Getting People Out at the End (5)

In April 1975, as the North Vietnamese prepared for their final assault on Saigon, one day, all of a sudden, U.S. Marines in mufti (civilian clothes) appeared in the city out of nowhere. Here’s my description from Last of the Annamese:

Late morning on Friday, Chuck went to the snack bar [in the DAO building on the northern edge of Saigon], miraculously still operating, for a sandwich. As he headed back to the office, he tripped on empty boxes and scrap paper littering the corridors. The floors hadn’t been waxed. A fluorescent tube in an overhead fixture was burnt out. Pentagon East [what we called the DAO building] was turning into a shamble. Walking toward him were two well-built young men with crew cuts. One wore a faded chambray shirt and jeans, the other tennis shorts and a ragged tee shirt.

“Man,” one said, “it was fan-fuckin’-tastic.”

The other snorted. “I’d have pushed his gunjy skull through the goddamn bulkhead.”

When they came abreast of Chuck, their grins disappeared. They straightened their bodies and fell into cadence, as if marching.

Marines. Chuck knew all the Marines in-country, but he didn’t recognize these two. What the hell was going on?

End of quote. More tomorrow.

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