[I80002.OH 07/14/96] Reference: 180-002 (or 179-025A) 5 February 1980 FROM: JCRC-LNB : SUBJ: Refugee Report, Comments of Former Viet Cong Major TO: Commander, JCRC Barbers Point, HI 96862 1. Former Viet Cong Major Nguyen Van Tuoi (Boat #TG212C), a 42 year old native of Tay Ninh, was re-interviewed at Pulau Galang, Indonesia, on 30 January 1980. This was a follow-up to a previous interview (see I79-025 dated 27 December 1979) and was aimed at eliciting in-depth information on U.S. casualties and missing in Vietnam and Cambodia A comparison of the results of the two interviews will reveal several seeming inconsistancies and/or contradictions. Rather than delete those apparent areas of inconsistancies, and await later clarification, the entire interview is being reported as it was understood by the interviewer. During subsequent interviews with Tuoi, attempts will be made to resolve those areas still in questions In this interview Mr. Tuoi revealed a long standing relationship with McKinley Nolan and provided a rather extensive insight into the handling of prisoners and-the recovery of U.S. remains by COSVN prior to and following the fall of South Vietnam. He also provided hearsay information on the active program of gathering remains of U.S. casualties in North Vietnam and indicated that 300 to 400 remains have already been recovered in the North. 2. Major Tuoi spent much of his Viet Cong military career in Tay Ninh and Cambodia primarily assigned to COSVN: headquarters working since 1961 under the Bureau of Enemy Propaganda (Cuc Dich Van) which is actually a branch of the Central Political Bureau (Tong Cuc Chinh Tri), one of 4 military agencies under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the others being initiated General Staff (Bo Tong Tham Muu), Central Bureau for Economic Development (Tong Cuc Xay Dung Kinh Te), and another agency believed to be a subordinate aide staff (Tong Cuc Hau Can). The Bureau of Enemy Propaganda (Cue Dich Van),to which Tuoi was assigned since the location of responsibility for U.S. prisoners of war and more recently the location of.U.S. remains. Currently heading this bureau in Hanoi is Colonel Vo Van Thoi, a 58-year old native of Kien Boa, with whom Tuoi has been in frequent contact over the years. Other members of the bureau staff are as follows: Le Dien Colonel: Deputy Bureau Chief (from Central Vietnam). Nguyen Thuc Dai, Sub-Colonel, Office Chief. Vo Van Thuong, Sub-Colonel, Deputy for Enemy Propaganda. Pham Dinh Thuc, Lt Colonel, Office Chief. Bui Thiep, Lt Colonel, Deputy, Office for Re-Education Administration Military Region 7 (Saigon). Pham Ban, Lt Colonel, Deputy, Office for Re-Education Administration, Military Region 7 Saigon) (from North Vietnam). The last two officers, Bui Thiep and Pham Ban, have responsibility for enemy affairs in the south. This includes former ARVN re-education, prisoners of war, and U.S. casualty affairs. 3. Tuoi recounted his most recent meeting with Colonel Vo Van Thoi in early 1979 at Saigon. They just met in passing but Colonel Thoi brought up the subject of U.S. remains recovery, noting that the program had been successful in the north with: 300 to 400 sets of remains already recovered (some still in the provinces), but Colonel Thoi lamented that this recovery program in the south was a shambles due to reasons revolving around the difficult wartime situation, poor records, and inefficiency. Colonel Thoi said the recovery program in the south had barely gotten off the ground, and expressed little confidence that it would be successful. As an aside, Tuoi mentioned that all remains recovered in the north were air-related casualties that occurred in the north. None were from the south. Colonel Thoi was still recovering from injuries suffered in an auto accident in late 1978 and is now living with his family in Saigon at 114B Hong Thap Tu Street (now called So Viet Nghe Tinh St.),. Tuoi feels that Colonel Thoi will soon retire and his deputy Le Dien will assume the Bureau Chief duties. 