Continuing the series of posts on my memories of April 1975 and the fall of Saigon:
Forty-five years ago tomorrow, I was hunkered down in my office on the northern edge of Saigon as the North Vietnamese prepared to attack the city. I had been sleeping there since the middle of the month because I could no longer get a car through the streets, now mobbed with refugees pouring into Saigon to escape the advancing North Vietnamese. Only a handful of National Security Agency (NSA) personnel were left in Vietnam. I’d been secretly evacuating all my 43 guys and their families since early April even though the ambassador had forbidden me from sending my people out of the country. Here’s how I reported the events of 26 April 1975 in this blog two years ago:
“During the night of 26 April, I was trying unsuccessfully to sleep when a blast threw me from my cot and slammed me to the floor. I ran to the comms center. The guys looked dazed, but everything was working and nobody was hurt. A bulletin arrived within minutes telling us that North Vietnamese sappers had blown up the ammo dump at Bien Hoa, just north of us. That meant, among other things, that panic in the streets would ramp up a couple of notches.”
At the time, I didn’t know how I and the men still in Saigon would get out if commercial aircraft ceased flying—which happened the next day. Unbeknownst to me, the U.S. 7th Fleet was cruising out of sight of land in the South China Sea.
More in coming posts.