Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces
The Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces were the elite military units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Following the establishment of the Republic of Vietnam in October 1955, the Special Forces were formed at Nha Trang in February 1956. During the rule of Ngô Đình Diệm, the Special Forces were run by his brother, until both were assassinated in November 1963 in a coup; the Special Forces were disbanded in 1975 when South Vietnam ceased to exist after the Fall of Saigon. The Special Forces came into being at Nha Trang in February 1956 under the designation of the First Observation Battalion/Group. By 1960, most Special Forces units were involved in the FOG program. At Long Thành, they were trained in intelligence gathering and psychological operations; the main duties of the Special Forces entailed the recruitment and training of one-to-four man teams in intelligence and psychological warfare missions. The success of these missions was poor. Although minor sabotage and unrest was fomented, Hanoi declared that all agents were to be killed or captured.
Those who were captured were executed. In 1961, the Special Forces and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1st Infantry Division, based in the northernmost area of South Vietnam, conducted a joint operation against Communist infiltrators in northern Quảng Trị Province. In the autumn of 1961, Special Forces units began Operation Eagle at Bình Hưng with a night parachute assault. In September 1962, United States Special Forces personnel assumed responsibility of the CIA's border surveillance and Civilian Irregular Defense Group programs and began working with the ARVN Special Forces; the Special Forces continued to expand and began to operate with the CIDG. During the rule of President Ngô Đình Diệm, the Special Forces were used for repressing dissidents. Despite the fact that South Vietnam was struggling against the communist insurgency of the Viet Cong in the rural areas, the Special Forces were kept in the capital Saigon, where they were used to prevent coups or harass regime opponents. Under Diệm, the Special Forces were headed by Colonel Lê Quang Tung, trained by the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States and commanded some 1,840 men under the direction of Nhu.
Tung's most notable military activity was leading a group run by the CIA, in which ARVN personnel of northern origin were sent into North Vietnam, posing as locals, in order to gather intelligence as well as sabotaging communist infrastructure and communications. They were trained in bases at Nha Trang, Đà Nẵng and sometimes offshore in Taiwan and Okinawa. Of the eighty groups of operatives, numbering six or seven per group, that were deployed in 1963 via parachute drops or night time sampan journeys, nearly all were captured or killed; those who were captured were used for propaganda by the Communists. Tung was criticised for his management of the operations. In 1963, South Vietnam faced civil unrest in the face of Buddhist protests against discrimination by the Catholic-oriented Diệm regime. In the wake of the shootings of nine Buddhist protesters on the birthday of Gautama Buddha for defying a ban on the Buddhist flag, mass protests calling for religious equality erupted around the country.
With opposition to Diệm growing, Nhu plotted an attack against Xá Lợi Pagoda, the largest Buddhist centre in Saigon, where the movement was organizing its activities. Tung's special forces under Nhu's orders were responsible for the raid on 21 August 1963, in which 1,400 monks were arrested and hundreds were estimated to have been killed, as well as extensive property damage; these attacks were replicated across the country in a synchronised manner. Following the attacks, U. S. officials threatened to withhold aid to the Special Forces unless they were used in fighting communists, rather than attacking dissidents. Another infamous religious assault on the Buddhist community was carried out by Tung's men in 1963. In a small pond near Đà Nẵng, a hugely oversized carp was found swimming. Local Buddhists began to believe; as pilgrimages to the pond grew larger and more frequent, so did disquiet among the district chief and his officials, who answered to Ngô Đình Cẩn, another younger brother of Diệm.
The pond was mined. After raking the pond with machine gun fire, the fish still lived. To deal with the problem, Tung's forces were called in; the pond was grenaded. The incident generated more publicity as newspapers across the world ran stories about the miraculous fish. South Vietnamese army helicopters began landing at the site, with ARVN paratroopers filling their bottles with water which they believed had magical powers. Tung was reported to have been planning an operation at the request of Nhu to stage a government organised student demonstration outside the US Embassy, Saigon. In this plan and his operatives would assassinate U. S. ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. other key officials and Buddhist leader Thích Trí Quang, given asylum after being targeted in the pagoda raids. On 1 November 1963, a coup was launched by the ARVN against Diệm. Knowing Tung was a loyalist who would order his Special Forces to defend Diệm, the generals invited him to ARVN Joint General Staff headquarters on the pretext of a routine meeting.