4. Tuoi himself had gone north in l954 (he would have been l7 at the time). He was assigned to the Bureau of Enemy Propaganda in 1961 and sent south in 1965 to take a post with that agency in COSVN. While there he worked with about 19 American POWs. The one he recalls most vividly was Doug Ramsey, a civilian, who Tuoi thought was the ranking member of the group. One other was a captain but Tuoi could not recall his name. Tuoi was present at two POW returns in the south. One took place in 1969 when three American POWs were turned over. (One of the three was a Negro soldier who had been badly injured in the back of his head.) In 1973 Tuoi also represented COSVN when the rest of the U.S. prisoners in the south were released. Tuoi stated firmly in this interview that all American POWs held in the south were turned over at that time that there was no possibility that some had been withheld in the south without his knowledge. He said that he was at the level where such decisions were known. He did say, however, that orders previously received from Hanoi telling them to recover and turn over U.S. remains during this same turnover were rescinded at the 11th hour with no explanation. Later he was told this was due to Paris Accord ceasefire violations by the U.S. Tuoi learned later, however, that the provinces in the south proved incapable or unwilling to carry out this order and it was recinded to avoid embarrassment. Tuoi repeatedly stated that many U.S. gravesites in Tay Ninh were destroyed beyond hope by B-52 bombing of the graveyards. Largely represented in these graveyards were casualties of the U.S. First Infantry Division. When asked again if ha wee absolutely certain that all U.S. prisoners of war in the south had been returned in 1973 and none captured subsequent to 1073 were still being dug held, Tuoi said he guaranteed that all prisoners of war had been returned from the south. He stated that he had no knowledge of any still being held in the north but could not rule that out because it was outside his area of responsibility. He was reluctant to give an opinion on whether or not there were still prisoners in the north, but finally said that it would be inconsistent with orders issued by Hanoi at that time. 5. Asked about American deserters, Tuoi recounted the case of a black American who deserted from the U.S. First Infantry Division in Tay Ninh during 1968. His half-Cambodian girlfriend, later his wife, had been instrumental in causing hls desertion. Tuoi said the soldler'a name was "Kinley Nolan" (later he pronounced it "McKinley"), and he had been used by Tuoi's outfit in the preparation of propaganda leaflets containing Nolan's picture and a letter over Nolan's signature. Tuoi said Nolan stayed in the area camps TB-21 and TB-22 [corrected-handwritten B-20 TB20] in the Katum area of Tay Ninh for the first few years after he rallied. Although Nolan was used in propaganda efforts to proselytize American soldiers to the communist side, Tuoi said he did not bear arms or participate in operations against American units. Nolan's primary activity was to raise pigs, chickens, and vegetables, all of which he did very well, according to Tuoi. He was also respected for his strength and boxing ability. Tuoi said that Nolan and Ramsey had seen each other in these two camps but never spoke to each other. During the offensive against COSVN in 1970, Tuoi and his unit evacuated into Cambodia, along with the entire headquarters, until the withdrawal of the American and GVN troops. Nolan and family were with them as they moved to Memot, Cambodia, and then back to Tay Ninh's border with Cambodia. Nolan's wife had been married twice previously - first to a Cambodian by whom she had a son in 1957, and then briefly to a Filipino who fathered a son before abandoning her and the baby upon returning to his country. Nolan was very fond of the half-Filipino child and renamed him "McKinley" after himself. This child died of malaria at the age of five in Cambodia. Nolan fathered two children. One, a daughter, also died shortly after birth in 1968 and the other, a son, was born in 1970. Nolan's stepson with the Cambodlan father is now a sergeant in the Vietnamese Army in the public security unit at Tay Ninh re-education camp. (His name is "Chien" and he is about 33 years old.) Quite often Nolan had confided in Tuoi and a few other sympathetic communists that he was homesick and wanted very badly to return to his country, but he knew he would be punished. He was advised by Tuoi and others not to make these feelings known to unsympathetic communists or he might be executed. Tuoi and others did assist Nolan by delivering letters from him to the U.N. in Hanoi and the "Sihanouk Commission", but no result was forthcoming from these efforts, according to Tuoi. Then in late 1972 or early 1973, before the ceasefire, Nolan took his wife and youngest child and "escaped" into Cambodia. Normally