My Time in Vietnam: Classified Until 2016

Several readers have asked me why Ken Burns and Lynn Novick didn’t include my story in their monumental documentary, The Vietnam War. The answer is that the facts about my time in Vietnam were still classified when they were doing their research.

Over the years following my escape under fire during the fall of Saigon, I wrote fiction about what happened during my thirteen years on and off in Vietnam. The complete declassification of my work in Vietnam—except for the secret techniques of signals intelligence—came at the beginning of 2016. I was at last free to speak openly about my years there as a covert employee of the National Security Agency (NSA). So I wrote a nonfiction article about the fall of Saigon that was immediately published in three different periodicals. You can read it at (at the end of the first part of the article, click the digit “2” to bring up the second half).

I then went back to the manuscript of my novel Last of the Annamese and added in previously classified data. The Naval Institute Press published the novel in March 2017.

In short, the facts about my involvement in the Vietnam war were not available to Burns and Novick. But I was impressed by the depth of the content of their documentary. They brought to light so many happenings previously unknown to the American public. So much of my writing and public speaking is to tell people what really happened in Vietnam, particularly during the fall of Saigon. Burns and Novick’s work made a solid contribution to setting history straight.

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