Lieutenant General Dong Sy Nguyen
In early 1967, during the war, Senior Colonel Dong Sy Nguyen was appointed commander of Group 559, the strategic transportation and logistical unit of the Vietnam People's Army in the rugged and densely forested terrain of the Truong Son mountain range.
The unit’s establishment was an initiative of General Vo Nguyen Giap, former Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnamese People’s Army and military strategist of worldwide renown. But it was Lieutenant General Dong Sy Nguyen who finally fulfilled General Giap’s strategic vision to modernize and consolidate the trail to transport materiel and personnel from the north to the southern front, which played a critical role in Vietnam’s 1975 Spring victory, unifying the country.
General Nguyen was fixated on the Truong Son Trail from 1967 to 1975. More than anyone, he understood the strategic importance of the route.
| Lieutenant General Dong Sy Nguyen (C) discusses a plan to transport petroleum to the Central Highlands battlefield in 1969. (Archive photo)
“Lieutenant General Nguyen proposed the opening of the Ho Chi Minh highway along the west side of the Truong Son range, from the northern border province of Cao Bang to the southernmost province of Ca Mau. This turned out to be a decisive move,” Major General Vo So, President of the Truong Son-Ho Chi Minh Trail Association, recalled.
|Lieutenant General Dong Sy Nguyen at the Xe Pon base in 1971.
Lieutenant General Nguyen held several different positions after the war: Minister of Construction, Vice Chairman of the Ministers’ Council, and Minister of Transport. In each position, he brought great determination and energy to dealing with the difficult issues of the national construction period.
Under his direction, a series of large-scale industrial works crucial to national economic development took shape. The works included the Bim Som cement factory in Thanh Hoa, the Pha Lai thermal power plant, the Thai Nguyen iron and steel complex, and the Hoa Binh hydropower plant. Meeting rigid safety standards while saving capital in the completion of the Chuong Duong bridge, the first major bridge built by Vietnamese engineers and workers, proved the strategic vision of General Nguyen.
“Mr. Nguyen had a far-sighted vision when designing master plans to develop any sector, at a time when Vietnam had a lot of work to do with limited financial and technical resources. His vision and personal direction helped us realize very difficult projects,” said former Minister of Construction Nguyen Manh Kiem.
After his retirement, General Nguyen advised the government to build the west Ho Chi Minh highway from Khe Gat in Quảng Bình province to the Central Highlands. He said the route would play a key role in any national defense effort, ensuring a logistic route out of range of battleships firing from the sea.