One of the pivotal scenes in Last of the Annamese occurs on 8 April 1975 when a renegade South Vietnamese Air Force pilot bombs the presidential palace in downtown Saigon. Chuck and Tuyet are in front of the U.S. Embassy, just up the street from the palace, when the strike occurs because Tuyet is going to the embassy to get a visa to enter the U.S. Neither of them is hurt, but Tuyet doesn’t get her visa.
My wife and children were at our villa that day, close to the presidential palace, packing for their departure from Vietnam the next day. I was at my office at Tan Son Nhat, some four miles away. As soon as I learned of the attack, I drove home. My family was terrified. My wife, who had resisted my demand that she and children leave Vietnam as soon as possible, was now more than willing to go. But the next day as I tried to drive them to the airport, I was repeatedly stopped at roadblocks—the South Vietnamese government had imposed a curfew because of the attack. I finally had to pull rank to get through. When the plane with my family aboard finally took off for Bangkok, I was greatly relieved. I immediately moved out of the villa and stayed in my office, sleeping on a cot with a .38 revolver under my pillow. Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese 20 days later.