HANOI, Oct. 11 -- A group of former officers from the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, who worked with Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh during the 1940s, returned to Hanoi Wednesday for a nostalgic visit, organizers said. The six former OSS officers, who are now between 75 and 88 years old, will spend a week visiting with former guerrillas that the U.S. supplied and trained as a bulwalk against the Japanese Army, the occupying force during World War II.
'They all worked with Ho (Chi Minh) and General (Vo Nguyen) Giap in training our military forces, guerrilla forces, and in coordinating activities for our common struggle against Japanese forces,' said Vu Xuan Hong, the Hanoi organizer, about the former intelligence officers. Over the weekend they will travel to Tan Trao, in Tuyen Quang province, north of Hanoi, where Ho Chi Minh had his guerrilla base and near where an OSS team helped save the Vietnamese leader's life with timely medicine. Shortly after Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrendered, on Sept. 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam's independence from both the Japanese and the French colonial power that had been collaborating with Tokyo. The visiting OSS officers were among those who urged Washington to recognize Ho's government. But concerned about U.S.-French relations -- and worried about abetting a communist tide after Mao Zedong's takeover in China -- Washington sided with France when it tried to reclaim its Vietnamese colony. The most senior former OSS officer to return, Charles Fenn, who won a Bronze Star for his work with Ho, was deprived of his U.S. citizenship for several years during the McCarthy era because of suspicions about his connection with Ho. The U.S.-Indochina Reconciliation Project, based in New York,is the main sponsor of the present trip, said Hong.