Co died at 11:38 am Wednesday at his home, at the age of 87, after six years of suffering from diabetes, said his wife, Nguyen Thi Tin, a member of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the Ho Chi Minh City Fatherland Front Committee.
Co was fatigued 10 days before his passing, after coming home from a church service. He was diagnosed with a sore throat, but as his condition worsened he was taken to Van Hanh Hospital, and then to Cho Ray Hospital.
Since his condition continued to deteriorate, his family took him back home and he died shortly after, Tin said.
Co’s funeral will take place at his home, 42/3 Nguyen Huu Tien, Tay Thanh Ward, Tan Phu District. This is the same house where a social kitchen has been set up to support poor patients at the Pediatrics Hospital 1 and Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital on Fridays. The kitchen was organized by Ngoc Thu, Co’s daughter.
Co will be brought to his final resting place, Binh Duong Cemetery, at 8 am on July 7.
Nguyen Huu Co answers a question from a foreign jopurnalist at the conference held on March 25, 2005 to mark the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Saigon (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
A review of Co’s life
A native of My Tho City, Tien Giang Province, Co made many contributions to national reconciliation in Vietnam when the American War ended in 1975.
In the last moments of the administration of the Republic of Vietnam in April 1975, Co, along with brigadier general Nguyen Huu Hanh, was still working besides General Duong Van Minh, the last president of the Saigon regime, who was preparing to surrender to liberation forces, leading to the end of the war.
Co was seen to have a special military career and experienced many ups and downs, since he served as an officer in the French army and then in the Saigon regime’s army. He also engaged himself in many military events in South Vietnam before 1975.
In 1939, Co joined the Indochina Army and in April 1946, he joined the French Army at the rank of Lieutenant. After the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was established, he was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
Co was a participant in the 1963 coup that deposed President Ngo Dinh Diem and ended in the assassination of Diem and his brother and adviser Ngo Dinh Nhu.
After the coup, Co was promoted to Major General, and by 1965 Co had become Lieutenant General, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister and was the third most powerful figure in the administration, after Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Thieu and Major General Nguyen Cao Ky.
However, from 1967-1970, Co lived in exile in Taiwan after all of his positions were dismissed by Thieu, but Co later returned to Saigon [now Ho Chi Minh City] to work in the banking sector.
Co was considered a political figure who kept up with the times when he assisted General Duong Van Minh in coming back into politics, even though Minh was his former foe, and was besides him in the last days of the Saigon administration in April 1975. After the war, Co continued to live in Vietnam.
Since 2004 Co, who remained patriotic, worked as a member of the Patriotic Liaison Committee, along with his wife.
He and his wife made many contributions to the Fronts’ operations and to national reconciliation
The couple has 12 children, some of whom live at home, while others are abroad.