scheduled patrols were alerted to be on the lookout for him (as a deserter), but no special search parties were sent out. Tuoi suspects that Nolan was killed by Cambodians but never heard even a rumor about his fate. 6. In answer to questions about American gravesites, Tuoi told several stories. The first was of an incident in October 1968 when a U.S. Special Forces soldier with light brown skin led a group of helicopter-inserted ARVN in a sneak attack on his unit. An ambush using claymores had been set up on the approach route and a security force laid in wait. The American and seven ARVN Rangers were killed. All bodies were deposited in a B-52 bomb crater and covered with dirt. This attack occurred on the border at approximate coordinates XT4591, and followed a B-52 strike which had killed over 20 men in Tuoit's unit. Tuoi recalled that the American was wearing a good military watch with chrome setting and black face. 7. Another incident he recalled happened in that same area in August of 1968. A helicopter which had apparently been hit elsewhere and was maneuvering wildly crashed and burned near Tuoi's position. One pilot in flight clothes and helmet had managed to get out, or was thrown out of the aircraft, but died of burns before Tuoi reached him. Any other crew members were either burned to ashes or had fallen from the aircraft elsewhere. This occurred at about noon but Tuoi could not pinpoint the date. This pilot was caucasian of average height. Severe burns made other identifying description impossible. Tuoi said this pilot was properly buried and that the grave was marked, but subsequent B-52 strikes destroyed this and all other graves in the area. 8. Tuoi expressed the hope that his name would not appear on any reports shared with the communist government, fearing reprisals to his relatives. He is asking for political asylum in the United States since his communist Reference: 179-025 FROM: JCRC-LNE 27 December 1979 SUBJ: Refugee Report, Comments From Former Viet Cong Major TO: Commander, JCRC Barbers Point, HI 96862 1. Mr. Nguyen Van Tuoi (Boss #TG212C, Barracks 13), a 41 year old native of Tay Ninh, was interviewed at Pulau Galang, Indonesia, on 16 December 1979. Mr. Tuoi was a former Viet Cong Major, having worked for the VC for 25 years. For about 20 years he had been partially responsible for "POW affairs and propaganda". Tuoi had been a VC Captain from July 1972 to June 1976, then a Major in the Security Police until January 1977. 2. One of Tuoi's closest friends is Colonel Vo Van Thoi, a southerner who is "Chief of the Bureau of Enemy Affairs" (Cue Truong, Cuc Dich Van) having to do with American and ARVN POWs. Colonel Thoi's office is in Hanoi, but his family resides in Saigon at 114B Soviet Nghe Tinh (formerly Hong Thap Tu Street). Tuol reported on a conversation which he had with Colonel Thoi in early 1979 in Saigon. Colonel Thoi allegedly stated that Hanoi was still keeping many American prisoners. These prisoners were supposedly kept somewhere north of Hanoi until the threat of war with China caused the Vietnamese officials to move the prisoners down to the central part of Vietnam. Tuoi could not report on the former or new locations of the prisoners, or on the number of prisoners involved. He speculated that the prisoners may have been taken to Kontum, Pleiku, or Darlac, regions which Hanoi thinks are "safe". Tuoi also said that Colonel Thoi indicated that these prisoners were high-ranking, or were related to various American VIPs. Specifically mentioned was a relative of Averell Harriman. (Tuoi reported he had heard of an alleged conversation between Mr. Xuan Thuy and Mr. Harriman some years ago in Paris. During this alleged conversation, Thuy supposedly showed a photo to Harriman of one of Harriman's relatives kept in captivity in Vietnam). In addition to the prisoners, Colonel Thoi said that Hanoi also had kept many sets of U.S. remains. Again, Tuoi did not know how many remains or where they were being kept. Tuoi said it was his understanding that these remains had been accumulated by the Vietnam Red Cross and that they had been gathered only from the area of North Vietnam. 