As the fall of Saigon came closer, I worked harder to assure that none of my people or their families would be caught in the city after the North Vietnamese seized it. After my wife and four children were evacuated, I moved from our villa to my office and slept on a cot in front to of my desk with a .38 revolver under my pillow.
I was somehow becoming inured to lack of rest, and my emotional reaction to the disasters surrounding me became muted as I gave all my attention and strength to getting my people who were still in Saigon out of the country. As reported in Last of the Annamese:
“The North Vietnamese had turned the Xuan Loc battle into a meat grinder. They were willing to sacrifice unit after unit to drive out the South Vietnamese 18th Division and seize the town. Somehow the endless reports of gore and annihilation no longer moved [the novel’s protagonist] Chuck. Was there such a thing as disaster fatigue?”
Fellow writer Bruce Curley assures me there is such a thing. The human psyche is able to sublimate physical and psychological needs into strength to achieve a higher goal. I honestly believe that I am living evidence of that human capability.
Xuan Loc fell to the communists on 21 April 1975, but skirmishes on the city’s perimeter continued.