Guerrillas: The case of Huynh Van Kim

National Liberation Front Veteran Vo Vahn Chap

     Huynh Van Kim, a member of the Vietcong who later defected, joined the Vietcong in January 1958 when he was only twenty-one-years-old. In December 1957, members of the Vietcong visited his village and worked with some of the young men and their message spoke directly to them. They discussed the failures of the Diem regime and how he failed to deliver upon his promise to carry out the 1956 free elections, land reforms, and the removal of corrupt Government officials.[1] The recruiters urged the young men to join the revolutionary movement and fight to reunify the country. They came every night for about a month and continued to speak with five or six potential recruits, Kim spoke with the same group every third or fourth night, after about a month he finally agreed to join them. He realized that he had a multitude of reasons for joining the Vietcong. He was impressed by the Vietcong recruiters, even though he had never heard about elections or previous injustices, he believed them. His family had been greatly afflicted by the Indochina war, some of his cousins had enlisted with the Viet Minh while his brothers were forced to fight for the French and had been killed by the Viet Minh. In addition, the French soldiers that had come to his village had raped some of the women, stolen some of their possessions, and burned down his parent’s home. Most importantly, the Vietcong also promised he could stay near his village.[2]

     The recruiters took him to a secluded jungle base where he was to begin his training. For one hour everyday they performed physical exercises, then for another seven to eight hours they received political training in the classroom. They were not initially given any weapons. Kim picked up quickly on the political education and only had to attend the full-length sessions for one month, others had to stay longer, sometimes several months depending on how well they grasped the teachings. They also partook in criticism and feedback sessions, where even junior members were allowed to criticize their superiors. The sessions were designed to allow demonstrate the democratic elements of the revolutionary movement. Junior members were allowed to criticize flaws in their superiors, and vice versa. Kim commented that he enjoyed the democratic aspects, such as the criticism sessions, of the Vietcong. Eventually, his supervisors said the movement was going to become more militant, and that they would also receive weapons training. He was given and old French bolt action rifle, perhaps a MAS 1936. During training he was only provided with one round of ammunition, he missed the target but was still considered a decent shot among his comrades.[3]

[1] Susan Sheehan. Ten Vietnamese 149-151 (Alfred A Knopf, 1967)

[2] Ibid. 149-151

[3] Ibid. 152-153

Huynh Van Kim