Rerun: Armed South Vietnamese Air Force Officers Demand Evacuation at Gun Point

In the final pages of my novel, Last of the Annamese, the protagonist, Chuck Griffin learns that South Vietnamese Air Force officers have forced their way into the DAO building (on the northern edge of Saigon at Tan Son Nhat) and are demanding safe evacuation from Vietnam at gun point—the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese is imminent. Chuck and his office mates receive orders to proceed immediately to the U.S. evacuation staging area.

The event described really happened. In the early hours of the morning on 29 April 1975, Bob, Gary, and I—the only ones left of the 43 men who had been assigned to my office in Saigon—received a telephone call telling us that the officers were roaming the halls, guns drawn. We were to leave our office suite and go immediately to the evacuation staging area, another office the U.S. Marines had secured. So we sent our last message. It’s a personal message from me to my boss, General Lew Allen, the Director of NSA. It’s now declassified so I can quote it:

  1. HAVE JUST RECEIVED WORD TO EVACUATE. AM NOW DESTROYING REMAINING CLASSIFIED MATERIAL. WILL CEASE TRANSMISSIONS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THIS MESSAGE.
  2. WE’RE TIRED BUT OTHERWISE ALL RIGHT. LOOKS LIKE THE BATTLE FOR SAIGON IS ON FOR REAL.
  3. FROM GLENN: I COMMEND TO YOU MY PEOPLE WHO DESERVE THE BEST NSA CAN GIVE THEM FOR WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH BUT ESPECIALLY FOR WHAT THEY HAVE ACHIEVED.

I added “from Glenn” before the final paragraph to assure that General Allen would know these words were from me personally.

More tomorrow.

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