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R 300802Z SEP 93 ZYB PSN 728466P33

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INFO WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASH DC
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RUEHBT/CJTFFA DET ONE BANGKOK TH

UNCLAS //N03460//

MSGID/GENADMIN/CDR JTF-FA/J223//

SUBJ/INTERVIEW OF REQUESTED SOURCE. LTG NAM NGA//

REF/A/FAX/DET 2/30SEP93//



RMKS/1. BACKGROUND ON 14 SEPTEMBER 1993 A JOINT U.S./VIETNAM ORAL HISTORY
PROGRAM INTERVIEW TEAM INTERVIEWED RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL (LTG) NAM
NGA. ALSO KNOWN AS NGUYEN MINH CHAU, AN 81 YOA RESIDENT OF 557 NGUYEN TRI
PHUONG STREET, DISTRICT 10, HO CHI MINH CITY (HCMC). LTG NAM NGA IS THE
FORMER COMMANDER OF PAVN MILITARY REGION 7 (MR7). THE TEAM MET AT THE
EXTERNAL RELATIONS OFFICE, 6 THAI VAN LUNG STREET. DISTRICT 1, HCMC, TO
INTERVIEW LTG NAM NGA, LISTED IN REFERENCE AS A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF
INFORMATION CONCERNING U.S. PERSONNEL MISSING IN ACTION (MIA) IN VIETNAM.
THE U.S. CONTINGENT CONSISTED OF MR. [XXX][XXX][XXX], DET 2 CASUALTY
RESOLUTION SPECIALIST, AND SGT [XXXX][XXXX][XXXX], JTF-FA
ANALYST/LINGUIST. THE VIETNAMESE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT CONTINGENT CONSISTED
OF LTC LE KY, MINISTRY OF DEFENSE; AND MR. NGUYEN VAN THANG LOI, MINISTRY
OF INTERIOR. OTHER PERSONNEL ATTENDING THIS INTERVIEW WERE MR. LE KIM
LAM, HCMC MIA TEAM CHIEF; MR. HA. HCMC PUBLIC SECURITY SERVICE
REPRESENTATIVE; AND PAVN LTC TRAN VAN TAN, MILITARY REGION SEVEN (MR7)
HEADQUARTERS REPRESENTATIVE.

2. SUMMARY. THE SOURCE. LTG NAM NGA. IS A RETIRED FORMER COMMANDER
OF MILITARY REGION 7 (MR7). HE PROVIDED LIMITED INFORMATION

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CONCERNING HIS ROLE DURING THE WAR AS A COMMANDER AND TALKED BRIEFLY ON
VIETNAMESE POLICY REGARDING PRISONERS OF WAR (PW). THE SOURCE SAID THAT
THERE WERE NO U.S. PERSONNEL LIVING FREELY OR AGAINST THEIR WILL IN THE
MR7 REGION (FORMER B2 FRONT) AFTER THE RELEASE OF THE PRISONERS IN 1973.
THE SOURCE CLAIMED NO KNOWLEDGE OF U.S. PERSONNEL LIVING FREELY OR
AGAINST THEIR WILL IN OTHER MISSIONS OF VIETNAM SINCE 1973.

