“Bitter Memories: The Fall of Saigon”

Now that most of the facts about my thirteen years, on and off, in Vietnam have been declassified, I’m being asked more and more often to do the presentation about the fall of Saigon. I’ve now done it more than forty times. I’m scheduled to do it twelve more times between now and the end of November.

I very much want people to know what happened during the final weeks of the Republic of Vietnam, that is, South Vietnam. I want them to know that the U.S. Ambassador in Saigon refused to allow me to evacuate my forty-three subordinates and their families. I want them to know that we left 2700 South Vietnamese soldiers who worked with us behind. The North Vietnamese killed or captured all of them. I want people to know that I escaped at the end under fire because the ambassador didn’t believe that Saigon would be attacked, despite the overwhelming evidence I gave him from intercepted North Vietnamese communications.

Every time I give the presentation, I choke up and get tears in my eyes when I tell of these events. I’ll never outlive the shame and grieving. I want people to know and remember. As one reviewer of Last of the Annamese quoted from me, forgetting what happened would be unforgivable.

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