Holed Up at the Office in Saigon (2)

I’ve posted here before about all that happened during the final days before Saigon fell. Suffice it to say that toward the end, the three of us holed up in my office at Tan Son Nhat, on the northern edge of the city, survived without sleep or anything approaching sufficient food. The North Vietnamese bombarded us starting at sunset on 28 April, first bombing by South Vietnamese pilots who had defected to the enemy, then rockets, then, about 4:30 in the morning on 29 April, artillery. Rounds fell inside the compound. One C-130 transport aircraft behind out building was hit and exploded. The building next door to us blew up. Worst of all, two Marine guards at our gate were killed.

Marines aboard ships of the U.S. 7th Fleet, cruising in the South China Sea, flew in by helicopter and rescued us. My two communicators went out about 1400 (2:00 p.m.) on 29 April; I escaped under fire that night. It was pitch black and pouring rain, but we made it.

The end result is that all three of us got out alive but not without injury. My ears were damaged by the shelling, and I was diagnosed with amoebic dysentery and pneumonia due to sleep deprivation, inadequate diet, and muscle fatigue.

One irony is that I was evacuated by helicopter to the Oklahoma City, the flag ship of the 7th Fleet. Aboard was a young Marine lieutenant named Ed Hall helping with the evacuation. He and I didn’t meet then. We only found out about a year ago that we were both embroiled in the fall of Saigon. Now a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, Ed is the commander of my American Legion Post.

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