I’ve now done my presentation with slides on the fall of Saigon more than a hundred times. That tells you how popular it is. My most recent offering was last week at the Men’s Forum at the Ellicott City 50+ Center. Even though I wasn’t able to use my slides due to a technical misfit, it felt as though the presentation went very well—the audience was with me from start to finish.
The presentation tells the story of my struggle to get my 43 subordinates and their families safely out of Saigon before it fell to the North Vietnamese on April 29, 1975. The U.S. ambassador, Graham Martin, didn’t believe my warnings from the intercept of North Vietnamese radio communications that the city was about to be attacked. He forbade the evacuation of my guys and their families—he believed the Hungarian member of the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS), representing a communist government allied to North Vietnam, who told him that the North Vietnamese had no intention of attacking Saigon. According to him, the North Vietnamese wished to join with other patriotic forces and rule jointly.
I proceeded to evacuate my guys anyway. I lied and cheated and stole to get them out of the country. To do that and because of the ambassador, I had to stay until the last minute. After I got all my people out, I escaped under fire on a helicopter while we were being shelled after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon.
I encourage invitations to tell my story because I want people to know what happened when Saigon fell. The Vietnam war was the first war the U.S. ever lost. We were beaten because we didn’t understand how to fight a guerrilla war and because the American public turned against the war and demanded that it end, even if that meant we submitted to defeat.
One of my missions in life is to tell the story of what really happened.