30 January 1964: General Nguyễn Khánh seizes power in Saigon

Before dawn on 30 January 1964, General Nguyễn Khánh ousted the military junta led by General Dương Văn Minh from the leadership of South Vietnam without firing a shot. It came less than three months after Minh’s junta had themselves come to power in a bloody coup against then-President Ngô Đình Diệm. The coup was bloodless and took less than a few hours; after power had been seized, Minh’s aide and bodyguard, Major Nguyễn Văn Nhung, was arrested and summarily executed.

In 1964, Despite throwing “his old poker buddy” General Tôn Thất Đính in jail, the New York Times reported, “The bloodless coup d’etat executed by the short, partly bald general apparently took Saigon by surprise.” The Times also wrote General Nguyễn Khánh had “a deserved reputation as a brilliant and driving field commander, but also as a ‘lone wolf. He has no truly intimate associates among other generals.”

Dương Văn Minh was eventually deposed and sent into exile as Ambassador-at-Large in February 1965.

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