He was arrested and executed along with his deputy and younger brother, Lê Quang Triệu. Diệm and Nhu were executed after being captured at the end of the successful coup and the ARVN's leadership changed. In 1964, the U. S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group was assigne
Republic of Vietnam Airborne Division
The Vietnamese Airborne Division was one of the earliest components of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces. The Vietnamese Airborne Division began as companies organised in 1948, prior to any agreement over armed forces in Vietnam. After the partition of Vietnam, it became a part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam; this division had its distinct origins in French-trained paratrooper battalions, with predecessor battalions participating in major battles including Dien Bien Phu and retained distinct uniforms and regalia. With the formation of an independent republic, the colonial paratroopers were dissolved, however regalia and aesthetics alongside the nickname "Bawouans" would be retained; the Airborne Division, alongside the Vietnamese Rangers and the Marine Division were regarded as among the most effective units, with former airborne advisor General Barry McCaffrey noting that "those of us privileged to serve with them were awe-struck by their courage and tactical aggressiveness. The senior officers and non-commissioned officers were competent and battle hardened."
Eight of nine battalions and three headquarters had earned US Presidential Unit Citation of which eight of these were earned by the Airborne between 1967-1968 which included the Tet Offensive period. Airborne commanders were highly rated, with Airborne Commander Ngô Quang Trưởng once described by former Airborne-adviser and Gulf War commanding General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. "as the most brilliant tactical commander I have known". The Airborne Division had its origins in Indochinese-specific units raised under the "jaunissement" program, separating Indochinese members of French paratrooper units of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps forming separate battalions under the Vietnamese National Army. Among these includes the 1e BPVN, 3e BPVN and 5e BPVN whom were airdropped into combat during the Siege of Dien Bien Phu. Most were killed afterwards upon capture by the Viet Minh, who regarded them as traitors, rather than bargained as the French had been, they were reformed into the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces and restructured upon the expulsion of the French by Ngo Dinh Diem following the Geneva Accords.
Vietnamese Airborne Division was among the elite fighting forces in the ARVN and placed as a reserve unit along with the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division. Headquarters of the Airborne Division was outside of Saigon; the Airborne Division would mobilize anywhere within the four corps at a moments notice. The main use of the Airborne was to engage and destroy People's Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong forces, not hold a specific region like the infantry units; the Airborne played a decisive role in the Battle of Huế, as the first relief force that arrived, assaulting the strongest points at the outer line and Hue Citadel while enduring and inflicting the most casualties. The Airborne played a significant role in the Cambodian Campaign, with battalions participating in most of the individual operations and finding significant caches of supplies, alongside being the sole force dropped behind enemy lines to cut-off a potential retreat; the Airborne Division participated in Lam Son 719, having had less than a week to implement battle-plans and rushing their operations, many were ordered into static positions at many isolated fire-bases.
An NVA armoured counter-attack had inflicted grievous losses on many battalions. Much of the Airborne was decimated during the Hue–Da Nang Campaign by a series of well-coordinated armoured attacks flanking from the Central Highlands towards the coast. Units of Airborne and others held out during the Battle of Xuân Lộc Đỗ Cao Trí Nguyễn Văn Vỹ Cao Văn Viên Nguyễn Khánh Dư Quốc Đống Nguyễn Chánh Thi Nguyễn Khoa Nam Đoàn Văn Quảng Lê Quang Lưỡng Like all major ARVN units the Airborne were assigned a U. S. military advisory element the Airborne Brigade Advisory Detachment and redesignated the 162nd Airborne Advisory Detachment or U. S. Airborne Advisory Team 162. About 1,000 American airborne-qualified advisors served with the Brigade and Division, receiving on average two awards for valour per tour. U. S. officers were paired with their Vietnamese counterparts, from the Brigade/Division commander down to company commanders, as well with principal staff officers at all levels. U. S. NCOs assisted the company advisors.
