The War Had Many Different Faces: Service As A National Police Colonel In The Republic of Vietnam

Tran Minh Cong


National Police Colonel Tran Minh Cong was born in Ninh Binh, south of Hanoi, in 1938. He remembers the Japanese occupation during World War II, and the French return following the war. In 1954, his family moved south by plane because his parents knew what the communists would do, and they sought freedom. After moving to Saigon, his father returned to his business in shipping. His parents emphasized the importance of a liberal education, the duty of service to their country, and the role of the family. After high school, he attended law school in Australia, starting in 1959. Returning to Vietnam in 1964, he was drafted into the infantry, and attended the military academy at Thu Duc. Following graduation, he became an officer in the National Police at a time when that force was militarizing to combat the increase in Viet Cong terrorism. As part of his training, he traveled first to Malaysia, where he studied the policing techniques of Sir Robert Thompson. He later attended the International Police Academy in Washington, D.C., where he learned important leadership lessons while interacting with officers from different countries. Returning to Vietnam, he first served as the Police Chief in Da Nang from 1965 to 1967. In 1967, he assumed duties in the 2nd District of Saigon, where he served from 1967 to 1969, including during the Tet Offensive. His final assignment was as the Commandant of the National Police Academy from 1969 to 1975. He escaped from the Republic of Vietnam in the early morning hours of April 30, 1975, flying from the roof of the American Embassy to USS Hancock. He then traveled to Guam and Camp Pendleton before being sponsored by a church in El Toro, California. After a job moving furniture, he began teaching English classes and earned a Masters Degree in planning at Cal State Fullerton, which led to a job as the Orange County Urban Planner. In this interview he talks about his childhood, moving south in 1954, attending college in Australia, and his professional schooling in the United States. He describes his role in the National Police, highlighting his experiences during the Tet Offensive. He recalls General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, and describes his leadership. He explains his role as Commandant of the National Police Academy, escaping from Vietnam, and his refugee experience. Finally, he reflects on what his service and coming to America mean to him.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Camaraderie Refugee Patriotism Vietnamese ARVN Wartime Decisions Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 08 June 2019


name Tran Minh Cong
institution Thu Duc
graduation year 1964
service National Police
unit Republic of Vietnam National Police
service dates 1964 1975