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World: Encouraging Returns

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It is not only some of the Delta’s youthful Red warriors who are giving up the fight. Last week the Saigon government proudly presented the highest-ranking defector ever to come over to the Allied side. He was North Vietnamese Lieut. Colonel Le Xuan Chuyen, 37, a 20-year veteran of the Communist wars, who until his defection last Aug. 2 was deputy chief of staff and director of operations of the Viet Cong’s 5th Division, with responsibilities equivalent to those of a U.S. brigadier general.

Until last week, Chuyen served as a top-secret source of intelligence to his new allies, materially aiding in Operation Attleboro, largest of the war, and pinpointing the location of Viet Cong salt, rice, an ordnance factory and a hospital. Surfaced to urge his former comrades to follow his lead, he asked: “Who is it who coerces them to fight for such a hopeless cause like May flies plunging headlong into the open flame?” The message is likely to find receptive ears. Last week Saigon announced that November had produced 2,505 Viet Cong defectors, a record for any month. The number brought the year’s total to 17,726—a full 6,600 ahead of the total for all of 1965.

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