Colonial units1st Indochinese Parachute Company 3rd Indochinese Parachute Company 5th Indochinese Parachute Company 7th Indochinese Parachute Company 1st Airborne Guard Company 3rd Vietnamese Parachute Battalion 5th Vietnamese Parachute Battalion 6th Vietnamese Parachute Battalion 7th Vietnamese Parachute Battalion 3rd Vietnamese Parachute Engineers Company Airborne Group unitsHeadquarters & Headquarters Company 1st Airborne Battalion 3rd Airborne Battalion 5th Airborne Battalion 6th Airborne Battalion Airborne Combat Support Battalion Airborne Brigade unitsHeadquarters & Headquarters Company 1st Task Force HQ 1st Airborne Battalion 6th Airborne Battalion 7th Airborne Battalion 2nd Task Force HQ 3rd Airborne Battalion 5th Airborne Battalion 8th Airborne Battalion Airborne Combat Support Battalion Airborne Division unitsHeadquarters Battalion U. S. Airborne Advisory Team 162 1st Task Force/Brigade HHC 1st Airborne Battalion 8th Airborne Battalion 9th Airborne
Hoàng Xuân Lãm
Hoàng Xuân Lãm was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Given responsibility for the I Corps Tactical Zone in 1967, Lãm coordinated the South Vietnamese offensive known as Operation Lam Sơn 719 which aimed at striking the North Vietnamese logistical corridor known as the Hồ Chí Minh Trail in southeastern Laos during 1971. During the Siege of Khe Sanh village 1,500 civilians 400 of which were ethnic Bru, were looking for refuge. Hoang Xuan Lam authorized the evacuation of the 1,100 Vietnamese; the Bru were told to stay, Hoang Xuan Lam insisting that,'there was no place for minority refugees.' Due to his political connections with President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, he was still serving as I Corps commander when the North Vietnamese launched the Nguyên Huế Offensive in 1972. Lãm was recalled to Saigon on 2 May 1972 by Thiệu, who relieved him of his command, due to complaints regarding Lãm's fitness and competency as a general. Lãm was named to head an anti-corruption campaign at the Ministry of Defense.
Lãm's replacement as I Corps commander, Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng, said “I had served in I Corps under General Lãm and the disaster that occurred there was no surprise to me. Neither General Lãm nor his staff were competent to maneuver and support large forces in heavy combat.” Andrade, Dale. Trial by Fire: The 1972 Easter Offensive, America's Last Vietnam Battle. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1993. Fulgham, Terrence Maitland, et al. South Vietnam on Trial: Mid-1970 to 1972. Boston: Boston publishing Company, 1984. Gregg Jones'Last Stand at Khe Sanh' P69 Truong, Lieutenant General Ngo Quang; the Easter Offensive of 1972. Washington DC: United States Army Center of Military History, 1984
South Vietnam the Republic of Vietnam, was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam", a constitutional monarchy; this became the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon. South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast; the Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed on 26 October 1955, with Ngô Đình Diệm as its first president, after having served as premier under Emperor Bao Dai, exiled. Its sovereignty was recognized by the United States and 87 other nations, it had membership in several special committees of the United Nations, but its application for full membership was rejected in 1957 because of a Soviet veto.
South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam, Cochinchina, a subdivision of French Indochina, the southern half of Central Vietnam or Annam, a French protectorate. After the Second World War, the anti-Japanese Viet Minh guerrilla forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, proclaimed the establishment of a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi in September 1945, issuing a Declaration of Independence modeled on the U. S. one from 1776. In 1949, anti-communist Vietnamese politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bảo Đại. Bảo Đại was deposed by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955, who proclaimed himself president after a referendum. Diệm was killed in a military coup led by general Dương Văn Minh in 1963, a series of short-lived military governments followed. General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu led the country after a U. S.-encouraged civilian presidential election from 1967 until 1975. The beginnings of the Vietnam War occurred in 1959 with an uprising by the newly organized National Liberation Front for South Vietnam and supported by the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam, with other assistance rendered by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact communist satellites, along with neighboring People's Republic of China and North Korea.
