April 1975 in Vietnam (5)

More on April 1975 in Vietnam:

On 8 April, as the fall of Saigon loomed, a renegade South Vietnamese pilot, later identified as a North Vietnamese infiltrator, bombed the presidential palace, near the villa where my family and I lived. Here’s the Wikipedia story of what happened:

On April 8 [1975], a formation of three Republic of Vietnam Air Force F-5E Tiger fighter-bombers lined up at Bien Hoa Air Base, each armed with four 250-pound bombs, for an attack on North Vietnamese positions in Bình Thuận Province. Before the second aircraft took off, First Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Trung, who piloted the third F-5, reported his aircraft was experiencing afterburner problems. When the second aircraft departed, Trung also took off, but flew towards Saigon instead of joining the formation. At around 8.30am Trung dived on the Presidential Palace and dropped two bombs; the first bomb landed on the Palace grounds and caused some damage, but the second bomb failed to explode. Trung climbed to over 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) before making a second pass, this time both bombs exploded, causing minor structural damage but no casualties.

End of quote. At the time of the bombing, my wife and four children were in our villa, near the presidential palace. They were preparing to depart South Vietnam at my insistence—I knew the fall of Saigon was only weeks away. My wife had been hesitant to leave—she loved living in Vietnam and believed the assurances of the U.S. Ambassador, Graham Martin, that there was nothing to fear. The bombing of the palace persuaded her that leaving was in her and the children’s best interest.

One thought on “April 1975 in Vietnam (5)”

  1. I recall that day very clearly. I was at the DAO when it happened, and a new family had just arrived. Not going into details here, but it was a day I will not forget.

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