3. Tuoi stated that he knew that after the agreements made in Paris in 1973, no remains had been repatriated from the south. He also knew there were many Americans killed in the south and that these remains were left in the villages where they had been originally buried. Tuoi himself knew the location of the graves of three Americans burled near Katum in northern Tay Ninh Province where he lived during much of the war with the Americans. These graves were of three Americans, two white and one black, who had led an attack into his area after a B-52 strike some years ago. Tuoi said that if he had access to a 1:50,000 military map, he could pinpoint the grave locations. (Note: Will try to locate these sites during a future reinterview.) Tuoi named three other individuals who had knowledge of these grave sites, and perhaps other sites as well: Mr. Pham Ban, Lt Colonel, Phong Quan thuan, Quan Khu 7 Mr. An (can't remember full name), Captain, Cuc Dich Van/Tong Cuc Chinh Tri, Quan Doi Nhan Dan VN Mr. Nguyen Hung Tri, Bo Ngoai Thuong/VN (Hanoi) Tuoi believes that Mr. Tri is the most knowledgeable of the three cited above. Tuoi did not have precise addresses for any of the three. 4. Tuoi claimed to have participated in the repatriation of 3 American NCO captives on 1 January 1969, and said he was the chief spokesman for the communist side at that event. Tuoi also claimed to be a close acquaintance of Mr. Douglas Ramsey (State Department Officer who was a long-time POW in the South). Tuoi said he was with Ramsey at the time of Ramsey's release at Loc Ninh in early 1973. Ramsey would recall him well as the man who had custody over Ramsey, but would know him by the name of "Bay Tuoi". 5. Tuoi claimed to have participated in high level meetings at various times. He cited a meeting which he attended in January 1978 in Saigon on the subject of the operations of the Chinese organizations Hoa Nam and Hoa Van which allegedly plant Chinese agents overseas and within the refugee camps. Attending this meeting, in addition to himself, were Le Duc Thor Tran Quoc Hoan, Head of Security Police for all of Vietnam (based in Hanoi); and Mai Chi Tho, Head of Security Police for Ho Chi Minh City. 6. Tuoi was questioned by the interviewer concerning the allegation that the SRV was still holding live captive Americans. The interviewer mentioned the numerous denials and assurances by high SRV officials concerning the holding of captives. Tuoi was asked how these officials could save face if captives were ever surfaced in the future. Tuoi's reply was to the effect that we Westerners never seem to understand the communist way of thinking. First, these prisoners have been saved back for future insurance because the SRV officials do not trust the word of the U.S. that the U.S. will not again either attack, or support an attack, against Vietnam. Secondly, Vietnam always expects to have to bargain and negotiate in every dealing with others. In the case of the U.S., the prisoners and the remains are simply additional bargaining chips for Vietnam. As far as saving face is concerned, the Vietnamese communists always leave themselves an opening and they will be able to come up with some excuse to explain the sudden discovery of prisoners or remains. Whether or not the excuse is believed is of little significance because the offering of an excuse is more important than its plausibility. 7. At the conclusion of this interview, Mr. Tuoi expressed the desire to go to the United States, saying he would then like to come to work for us and to help explain the true nature of the Vietnamese communists. PAUL D. MATHER Lt Col, USAF JCRC Liaison Officer JOINT CASUALTY RESOLUTION CENTER LIAISON OFFICE AMERICAN EM EMBASSY APO SAN FRANCISCO 96346 Reference: 180-002A (See also 179-025) 28 April 1980 FROM: JCRC-LNB SUBJ: Refugee Report, Interview of Former VC Major TO: Commander, JCRC Barbers Point, HI 96862 Former Major (VC) Nguyen Van Tuoi was re-interviewed at Pulau Galang, Indonesia, on 10 April 1980. (Note: This interview was conducted prior to receipt of DIA messages 100210Z APR 80 and 111336Z APR 80.) The purpose of this follow-up interview was to clarify dicrepancies in two earlier interviews with Tuoi by two separate interviewers, and to question Tuoi about photos of McKinley Nolan recently obtained from DIA. Tuoi recognized McKinley Nolan in pictures provided by DIA (apparently taken by communists). He also recognized Nolan's wife and two sons in one picture, pointing out that the oldest son, Chien, is now a VC sergeant and that the youngest son who was half Filipino, had died at age five. The other picture showing Nolan shaking hands with a Vietnamese was presented and Tuoi said he recognized the Vietnamese as a member of COSVN staff but could not recall his