April 1975: Escape During the Fall of Saigon (2)

When I regained consciousness aboard the Oklahoma City after the fall of Saigon, I knew I had to get on my feet. Here’s what happened, again quoted from Last of the Annamese, when I awoke shivering from the cold—told from the point of view of Chuck Griffin:

“His head throbbed. His stomach ached. . . . He climbed from the berth and managed to get to his feet, but it hurt. Standing unsteadily, he felt about him in the dark. His fingers told him about cold metal and canvas. He tottered past towers of berths, located an opening leading to a passageway. More red lights. The head was directly opposite. He went in, found a commode, and emptied himself. Dysentery. His watch told him it was 1015. The morning of 30 April? . . . . For the first time in days, he brushed his teeth. Then into the shower. Only when warm water rolled down his back did the shaking stop. He dressed again in the same clothes, the only clothes he had. . . and headed for the upper decks.

“After several false leads and stopping sailors to ask for directions, he located the flight deck. The sky to the east was brilliant with sunshine. As far as he could see over the ocean were boats, some interspersed among the ships of the Seventh Fleet, others disappearing into the west. Sampans, junks, fishing vessels, commercial craft, tugs, even what looked like large rowboats, each overloaded with Vietnamese waving and calling to the ships. Two helicopters with South Vietnamese Air Force markings appeared out of the sky. They hovered not more than twenty feet above the water and dropped into the ocean. Their pilots swam away from them as they sank. Both were rescued and brought onboard.”

More tomorrow.

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