The End in Vietnam: Unseasonable Rain (2)

Several days ago, I published a post about rain in the middle of the dry season in Vietnam on 6 January 1975, the day Phuoc Binh fell to the North Vietnamese. Something similar happened the day Saigon fell.

The last three men in our office—Bob, Gary, and I—had been holed up in our spaces at Tan Son Nhat, on the northern edge of Saigon, for the better part of a week after arranging for the escape of the other forty-one members of our organization and all the families. We had long since run out of food, and we were unable to sleep because of the North Vietnamese artillery shelling. Before the onslaught began, the U.S. ambassador had refused to call for an evacuation in the belief that the North Vietnamese would never attack Saigon, despite irrefutable evidence from intercepted North Vietnamese communications that the strike was imminent.

In the wee hours of the morning on 29 April with the offensive underway, Washington countermanded the ambassador and called for an evacuation. The U.S. 7th Fleet had been dispatched to the South China Sea; Marines aboard, under the command of Colonel Al Gray, flew into Saigon by helicopter and rescued as many Americans and friendly Vietnamese as they could. Bob and Gary flew out mid-afternoon on 29 April. I escaped that night under fire.

The monsoon rains weren’t due for another several weeks, but as the day ended and the time for my departure approached, the skies clouded over. The rains came. I flew out in the dark, and the downpour lashed us. Groundfire almost brought my chopper down.

The unseasonable rain, both in January and in April, coincided with sad events. It felt as though God and nature were mourning the tragedy of the fall of South Vietnam. The effect was eerie. Many Vietnamese expressed what I attributed to Thanh in Last of the Annamese: Heaven was weeping.

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