Ambush in Saigon: An update
Thursday 18 May 2017
Just updating James Pringle’s Mini-Moke article: The full, lengthy interviews from the Vietnamese (VC) ambush squad leader Co Van Cuong and his superior General Than, who led the Tet Offensive, were published long ago in the Bantam publication Ridding the Devils (London, Sydney, 1990).
Co Van Cuong, a tobacco salesman, is still alive and living in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and has been interviewed twice by UK journalists since 1990. In short, they said they were told any civilians in war zones would be CIA Intelligence and were therefore enemy.
The interviews revealed the VC ambush squad point man who shot dead the wounded journalists was himself shot dead minutes later by a Cobra crew, according to Co and General Than. James did not source the rumour of the jump from the jeep, nor did any of my colleagues in 1968, or the VC squad interviewed in 1989, mention it, so this bit of fiction deserves to be binned.
The Red River publishing company of Hanoi translated the entire Ridding the Devils book into Vietnamese (Thoat Khoi Tu Than) and it is on sale, as is Ridding the Devils, in Vietnam today. For Old Hacks, if they have not yet read Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War which I co-translated in Hanoi, published these days by Random, I suggest they do. It deserves all the international accolades so far awarded and is the non-political (meaning neutral) story of a young North Vietnamese soldier dragged off to war at 17 years of age. Google the book first to get a summary and see why it is on so many US university literature lists.
Finally, this is also an appeal for those Vietnam War correspondents who also served in Jakarta in 1965 when the Communists staged a failed coup, to add to the new history of the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. The history is being presented on 24 May 2017 to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Club’s founding on 24 May 1965. ■