The End of An Nam

As the fall of Saigon grew close, the city went into chaos. I saw none of it because I and my two communicators had moved out of our residences and were staying 24 hours a day in our office suite at Tan Son Nhat on the northern edge of the city. But we read press reports and embassy cables. The following passage from Last of the Annamese quotes, to the best of my memory, one such cable:

“The panic is spreading. Take a look at this.”

[Troiano handed Chuck] an Embassy cable, date time group of an hour ago. “Looting has started in Saigon. Boutiques on Tu Do Street have been vandalized, display windows smashed. Shoe stores on Le Thanh Ton, the street of shoes, report that hooligans, referred to as ‘cowboys,’ and renegade soldiers are forcing shopkeepers to give up their goods. Merchants specializing in televisions and stereos have been stripped of their wares.”

Chuck handed the cable back to Troiano. “And so it begins. The end of An Nam.”

Troiano’s bloodshot eyes looked up at Chuck.

“An Nam, sir. The old name for Vietnam. It means ‘peace in the south.’”

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