Larger escalation of the insurgency occurred in 1965 with the landing of United States regular forces of Marines, followed by Army units to supplement the cadre of military advisors guiding ARVN southern forces. A regular bombing campaign over North Vietnam was conducted by offshore U. S. Navy airplanes and aircraft carriers joined by Air Force squadrons through 1966 and 1967. Fighting peaked up to that point during the Tet Offensive of February 1968, when there were over a million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U. S. soldiers in South Vietnam. On the war turned into a more conventional fight as the balance of power became equalized. An larger, armored invasion commenced during the Easter Offensive following US ground-forces withdrawal, had nearly overran some major northern cities until beaten back. Despite a truce agreement under the Paris Peace Accords, concluded in January 1973, after a torturous five years of on and off negotiations, fighting continued immediately afterwards; the North Vietnamese regular army and Viet Cong launched a major second combined-arms invasion in 1975, termed the Spring Offensive.
Communist forces overran Saigon on 30 April 1975. On the day President Duong Van Minh declared RVN cease to exist, five ARVN generals, one Saigon police chief, numbers of ARVN soldiers and officers commit suicide to avoid being humiliated surrender. On July 2, 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; the official name of the South Vietnamese state was Việt Nam Cộng hòa and the French name was referred to as République du Viêt Nam. The North was known as the "Democratic Republic of Vietnam". Việt Nam was the name adopted by Emperor Gia Long in 1804, it is a name used in ancient times. In 1839, Emperor Minh Mạng renamed the country Đại Nam. In 1945, the nation's official name was changed back to "Vietnam"; the name is sometimes rendered as "Viet Nam" in English. The term "South Vietnam" became common usage in 1954, when the Geneva Conference provisionally partitioned Vietnam into communist and non-communist parts.
Other names of this state were used during its existence such as Free Vietnam and the Government of Viet Nam. Before World War II, the southern third of Vietnam was the concession of Cochinchina, administered as part of French Indochina. A French governor-general in Hanoi administered all the five parts of Indochina while Cochinchina was under a French governor, but the difference from the other parts was that most indigenous intellensia and wealthy were naturalized French The northern third of Vietnam (then the colony of Tonkin was under
Dương Văn Minh
Dương Văn Minh, popularly known as Big Minh, was a South Vietnamese politician and a senior general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and a politician during the presidency of Ngô Đình Diệm. In 1963, he became chief of a military junta after leading a coup. Minh lasted only three months before being toppled by Nguyễn Khánh, but assumed power again as the 4th and last President of South Vietnam in April 1975, two days before surrendering to North Vietnamese forces. Dương Văn Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Tiền Giang Province in Southern Vietnam; the son of a wealthy landlord, Minh joined the French Army at the start of World War II, was captured and tortured by the Imperial Japanese, who invaded and seized French Indochina. During this time, Minh's teeth were plucked out. After his release, he joined the French-backed Vietnamese National Army and was imprisoned by the communist-dominated Viet Minh before breaking out. In 1955, when Vietnam was partitioned and the State of Vietnam controlled the southern half under Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm, Minh led the VNA in decisively defeating the Bình Xuyên paramilitary crime syndicate in street combat and dismantling the Hòa Hảo religious tradition's private army.
This made him popular with the people and Diệm, but the latter put him in a powerless position, regarding him as a threat. In 1963, the authoritarian Diệm became unpopular due to the Buddhist crisis and the ARVN generals decided to launch a coup, which Minh led. Diệm was assassinated on 2 November 1963 shortly after being deposed. Minh was accused of ordering Nguyễn Văn Nhung, to kill Diệm. Minh led a junta for three months, but he was an unsuccessful leader and was criticized for being lethargic and uninterested. During his three months of rule, many civilian problems intensified and the communists made significant gains. Angered at not receiving his desired post, General Nguyễn Khánh led a group of motivated officers in a bloodless coup in January 1964. Khánh allowed Minh to stay on as a token head of state in order to capitalize on Minh's public standing, but Khánh had the real power. In the meantime, Khánh had four of Minh's colleagues tried and put under house arrest on purported charges of promoting neutralism and a truce with the communists.
