Interview with L. Dean Brown, 1981

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L. Dean Brown retired from a 29-year career with the State Department in 1975. Specializing in the Middle East, he had served in Jordan and Cyprus. Two weeks after he retired, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled him to organize the evacuation of Saigon. Here Brown describes the logistics of organizing the evacuation, raising Congressional funds, and the decision to evacuate thousands of Vietnamese, in addition to Americans. Brown downplays the panic portrayed by the media, recalling the events of April 1975 as relatively orderly. He describes empty helicopters leaving Vietnam in the early days of the evacuation because Ambassador Martin, optimistic about a political resolution, failed to organize evacuees. Finally, he praises Gerald FordÂ’s leadership skills and his ability to show compassion toward, and prepare Americans for, the flood of refugees now arriving from Vietnam.