Ton That Dinh
Lieutenant General Tôn Thất Đính (born c. 1926) is a retired officer who served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). 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 (South 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.
After the coup, Đính became one of the 12 members of the Military Revolutionary Council (MRC), serving as the Interior Minister. However, the MRC lasted only three months before being ousted in a bloodless coup by General Nguyễn Khánh. Đính and his colleagues were put under house arrest by Khánh and falsely accused of promoting a neutralist plot. The subsequent military trial collapsed. The generals were convicted of "lax morality", but were eventually allowed to resume their military service, albeit in meaningless desk jobs. Following Khánh's exile by another group of generals, Đính was appointed to command the I Corps in 1966 in order to put down the Buddhist Uprising, but Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ disapproved of his reconciliatory policies. Kỳ launched a successful surprise attack against Đính, who fled, but was later captured and briefly imprisoned by Kỳ. After his release, Đính worked in the media and was elected to the Senate in 1967. He served in the upper house until the fall of Saigon in April 1975, when he fled Vietnam.
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