Nguyen Binh - The First Lieutenant General of the Vietnam People's Army

Nguyễn Bình, born in 1908, whose real name is Nguyen Phuong Thao is from Yên Phu hamlet, Tinh Tien commune (now is Giai Phạm commune, Yên Mỹ district, Hưng Yên province). He was the first Lieutenant-general of the Vietnam People’s Army.  As a young man, he was a slave until he resigned that role and went to Hai Phong to work as a sailor on a ocean-going ship running the Vietnam-France route.

Nguyen Binh was born in a middle-class family with 5 children, and he is the fourth child from his family living in Hai Phong city. At the age of 17 when he was studying the second year of Hai Phong high school, because of the patriotic activities being sought by the French colonialists, he escaped to the South to communicate with the writer Vuong Son. After that, he became familiar with the writer and journalist Tran Huy Lieu - a member of the Nationalist Party, and he became an active member of the Party, holding the position of the head of the organization. In 1928, the Vietnamese Nationalist Party was established, operating under the guise of "Independence, civil liberties, happy people". He was elected to the Executive Board.
In 1929, he and Tran Huy Lieu were arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison, and banished to Con Dao Island. During this period, he met some Communist Party’s members, he developed his goodwill towards the Party. Therefore, he was damaged one of his eyes by the Vietnam Nationalist Party as the punishment.  By then, he found that the motto of Nationalist Party is just the empty words, the leaders just worked for their personal purposes (“Vinh than thi gia”) and unhesitatingly killed other members if they had different points of view with them.
In 1935, after his release, he returned to his homeland. Despite living under a house arrest, his spirit of revolution was not stamped out and he continued to establish Dong Trieu as the base against the French. In 1941-1942, he was assigned by the Viet Minh and Party to buy weapons for the revolutionary force. In addition to completing his task successfully, he also advocated soldiers in Thuy Nguyen, Cua Ong and Kien An town to provide weapons for the army. With these weapons, Dong Trieu base became a strong one with the general headquarter of liberation force located in Bac Ma pagoda.
In the late evening of 12 March 1945, he joined to overrun Ban Yen Nhan military station and gained much success, which was considered a model battle at the delta region. In April 1945, the northern military meeting decided to divide the country into 7 military zones, with 4 zones in the north and he was assigned to take the responsibility of Commander of the fourth military zone (Dong Trieu base covering Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Thai Binh, Hai Phong, Hon Gai, Mong Cai and Lang Son provinces).
In July 1945, he brought troops in order to liberate Quang Yen town (Quang Ninh). This was the only province in the North that belonged to the people before the August Revolution. In August 1945, he led forces from the battlefield to participate in the shifting of power in Hai Phong city.
Due to the military talent, in September 1945, he was appointed by President Ho in the South to unify the armed forces in the Southern battlefield. In October 1945, he went to the South to follow the Highlands to Thu Dau Mot Town, at the house of Chua Chuong. Later, Vo Ba Son was the son-in-law of Mr. Chu, the owner of the Ben Vinh rubber factory, which the French owner assigned to the manager to set up his headquarters. Mr. Vo Ba Nhan is the head of the office from the first day until his death. He was assigned to serve as a South Vietnamese military commissioner and head of Zone 7, then commander of the Southern Front, with full authority to decide military affairs in the South, under Decree No. 18 / SL dated 21 March. 1949 of President Ho Chi Minh. In the early days of the resistance war, the situation in the South was very complicated. Nguyen Binh tried to gather the resistance forces under the general command and quickly organized a full-scale resistance war.
In the South, Nguyen Binh used his virtues including the heroic manner in order to win the groups of Bay Mon, Muoi Luc, Muoi Tri, Bay Vien, Tam Manh, Ba Duong, etc. Besides, Nguyen Binh also gained the intellectual work as Professor Pham Thieu, Dang Minh Tru, lawyer Le Dinh Chi, Huynh Kim Truong, Huynh Van Nghe and so on.
In 1947, he joined Vietnam’s Communist Party.  On 25th November 1948, Uncle Ho signed the Decision on rewarding him with the title of Lieutenant General. He was the first Lieutenant General of Vietnam People’s Army. In September 1951, as requested by the Party, he came back to the north to receive a new mission. On the way of return, he was ambushed by the enemy and died in an area along the border of Vietnam – Cambodia.
In 2000, with the help of the Royal Government of Cambodia, the Ministry of Defense team found the remains of Lieutenant General Nguyen Binh and brought to the country on February 29th, 2000. The memorial ceremony for the martyrs of General Nguyen Binh was organized according to the form of Army and held on the same day at the Martyrs Cemetery in Ho Chi Minh City.
He was conferred the Ho Chi Minh Medal and the title of Hero of the People's Armed Forces by the State Government. General Pham Van Tra, former Politburo member, Minister of Defense affirmed: "Comrade Nguyen Binh is a solid communist; a courageous general, rich sacrifice, courage and talent. His labor and name will last forever on the radio of the Fatherland”.

 

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