Tran Van Tra
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|Trần Văn Trà|
Tran Van Tra in 1973
Quảng Ngãi Province, French Indochina
|Died||April 20, 1996 (age 78)
|Service/branch||People's Army of Vietnam|
|Commands held||Commander of the Liberation Army (Vietcong)|
|Battles/wars||First Indochina War
Ho Chi Minh Campaign
|Awards||Resolution for Victory Order|
Trần Văn Trà (1918 – April 20, 1996) was a commander in the Vietcong; a member of the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party (North Vietnamese communist party) from 1960 to 1982; a lieutenant general in the army of the North Vietnam; chairman of Military Affairs Committee of the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN) (1964–1976).
The son of a bricklayer, Tra was born in Quảng Ngãi Province in 1918. He joined the Indochinese Communist Party in 1938 and spent the years of the Second World War in a French prison. Between 1946 and 1954, Tra fought against the French in the Vietnam People's Army and became a general in 1961, commanding communist forces in the southern half of South Vietnam. During the days of Indochina war with the French, the Viet Minh recruited more than 600 defeated Japanese soldiers to fight with them.
In June, 1946, some of these Japanese followers became instructors in a military school set up by the Viet Minh in Quang Ngai Province, Tra's birthplace, to teach fighting skills to more than 400 Vietnamese trainees. It is not known if Tra may have been one of the organizers or attendees at this military training school.
During a 1974 meeting of North Vietnamese military leaders in Hanoi, Tra argued against a conservative strategy during the coming year and suggested that South Vietnam's Phước Long Province be attacked in order to test both South Vietnamese and American military reaction. The attack was successful and the U.S. did not respond militarily, prompting larger, more aggressive communist operations. In April 1975, Tra became deputy commander of the A75 headquarters under Senior General Văn Tiến Dũng during the Ho Chi Minh Campaign, the final assault on Saigon which led to the capitulation of the South Vietnamese government. He was vice minister of defense from 1978 to 1982.
In 1982, Tra published Vietnam: A History of the Bulwark B-2 Theater, which revealed how the Hanoi Politburo had overestimated its own military capabilities and underestimated those of the U.S. and South Vietnam prior to and during the Tet Offensive. This account offended and embarrassed the leaders of the newly-unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam and ultimately led to his purging from the party. He lived under house arrest until his death on April 20, 1996.