3. DETAILS. AFTER INTRODUCTORY STATEMENTS BY THE JOINT TEAM, THE
SOURCE PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
    A. THE SOURCE, LTG NAM NGA (NAWM NGAF), WAS A COMMANDER OF MR7
DURING THE WAR. HE EXPLAINED HIS ROLE WAS THAT OF A PLANNER AND
TACTICIAN IN SUPPORT OF B2 FRONT HEADQUARTERS, AND AS SUCH HE DID NOT
DIRECTLY PARTICIPATE IN BATTLES WITH U.S. FORCES. HIS MISSION WAS TO
MAINTAIN OVERALL KNOWLEDGE OF THE MILITARY SITUATION WITHIN HIS REGION
AND TO FORMULATE APPROPRIATE TACTICAL RESPONSES. HE NEVER ENCOUNTERED
U.S. PERSONNEL AT ANY TIME DURING THE WAR. HE SAID HE HAD SEEN AMERICANS
ON TELEVISION, BUT THIS INTERVIEW WAS THE FIRST TIME HE HAD EVER MET AN
AMERICAN FACE TO FACE.
    B. LTG NGA CLAIMED NO KNOWLEDGE OF U.S. PERSONNEL HELD IN MR7 OR
ANYWHERE IN VIETNAM. HE EXPLAINED THAT THE POLITICAL OFFICE HAD SOLE
RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTION AND REPORTING ON U.S. PERSONNEL, INCLUDING
NUMBERS OF WOUNDED,  CAPTURED, AND KILLED. AS A TACTICAL COMMANDER,  HE
PERSONNALY WAS  NOT INVOLVED IN SUCH MATTERS. HE SAID THAT IN ORDER TO
GET ADEQUATE INFORMATION ON THOSE SUBJECTS,  THE PERSONS TO DEAL WITH
WOULD BE THE PERSONNEL WHO SERVED IN MILITARY POLITICAL OFFICES. LTG NGA
PROVIDED THE NAMES OF INDIVIDUALS FORMERLY IN THE POLITICAL CHAIN OF
COMMAND WHOM HE BELIEVED MAY BE ABLE TO PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION
CONCERNING UNACCOUNTED FOR U.S. PERSONNEL. (SEE PARA 5 BELOW).
    C. LTG NGA STATED THAT EARLY IN THE WAR THE VIETNAMESE CENTRAL
GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHED POLICIES GOVERNING THE HANDLING OF U.S. PW'S.
DESPITE FREQUENT SHORTAGES FOR THEIR OWN PERSONNEL,  POLICY REQUIRED THE
PROVISION OF ADEQUATE FOOD,  SHELTER,  AND MEDICAL CARE FOR THE PW'S. HE
SAID THAT SINCE THE B2 FRONT WAS LOCATED SO VERY FAR FROM THEIR MAIN
SUPPORT BASE IN THE NORTH,  MORE THAN 2000 KILOMETERS DISTANT BY ROAD,
AND MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS TO TRAVEL BETWEEN B2 AND THE NORTH,  THE
MANAGEMENT OF U.S. PW'S WITHIN THE B2 FRONT WAS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ANY
OF THE OTHER AREAS OF OPERATIONS. LTG NGA SAID THAT IN MOST INSTANCES,
U.S. SERVICEMEN WHO WERE KILLED IN ACTION WERE LEFT LYING WHERE THEY
DIED. HE SAID THAT CAPTURED U.S. PERSONNEL WERE HANDLED ACCORDING TO THE
SITUATION IN WHICH THEY WERE CAPTURED. LTG NGA SAID THAT HIS JOB WAS TO
MAKE CERTAIN THAT HIS BATTLEFIELD COMMANDERS CARRIED OUT THE POLICY. AT
THIS POINT IN THE INTERVIEW LTG NGA DIGRESSED FROM THIS SUBJECT AND SAID
THAT IN ORDER

TO COMPREHEND HOW THE POLICY WAS IMPLEMENTED BY THE SOLDIERS ON THE
BATTLEFIELD,  ONE MUST FIRST COMPREHEND HOW THE POLICY WAS IMPLEMENTED
BY THE SOLDIERS ON THE FRONT. HE SAID THAT AS A RESULT OF THE

