I’ve written three novels (Friendly Casualties, The Trion Syndrome, and Last of the Annamese) and a series of short stories drawn from my time in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975, and one novel about my experience with AIDS victims (No-Accounts). The latter resulted from my volunteer work in the 1980s, undertaken to help me cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). Readers ask me what happened in my professional life after Vietnam fell to the communists in 1975.
I’m not free to say. My work after the fall of Saigon is still classified. The languages I worked in are not. I can publicly state that I used Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Latin in my work. Readers are welcome to guess where I might have been assigned.
I can tell one story without specifying where it took place. Once when I was working under cover, I did some sightseeing in a city away from the post where I was assigned. I was at the time operating under deep cover with a false name and identity as a maintenance man. The fact that I spoke the language of the country I was in was classified.
While I was wandering around in the city I was visiting, I lost my way. I found myself in a seedy part of town with the onset of night. No one in that section of the city spoke English. It was obvious to all that I was a foreigner.
To find my way back to my hotel, I was forced to ask directions in the language of the country. In short, I violated security.
Local citizens were very helpful, obviously impressed that I, a very ordinary-looking American, spoke their language so well. I found my hotel and, the next day, returned to the city where I was working. I reported my security breach to my handlers who forgave me, given the circumstances, but warned me never to do it again.