Thieu served in the French-supported Vietnam National Army; from fighting against the pro-Communist partisans of Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh.
Thieu absorbed into the new independent South Vietnamese army, rising to become commander of the 1st Infantry Division.
President Lyndon Johnson took office when President F. Kennedy was assassinated, who was also a proponent of the "Domino Theory". Expanded U.S. troops in Vietnam from about 16,000.
Thieu was a supporter of the autocratic president Ngo Dinh Diem (a Catholic), who was dethroned and slain in a military-led coup.
Thieu became deputy premier and minister of defense.
Thieu was appointed chief of state by Nguyen Cao Ky, who became premier when the South Vietnamese generals decided to form their own government following the regime of Dr. Phan Huy Qu.
Nguyen was elected as president of South Vietnam and led the Saigon government against the Communist enemy during the height of the U.S. escalation of the Vietnam War.
U.S. president, Lyndon Johnson meets with President Nguyen Van Thieu. Both met to discuss war strategy at a time when American involvement in the expansion of the war.--550,000 combat troops expanded.
President Johnson's commitment to the war faced high American battle death rates; his popularity starts going downhill. He withdrew from presidential elections.
Tran Thien Khiem, as premier in a government, had chosen to base his government on military.
Thieu consequently entered the South Vietnamese presidential elections with only one opponent, former general Duong Van Minh, who later withdrew.
Thieu pressed through an election law, which would limit the number of presidential candidates.
The war's unpopularity in the U.S. grew strong, and following the Paris Peace Talks, the U.S. agreed to withdraw its forces.
North Vietnamese military forces attacked Phuoc Long Province in South Vietnam, in violation of the peace treaty.
Thieu turned the government over to Vice President Tran Van Huong, but Huong resigned, turning the office over to Duong Van Minh; who surrendered from the North Viatnamese.
President Thieu stayed in power when South Vietnam fell to the communists. He then fled into exile first in Taiwan, then in England, and finally in the United States.
Thieu slowly began to re-emerge, traveling to portions of the world, talking with sympathetic groups.
Thieu had an interview with TIME magazine, stating he kept in contact with expatriates, and organized groups to support change in Vietnam.
Thieu was still living near Boston, holding to a quiet life. He told a reporter, "I read. I discuss. I work in my home."
Nguyen Van Thieu died on September 29, 2001 at his home in Massachusetts at age 78.