It was unusual that I could not fall asleep until 3 a.m. on August 7. Suddenly, the phone rang. The personal assistant to former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu informed me of the bad news: Comrade Le Kha Phieu passed away!

Staring at the last photo I had with the former Party chief on the occasion of his 90th birth anniversary, emotions overflowed in my heart. He was my teacher, my brother, a wise and unyielding revolutionary of the Party, and an excellent follower of President Ho Chi Minh. He’s now gone forever! I never expected it to happen even though I prepared myself for the bad news each time I visited him in the hospital.

Former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu (right) and Senior Lieutenant General Pham Thanh Ngan 

When still at work, I often met him. I dearly reserve my respect for him, as from him we could always find the noble virtues of Uncle Ho’s soldiers – simple, yet altruistic and consistent with the cause of the Party. He devoted his whole life to the Party, Fatherland, and the people, serving as a shining example for me to follow.

I still remember the day when he visited me at the Air Defense – Air Force Service headquarters. That day, his driver mistakenly took him to Gate 1 instead of Gate 2. The guard there prevented him from entering the service’s headquarters in a little heated and rude voice. Comrade Phieu did not get angry, however, and calmly told the driver to turn to Gate 2.

When he became the Chief of the General Department of Politics, I admired him even more greatly, as I heard a lot of stories about his considerateness for troops under his command. I told myself to follow his example.

Former General Secretary Le Kha Phieu was the one that stayed close to and reserved great love for the people. In 1997, I went on a trip to the Mekong Delta region during the flooding season to learn more about the real situation there. The flooding was devastating that year. Water came from all directions, isolating many areas in the region. High waves posed a lot of dangers to waterway vehicles. On the way, we suddenly saw a person waving at us from an opposite canoe. I realized that the person was Comrade Le Kha Phieu.

In the middle of the harsh flood, he was still out there to encourage people to overcome hardships. Doing things and wishing the best for the people was what he always thought and did. He set his feet on every locality of the country to supervise, direct, and order authorities of all levels to strictly implement cultural and socio-economic development policies.

Comrade Le Kha Phieu was wholly devoted to Party building. As the Party chief, he was sensitive and thought much about the threats to the Party and the fact that some Party members had shown signs of “self-evolution,” “self-transformation,” and “degradation.” He was really the pioneer in the ideological front, protecting the Party. In 1999, he convened a meeting of the Politburo and the 6th plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee to discuss and issue a resolution on a number of immediate problems in Party building. Thanks to that resolution, threats to the Party were then prevented.

I was then assigned to oversee the implementation of the resolution in the Central region. The mission found a number of wrong-doings and corruption cases. Those wrong-doings were then fixed, restoring the prestige of the Party. Later, despite old age and weak health, he still paid special attention to the prevention of “self-evolution,” “self-transformation,” and “degradation” in the Party. He was devoted to keeping the Party healthy and strong, making members truly “the servants” of the people.

Tossing and turning in the memories of the former general secretary, I then came to the hospital at 8 a.m. that day to see him for the last time. His bright eyes now closed forever. He has returned to the land of eternity with President Ho Chi Minh to stay in the arms of his comrades once again. However, his ideal, heart, and enthusiasm for the Party and the revolution have been promoted and preserved by the current generations in the cause of building and firmly safeguarding the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Reported by Viet Ha

Translated by Huu Duong