name, rank, or position, saying that the picture had been taken immediately after Nolan's arrival at the headquarters in Tay Ninh. Regarding Nolan's defection, Tuoi said that Nolan's wife was instrumental in getting Nolan to rally to the communist side because she was afraid he would be killed in combat. Tuoi said there had been no attempt to proselyte Nolan nor had there been any prior contact with his wife for this purpose. It was accomplished entirely on her initiative. She did not have a communist background or necessarily support the revolution. Regarding previous conflicting reports that Tuoi did/didn't attribute remarks that U.S. prisoners may still be held in the North to Colonel Vo Van Thoi, Tuoi stated that the references in his first interview were to rumors repeated among his cohorts, none of which he attributed to Colonel Thoi, that the Vietnamese government is holding U.S. prisoners as negotiating insurance. Such rumors are common and Tuoi feels that party members may be responsible for them. He could not explain why except to say that he noted political cadre talking of such things with much bravado and eye-winking as if to say the SRV was once again outsmarting the Americans. Tuoi says he does not have any reason to believe these rumors, and the credibility of political cadre has long since become a joke to him. In addition, Tuoi was asked how he arrived at the figure of "three to four hundred" sets of U.S. remains as the amount the Vletname se government had recovered in the north. He stated simply that Colonel Vo Van Thoi had used those figures when telling Tuoi of the recovery program in the north. When confronted with conflicting statements attributed to him in his first JCRC interview (see 179-025), Tuoi said that an interpreter had been used in that interview (a woman) and he believes she was not accurate in interpreting his statements. One other correction was noted and that was in camp designations listed in paragraph 5, line 8, of Tuoi's re-interview (see 180-002). Tuoi clarified saying that the camp designations referred to should read T-20 and T-21 (vice T-21 and T-22 erroneously stated), and that these two camps were part of a camp area designated as B-20 in the Katum area. PAUL D. MATHER Lt Col, USAF JCRC Liaison Officer T R A N S L A T I O N ANSWERS TO 13 QUESTIONS Respondent: Nguyen Van Tuoi, former VC Major, disenchanted with the system, escaped with family to foreign country. Question 1: During the war period, the agency responsible for the maintenance of both Vietnamese and foreign POWs was the Cuc Dich Van (Bureau of Emeny Proselyting), assigned to the Political Head Office (one of 3 Head Offices of the Department of Defense). The Bureau of Enemy Proselyting is also called "C-14" and "Research Bureau" (Cue Nghien Cuu) of the Political Head Office. From 1972 to 1975, due to large number of POWs captured, the Military Justice Bureau (Cue Quan Phap) was also in charge as well. The Military Justice Bureau was in charge of the imprisonment and trials, and the Bureau of Enemy Proselyting was in charge of education and carrying out POW policies. (Both agencies were actually only in charge from Tri Thien Province (VC name for Quang Tri-Thua Thien) north, while War Zone Region 5 (Central VN), and South Vietnam was strictly handled by Enemy Proselyting. - The Bureau of Enemy Proselyting has two deputies in charge of POWs: 1. Le Dien, Colonel 2. Nguyen Van Thuong, Sub-Colonel - The lower echelons I don't know because I returned to the south in 1965. - In the Southern War Zone (from Central VN to the tip of Ca Mau) in charge of the POWs is the Office of Enemy Proselyting for the south (assigned to the Political Head Offices of the Liberation Army of South Vietnam, also called "R", based in Tay Ninh, Binh Long, and transferred to Cambodia from 1970 till the end of 1972). - In charge of POW affairs for the Office of Enemy Proselyting in South Vietnam was Major Nguyen Tan Luc (killed by a U.S. B-52 strike in December 1972 on Cambodian soil). After that Major Dao Sy To was in charge. (Presently Major To works for the Office of Military Training, training officers from the old system in re-education in Region 7. The area for this office is at #6 Don Dat Street, Saigon 1). - In charge with, and at higher echelons above Major Luc and Major To from 1965 to 1975 were: 1. Lt Col Le Hoa (retired in Hanoi) 2. Lt Col Ngo Dat Tai (retired in Hanoi) 3. Sub-Colonel Luu Quang Tuyen (from 1970 to 1974 after which he was transferred to another job) 4. Lt Col Pham Ban and Lt Col Bui Thiep, at present the deputy for the Office of Military Training, Military Region 7. 