Continuing yesterday’s quote from Last of the Annamese describing my last briefing for U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin, days before Saigon fell. Chuck, the novel’s protagonist and stand-in for me, has just told the ambassador that the North Vietnamese are ready to attack Saigon:
The Ambassador gave him a patient smile. “Anything else?”
Chuck’s mouth opened in surprise. “Sir?”
The Ambassador stood. “If there’s nothing more, I need to get on to other matters.”
Chuck stumbled to his feet. He took a deep breath, stood straight, and calmed himself. “Forgive me, sir, but we have little time left to get U.S. citizens and vulnerable South Vietnamese out of the country before it falls to the North Vietnamese.”
The Ambassador came from behind his desk and rested his hand on Chuck’s back as if to urge him toward the office door. “Thank you, Mr. Griffin. I’ll handle it from here.”
Despite the pressure from the Ambassador’s hand, Chuck didn’t move. “Mr. Ambassador, to save lives, I plead with you to order the evacuation immediately. Even if we start now—”
The Ambassador put his arm around Chuck and edged him toward the door. “Young man,” he said as they moved away from the desk, “when you’re older, you’ll understand these things better.”
At the door, the Ambassador smiled, showed Chuck out, and closed the door.
End of quote. Graham Martin never did order an evacuation. He didn’t accept my evidence that the attack was at hand. Instead, he believed the Hungarian member of the International Committee for Control and Supervision, the ICCS, a representative of a communist government allied to North Vietnam, who told him that the North Vietnamese had no intention of attacking Saigon. As a result, many thousands of South Vietnamese who had fought by our side were killed or captured after Saigon fell.
More next time.