My Last Counterpart in Vietnam (3)

A few months later, I was invited to a ceremony honoring the general. He was to be given a medal. I refused to attend. That brought a reprimand from the deputy director of NSA, Ann Caracristi. Summoned to her office, I referred her to the messages I had sent General Allen about the general’s emotional collapse. I told her of his escape and his abandonment of his troops. She told me that General Allen, when he left the job as director, had destroyed all his eyes-only messages. She had never seen them. She had been unaware of the general’s actions at the end of the war.

She declined to call off the ceremony honoring the general, but she allowed me to boycott the event. I learned years later that a few other people knew of my reports to General Allen. These were the guys in my comms shop who encrypted my eyes-only messages for General Allen and the communicators at NSA who had to decrypt the messages for him. When my counterpart general died a few years later, we all refused to attend his funeral.

Hence my dishonorable counterpart. I wish I could label his behavior as rare, but such cowardice and self-service at considerable cost to others were run-of-the-mill in the South Vietnamese government. There were also noble and courageous South Vietnamese officers and officials who acted admirably during the fall of Vietnam. I often wonder if the ending might have been different if there had been more of them.

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