5. Lt Col Bui Thanh Ngon, presently the chief of the Office of Military Training, Military Region 9. - In charge of the U.S. POW camp in South Vietnam (assigned to Office of Enemy Proselyting, South Vietnam--"R" as stated above) were: 1. Sub-Captain Hue, killed in a B-52 strike in 1970 enroute transferring the camp from Tay Ninh to Kratie in Cambodia. 2. Sub-Captain Le Binh, presently doing Military Training duties at a camp in MR 7. 3. Sub-Captain Huy, presently transferred to the Education Service in Ben Tre Province. 4. Sub-Captain Nguyen Hung Tri, a good English translator who attended and translated at FPJMT meetings at Tan Son Nhut. Presently transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and has a house at 212 Ba Trieu Street, Hanoi. (Translator's note: Not clear if this is his residence or the location of the Ministry of Foreign Trade). Code number of the POW camp(s) for South Vietnam (mentioned above) is "B-20"; TB 20; TB 21 (one camp changed name 3 times). All POWs in the POW camp for South Vietnam are turned over from War Zones South Central, South East, and Central Southern (the Southwest Zone is too far so POWs are kept in place, and Mid-Central, Tri-Thien, and Western Highlands POWs are transferred north by the Truong Son Road). - All PoWs held in SVN camps (called B-20 or TB20 and TB21) until 1973 were turned over to the U.S. at Loc Ninh airfield. (At that time I was in charge of issuing news releases for this turnover). I remember vaguely, it seems there were 9 or 19 or so persons (including Doug Ramsey). Absolutely none were retained in captivity. I know this for certain. Question 2: In August 1965 I returned to the South with the job of propaganda reporter at the Office of Enemy Proselyting, South Vietnam (mentioned above) and heard the people who had been there some time say that about the beginning of 1965 they executed (shot) one U.S. POW at the Suoi Nuoc Duc area (northwest of Katum base). This person was buried at that location. The reason for the execution was in retaliation for the execution of students in Saigon who opposed the regime (GVN). I just heard about it but could not describe it clearly. - Each time an American POW was captured, the unit at the place of capture would send a cell of armed soldiers to escort the POW and deliver him to the regional camp. If they know the route and know the location of the camp, they guide them directly, if not they follow commo liaison routes (with the POWs blindfolded). Question 3: (Heard talk only) Question 4: (Know nothing about it) Question 5: (Heard talk only) Question 6: (Heard talk only) Question 7: I wish to speak about those American POWs that were turned over at Loc Ninh in 1973. After receiving the directive from Hanoi and from Major General Tran Van Tra from Tan Son Nhut, VC Headquarters in South Vietnam (R) directed the Office of Enemy Proselyting, South Vietnam (us) to make a list of American POWs following sample guidance from Hanoi and transfer these Americans in camp TB21 from Kratie (Cambodia) to Loc Ninh preparatory to turnover to the United States. I was given the job with a Sub-Captain to prepare a place for the POWs to stay and coordinate with the various agencies responsible at Loc Ninh to organize the turnover ceremonies. On the day of the turnover, the VC side had a delegation (including me); the American side had a delegation headed by an elderly Brigadier General. Under the control of the 4 parties and the United Nations, we turned over the name list for the American delegation to review first. After that we took the POWs out to the ramp and had them stand in a row. We read each POW's name for comparison with the name list. After adequately inspecting the name list, the American brigadier general signed receipt. Note: One month prior to the turnover the American prisoners were fed in a special manner for nutrition more than the ARVN prisoners, and received treatment for malaria, and were given vitamins, receiving perfect treatment. END OF TRANSLATION Translator's note: There were six more questions that Tuoi did not answer in his written report due to time limitations. These questions were asked in an interview and, with the exception of organizational charts, answers were not written out by Tuoi, but rather recorded in the interviewer's notes.