After a power struggle, Khanh had Minh exiled. Minh stayed away before deciding to return and challenge General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu in the presidential election of 1971; when it became obvious that Thieu would rig the poll, Minh withdrew and did not return until 1972, keeping a low profile. Minh advocated a "third force", maintaining that Vietnam could be reunified without a military victory to a hardline communist or anti-communist government. However, this was not something. In April 1975, as South Vietnam was on the verge of being overrun, Thieu resigned. A week Minh was chosen by the legislature and became president on 28 April 1975, it was thought that Minh would be able to negotiate a cease-fire due to his policy stance, but the communists were on the verge of gaining absolute power, so they pushed on. Saigon fell two days on 30 April, Minh ordered the surrender to prevent bloody urban street fighting. Minh was spared the lengthy incarceration meted out to South Vietnamese military personnel and civil servants, lived until being allowed to emigrate to France in 1983.
He moved to California, where he died. He remains a controversial figure among supporters of South Vietnam due to his decision to surrender rather than fight to the death, he earned his nickname "Big Minh", because at 1.83 m tall and weighing 90 kg, he was much larger than the average Vietnamese. The nickname served to distinguish him from another South Vietnamese general, Trần Văn Minh, known as "Little Minh". Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, to a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration, he went to Saigon where he attended a top French colonial school, now Le Quy Don Highschool, where King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia studied. Unlike many of his classmates, Minh declined French citizenship and joined the Corps Indigène, the local component of the French colonial army, he began his military career in 1940, was one of only 50 Vietnamese officers to be commissioned when he graduated from the École Militaire in France.
During the 1940s, Imperial Japan seized control from France. Minh was captured and had only a single tooth that remained from the torture he had suffered at the hands of the Kempeitai, he always smiled displaying the single tooth. Minh transferred to the French-backed State of Vietnam's Vietnamese National Army in 1952. In 1954, Minh was captured by the Việt Minh, he escaped after fighting off a few others. In May 1955, he led VNA forces in the Battle of Saigon, when they dismantled the private army of the Bình Xuyên crime syndicate in urban warfare in the district of Chợ Lớn. With the Bình Xuyên vanquished, Diệm turned his attention to conquering the Hòa Hảo; as a result, a battle between Minh's VNA troops and Ba Cụt's men commenced in Cần Thơ on 5 June. Five Hòa Hảo battalions surrendered immediately; the soldiers of the three other leaders surrendered in the face of Minh's onslaught, but Ba Cụt's men fought to the end. Understanding that they could not defeat Minh's me
Da Nang Air Base
Da Nang Air Base was a French Air Force and Republic of Vietnam Air Force facility located in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, it was a major base with United States Army, United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps units stationed there. Air Vietnam used the facility from 1951 to 1975 for civilian domestic and international flights within Southeast Asia. On 22 September 1940, the Vichy Government signed an agreement with Japan allowing the Japanese to station troops in Tonkin and use three airfields there. On 14 July 1941, the Japanese sent the French an ultimatum demanding the use of bases in Annam and Cochinchina, the French acquiesced and by late July, the Japanese occupied Cam Ranh Bay, Bien Hoa Air Base and Tourane Airfield. In late 1944, the Fourteenth Air Force based in southern China began raiding Japanese bases throughout Indochina and on 12 January 1945, the United States Third Fleet launched attacks on Japanese coastal bases including Da Nang. Tourane Airfield was used by the French Air Force during the French Indochina War.
In December 1950, pursuant to the Mutual Defense Assistance Act and Program, the US delivered B-26 Invaders to the French and these were used to form the Bombardment Group I/19 Gascogne based at Tourane. In 1953, the US Eighteenth Air Force C-119s were deployed to Tourane to support French military operations, a number of these aircraft crewed by civilians flew in support of French forces in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. In 1953/54 the French laid a NATO-standard 7,800-foot asphalt runway at Tourane. In January 1954, the USAF delivered a further 16 B-26s and 3 RB-26s to Tourane and in February assigned USAF maintenance and supply personnel to Tourane on temporary duty to support B-26 operations; the USAF delivered 18 C-47s to Tourane on 9 April to replace aircraft losses. In April VMA-324 delivered 25 F4U/G Corsairs to the French Air Force at Tourane. Following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and in anticipation of the Indochina peace treaty, on 23 May the USAF C-119 detachment at Cat Bi Air Base moved to Tourane.
