Tôn Thất Đính
Who is Tôn Thất Đính?
Lieutenant General Tôn Thất Đính, was a retired officer who served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He is best known as one of the key figures in the November 1963 coup that deposed and resulted in the assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm, the first president of the Republic of Vietnam.
A favourite of the ruling Ngô family, Đính received rapid promotions ahead of officers who were regarded as being more capable. He converted to Roman Catholicism to curry favour with Diệm, and headed the military wing of the Cần Lao party, a secret Catholic organisation that maintained the Ngôs' grip on power. At the age of 32, Đính became the youngest ever ARVN general and the commander of the II Corps, but he was regarded as a dangerous, egotistical and impetuous figure with a weakness for alcohol and partying.
In 1962, Đính was appointed commander of the III Corps, which oversaw the region surrounding the capital Saigon. He was given the post because Diệm regarded him as one of his most loyal officers. This position meant that Đính would be a critical factor in the success or failure of any coup. In late 1963, with Diệm becoming increasingly unpopular, Đính's colleagues recruited him into a coup by playing on his ego. They convinced him to ask Diệm for a cabinet post, knowing that the president was adamantly opposed to military officers serving as ministers and would chastise him. Diệm promptly rebuffed Đính, who became upset and was lured into the plot. Diệm and his brother and chief advisor Ngô Đình Nhu were aware of a coup plot, but did not know of Đính's involvement. Nhu planned a fake coup of his own in an attempt to trap his opponents and generate positive publicity for his family's regime. He put Đính in charge of the fake coup, and the general promptly redeployed loyal units outside Saigon and rebel forces near the capital. On 1 November 1963, the rebels' actual coup proceeded, and the Ngô brothers were deposed and executed.
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