Nguyễn Hợp Đoàn
|Nguyen Hop Doan|
Nguyen Hop Doan wearing the rank of Colonel
|Born||28 August 1928
Hải Dương Province, French Indochina
|Died||15 April 2002 (aged 73)|
|Service/branch||Army of the Republic of Vietnam|
|Years of service||~1950 - 1975|
Nguyễn Hợp Đoàn (28 August 1928 - 15 April 2002) was to be the last Mayor of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam and Governor of Gia Dinh Province, before the fall of Saigon that led to the reunification of Vietnam under the Communist party in 1975.
Born in Hai Duong Province in 1928 to Nguyễn Thúc Vinh, a former Governor of Bac Can Province in North Vietnam. The senior Nguyen nearly captured Ho Chi Minh early in Ho's career. For his efforts, Ho's comrades tortured and killed Nguyen's mother. Fiercely anticommunist, the family fled South at the partitioning of the country following the Geneva Accords of 1954.
Nguyen attended the 4th class of the elite Vietnamese National Military Academy in Dalat, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (USACGSC) and the U.S. Army War College (USAWC). He was the youngest Major in the South Vietnamese Army at age 24.
He served as Commanding Officer of 705th Battalion, Commanding Officer of 42nd Brigade, Commanding Officer of 14th Division and Chief of Staff of 9th Division. He also served as Chief of Staff of Vietnam's Rangers and Special Forces and participated in the highly successful Phoenix program. The program was designed to identify and "neutralize"—capture; induce to surrender; kill; or otherwise disrupt—the noncombatant infrastructure of Viet Cong (VCI) cadres who were engaged both in recruiting and training insurgents within South Vietnamese villages, as well as providing support to the North Vietnamese war effort.
Nguyen was Governor of Kontum Province from 1965-1970, where the communist Tet offensive of 1968 was soundly defeated. He excelled as a Military Officer and as a Public Servant, in his dual role as the Governor of the Military District of Tuyen Duc, and as Mayor of the provincial capital city of Dalat from 1970-1975. During his tenure, Dalat was a safe haven. He built on its charm and beauty, and kept it a favorite honeymoon destination. Dalat was also a center of learning, with many boarding schools, universities, military academies and seminaries. South Vietnam's sole nuclear reactor and associated scientists and personnel were based in Dalat. In 1975, in the hope that he will bring tranquility to the capital city, President Nguyen Van Thieu appointed Nguyen its next mayor. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and made plans to assume the mayorship.
Fall of Saigon
At the closing of the war that led to the Fall of Saigon, Nguyen stood and fought while the neighboring Military District Chiefs ran without a fight, creating chaos as refugees poured into Saigon from the First and Second Corps. Along the way, the refugee column (now known as the "convoy of tears"), took heavy casualties as communist forces (North Vietnamese 340th Division) rained down artillery and killed thousands. Nguyen ordered his own withdrawal only after realizing that his city and district were isolated. Nguyen led an orderly retreat (always a difficult military maneuver), stayed with his troops, and saved many lives. He was resolutely honest and is fondly remembered by his constituency from the Central Highlands of Vietnam (Dalat and Tuyen Duc.) He had hopes of returning home. After spending more than twenty years in America, Nguyen still held on to his South Vietnamese citizenship. He died before seeing his country achieve full democracy.
Decorations and Badges
Nguyen received numerous Medals, Honors and Citations including National Order of Vietnam, 4th Class (Bao Quoc Huan Chuong), ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Joint Forces Order (Luc Quan Huan Chuong), Service Medal (Tham Muu Boi Tinh), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (Chien Dich Boi Tinh), 12 Gallantry Cross Medals (Anh Dung Boi Tinh) and the United States Silver Star and Bronze Star with "V" Device Medals.
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