Getting People Out at The End (2)

As reported earlier in this blog, in April 1975, I warned the U.S. Ambassador, Graham Martin, repeatedly that the North Vietnamese were preparing to attack Saigon. He didn’t believe me and didn’t act. The following, from my novel Last of the Annamese, describes the scene in which the protagonist, Chuck Griffin, reports to his boss, Colonel Troiano, on his unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Ambassador and the CIA Chief of Station of the imminent danger:

[Chuck] ran through his meeting with the Ambassador and his exchange with the Chief of Station. “They don’t believe what we’re reporting to them, sir. They won’t call for an evacuation.”

“Sit down, Chuck.”

Chuck did as he was told.

Troiano’s tired face leaned toward the desk top. His eyes closed, opened, fixed on Chuck. “The Ambassador cannot contemplate that the Communist flag will ever fly over South Vietnam. The prospect is unthinkable. It cannot happen. The Hungarian member of the ICCS [the International Commission for Control and Supervision] has done what he can to reinforce the Ambassador’s conviction. He told the Ambassador that the North Vietnamese have no intention of attacking Saigon. They want to form a coalition government with all the patriotic forces in the south and rule jointly.”

“But, sir,” Chuck said, “the intelligence of a forthcoming attack is overwhelming—”

“Not to the Ambassador and his immediate subordinates. They’re waiting for the North Vietnamese to sue for peace so that negotiations can begin.”

“Why in the name of God would they do that when the conquest of the south is within their grasp?”

Troiano shook his head. “I agree. They won’t negotiate. They’ll attack. Meanwhile, the Ambassador has persuaded Secretary of State Kissinger and the president that there’s no need to evacuate anybody.”

End of quote. The Ambassador never did call for an evacuation. He was countermanded by Washington before dawn on the morning 29 April. By then, the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon. That evening I escaped by helicopter under fire.

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