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Old Saigon Echo website
from 2008 - 2012
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Director: Bai An Tran, Ph.D.

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Flight of the Rebels

On the early morning of Feb. 27, 1962, two VNAF Skyraiders took off from Bien Hoa airbase for a close air support in the 4th tactical corps, but instead of flying straight to the target area, both aircraft made a sharp right turn to Saigon vicinity and bombed the Presidential Independence Palace.

In an attempt to assassinate President Ngo Dinh Diem, the two young First Lt. Pham Phu Quoc and Second Lt. Nguyen Van Cu destroyed the left wing of the Presidential Palace by dropping their 500 lbs bombs. President Ngo Dinh Diem narrowly escaped the air raid. Lt. Nguyen Van Cu flew to Cambodia for political asylum and Lt. Pham Phu Quoc survived a crash-landing in Saigon River. It is necessary to remind that at that time period, President Ngo Dinh Diem's administration had been criticized for his authoritarianism against political dissidents and for the tacit policy of Buddhism persecution; not counting his tight grip on power by appointing his close relatives at many positions throughout the upper echelon of central and provincial government. In that political atmosphere, the "renegade" P.P.Quoc endured harsh interrogation while in incarceration.

On 1st November of 1963, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) launched a coup d'etat and succeeded in overthrowing Ngo Dinh Diem's administration

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 and paved way for the start of the 2nd Republic of South Vietnam. Lt. Pham Phu Quoc was then reintegrated into the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) and later rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel.

On a bombing mission over North Vietnam, Lt. Colonel P.P. Quoc's Skyraider was shot

down when he tried to put out a Communist triple-A position near Vinh province. The enemy's anti-aircraft artillery was destroyed, but it was also Pham Phu Quoc's last flight on April 19th of 1965.

There is a well-known song "Huyen Su Ca Mot Nguoi Mang Ten Quoc" (Epic song of a man named Quoc), which was written by popular songwriter Pham Duy to dedicate to P.P.Quoc's services and his sacrifice. And in the memories of most Vietnamese Southerners who lived during that political turmoil of that time frame, Pham Phu Quoc has been always mourned and admired for his patriotism.

Westerners used to mock a fledging democratic nation or a third-world country as a "Banana Republic," for one of its characteristics is the common coup d'etat, in which the military Top Brass would not hesitate to takes political matter's solution into their own hands. But the Silver Lining of that dark cloud "Banana Republic" is It has a lot of unpredictable, true Patriots who serve no President, no administration, but the country only and those Patriots are the most fearsome foes to any dictator, tyrant, Communist, or Socialist in this modern time.

During the Vietnam War, at a time the Republic of South Vietnam seemed to be a "Banana Republic" with many coup d'etats and political instability, but Pham Phu Quoc, Nguyen Van Cu, and the many uncounted junior military Officers of ARVN were her magnificent Silver Lining. The two young pilots took off for a daring mission as the rebels but they flew into history forever as the Patriots.

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