April 1975 in Vietnam (7)

On 10 April 1975, President Ford addressed a joint session of Congress asking for $722 million for South Vietnam. General Weyand, the Army Chief of Staff, had just returned from a fact-finding mission in Vietnam. The president’s request was based in part on General Weyand’s findings.

I had briefed General Weyand while he was in Saigon. In Last of the Annamese, I described the briefing, attributed in the novel to the protagonist, Chuck Griffin, based on my memory of what I said:

The northern half of South Vietnam is lost. The southern half could survive temporarily under three conditions: (1) the government is able to extract its forces from the north intact, (2) the North Vietnamese do not increase their forces in the south, and (3) the U.S. immediately resumes the air war and delivers essential ammunition, equipment, and supplies.

As this is written, it is clear that none of these conditions will be met. Casualties in the north have been overwhelming, and the remaining troops are in rout. Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese are infiltrating the southern provinces at an unprecedented rate. And the U.S. has ceased its matériel and air support. In short, what is left of South Vietnam will fall within weeks.

In the long term, the only option available to avoid capitulation is the reintroduction of U.S. forces—ground, naval, and air. President Nixon promised to bring U.S. military strength to bear if North Vietnam violated the Paris Agreement. Gross violations by North Vietnam are now legion. Failure to rescue Vietnam will be recognized world-wide as evidence of bad faith.

End of quote. Meanwhile, I hunkered down in Saigon. I continued getting my 43 subordinates and their families out of Vietnam any way I could. Most of those who were still in-country were sleeping in the office spaces. We followed the moves of the North Vietnamese as they came closer to Saigon, and I continued to warn the ambassador on their express intent to attack us. He didn’t respond.

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