Beep. End of SR 447. R. Moose.
It was Frank Snepp who in addition to his duties as a Order of Battle Analyst, had also, I think he tells this in his book, had had been the agent who was handling some of the North Vietnamese agents, and some of the best ones. Essentially Frank wanted to meet with us and he wanted to tell us what he had been unable to get through official channels to Washington.
We met on the roof of the, on the top floor of the Majestic Hotel, and I still remember I had a tough pepper steak, and Frank started to tell his story and he gave us just enough of the background to establish his credibility for the story that he was telling.
And the story essentially was that the North Vietnamese were not going to stop pause outside the city while there was a negotiating effort that in fact they were coming in and that the city would fall. And that it was too late to do anything except to... well, he didn't draw this conclusion, but he says, "here is what is going to happen.”
It was a very somber, serious occasion, uh, Frank obviously was taking a step here that uh, demonstrated his frustration in being able to get a straightforward piece of information through a system which didn't want to hear something of that sort at that time, even though he was, I think, as much respected inside the agency as he was by us. Uhm, he'd been a golden boy of sorts.
Anyway, this was Frank's assessment of the thing. So Chuck Meisner and I decided what we should do. We decided that we should not extend our stay in Saigon
, that we should cut it short, that we ought to get back and talk to the Committee as quickly as possible of the implications of what Frank had told us. Uh.
Coupled with our general broad assessment of the military assessment, we'd been talking to all of our sources in Saigon
uh, in the US military, a few Vietnamese sources, and they had been giving a very dire prediction as far as the military situation, but nothing that had this dramatic element Frank's inside knowledge of what the North Vietnamese were gonna do.
We drafted a report to the Committee that night that said we were coming home immediately and suggested that the Committee might want to convene the session as soon as we got there.
We decided for a variety of reasons because of the things that happen sometimes the messages that went out of Embassy Saigon, we thought better of sending that telegram from Saigon
, so we arranged to be evacuated the following day on an American military flight, along with some Americans, some Vietnamese dependents and a load of tupperware, and we went into Subic Bay uh in Manila
and we filed our report from there. But the last morning at the Embassy, the place was surrounded by Vietnamese who wanted to get visas, people inside were packing things and uh in a quiet sort of way, the some Americans were leaving uhhhhhh.
No one in the Embassy, except maybe Ambassador Martin
sitting upstairs, believed that there would be any tomorrow. Uhm, so we uh, we left, uh, carrying this message back to the Committee. The Committee. We stopped in CINCPAC at Honolulu
on the way back where we heard that Phnom Penh
We flew on back to Washington
and the Committee did, uh I believe, uh it met uh the Monday we got back. I recall getting back on a Sunday, maybe it met on a Monday, and and when the members had heard basically what we had to say, they had read our message when they heard what we had to say, to ask the questions and ask what we thought of the implications of the thing as far as the evacuation of Americans, as the safety of Americans and others to whom we were beholden.
Uh, the suggestion was made, I believe, I believe by Senator Javits, but at least it was he who articulated it first, Senator Javits said, in the marvelous way that he had of saying things, he said, "I believe that the Committee should go and wait upon the the President. Ah, this as a body."
This was very unusual. There’s almost no precedent for it. And before the afternoon was out, we indeed we all went over to the White House. They took Chuck Meisner and me along with them. And we went over there, and the President sat there, and the Secretary of State were all there, the military people and uh the Committee said...
Oh, the Committee had sent our report down so that the President and Secretary of State could read it. So they had read our report. So there we were sitting there, and the Committee asking the President, "What are you going to do? You've got to get the Americans out of Saigon
." Uhm, and that essentially is the is the story of that last trip.