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Coup Planner Surfaces in Saigon

Nov. 5, 1963 - Ton That Dinh (pictured), the paratrooper general who planned the coup that toppled President Ngo Dinh Diem, showed his face in a couple of Saigon bistros tonight in a move aimed at reassuring the people of South Vietnam. The colorful three-star general — one star has been added since the weekend revolt — appeared first in a popular and expensive restaurant where many of the patrons were dancing. Wearing camouflage coveralls and his paratrooper insignia, the 37-year-old Dinh smiled broadly as dancing couples twisted happily before his ringside table. Under the Diem regime, all dancing had been outlawed, even in private homes. Dinh, acknowledged to be the coup’s key figure, was accompanied to Le Cigalle by two Americans assigned to the U.S. aid mission. Both are widely believed to be Central Intelligence Agency men. Dinh, who is highly regarded by Americans, has been named Interior Minister in a provisional cabinet to serve until elections are called. He will direct police and security forces. His military education is both French and American, including a tour at the U.S. Command and General Staff School at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

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