By the middle of April 1975, I was feeling the drag of overwork and lack of sleep. But the demands of the job allowed little time for rest. Here’s more from Last of the Annamese on the protagonist’s struggle to keep himself going as the loss of Xuan Loc loomed:
“Thursday morning, Chuck sent Sparky back home without him. Too much was happening. Muscles aching, eyelids like sandpaper, he tracked the probes by the North Vietnamese 341st Division against Xuan Loc. The town had been subjected to an artillery bombardment of 4,000 rounds, one of the heaviest in the war, and enemy tanks were in the streets. At 1800, Sparky was back, helping him track hand-to-hand combat that lasted until dark when friendly forces drove the North Vietnamese from the city. [Chuck’s boss, Colonel] Troiano commanded Chuck to go home and rest. Starting Friday he’d be on the day shift. That meant from before 0700 until long after dark. On the cusp of incoherence, he was afraid to drive. A cab dropped him at Yen Do. He went straight to bed without eating.”
I had a problem Chuck didn’t face: getting my people out of the country despite the ambassador’s order that no evacuations would be allowed. I lied, cheated, and stole to get my people and their families safely out of Saigon. That added to the stress on my weary body and soul.