Nguyen Khanh

From Academic Kids

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Nguyen Khanh

General Nguyen Khanh was born November 8, 1927, at Tra Vinh Province, South Vietnam.

He presently serves as the Chief of State of the Government of Free Vietnam, as of January 2, 2005.



The son of a nightclub owner in Da Lat, he had joined the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh to liberate Vietnam under French colonialism. He abandoned them after learning of their true aspirations of ruling Vietnam under a Communist Dictatorship. He then later joined the French in the First Indochina War.

Military Career

In 1947, he graduated from Vien Dong (Dap Da) Military Academy and Saint Saumur (France) Military Academy, rank of Lieutenant. His first assignment was as a Platoon Leader at 1st Battalion, Attache Officer to the Prime Minister.

In 1949, promoted to Captain and assigned a Company, assigned as Group Commander in 1952 as a Major.

In 1953, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and commanded the 11th Group.

In 1955, he graduated from Hight Command and Chief of Staff in France, and then assigned as Chief of Can Tho Province.

Various Posts he held in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel were Air Force Commander Hoan Dieu Campaign’s Deputy Commander.

In October 23, 1955, he was promoted to Colonel and was assigned as Commander of 1st Infantry Division.

In 1957, he was assigned as Region Commander of Hau Giang consisting of Kien Hoa, My Tho, Vinh Long.

In 1958, he was transferred to Command Western Sector consisting of Long An to Ca Mau provinces.

In 1959, he was appointed Secretary General of the Defense Ministry, and in 1960 he was promoted to Major General and assigned to Inter-Arms Chief of Staff.

In 1962, President Ngo Dinh Diem assigned him as II Corps Commander and Dec 11, 1963, he was promoted to Lieutenant General to command I Corps.

On November 1, 1963, he joined General Duong Van Minh and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) generals in a coup d'etat against President Ngo Dinh Diem from power and was rewarded with a major command in northern South Vietnam.
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General Nguyen Khanh

In a letter that United States Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. , wrote to Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

"This is for you, the President, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and whoever else you think needs to know. It is definitely not a subject which should get into the cable traffic ... General Nguyen Khanh told me on May 25, that when President Ngo Dinh Diem was shot he had in his hand a briefcase containing 1 million U.S. currency 'in the highest denominations.' He said that General Duong Van Minh took possession of the briefcase and has never yet surrendered it. He added that General Minh at the same time had taken possession of 40 kilograms of gold bars ... I advised General Khanh not to make this public lest it shake public confidence here in all generals. He hopes that General Minh will make his exit quietly."

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General Nguyen Khanh

The above disgust of corruption led to his motives from the moment of his appointment, he began to plot against General Duong Van Minh's government. When the United States became wary of Duong Van Minh 's possible support for a neutralist government, it did not oppose General Nguyen Khanh's plans.

Political Career

On July 19, 1964 during the Vietnam War at a rally in Saigon, General Nguyen Khanh made a statement "calling for expanding the war into North Vietnam."

In August 16, 1964 General Nguyen Khanh led a bloodless military coup d'etat replacing Duong Van Minh as Prime Minister. General Duong Van Minh was placed under house arrest, but was allowed to remain as a figurehead chief-of-state. General Nguyen Khanh, assumed the leadership from the junta as chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council that took over after Ngo Dinh Diem demise.

In August 1964, General Nguyen Khanh was faced with an attempted coup, rioting and demonstrations in the northern provinces, a massive labor strike in Saigon, and an armed revolt by Montagnard elements among the Special Forces.

On September 26, 1964, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Council elected Phan Khac Suu as Chief of State, and the former mayor of Saigon, Tran Van Huong, as Premier, but General Nguyen Khanh but retained real power under the title of commander in chief of the armed forces.

On September 13, 1964, after the air force crushed a coup plot against General Nguyen Khanh, Air Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky's political star began to rise.

During his time in power General Nguyen Khanh established a new constitution, which the U.S. Embassy helped to draft. Premier Tran Van Huong drafted a statement that his country's differences with the United States arising from the military seizure of power on Dec. 20 have been eliminated. General Nguyen Khanh was appointed to deal with the crisis caused by current Anti-government demonstrations. The day before this takeover, a 17-year-old Buddhist girl had burned herself to death in protest against the Tran Van Huong's regime. A struggle for political power begins between General Nguyen Khanh and the activist Buddhist leader, Thich Tn Quang.

On February 19, 1965, several dissident South Vietnamese Generals moved their batalions into Saigon with the intention of ousting General Nguyen Khanh. General Khanh escaped to Da Lat with the aid of Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky, commander of the South Vietnamese Air Force, which enabled him to crush any coups that were launched against the new regime. He threatened to bomb Saigon and the Tan Son Nhut Airport unless the rebel troops were withdrawn, but was dissuaded from this by General William Westmoreland, Commander of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.

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General Nguyen Khanh at a Press Conference

In February 1965, General Nguyen Van Thieu joined forces with Air Vice Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky in a coup d'etat against General Nguyen Khanh government that lasted for (260 days) from January 1964-October 1964, with the support of a neutralist coalition. Air Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky appointed Dr. Phan Huy Quat to form a new government.

On June 19, 1965, the National Leadership Committee headed by General Nguyen Van Thieu appointed Ky to the office of premier, the highest political office in South Vietnam.

Life in Exile

Air Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky appointed General Nguyen Khanh as Ambassador to France. After the demise of South Vietnam, he remained in France and worked for Soditee Inc. as a special consultant.

In 1977, he and his wife, Nguyen Le Tran, along with four of their six children immigrated to the United States. He has worked for DSC Communications Corp. in Texas, Global Development Group Inc. in San Francisco, Aeroservicios Ltd. in Honduras, Global Economic Support Inc. in California and Vietnamese-American corporations and private enterprises.

In the 1990's he had traveled abroad meeting with Vietnamese communities worldwide and also with officials in Paris, Washington, D.C., Beijing and Honduras regarding the future of Vietnam. He has also been visiting universities thoughtout the United States speaking about the Vietnam War and the future of the nation.

On Janurary 2, 2005, Nguyen Khanh was selected as Chief of State of the Government of Free Vietnam, an anti-communist organization located in Little Saigon, Westminster, California.

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Government of Free Vietnam Military Soldiers escort the General Head Of State Nguyen Khanh to the podium and he then solemnly recited the Oath of Office in the sacred ambiance of the convention hall.


  • "We make sacrifices for the nation's independence and the people's liberty, not to pursue the policy of any foreign country."
  • "I left my country in honor that day, not like Thieu who fled later. My cabinet, my troops, the whole diplomatic corps were there at the airport to bid me farewell."
  • "I took with me in my hand on the departing plane a bag of sand, a bag of earth from the soil of a free South Vietnam. My Western hero had always been Gen. Douglas MacArthur who made the famous promise ‘I shall return’ after he lost a battle in the Philippines."-- “I have a promise to keep — to return to a free and democratic Vietnam.”
  • "China believes it is the center of the universẹ Look at its flag: one big star surrounded by satellite stars. Arrogant!"
  • "Vietnam is the next dragon in Asia"

External Link

Preceded by:
Nguyen Huu Chanh
Government of Free Vietnam
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

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