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This true story of a Special Forces officer in Vietnam in the mid-sixties will acquaint you with the unique nature of Special Operations Forces and how covert operations are developed and often masked to permit — even sponsor — assassination, outright purposeful killing of innocents, illegal use of force and bizzare methods in combat operations.

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The Unconventional Warrior

        by LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)
© 2003 Daniel Marvin

Part 18:

General Quang Van Dang - Victim of Subterfuge

January 6, 2003

Former ARVN Lieutenant General Quang Van Dang is a man of extraordinary courage. He risked his life on 20 June 1966 to rescue me, my eight men and an estimated 400 South Vietnamese Special Forces and Irregular Warriors from certain death at the hands of a thousand man ARVN Regiment that had been dispatched by our CIA, acting in concert with Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, to destroy our camp. It would have been a massacre of all these loyal fighting men as retribution by the CIA.

Some ten days earlier, unknown to General Dang at the time, our own CIA had sent their agent to my camp in An Phu District, South Vietnam with a top secret mission calling for the ambush killing of Cambodian Crown Prince Norodum Sihanouk. My counterpart, ARVN Major Phoi Van Le and I had initially accepted the mission with a quid-pro-quo, had begun training the force we would send into Cambodia to kill Sihanouk and were waiting only for proof that President Lyndon Johnson had honored his part by denying the enemy future use of safe havens all along the border with Cambodia.

When President Johnson denied our quid-pro-quo demand, I sent the CIA agent packing. Then I was warned of the consequences of going against the “company.” Some nine days later a 1,000 man ARVN regiment was sent to attack An-Phu and, in the words of the American advisor on the ground with the ARVN regiment, go after the “Renegade Captain named Marvin who was leading the Hoa Haos (a Buddhist Sect) against the central government.”
Major Phoi Van Le, sensing the desperation of the situation, asked that the Hoa Hao Central Council in Hoa Hao Village send an emissary to Can Tho, meet with IV Corps Commander, General Quang Van Dang, and diffuse the situation. General Dang, not wanting “brothers to kill brothers” simply picked up the telephone, called Premier Ky and the Minister of Defense, telling them he was taking charge of the situation. And he did, flying his senior American advisor’s helicopter with the advisor (Colonel William Desobry) aboard, hovered over the ARVN Regiment’s command and control element and ordered them to return to Can Tho.

General Dang then flew with Colonel Desobry into our camp and personally gave all of us his assurance that we would not be attacked, but instead commended for how bravely and well our people had secured that 30 kilometer stretch of border.

Within two weeks of General Dang coming to our rescue he became a victim of subterfuge, a target of heinous allegations and innuendo perpetrated by the CIA, first published in the Southeast Asian edition of a popular American news magazine, whose people just happened to be co-located with CIA personnel in a Saigon compound.

The attack on General Dang’s character followed him into the United States and on into Canada where he was forced to live in quasi-exile, threatened with deportation and listed officially as an undesirable alien. It wasn’t until late in 1988, when I attempted to locate him to again thank him for saving my life and the lives of so many others, that I learned of his horrendous predicament. The complete story of General Dang will be spelled out in a biography bearing the same title as this part in the Unconventional Warrior series. It took 11 months of demanding an investigation, going by formal letter to then President George H. W. Bush and advising that I would fight to exonerate General Dang until the day the Lord returns to take His people up or the day I died (whichever came first), to take the action needed to clear General Dang.

In September 1989 I personally escorted General Dang into this country with him having a permanent entry visa and a King James Bible in hand. He and his wife Nam now reside in the United States as American Citizens.

More than 13 years have passed since General Dang entered this country a free man, having been cleared of all the false allegations, yet I have been unable to convince our government of the need to officially and publicly clear General Dang with a simple press release stating the fact of the investigation and of his reputation having been cleared. It is my fervent prayer that those other American Green Berets whose lives he saved in June 1966 would have the courage and the common decency to come forward, publicly thank General Dang and join in my effort to force our government to be honest about this most honorable man.
As the Bible reads in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

[Edited by Jeanne Calabretta]
Next installment, January 20, 2003
Part 19: Major Phoi Van Le & The Hoa Haos Betrayed

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