On 6 September the last of the C-119s on loan to the French departed from Tourane. By the end of the Indochina War, the French had established a small Republic of Vietnam Air Force consisting of 2 squadrons of Morane-Saulnier MS.500 and one of Morane-Saulnier MS.315. In January 1955, MAAG Vietnam decided that the RVNAF would comprise one fighter, two liaison and two transport squadrons and that training would be undertaken by the French. Under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program, the US delivered 28 F8Fs, 35 C-47s and 60 L-19s to the RVNAF to equip the planned expansion. On 19 September 1956 the French turned over Tourane Airfield to the RVNAF and on 1 June 1957 all RVNAF training responsibility passed from the French to the United States. In November 1955, the RVNAF 1st Liaison Squadron moved to Da Nang AB from Huế. In 1960, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam established a ranger training facility at Da Nang Air Base. In October 1962, the 2nd Helicopter Squadron was activated at the base and in 3 December Liaison Squadron was activated.
In mid-1962, the RVNAF 2nd Fighter Squadron equipped with T-28s became operational at Nha Trang Air Base and began detaching 6 aircraft to Da Nang AB. In January 1963, the 213th Helicopter Squadron replaced the 2nd Helicopter Squadron, the 110th Liaison Squadron replaced the 1st Liaison Squadron and the 114th Liaison Squadron replaced the 3rd Liaison Squadron. In February 1964, the 516th Fighter Squadron equipped with 15 A-1 Skyraiders moved to Da Nang AB from Nha Trang AB. On 15 March 1964 the RVNAF established a Tactical Wing Headquarters at the base. In May the 217th Helicopter Squadron was established at the base. On 8 February 1965, RVNAF commander Nguyễn Cao Kỳ led VNAF A-1s from the base on a retaliatory raid against North Vietnamese targets. On 2 March 1965, 20 A-1s from the base participated in the first attacks of Operation Rolling Thunder, striking the Vietnam People's Navy base at Quảng Khê. On 14 March the VNAF led by General Kỳ participated in attacks on barracks on Hòn Gió island.
In August 1965, 4 USAF B-57Bs operating from the base were nominally transferred to the RVNAF becoming their first jet aircraft. In 1970, the RVNAF units at Da Nang AB were reorganized as the First Air Division with responsibility for Military Region I. During that year the VNAF began building family housing at the base for its personnel. Da Nang air base was used as the primary entry point for Americans youngsters, flying into Vietnam for the first time to fight in the Vietnam war, it was used by the United States Marine Corps as well as the US Air force. In January 1962, the USAF 5th Tactical Control Group was deployed to Da Nang AB to provide air support operations in I Corps. By 2 March C-123s were stationed at the base under Project Mule Train. On 20 May 1962 the 6222nd Air Base Squadron was formed at the base to support VNAF operations and the growing USAF presence through Farm Gate operations. On 15 June 1962, 12 C-123s from the 777th Troop Carrier Squadron deployed to the base forming the Tactical Air Force Transport Squadron Provisional-2 to supplement the existing Mule Train operations and those of the US Army's 18th Fixed Wing Aviation Company equipped with U-1 Otters.
In early 1962, the base runway was asphalt covered and 7,900-foot long while the taxiways and parking areas were covered in Pierced steel planking. In April 1963, the 777th Troop Carrier Squadron equipped with 16 C-123s was transferred to the base and that year the base's existing Mule Train operations were redesignated as the 311th Troop Carrier Squadr
1965 South Vietnamese coup
On February 19, 1965, some units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam commanded by General Lâm Văn Phát and Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo launched a coup against General Nguyễn Khánh, the head of South Vietnam's ruling military junta. Their aim was to install General Trần Thiện Khiêm, a Khánh rival, sent to Washington D. C. as Ambassador to the United States to prevent him from seizing power. The attempted coup reached a stalemate, although the trio did not take power, a group of officers led by General Nguyễn Chánh Thi and Air Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, hostile to both the plot and to Khánh himself, were able to force a leadership change and take control themselves with the support of American officials, who had lost confidence in Khánh. Although Khánh had seized power in January 1964 in alliance with Khiêm, the pair had soon fallen out over policy disputes along religious lines, the Catholic Khiêm began to plot against Khánh. Khiêm was believed to have helped plan a failed coup in September 1964, Khánh exiled him as a result.
