In Last of the Annamese, all three of the principal characters—Chuck, Thanh, and Tuyet—foresee that Saigon will fall to the North Vietnamese. Chuck is in intelligence. He watches as the North Vietnamese close in on Saigon. But Thanh and Tuyet simply pay attention to what is going on. They see what Chuck sees.
I, like Chuck, was in intelligence, and like him, I saw the end coming. I’ve talked elsewhere in this blog about my warning to the U.S. Ambassador and his failure to believe what I told him. It was the last manifestation of the Cassandra Effect, having the means to foretell the future and not being believed.
It turns out that many of those around me saw the end coming. I knew American business people who arranged things to be sure they had a way out of the country. Other folks in government who were not in intelligence saw the writing on the wall. And, most important to me, my guys, the 43 men working for me, knew. I didn’t have to tell them.
Responses to this blog have told me, for the first time, that my men knew what was going on between me and the Ambassador—that he wouldn’t permit me to evacuate my people; that I was cheating, lying, and stealing to get my men and their wives and children out of Saigon before they got killed; that I and the two communicators who volunteered had to stay through the fall of the city might not get out.
The man in charge of our destiny, Ambassador Martin, was one of the few who didn’t foresee the fall of Saigon. Due to him, thousands didn’t escape at the end, including 2700 South Vietnamese soldiers who worked with my organization. I grieve for them as much today as I did the day Saigon fell.