Who Fired on the Helicopter I Escaped In?

Toward the end of my article on the fall of Saigon, I say the following:

On 24 April, the wire services, which we monitored, reported a speech that President Ford had given the previous day at Tulane. He referred to Vietnam as “a war that is finished.” My cynicism overcame my dread. If the war was finished, what was I, a civilian signals intelligence officer and potential prisoner of singular value to the Communists—in short, a spy—doing in a combat zone with nothing better than a .38 revolver to defend myself against eighteen North Vietnamese divisions?

End of quote. I wrote recently about the shelling Bob, Gary, and I were subjected to, and earlier I reported that the Huey I escaped in as Saigon was falling was fired upon—we took so much lead in the fuselage that I thought we were going down. But we made it.

But looking back, I can see now that the North Vietnamese had enough fire power at hand to utterly destroy the DAO building where Bob, Gary, and I were holed up. And they could have shot down every helicopter used in the evacuation. To the best of my knowledge, not one chopper went down under fire.

I’ve concluded that the North Vietnamese didn’t want to attack the fleeing Americans. They just wanted us to leave. I’ve inferred that the fire at our slick probably didn’t come from the North Vietnamese but from the South Vietnamese soldiers we were abandoning. They were desperate and furious with us—and for good reason. I was lucky enough to escape unharmed, but they were all killed or captured by the North Vietnamese.

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