Skip to main content

Author's Name: Daryl Sohn

Title: "Challenge of creating democracy in South Vietnam"

During the 1971 South Vietnam Presidential election campaign I was stationed in the headquarters unit of the 29th General Support Group at Long Bing Post, located roughly 20 miles east of Saigon.  A number of Vietnam civilian employees worked in our unit.  They were carefully screened for security purposes.  We considered them the "cream of the crop" of the general population.  When the election campaign was in full swing I showed four of the civilian workers photos of President Nguen Van Thieu and Vice President Nguen Cao Ky and asked them to identify the persons who appeared in the photos.  Three of the four had no idea whose photos I was showing them.  The fourth recognized the photos as being of the country's President and Vice President but could not tell me the name of either.  At that moment I knew the United States had a far bigger challenge to create a democracy in South Vietnam than simply sending soldiers and arms to fight.