Bombing of the Saigon Presidential Palace, April 1975

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.

4 thoughts on “Bombing of the Saigon Presidential Palace, April 1975”

  1. I don’t know if you remember the April 8 was Judy and Brenna’s fly day. They were in our apartment on Turtle Circle when the bomb hit the Palace. When the maid heard the bomb she hid Brenna(5) behind the bed. Judy and Brenna eventually made it to the office. She had to talk her way though the TSN gates, carrying their carry on luggage, as no their taxi couldn’t come on the airfield. I had brought the big bags out to the office when I came to world in the morning. The PANAM flight from Manila was delayed. They and Lou Wildman spent most of the pm in your office. The plane arrived very late in the day as I remember and they flew off to the US. A day neither of us will ever forget.

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  2. I don’t remember that Judy, Jenna, and Lou were in the office that day. As you may recall, we had dependents and employees in the office for their own safety so much during those days. My own family—my wife and four children—went out the next day. I honestly don’t remember if they spent time in our office spaces. My main memory of that day, 9 April 1975, was all the problems I had getting through the streets and roadblocks to get to Tan Son Nhat.

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    1. When I find them, will send a couple of photos of that day. They are probably on an offline device. If I remember correctly you were not in the office much that day.

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  3. As I recall on that day, it was my day off but I was at the site destroying Classified material. A new family had just landed and you ask me to entertain them while you took care of business. After that you ask me to take them to the Duc Hotel and get them settled in. In doing so your driver did not want to take us in to Saigon, but I assured him that we would be fine. after the first road black, he was not has concerned then. When I got back tot he site, you again ask me to try and locate all our people too make sure they were all okay. Found them all, but Suzy was a problem took a while. That was a tough day for you for sure.

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