was also a unit of the 312th Brigade commanding by Lê Trọng Tấn which was first came to the French headquarters and captured general Christian de Castries marking the end of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
After the war, Lê Trọng Tấn continued to hold the position of Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Director of the Advanced Military Academy (Học viện Quân sự cấp cao). At the beginning of the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, Lê Trọng Tấn was commander of Vietnamese armed forces in the southern border of Vietnam from December 1978 to February 1979. From June 1978 to his death in 1986, Lê Trọng Tấn was Deputy Minister of Defence of Vietnam and Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, succeeding general Văn Tiến Dũng. He died on December 5, 1986 at the age of 72.
Awards, decorations and legacy
During his military career, Lê Trọng Tấn was awarded various titles, medals and decorations lncluding the Ho Chi Minh Order (Huân chương Hồ Chí Minh, posthumously), the Gold Star Order (Huân chương Sao vàng), the 1st and 3rd grade Military Medals (Huân chương Quân công) and the 1st grade Victory Medal (Huân chương Chiến thắng). Several streets and places in Vietnam are named in honour of Lê Trọng Tấn.
Among his comrades in the Vietnam People's Army, Lê Trọng Tấn was highly appreciated for his skill in commanding and military knowledge. The general Võ Nguyên Giáp considered Lê Trọng Tấn one of the finest military commanders of Vietnam, Fidel Castro once called him "the best general of Vietnam" and in Vietnam he was sometimes dubbed the "Vietnamese Zhukov".
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