Letters: Vietnam -- what might have been

Re "Vietnamese general led the North to victory," Obituary, Oct. 5

Your obituary on Vo Nguyen Giap failed to mention the support that was given to him and Ho Chi Minh during World War II by the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS — the wartime predecessor of the CIA and the U.S. Special Operations Command — to fight the Japanese, who had invaded Vietnam.

Beurt SerVaas, an OSS officer, was sent on a mission to Hanoi to accept the Japanese surrender. He was approached by Ho Chi Minh, who asked him to send a message to the United States requesting that it send a committee of American officials to meet with the Vietnamese to discuss their future relationship.

The response SerVaas received was that the Vietnamese were a French concern and that he should leave.


SerVaas wrote in the OSS Society Journal: "The Vietnamese initiative ended there. I have always thought that it was an opportunity that we missed — one that might have changed the course of America's relationship with Vietnam."

Charles Pinck

Falls Church, Va.

The writer is president of The OSS Society Inc.