Gen. Nguyen Khoa Nam

General Nguyễn Khoa Nam (1927-1975), born in Da Nang, central Vietnam graduated from the Thủ Đức Military Academy in 1953 as an Airborne officer. As a company commander of the 7th airborne battalion, he fought the Bình Xuyên in Saigon in 1955. He fought the VC around Saigon during the 1968 Tet offensive. He was one of the few generals who earned their ranks through hard work. During his career, he had molded the 7th Division into one of the most efficient in the ARVN. His last assignment was that of a three-star general and commander of the IV military region (IVMR) which comprised the whole Mekong delta. Well liked by his soldiers, he used to drop by to see them during their military operations. A vegetarian, he led a simple life and followed Buddhist rules closely. As a bachelor, he was not susceptible to bribery which in Vietnam was usually channeled through officers’ wives.              

Things were quiet in the MRIV and there was no imminent danger of being overrun by the enemy. When President Minh went on the radio on 30 April to announce his surrender to the communists, General Nam became obviously upset. He could not understand why Saigon had to surrender without putting up a fight. After conferring with General Hưng, he reluctantly went along with the President’s decision. Both gathered their staff and saluted the South Vietnamese flag one last time in the headquarters’ court. They then bid farewell to the staff and to each other. He went to the Phan Thanh Giản Military hospital in downtown Cần Thơ, to comfort and bid farewell to the hospitalized soldiers there.

When he returned to the headquarters, he was told that General Hưng had taken his life. At 11 p.m., he called Mrs. Hưng to offer his condolences. As a man of war, he did not believe in surrendering to people he did not like and thought he could defeat. He locked himself in his office, put on his official white uniform along with his medals, sat at his desk and shot himself in the head. That incident occurred in the early hours of May 1, 1975. His body was taken to the morgue and buried at the Cần Thơ Military cemetery among his peers. In 1994, his remains were exhumed and cremated. His ashes were stored at the Gia Lam Pagoda in Gia Định.  

                                               Vo. Saigon. A History. 2011: 195-196.