In this Vietnamese name, the family name is Nguyễn, but is often simplified to Nguyen in English-language text. According to Vietnamese custom, this person should properly be referred to by the given nameNam.
As a sub-lieutenant, his (chuan uy's) first assignment was to an airborne unit. He served in various positions within the VNA during the First Indochina War (1953–1955) and joined the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in 1955. He served as a lieutenant in the airborne, a company commander in the 7th Airborne Battalion, a major in command of 5th Airborne Battalion, as lieutenant colonel (and later colonel) of the 3rd Airborne Brigade, as a brigadier general of the 7th Division, and as a major general of IV Corps Tactical Zone.
His numerous decorations include the National Order of Vietnam Fourth Class medal and National Order of Vietnam Third Class medal. On 30 April 1975, with the Fall of Saigon, rather than fleeing the country or surrendering, General Nam and his deputy commander, General Lê Văn Hưng shot themselves dead. General Nam was buried at Cần Thơ Military Cemetery the following day.