The large pink building at 137 Pasteur in Hồ Chí Minh City has a colourful history.
From 1955-1962, this building was home to the Michigan State University Group (MSUG), which was controversially engaged under US sponsorship to advise and assist agencies of the Ngô Đình Diệm regime in a range of areas, including economics, public administration and training of police and security services. It was later alleged that the MSUG “helped to arm and train Diệm’s secret police, to formulate methods of repression and population control, to provide cover for the CIA, and to Americanize various educational, political,and social institutions.”
Soon after the departure of the MSUG in 1962, the building became the second headquarters of the US Military Assistance Command Việt Nam (MACV). When it was first set up in February 1962, MACV had shared the villa at 606 Trần Hưng Đạo (see earlier post) with the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), but in May 1962 it acquired these larger premises, where it went on to become the unified command structure for all US military forces in Việt Nam.
By the mid 1960s, MACV had outgrown both 606 Trần Hưng Đạo and 137 Pasteur, so in 1966 it began moving its various branch offices into the massive purpose-built “Pentagon East” complex, adjacent to Tân Sơn Nhất Air Base.
The building at 137 Pasteur was vacated by MACV on 2 July 1966. From that date onward, it served as the US Defence Attaché’s Office (DAO) until 1973 when, following the departure of US troops, the DAO moved into the former MACV headquarters at Tân Sơn Nhất Air Base. The building at 137 Pasteur then reverted to civilian usage.
You may also be interested to read these articles:
In Search of Saigon’s American War Vestiges
American War Vestiges in Saigon – 60 Vo Van Tan
American War Vestiges in Saigon – 606 Tran Hung Dao
American War Vestiges in Saigon – Former “Free World” HQ
American War Vestiges in Saigon – Former USIS Headquarters
Tim Doling is the author of the walking tour guidebook Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and also conducts Saigon and Chợ Lớn Heritage Tours.
A full index of all Tim’s blog articles since November 2013 is now available here.
Join the Facebook group pages Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now to see historic photographs juxtaposed with new ones taken in the same locations, and Đài Quan sát Di sản Sài Gòn – Saigon Heritage Observatory for up-to-date information on conservation issues in Saigon and Chợ Lớn.