Getting People Out at the End (4)

More about the last days in April 1975 before Saigon fell: In my novel, Last of the Annamese, I attribute my experiences to the protagonist, Chuck Griffin. In my most recent post, I described the sudden quiet on the battlefield. Here’s more from the novel:

The sitzkrieg continued into Tuesday. Chuck had become inured to the routine of disaster, the endless repetition of gruesome details as the republic disintegrated, but the uncanny quiet unnerved him. He knew now what was going on. Unhampered by threats, external and internal, the North Vietnamese could take the time to do a thorough preparation for the coup de grâce. Almost as an afterthought, a dispatch from the field reported that the North Vietnamese had completed the occupation of Xuan Loc [the last obstacle between them and Saigon]. . . .

AP reported on a speech President Ford had given at Tulane University on Wednesday. He had spoken of the war in the past tense, as if Saigon had already fallen. Vietnam was the “war that is finished.” Chuck scratched his head. If it’s finished, what the fuck am I doing here with nothing but a Beretta to defend myself against eighteen North Vietnamese divisions?

Another wire service dispatch announced that Pan Am clipper Unity, a Boeing 747 filled to capacity, had taken off from Tan Son Nhat on Thursday. It was the last commercial flight scheduled from Saigon.

End of quote. In my struggle to get all 43 of my subordinates and their families out of Saigon before it fell, I took money from my own pocket to buy a ticket on that Pan Am flight. With no orders or authorization, I put one of my guys on the plane and told him to go.

More tomorrow.

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