Monday, June 12, 1972

Americans in S. Vietnam Mourn Loss of John Vann

SAIGON (AP) --Friends in Pleiku paid a last farewell to John Paul Vann Saturday, then the body of the senior U.S. adviser was flown to Saigon.

Brig. Gen. Michael D. Healy, the last U.S. Special Forces commander in Vietnam, hurried to the central highlands earlier to temporarily assume Vann's post.

The 47-year old Vann died in a helicopter crash Friday near Pleiku.

U.S. spokesmen said the crash, which also killed the pilot and an American military passenger, was being investigated. Sources said there was no firm indication the light OH58 observation helicopter had been hit by ground fire.

A memorial service was scheduled for Sunday morning in the sprawling movie theater at the Headquarters of the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Saigon.

American officials said burial plans were not yet arranged.

U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker said of Vann: "I know of no more dedicated American nor one more deserving of his country's gratitude."

"John Vann devoted the last 10 years of his life to Vietnam and the struggle for peace, justice and the right of self-determination….His death came in the air, at night, in battle, just as the forces with which he served had heroically repelled the enemy's assault on Kontum…."

The North Vietnamese reacted with unusual speed, calling Vann one of "the most cruel U.S. advisers in South Vietnam." A Radio Hanoi broadcast said:

"….For years he committed countless crimes against our compatriots in the Nam Bo Delta when he directed the U.S. puppet pacification program….He committed many…barbarous crimes against compatriots.

"John Paul Vann deserved to meet death on the central highlands battlefield."

Ironically, Healy already had returned to Vietnam to replace Vann's deputy, Brig. Gen. John G. Hill, Jr., who left on schedule for the United States.

Instead, Healy takes over from both Vann and Hill until further orders.

Healy, recently promoted from colonel, had been assistant commander of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He commanded the 5th Special Forces Group, which was withdrawn form Vietnam early last year.

"Americans in S. Vietnam Mourn Loss of John Vann;, by SAIGON, (AP) published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Monday, June 12, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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