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TREMENDOUS FORCES THAT THE U.S. SIDE COULD BRING TO BEAR ON THE
BATTLEFIELD AND THE EXTREMELY RAPID AIR STRIKE AND ARTILLERY RESPONSE
TIMES, THE MILITARY FORCES IN HIS AREA OF OPERATIONS OPERATED UNDER A
15-MINUTE TACTICAL DECISION CONCEPT. HE SAID THAT 15 MINUTES WAS THE
MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF TIME THAT A BATTLEFIELD COMMANDER COULD DELAY BEFORE
EXITING THE IMMEDIATE AREA OF A COMBAT ENGAGEMENT. LTG NGA THEN REPHRASED
THIS AND SAID THAT TACTICAL DECISIONS WERE MADE BY THE BATTLEFIELD
COMMANDERS IN AN EXPEDIENT MANNER SOLELY TO AVOID SUFFERING ADDITIONAL
CASUALTIES.
    D. IMMEDIATELY AFTER EXPLAINING THE NEED FOR THE 15-MINUTE TACTICAL
DECISION CONCEPT, LTG NGA DISCUSSED THE HANDLING OF CAPTURED U.S.
PERSONNEL. HE SAID THAT WHENEVER U.S. PERSONNEL WERE CAPTURED, DETAINED,
OR MOVED. IT WAS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION FOR ALL CONCERNED. LTG NGA
SAID THAT SOME U.S. PERSONNEL WERE SIMPLY RELEASED AT VARIOUS LOCATIONS
DURING THE COURSE OF THE WAR FOR THIS REASON. HE SAID THAT EVEN KEEPING
U.S. PW'S SAFE FROM AIR STRIKES WAS DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS.
ADDITIONALLY, LTG NGA POINTED OUT THAT EVEN THOUGH POLICY DICTATED THAT
FOOD, SHELTER, AND MEDICAL TREATMENT MUST BE PROVIDED TO U.S. PW'S' THERE
WERE MANY TIMES WHEN HIS OWN FORCES HAD ONLY RICE. LTG NGA AFFIRMED THE
NECESSITY FOR A POLICY GOVERNING THE TREATMENT OF U.S. PW'S,  BUT
EMPHASIZED THAT THE PERSONNEL WHO IMPLEMENTED THE POLICY OF MAINTAINING
ADEQUATE RATIONS FOR U.S PW'S ALSO HAD TO RELY PRIMARILY ON A FOUR-MONTH
LONG JOURNEY FOR THE RATION,S TO ARRIVE FROM THE NORTH. HE RECALLED THAT
THERE WERE MANY OCCASIONS DURING WHICH HE REQUIRED AN URGENT RESPONSE
FROM THE NORTH, AND HE WOULD BE FORCED TO WAIT FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS BEFORE
HE ACTUALLY RECEIVED A RESPONSE.
    E. ON THE SUBJECT OF REMAINS RECOVERY,  LTG NGA SAID  LOCATING GRAVE
SITES WOULD BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT DUE TO CHANGES IN VEGETATION,
TERRAIN,  AND LANDMARKS DUE TO THE PASSAGE OF TIME, THE WEATHER OVER THE
YEARS AND THE DESTRUCTIVE NATURE OF WARFARE. AS ONE EXAMPLE. HE CITED A
CASE IN WHICH A LARGE NUMBER OF VIETNAMESE WITNESSES INVOLVED IN ONE
INCIDENT WERE UNABLE TO LOCATE A MASS GRAVE DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE
WERE MANY WITNESSES PRESENT AND THE SEARCH TOOK PLACE ONLY TWO YEARS
AFTER THE BURIAL. AS ANOTHER
//

MSGID/GENADMIN/CDR JTF-FA/J223//

SUBJ/INTERVIEW OF REQUESTED SOURCE,  LTG NAM NGA//

RMKS/ EXAMPLE. LTG NGA SAID THAT THERE ARE VAST, ISOLATED AREAS IN THE
MEKONG DELTA REGION WHERE THERE ARE SIMPLY NO LANDMARKS EXISTING. HE
SAID IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO LOCATE A GRAVE SITE IN THE REMOTE
AREAS  AFTER ANY SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF TIME DUE TO THE EFFECTS OF
BOMBING, FLOODS, AND CHANGES IN VEGETATION.
    F. LTG NGA SAID THAT,  IN HIS OPINION, ONLY LOCAL AND PROVINCE
AUTHORITIES HAVE A CHANCE TO FIND GRAVE SITES TODAY. IF THERE IS TO

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BE ANY HOPE OF CONTINUED PROGRESS,  LTG NGA SAID THAT THE MIA ACCOUNTING
EFFORT MUST RELY ON THE HELP OF FORMER CADRE,  POLITICAL OFFICERS, AND
DIRECT PARTICIPANTS. HE COMMENDED U.S. EFFORTS AND SAID THE RESULTS TO
DATE WERE VERY IMPRESSIVE. HE ACKNOWLEDGED THE POSSIBILITY THAT
INDIVIDUAL VIETNAMESE CIVILIANS MAY BE HOLDING REMAINS, AND SUGGESTED
WORKING DIRECTLY WITH PROVINCE AND DISTRICT LEVEL OFFICIALS TO GAIN THE
COOPERATION OF THESE INDIVIDUALS. LTG NGA SUGGESTED THAT THERE MUST BE A
WAY TO COMPENSATE THOSE INVOLVED,  PERHAPS WITH FOOD, WATER, EQUIPMENT,
AND MEDICINE. WHILE CONSIDERING THIS POINT FURTHER, LTG NGA SAID THAT HE
BELIEVED THERE SHOULD BE A SYSTEM OF FAIR REWARD FOR THOSE WHO ACTUALLY
LOCATE OR TURN OVER REMAINS.
    G. THE SOURCE CLAIMED NO KNOWLEDGE OF ANY DOCUMENTS OR RECORDS
CONCERNING U.S. PW'S. HE SAID UNITS WERE CONSTANTLY ON THE MOVE TO
AVOID BOMBING, AND ROUTINELY DESTROYED WHATEVER DOCUMENTS HAD
ACCUMULATED BEFORE MOVING. HE SAID THAT HE WAS UNAWARE OF ANY
DOCUMENTS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN RETAINED BY ANY UNIT WITHIN THE B2
FRONT AREA, IF THAT UNIT WAS HOLDING U.S. PW'S AND WAS FORCED TO
RELOCATE.

