My Memory of Kontum
The following is from Captain Do Duc, translated by his son.
I was General Nguyen Van Toan’s aide-de-camp. When Kontum was initially attacked, we were working in Hue. Three weeks after the first attack, Gen. Toan told me, “We need to get ready to go to Saigon.” When we got to the airport, I saw a small plane along with Gen. Ngo Quang Truong (Commander of I Corps) and his aide. After flying for an hour, we arrived at the Saigon airport. We then boarded President Nguyen Van Thieu’s helicopter, which brought us to a meeting. Following the four-hour meeting, Gen. Toan informed me that we were to go to Pleiku the next day. When we arrived the following day, a colonel took us to the Commander of II Corps’s headquarters. After filling out paperwork, Gen. Toan became the new Commander of II Corps. Later I saw a man in civilian clothing walk up to see Gen. Toan. I found out his name was John Paul Vann, and he was to be our advisor. After they talked for 20 minutes, the three of us flew to Kontum. Mr. Vann piloted the helicopter while Gen. Toan sat on the passenger side. I sat in the back.
When we arrived in Kontum, we were told there were already two divisions of the enemy in the area. Colonel Ly Tong Ba (Commander of 23rd Division) met us at the airport and took us to his HQ. After that day, Gen. Toan and Mr. Vann continued meeting daily in Kontum, frequently strategizing late into the night.
I remember one evening, Mr. Vann called Gen. Toan’s HQ, asking if he wanted to go to Kontum. Gen. Toan told him that he was not feeling well that particular night, so he did not want to go. Mr. Vann said he would go alone. After 40 minutes, Colonel Dung, the tank commander, called me, asking for Gen. Toan. He told me to tell him that Mr. Vann’s helicopter exploded in the sky. Gen. Toan was very sad and sorry for this loss. He would frequently say that he lost a good friend, and Vietnam lost a brave comrade. Gen. Toan worked with a new advisor, Gen. Healey. With the aid of both Mr. Vann and Gen. Healey, in addition to the South Vietnamese Army (23rd Division, tanks, Special Forces, and the National Guard) we won the Battle of Kontum in a month.
Duc Do <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thursday, November 02, 2006 at 19:10:19 (PST)