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Obituary: General Khanh Nguyen Who Thwarted 1960 Coup Dies

submitted by Ken Berger (ACS)

For those of us who lived through all the coups (Big Minh, Little Minh, Gen Ky, etc. thought this was interesting.

Washington Post

Khanh Nguyen, 86, a South Vietnamese general who briefly gained control of the government in a coup and went on to lead a “government in exile” in California, died Jan. 11 at a San Jose hospital.

He had complications from diabetes, according to Chanh Nguyen Huu, who succeeded Gen. Nguyen as head of the California-based Government of Free Vietnam in Exile.

In November 1960, Gen. Nguyen helped thwart a coup against the U.S.backed president, Ngo Dinh Diem, when he mistook the rebels for Viet Cong soldiers and rushed to the president’s defense.

“Because I thought it was a Viet Cong attack, I sent orders to the troops to help us,” he said in a 1981 interview with WGBH-TV in Boston. “At that time, I saw it was a coup managed by some of the paratroopers — not all of them, but some.”

South Vietnamese generals overthrew Diem’s regime three years later, starting a period of political unrest.

Gen. Nguyen briefly took control of the government in a Jan. 30, 1964, coup, but he left Vietnam the next year after being forced out of power by other generals.

South Vietnamese generals overthrew Diem’s regime three years later, starting a period of political unrest.



On February 19, 1965, some units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam commanded by General Lam Van Phat and Colonel Pham Ngoc Thao launched a coup against General Nguyen Khanh, the head of South Vietnam’s ruling military junta. Their aim was to install General Tran Thien Khiem, a Khanh rival who had been sent to Washington DC as Ambassador to the United States to prevent him from seizing power. The attempted coup reached a stalemate however, and although the trio did not take power, a group of officers led by General Nguyen Chanh Thi and Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky hostile to both the plot and to Khanh himself, were able to force a leadership change and take control themselves with the support of American officials, who had lost confidence in Khanh. Click Here to read more …

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