Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nguyen Van Lem; He's just a plain vanilla V.C.

Note:  I have been neglecting my blog while I worked on other things.  I just noticed that I never posted this.

My last post focused on how the deeds of Nguyen Van Lem (aka: Bay Lop) - the man shot by General Loan on February 1st, 1968 during the Tet  offensive - have been exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous.  Yet they persist and are spread from one book to another and from one website to another.

So lets look at "former Judge BAI AN TRAN, Ph. D. Professor of the National Police Office Academy, Vietnam." full accounting of what Nguyen Van Lem had done right before General Loan shot him:

Now I suppose one could argue that Nguyen Van Lem may have been the one who killed the Lt. Col, and his six kids.  But that happened in Go Vap according to President Nguyen Van Thieu.  The execution took place at the An Quang Pagoda which was on the other side of town from Go Vap:

That's a long way to go from start of the attack at Go Vap to the An Quang Pagoda where he was caught.  And if my time line is correct, Nguyen Van Lem was shot by General Loan about 32 hours after the start of the Tet Offensive.

And what about the reason for killing Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan attributed to Nguyen Van Lem?

After communist troops took control of the base, Bay Lop arrested Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan with his family and forced him to show them how to drive tanks. When Lieutenant Colonel Tuan refused to cooperate, Bay Lop killed all members of his family including his 80-year-old other. There was only one survivor, a seriously injured 10-year-old boy.
Here is what the Combat Operations After Action Report (RCS: MACJ3-32)(K-1) has to say about what took place in Go Vap.

So now we know that Nguyen Van Lem could not have forced anyone to drive a tank since there were no tanks there.  Unless you don't want to believe the AAR - then you should probably stop reading because all I will be doing is supporting my thesis with data I believe has not been manipulated in order to better tell the Adams/Loan/Lem story.

The story of Nguyen Van Lem is just that, a story.  Propaganda designed to take the sting out of what was shown to the world in that photo and news footage of General Loan shooting him. 

Even Eddie Adams was was taken in by it:
Well, we found out later, it wasn't 'til about a couple days later, that we found out that the guy was a Viet Cong lieutenant, and he had  killed the policemen from the second  story of the building [i]n the area where we were, and they had grabbed him  immediately.  And he supposedly had  papers saying that he was a lieutenant in the Viet Cong. (1)
And I didn't find this out much later, but the prisoner who was killed had himself killed a police major who was one of Loan's best friends, and knifed his entire family.  The wife, six kids...  the whole family.  When they captured this guy, I didn't know that.  I just happened to be there and took the picture. (2)
And with Adams unknowingly, or unwittingly, or reluctantly on board with it, the remaking of General Loan from a "villain" to a "godamn hero" was now on its way.



John C. said...

I does not matter to me the time line of Lems crimes or his "plain vanilla" status; he was a murderous communist and got real justice.

Anonymous said...

Real justice? In the end Nguyen Van Lem and his fellow soldiers defeated the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies and won freedom and independence for their country, Vietnam. His murderer General Loan ran away to America and was despised until the day he died. Today in Vietnam Nguyen Van Lem is considered a national hero and General Loan a forgotten war criminal.

Anonymous said...

And both are now dead, you are a slave on a slaveship you cannot escape, while I am a free Man.

If that's victory to you, I'm glad you got it.

Sua Sponte...

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the reporting indicates the VC captured Co Loa. However, it was Tet, and although the base is in the northern portion of Saigon, Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan may have been with his family when they were all killed...some reporting indicates that he was. I have not found any documentation noting where the ARVN commander lived, though it would be reasonable to expect that it was near the pagoda and he was home with his family. That is indeed a possibility.

Also, since there was apparently a survivor, the boy could have identified Lem as the killer of his family... questioning which may have been instigated after Lem reportedly admitted to the killings. Killing Lem on the spot may have been distasteful to some, though it may not have been a war crime. To say that Lem is somehow better than Loan typifies the usually self-indulgent BS we have to endure as it is completely illogical to condemn a street executioner and hail a murderer of noncombatants (including children) in the same breath. How about a little more logic: Tet was instigated to create a grass roots uprising which failed. No one rose up. The ideology was hollow. North Vietnam won the war from the barrel of a GUN and two million fled from their country. No sides looked pretty during the war, not even the peace movement, though if we are ever going to get to the truths of Vietnam War, we have to end this garbage, clap trap from "anonymous" above at November 7, 2013 at 12:03 PM. He may be a free man, but many are not, and only his opinion is allowed in Vietnam these days. Apparently the Slaveship must look like freedom when people tell you what to think.

Anonymous said...

I agree with above anonymous posting from Dec 25. Loan killed a combatant while "communist insurgent' killed a whole family with kids. The LTC maybe a combatant, but his family is not. In God's eye, who is the real villain? Take today's villain like ISIS, I could be wrong, but I don't recall hearing ISIS killing children either.