Before embarking on journalism as a career, Man joined and served the military for a long period of time. From 1945 to 1964, he was appointed to different positions, including Commissar of Battalion 675 of Division 351, Deputy Commander of Thanh Hoa provincial Military Command, Political Chief of Regiment 675 of Division 351, Political Chief of the Engineer Corps and Commissar of Engineer Officer Training School. More especially, as a political head of Division 351’s Engineer Regiment 151, Man and his comrades participated in building roads and planting one ton of explosive to demolish Hill A1, greatly contributing to the success of the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Major General Tran Cong Man (first from left, front) in Central Highlands in April 1974. (File photo)

In late 1964, Man was assigned to the People’s Army Newspaper, the organ of the Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense, first as Deputy Editor-in-Chief (from 1964 to 1979) and Editor-in-Chief (from 1979 to 1989). His journalism career was coupled with the anti-American resistance war for national salvation, the period of hardships of healing the war wounds while defending the nation and implementing international duties and the first years of the renewal cause. 

Being the manager and the editor, Man had some important articles on hot issues which met the requirements and missions of the big political newspaper. Some issues, including bureaucracy, imperiousness and Party restructuring mentioned in his articles on the People’s Army Newspaper and other domestic newspapers in the last century remain their topical values.

Other excellent articles under the pen-names of Tuan Minh or Tran Cong were highly appreciated by the Vietnamese readers at home and abroad. The work, “Opening the door and the affirmation of principles of socialism” published on the People’s Army Newspaper on October 2, 1989 was praised by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Van Linh in his letter to the newspaper. 

In the eyes of veteran journalists of the People’s Army Newspaper, Major General Tran Cong Man was a serious, sensitive scintillating, clear-headed and responsible manager who dealt with any problems in an imperturbable and active way. He led the military newspaper to struggle against the wrong allegations of hostile forces to protect the Party’s guidelines. Many negative cases related to people with power in Northern, Central and Southern regions were reported during the time. In spite of pressures from different sides, General Man, as a leader of the prestigious military newspaper, absolutely trusted his staff and dared to protect justice till the end.

As a manager of the organ of the Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense, Man received admiration from his colleagues by his clear-headedness and firm stance. Later, in the 1980s, while press agencies prioritized covering news about Soviet Union’s policy of restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system, Man instructed his reporters and editors to be careful of the information and to focus on writing articles criticizing the “Peaceful Evolution” thoughts. 

Evaluating General Man’s contributions during his career, the Party Committee and Editorial Board of the People’s Army Newspaper (term 2005-2010) wrote in the book titled “The history of the People’s Army Newspaper (1950-2010)” that, “With experiences from the resistance wars against the French colonists and the American imperialists and sensitivity of a talented and enthusiastic journalist, Editor-in-Chief Tran Cong Man and the Editorial Board of the People’s Army Newspaper overcame time of hardship, deserving the trust of the Military Central Commission and troops in the whole military.”

With the great contributions and devotion, Major General Tran Cong Man was, is and forever will be the pride of generations of soldier-journalists of the People’s Army Newspaper.

Translated by Tran Hoai