Historical photo: Who leads Bui Quang Than to take flag on Independence Palace’s roof on April 30, 1975?

Nearly half a century has passed since April 30, 1975, one detail has not yet been clarified: Who led Bui Quang Than to plant the flag on the roof of the Independence Palace?

Ly Quy Chung, then Minister of Information in the Duong Van Minh government, said he led, while architect Nguyen Huu Thai and Dr. Huynh Van Tong said that they both led Lieutenant Bui Quang Than to plant the flag on the roof of the Independence Palace.

Ly Quy Chung, Minister of Information in the Duong Van Minh government cabinet said:

A soldier (I don’t know his military rank) said to President Minh: “Please show me the way up to lower the puppet government flag.” Minh turned to me standing next to him: “Chung, could you guide this person to the rooftop.” Later I learned that that guy was the commander of tank number 843 named Bui Quang Than, who at that time held the rank of captain.

…After receiving Minh’s instructions, I took the young soldier to the elevator to get to the rooftop. Arriving in front of the elevator, I pressed the button to open the door. When the door opened, the young soldier still refused to enter. I guess he had never set foot in an elevator in his life. I said to the young soldier: “Go in. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ll go in with you.” Having said that, I went in first. After a few seconds of hesitation, he walked in, gun and Liberation flag in hand. I can’t imagine a day like today: riding an elevator with a soldier. I pressed the button to go to the top floor. I have been to the Independence Palace many times before but have never been to the rooftop.

Stepping out of the elevator, I immediately saw Mrs. Nguyen Van Thieu’s flower garden, which she once complained that General Ky, when he was vice president, had damaged it because every day General Ky went to work with his private helicopter. At that time, the offices of President Thieu and Vice President Ky were also located together in the Independence Palace. Not far from the elevator, in front of the terrace, close to the outside is where the flag is placed.

The soldiers went straight there and lowered the yellow flag with three red stripes. I did not step out. I stood inside for a moment, then returned to the elevator and went down alone.

(Excerpt from Ly Quy Chung’s unnamed memoir).


Architect. Nguyen Huu Thai, former first President of the Saigon Student Association (1963-1964) said:

After tank 390 rammed through the gate of the Independence Palace, entered the yard and stopped, a Lieutenant jumped down and ran over holding an antenna with the liberation flag. At that time, we did not know that it was Company Commander Bui Quang Than. Because he did not know the glass door, Bui Quang Than rushed into it and fell out. At that time, Nguyen Van Diep (Minister of Finance, also a revolutionary) pulled open the door to let Bui Quang Than in. I (Nguyen Huu Thai) and Dr. Huynh Van Tong wearing the red and blue ribbon of the rebel mass force, proposed to take Bui Quang Than to the 2nd floor. At this time, Lieutenant Vu Dang Toan also carried a gun and ran to support Lieutenant Than. Welcoming us on the 2nd floor was Brigadier General Nguyen Huu Hanh. Brigadier General Nguyen Huu Hanh led us to meet Duong Van Minh’s cabinet.

After that, Vu Dang Toan was responsible for guarding the cabinet, while we and Bui Quang Than went to the roof to plant the flag. Because he did not know the way, Brigadier General Nguyen Huu Hanh assigned Colonel Vu Quang Chiem – Chief of the Presidential Office to lead him. Arriving at the elevator, Bui Quang Than refused to go in. The reason is not knowing the elevator, fear of being locked. After Colonel Vu Quang Chiem and we explained, Bui Quang Than accepted to enter but asked everyone to enter first. Because the elevator was small, I had to help Bui Quang Than bend the antenna arm. Upstairs, we climbed down a wooden staircase to reach the foot of the flagpole. We struggled to lower the three-striped flag. Bui Quang Than had to use his teeth to bite and pull down the huge flag. At first, he intended to throw the flag down, but then folded it up and took it with him.

Looking at the liberation flag flying over the Independence Palace, I was moved with tears. So the flag planting event on the roof of the Independence Palace of that historic moment was also attended by Vietnamese people from three regions: Bui Quang Than in Thai Binh (North), Nguyen Huu Thai in Da Nang (Central) and Huynh Van Tong in Tay Ninh (South).

So who is telling the truth? Who lies?

The accompanying photo by famous French female reporter Francoise Demulder shows Bui Quang Than standing in the middle (wearing a tank helmet, face obscured), on the left is Huynh Van Tong (wearing glasses), on the right is Nguyen Huu Thai (wearing a white shirt) and the fourth person in the photo is Tran Duc Tinh (waving the flag).

Deputy Platoon Tran Duc Tinh said: “Seeing a person jump down from a tank, holding the liberation flag and running deep inside, Bui Huy Linh and I rushed after him. Arriving at the rooftop where the flagpole was, I used a dagger to cut off the end of the rope holding the flagpole and then slowly lowered the three-striped yellow flag so that comrade (who later learned it was Bui Quang Than) replaced the liberation flag and raised it up on the top of the flagpole at 11:30 a.m. on April 30, 1975.

Note, according to Ly Quy Chung’s account, when the elevator reached the roof of the Independence Palace, he only stepped out of the elevator and “did not step out with” Bui Quang Than, he “stood inside” and observed. Thus, Bui Quang Than hung the flag alone.

The historical photo shows that Mr. Chung’s story is not true.

Interestingly, Ms. Francoise Demulder (only 25 years old at that time) was also the only reporter to capture the moment the 390 tank (of China) knocked down the main gate of the Independence Palace. Thanks to this photo, history has been clarified after 20 years of books because the state-controlled newspapers in Vietnam always propagandizing for political reasons that tank 843 (of the Soviet Union) was the first tank to ram the gate of the Independence Palace.


Berlin April 30, 2024

Hieu Ba Linh



Kasse animation 7.8.2023