Ngo Dinh Diem (January 3, 1901 – November 2, 1963)
Diem was a Vietnamese politician served as an officer in the Nguyen Dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam. Because of his drastic ideological of anti-communism, Diem received support from the United States and became the first President of the Republic of Vietnam in 1955. However, as a Catholic, Diem pursued the persecution of Buddhists which led to many religious protests notably the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc in 1963. As a result, Diem gradually lost U.S. support and was assassinated, together with his brother Nhu, in a coup in 1963.
Nguyen Cao Ky (September 8, 1930 – July 23, 2011)
Nguyen Cao Ky was a senior army officer and a former politician of Republic of Vietnam. He served as Prime Minister (1965-1967) and Vice President (1967-1971) of the Republic of Vietnam. From an ally, he then became the opponent of President Nguyen Van Thieu and was mostly sidelined during Thieu’s presidency. Ky had been seen as an aggressive anti-Communist person in the period before 1975 and but then was regarded as a symbol of national reconciliation by the Vietnamese Communist Party since 2004 when he became the first South Vietnamese leader returning to the country.
Nguyen Van Thieu (April 5, 1923 – September 29, 2001)
Thieu was the Leadership Committee Chairman (1965-1967) and President of the Republic of Vietnam (1967-1975). In 1963, Thieu joined a military coup to overthrow Diem. During his years as president, Thieu was accused of indulging in corruption. His struggle for power with Ky led to the decisions of side-lining Ky’s supporters and choosing loyalists instead of decent commanders to lead the Army of Public of Vietnam (APVN) forces. He strongly opposed the Paris Peace Accords (1973) at first and publicly blamed the U.S. not keeping its promise for the fall of Saigon and South Vietnam in April 1975.