Sunday, December 18, 2016

General Ngô Quang Trưởng - QLVNCH

Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng in the 1970s.
           December 13th marked the birthday of one of the most well known commanders in the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng. Trưởng was born in  Kiến Hòa province in 1929. He entered the military during the State of Vietnam period, attending the Thủ Đức Academy. He received his commission in 1954, and entered the airborne. One of his first citations for merit was awarded to him for bravery during the Battle of Saigon in 1955 against the Bình Xuyên.
Trưởng as a major during his early years with the airborne, 1960s.
         In subsequent years, Trưởng continued to be promoted for military achievement and his capabilities as a commander. He served with the airborne through the mid-1960s with distinction, pariticipating in major engagements throughout. After twelve years, he was transfered out of the airborne to take over command of the republic's 1st Infantry Division. He later went on the be a corps commander and one of the leading figures of the armed forces.
Brigadier General Trưởng with the 1st Infantry Division, 1960s.
Lieutenant General Trưởng with marines awaiting air transport in Tan My
during the 1972 campaign, June 29, 1972.
        General Trưởng was regarded by many of his contemporaries as one of the most capable commanders in Southeast Asia. He played a central role in the 1972 victory against the Communist invasion. He served the republic through 1975. He later lived in Virginia in the United States where he authored several texts documenting his views on the war. General Trưởng passed away in 2007. In this post, RVNHS would like to reflect on the life of General Trưởng and his role in the republic on the occasion of what would have been his 87th birthday.
Funeral of Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng in 2007.

Monday, December 12, 2016

VNAF 1st Helcopter Squadron - KQVNCH

A rare photo of a Vietnamese Air Force H-19 Helicopter during an operation in the early years.
          The helicopter is undoubtedly one of the most iconic images of the conflicts in Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) was heavily involved with the helicopter war, and at its height included over twenty helicopter squadrons. The birth of the VNAF's helicopter squadrons coincided with the founding of the Republic of Vietnam. The 1st Helicopter Squadron of the Vietnamese Air Force was established at Tân Sơn Nhứt in April of 1956.
An H-19 Helicopter of the Vietnamese Air Force.
       The squadron initially did not have any aircraft. Helicopters had been used in Vietnam during the State of Vietnam period, but by 1956, those that were left were in need of repair and were fastly becoming outdated as innovations in helicopter designs boomed worldwide. The first new helicopter received by the 1st Helicopter Squadron was the updated Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw. These helicopters would be the main operational helicopters of the squadron in its very early years. The men of the 1st Helicopter Squadron were the pioneers for the later helicopter airmen and squadrons of the VNAF. In 1963, the squadron was redesignated the 211th Squadron, and would continue to serve the republic through 1975.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Republic of Vietnam 18th Infantry Divison Certificate - Australian Army - 1 ATF

Republic of Vietnam 18th Infantry Divison - 1st Australian Task Force ( 1 ATF) weapons training certificate to Danh Soc of B Company of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, signed by 1 ATF commander, General Stuart Paul Weir, March 1970, RVNHS Archive.
              Australia began sending official military advisors to the Republic of Vietnam in 1962. As the military mission of Australia expanded, a central base of operations was established in Phuoc Tuy Province. One feature of the geography in the area selected for the Australian base were the remnants of an extinct volcano, which consisted of a partial crater. The Australians came to refer to this location as "Horseshoe Hill" due to its shape.
Australian instructor and Republic of Vietnam 18th Division soldiers,
Horseshoe Hill, Phuoc Tuy Province, 1969.
             Horeshoe Hill and the surrounding areas served as operation and training centers for Australian soldiers and their advisors to the military of the Republic of Vietnam. The majority of Republic of Vietnam servicemen who received training from the Australian Army did so in these areas of Phuoc Tuy Province. The Republic of Vietnam's 18th Infantry Division was trained more by Australian advisors than any other division in the Vietnamese military.
Soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam 18th Infantry Divison after finishing training at
Horseshoe Hill, Phuoc Tuy Province, 1970.
Australian instructor and Republic of Vietnam 18th Division soldiers,
Horseshoe Hill, Phuoc Tuy Province, September 1969.
            The training courses taught by Australian army instructors at Phuoc Tuy ranged from standard small arms courses to patrol and infiltration tactics as well as larger size unit operations. Training was conducted nearly year-round with most courses lasting for a few weeks. In later years, the 18th Infantry Division would become immortalized at the 1975 Battle of Xuan Loc when the division held out against the odds to delay the enemy.
General Stuart Paul Weir (left) at Phuoc Tuy, signator of the posted training certificate,
February 11, 1969.
            The document shown in this post is a certifcate issued to a Republic of Vietnam servicemen in the 5th Cavalry Regiment for completing a four-week training course in weapons and tactics at Horseshoe Hill in Phuoc Tuy. The document bears the insignia of the 18th Infantry Divison and the 1st Australian Task Force, which oversaw the training. It is signed by the Australian Task Force commander, General Stuart Paul Weir, and dates to March of 1970. In this post, RVNHS would like to reflect on the history of the 18th Infantry Division and of the Australian military instructors who helped to shape the division in support of the cause of the Republic of Vietnam.
A tank of the Republic of Vietnam 5th Cavalry Regiment in action near Bien Hoa,
February 1969.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Vietnamese Marine Khakis - TQLC

