The Sad Month of April (5)

More on my sad memories of April 1975 when Saigon fell:

On 22 April 1975, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published an estimate that the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) would not last more than a week. North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam, in other words, was at most a week away. As I sat isolated in my office on the northern edge of Saigon, I used every means at my disposal to get the last of my forty-three subordinates and their families safely out of the country. When I read the DIA analysis, transmitted to me electronically, I was grimly buoyant that at least the U. S. military was under no delusions about what was happening in Vietnam. The civilian side of the government, on the other hand, was under the sway of the U.S. ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin, who assured President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger that the North Vietnamese had no intention of attacking Saigon and that, therefore, no evacuation was necessary. I knew better from monitoring the radio communications of North Vietnamese forces as they advanced closer and closer to Saigon. I warned the ambassador repeatedly of the forthcoming attack, only to be ignored.

I was living, sleeping, eating, and working in my office, having surreptitiously evacuated my wife and four children thirteen days earlier—the ambassador had forbidden me to evacuate my people. Only a few of my guys were left in Saigon. I’d gotten most of them and their families out by any ruse I could think of to get around the ambassador’s edict. Food was running short. For the next seven days, those of us living in the office survived on bar snacks we’d been able to scrounge from the few cocktail lounges still in operation.

More later.

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