Archimedes Leonidas Attilio Patti (July 21, 1913 – April 23, 1998) was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and former Office of Strategic Services officer who headed OSS operations in Kunming and Hanoi in 1945. Patti is famous for having worked closely with the Viet Minh and Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Vietnamese independence movement and future president of North Vietnam.
Patti was born in the Bronx, New York City on July 21, 1913 to Sicilian immigrants. His father worked as a tailor and his mother was a dress maker.
The 1940 U.S. census lists Archimedes' profession as "Special Agent, U.S. War Department" and in 1941 he joined the U.S. Army and served in Europe. In Europe he was in contact with various anti-Axis resistance organizations including groups in North Africa, Italy and Yugoslavia.
He was later transferred to the Office of Strategic Services in China after unknowingly volunteering for the mission in January 1944 while on assignment at Anzio with William J. Donovan, the Director of the OSS.
Patti in Indochina/Vietnam
During his career in China and Southeast Asia Patti met Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh and future leader and national hero of North Vietnam. In later interviews Patti explained that his mission in Vietnam was to establish an intelligence network but not to assist the French in any way as they attempted to re-gain control over their former colony, a policy choice he believed to be linked to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's belief in the self-determination of all peoples. Archimedes, did, from a distance, help organize, train and equip the fledgling Vietnamese forces Ho was uniting and marshaling against the Japanese and worked closely with Ho Chi Minh and commented on his early drafts of a Vietnamese constitution.
Patti stated that when he arrived in Kunming in March, 1945, the French colonials were either unwilling or unable to assist him in establishing an American intelligence network in Indochina and he therefore turned to "the only source [available]", the Viet Minh. Patti was introduced to Ho Chi Minh by Col Austin Glass the OSS expert in Indo-china. Patti met Ho Chi Minh on the Indochina-China border at the end of April, 1945 and he agreed to provide intelligence to the allies provided that he could have "a line of communication with the allies."
Patti later helped coordinate some small attacks against the Japanese Imperial Army using a small group of OSS operatives known as the Deer Team under the command of Major Allison Thomas who worked directly with Ho Chi Minh during the August, 1945. On August 22, 1945 Patti arrived in Hanoi on a mercy mission with OSS agent Carleton B. Swift Jr. and a French government official, Jean Sainteny. His mission was to assist in the repatriation of allied prisoners of war which the U.S. government was concerned the Japanese might hurt following the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and secondly to gather intelligence.
Patti met with Ho Chi Min on August 26, 1945 over lunch at his residence in Hanoi and several days later Ho Chi Min read a draft of the Vietnamese Proclamation of Independence to him and Patti offered several corrections on what he perceived to be a near copy of the American Declaration of Independence. Indeed, Ho Chi Minh had requested a copy of the Declaration of Independence from Col Austin Glass. On September 2, 1945 Ho Chi Min soon declared independence and following that Patti had dinner with Ho Chi Min. In the fall of 1945 the French Colonial forces were returned to Indochina on U.S. manned Liberty Ships.
Patti left Hanoi at the end of September, 1945 after the French alleged that the Americans had been fomenting a revolution there.
Patti retired from the military in 1957. For 13 years, he was a crisis management specialist in the Office of Emergency Planning in Washington, D.C.
In 1981, Patti stated that Julia Child who had worked at the OSS during 1945 had allegedly sent his documents but that the way in which he had found them upon retirement was exactly as she had sent them and that they had never been opened. "The question rises from time to time as to whether or not the same situation doesn’t apply to Iran, to Afghanistan, to El Salvador, to any other trouble spot in the world. That perhaps there are people who may know the causes that actually led to what followed and have never been approached or asked to give at least, if not their views, at least to give what facts they have. That is a question."
In retirement, he wrote a book and several articles on Vietnam. In 1980, he wrote "Why Vietnam?: Prelude to America's Albatross," which describes his relationship with Communist guerrilla leader Ho Chi Minh during the mid-1940's.
Patti married Margaret Telford, and they had two daughters.
Patti died on April 23, 1998 at the age of 84 while residing in Winter Park, Florida. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Why Vietnam?: Prelude to America's Albatross (University of California Press, 1982)
- His research and archival materials have been deposited with the University of Central Florida in Orlando.