Republic of Vietnam Marine khaki shirt, 1964. RVNHS Archive.
         Like other branches of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, Vietnamese marines often wore khaki uniforms in the 1950s through mid-1960s. Khaki uniforms were used by all branches throughout the history of the republic, but were much more frequently worn in the earlier years. This shirt is dated 1964, and bears the sleeve insignia for the marine brigade, which features a dark background. In later years when the marine division was established, the background of the insignia was changed to green. The shirt also has shoulder ranks for a marine NCO, and a fourragere.
A Vietnamese marine poses for a portrait with his father in early khaki uniform. Note the fourragere, marine brigade patch, and shoulder ranks. RVNHS Archive.
Marine officer Le Hang Minh in khaki uniform with fourragere and insignia. RVNHS Archive.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Republic of Vietnam Month in California - October 2016 - VNCH

Text of legislation in the California State Senate.
       October 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the first democratic constitution of the Republic of Vietnam. Legislation to declare October 2016 as the official "Republic of Vietnam Month" in the State of California was recently passed. This month honors Republic of Vietnam veterans and government personnel who were imprisoned in 1975, and gives official recognition from the State of California to the sacrifices of these men and women and the contribution of Vietnamese Americans in California. The cities of Westminster, Garden Grove, and Santa Ana, California, (which comprise the bulk of Little Saigon in Orange County) also recognize October 26th each year as "Republic of Vietnam Day." RVNHS would like to share the details of this month's measure as a means of appreciation for the men and women of the Republic of Vietnam.
Saigon, October 26, 1956, National Day in the Republic of Vietnam.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Republic of Vietnam Naval Ratings - HQVNCH

Republic of Vietnam naval personnel,
note ratings worn on the left sleeves on some of the sailors, 1960s-70s.
      As with many navies around the world, sailors of the Republic of Vietnam were given specific ratings to denote their areas of specialization and training. These ratings were worn by enlisted ranks on the left sleeve. The ratings ranged from such fields as gunnery and torpedo specializations to sonar and medical designations. Photographic evidence from the period shows that although sailors may have particular ratings at a given time, the actual rating insignia was not always worn.
Examples of three ratings as they appear on Republic of Vietnam sailor jumpers.
 Left: a clerk, 3rd class. Center: an engineer, 2nd class. Right: an engineer 3rd class.
1960s-70s, RVNHS Archive.
      The ratings would appear on the upper left sleeve, and for petty officers would be accompanied by chevrons denoting the class of the rating, i.e. one stripe for third, two for second, and three for first class. Ratings appeared in black or blue colors. It is suggested the black denoted land based assignments while the blue was for those serving on vessels. Ratings could be worn not only on the white jumpers worn by sailors, but other fatigue uniforms as well.
Chart showing some (but not all) of the ratings in use by the Republic of Vietnam Navy, 1969, RVNHS Archive.
Republic of Vietnam sailor jumper with rating for an engineer, first class. 1960s-70s,
RVNHS Archive.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Republic of Vietnam Museum Fundraiser Dinner - November 3, 2016

          The Museum of History of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces will be hosting a fundraising dinner on November 3, 2016, at Paracel Seafood in Westminster, California. RVNHS is affiliated with the museum, and we would like to encourage everyone to attend and show support for the museum and the rich history of the Republic of Vietnam. The museum recently opened this spring, and stands as a unique one-of-a-kind space for studying and preserving the legacy of the Republic of Vietnam. It is the only museum like it in the world, and is located right in the heart of the largest Vietnamese diaspora - Little Saigon in Orange County, California. The museum exists entirely on private donations, and is run by volunteers who donate from their own pockets, time, and effort to build and manage the museum.
       Proceeds from the fundraiser go towards the expansion of the museum into a much larger adjacent venue, and with your support this can become a reality. Please see the poster shown in this post for details on how to purchase tickets. Regular and VIP seats and tables are available. Reservations can be made in Vietnamese or English at the numbers provided. With your help the museum can continue its mission of honoring Republic of Vietnam veterans and their families, preserving history, and educating future generations.