4. CORRELATIONS TO EXISTING POW/MIA CASES. NONE.

5. POTENTIAL LEADS: THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS WERE IDENTIFIED BY LTG
NGA AS HAVING PARTICIPATED IN MILITARY ACTIONS OR ACTIVITIES
WHICH  MAY HAVE INVOLVED U.S MIA'S:
    A. LTG HAI CHINH ( HAI CHINHS). A FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE B2 FRONT
POLITICAL OFFICE WHO LATER WENT ON TO OTHER DUTIES. THE SOURCE DID NOT
PROVIDE ANY CURRENT LOCATION DATA.
    B. TAM TAC (TAM TACS) AKA TRAN VAN TAC (TRAANF VAWN TACS). A
FORMER B2 FRONT POLITICAL OFFICER WHO POSSIBLY LIVES IN THE HANOI
AREA.
    C. NGUYEN VAN THUONG (NGUYEENX VAWN THWONG). A FORMER DEPUTY OF THE
ENEMY PROSELYTING DEPARTMENT IN HANOI. MR THUONG WAS INTERVIEWED BY A
JOINT TEAM ON 11 MAY 93.
    D. NGUYEN CONG TRUNG (NGUYEENX COONG TRUNG),   A FORMER ENEMY
PROSELYTING CADRE. ACCORDING TO LTC KY, MR. TRUNG HAS MET WITH JOINT
TEAMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.
    E. THE SOURCE SAID THAT HE SHOULD BE ABLE TO REMEMBER OTHER
POTENTIAL LEADS BUT THAT IT HAD BEEN MORE THAN 18 YEARS SINCE THE END OF
THE WAR AND HE COULD NOT REMEMBER ANY OTHERS.

6. MATERIAL EVIDENCE: NONE. THE SOURCE BROUGHT NO RECORDS,
NOTEBOOKS, DIARIES, OR ANY MATERIAL EVIDENCE ASSOCIATED WITH
UNACCOUNTED FOR U.S. PERSONNEL.

7. COMMENTS.
    A. LTG NGA APPEARED TO BE VERY WEAK DURING THE INTERVIEW. MR.
HAD TO SIT SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER WITH LTG NGA IN ORDER TO BE
ABLE TO HEAR HIM SPEAK. AFTER THE INTERVIEW, HCMC OFFICIALS INFORMED

                            Page 4

THE OHP TEAM THAT LTG NGA HAD BEEN IN ILL HEALTH FOR SOME TIME. THE
OFFICIALS SAID THAT LTG NGA INSISTED ON APPEARING FOR THE INTERVIEW ONCE
HE LEARNED OF THE REQUEST FROM THE U-S. SIDE. THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW
SESSION, LTG NGA EXHIBITED SEVERE PROBLEMS WITH CONTROL OF ARM,  LEG,
AND FACIAL MUSCLES. LTG NGA WAS APPARENTLY IN SOME DISCOMFORT BUT
CONTINUED THE INTERVIEW IN A CORDIAL, FRIENDLY MANNER. HE DID NOT
COMPLAIN ABOUT HIS HEALTH DURING THE INTERVIEW. LTG NGA MADE ONE SHORT
COMMENT ABOUT HIS MEMORY FAILING HIM ON OCCASION.
    B. THE MEMBERS OF THE JOINT TEAM CONFERRED ON THE QUESTIONS TO BE
ASKED DURING THIS INTERVIEW. TEAM MEMBERS AGREED THAT THE NEED TO
REINTERVIEW THIS SUBJECT WOULD DEPEND ON WHETHER FURTHER QUESTIONS FOR
LTG NGA ARISE DURING THE COURSE OF THE ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW TEAM'S
FUTURE WORK.
    C. REQUEST THE VNOSMP MAKE LTG NGA AVAILABLE FOR REINTERVIEW IF
NECESSARY.//

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