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Tran Thien Khiem, 95, Dies; a Energy in South Vietnam Earlier than Its Fall

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He married Yen Dinh in 1950, and so they had a daughter. His first spouse died in 2004, and in 2005 he married Ann Chastain, of Eureka, Calif. They had been divorced in 2012. He’s survived by his daughter, Yen Khanh, and an adopted son, Tran Khan, in addition to a granddaughter.

The late Fifties and early ’60s had been a time of autocratic and nepotistic rule by South Vietnam’s American-supported president, Ngo Dinh Diem, who in a largely Buddhist land favored Catholics in lots of walks of life. His refusal to permit elections in 1956 was an element resulting in the Vietnam Warfare. In 1960, Colonel Khiem crushed a coup towards Mr. Diem, his godfather, and was promoted to basic.

However in 1963, in what the Kennedy administration and Basic Khiem had anticipated to be a nonviolent coup, different Vietnamese army plotters organized to have President Diem deposed and shot lifeless in an armored personnel provider en path to the airport and an anticipated exile overseas.

Within the intrigue after the assassination, short-lived juntas had been ended by coups. Basic Khiem was briefly a part of a ruling junta earlier than being despatched into political exile as ambassador to america in 1964. From Washington, he conspired with Saigon generals to grab energy. However on the day of a deliberate coup, he forgot to set his alarm clock and overslept. The coup went forward with out him and failed.

In 1965, one other junta, which included Basic Thieu and Basic Ky, appointed Mr. Khiem ambassador to Taiwan. He was introduced again to Saigon in 1968 and pledged loyalty to the newly elected President Thieu. A yr later, he was named premier, and he held that highly effective put up till the regime’s last days.

Basic Khiem lived in quiet retirement in San Jose, together with numerous different former high-ranking South Vietnamese officers. (He was lastly baptized a Catholic there in 2018.)

The Vietnamese diaspora in america is very factionalized, with former officers taking the toughest anti-Communist line. Basic Khiem averted controversy by protecting a low profile and gave virtually no interviews.

Seth Mydans contributed reporting.

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