While in Washington, Khiêm continued to plot alongside his aide Thảo, a communist agent bent on trying to foment infighting at every opportunity. Aware of Thảo's plans, Khánh summoned him back to Vietnam in an apparent attempt to capture him, Thảo responded by going into hiding and preparing for his attack. In the meantime, Khánh's hold on power was slipping as his military support dwindled, he became reliant on the support of civilian Buddhist activists who favored negotiations with the communists and opposed escalation of the Vietnam War; the Americans—most notably Ambassador Maxwell Taylor—were opposed to this and had been lobbying various senior Vietnamese officers such as Kỳ to overthrow Khánh, who knew that American-sponsored moves to depose him were afoot. However, the Americans were not counting on Thảo and his fellow Catholic Phát trying to seize power on an explicitly religious platform, claiming fidelity to slain former Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm and promising to recall Khiêm from the US to lead the new regime.
This caused alarm among the Buddhist majority, who had campaigned against Diệm's discriminatory religious policies in the months leading up to his ouster in November 1963. Although they wanted Khánh gone, the Americans did not want Thảo and Phát to succeed, so they sought out Kỳ and Thi in an attempt to have them defeat the original coup and depose Khánh. During the initial attack, Thảo and Phát tried to capture both Khánh and Kỳ, but both men escaped narrowly, although some of their colleagues in the Armed Forces Council were arrested. Although the rebels were able to take control of Tan Son Nhut Air Base, the largest in the country and the military headquarters of South Vietnam, Kỳ was able to regroup and retain control of the nearby Bien Hoa Air Base, using it to mobilize air power and stop the rebel advance with threats of bombing. Late in the night, Thảo and Phát met Kỳ in a meeting arranged by the Americans, where an agreement was reached for the coup to be ended in return for Khánh's ouster.
By early next morning, the bloodless military action was over as Thảo and Phát went into hiding, the junta voted to sack their leader Khánh, absent on a military inspection tour, thinking that Kỳ and Thi were on his side. When Khánh heard of his ouster, he declared it to be illegal. After defying his colleagues and travelling around the country for a day in a fruitless attempt to rally support for a comeback, Khánh went into exile after being named to fill the meaningless post of Ambassador-at-Large and allowed an elaborate ceremonial military send-off to save face. Phát and Thảo were sentenced to death in absentia. Thảo was hunted down and killed in July 1965, while Phát remained on the run for several years before turning himself in and being pardoned. General Nguyễn Khánh had come to power in January 1964 after surprising the ruling junta of General Dương Văn Minh in a bloodless coup. However, due to American pressure, he kept the popular Minh as a token head of state, while concentrating real power in his hands by controlling the Military Revolutionary Council.
In August, the Vietnam War continued to escalate following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, a disputed encounter between communist and American naval vessels off the North Vietnamese coast. Khánh saw the tense situation as an opportunity to increase his authority. On August 7, he declared a state of emergency, increased police powers, banned protests, tightened censorship and allowed the police arbitrary search and imprisonment powers, he drafted a new constitution, which would have augmented his personal power at the expense of the already-limited Minh. However, these moves only served to weaken Khánh as large demonstrations and riots broke out in the cities, with majority Buddhists prominent, calling for an end to the state of emergency and the abandonment of the new constitution, as well as a progression back to civilian rule. Fearing he could be toppled by the intensifying protests, Khánh made concessions, repealing the new constitution and police measures, promising to reinstate civilian rule and remove Cần Lao Party—a secret Catholic organization used to infiltrate and spy on society to maintain President Ngô Đình Diệm's regime—members from power.
General Trần Thiện Khiêm claimed "Khánh felt there was no choice but to accept since the influence of Trí Quang was so great that he could not only turn the majority of the people against the government but could influence the effectiveness of the armed forces". Many senior officers the Catholic Generals Khiêm and Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, decried what they viewed as a handing of power to the Buddhist leaders, they tried to replace Khánh with Minh, bu