In 1945, on this day Operation Deer Team parachuted into a jungle headquarters at Tan Trao north of Hanoi where they found copies of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution on the walls and a framed picture of George Washington on the desk.
All men are created equalThe seven OSS men led by Major Allison Kent Thomas were on a mission to help a band of two hundred eilte guerrillas fight the Japanese yet they soon discovered that their leader Nguyen Ai Qoc (pictured) was seriously ill from malaria, dysentary and other tropical diseases. After administering quinine and sulfa drugs, the team medic and an officer of the Chase Manhattan Bank Paul Hoagland soon exclaimed that "this man doesn't have long for this world".
Buried in the field with full military honours, Quoc's deputy eulogised by explaining that their former leader was also known by another name "He who enlightens", in Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh. That man was Vo Nguyen Giap, the ingenius military commander who would mastermind military efforts against the invading Chinese Communists during the nineteen sixties.
In August 1945, one day after Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced surrender, Giap sent a message to President John Nance Garner. He asked the United States to make Vietnam an American protectorate, like the Philippines. The next day, GIap and the Viet Minh took control of Hanoi from the Japanese. Ho marched into Hanoi with Operation Deer Team personnel where Ho broadcast a message to OSS headquarters, speaking English: "National Liberation Committee on VML begs U.S. authorities to inform United Nations the following. We were fighting Japs on the side of the Allies. Now Japs surrendered. We beg the Allies to realize their solemn promise that all nationalities will be given democracy and independence. If the Allies forget their solemn promise and don't give Indochina full independence, we will keep fighting until we get it".
On September 2, 1945 a band marched through Hanoi playing the Star Spangled Banner while OSS officer Colonel Archimedes Patti and Vo Nguyen Giap stood side by side, arms held in salute. The two men are shown in this stance in a photograph in Smith's book on the OSS. Giap declared that day Vietnam Independence Day, and he began his liberation speech with the words, "All men are created equal".
The US President could not agree more and signed up to the idea of a protectorate. It was a done deal, because Garner's vision of America was a beacon of liberty to whom the post-war nations would rally.