Eventually I separated myself from the people that I'd been leading in
this convoy as they made their way over one of the back walls of the
Embassy, and I
slipped in the, in the front gate. Uh, by this time the Embassy was completely
surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of Vietnamese at the ah, at the
three entrances trying to to get inside.
Many of them no doubt, in fact I talked to people through the gate, who
had documentation that that would have permitted them to have been on
the inside if they could have just gotten to it sooner, but it was
impossible to open the gates. To open the gates was to let in a
screaming ah, mob which we physically could not contain.
Uh, the only way I was able to get in through on of the gates was
because well my face was recognizable but in addition to that I was
obviously a foreigner. If I had been a Vietnamese there could have been
people killed just trying to open that gate to let them in.
was literally impossible even though they could show us their
documa—documentation and maybe even their American passport. I mean we
had people calling up from the outside who said I've got a passport,
you've got to let me in – it was impossible if you were Oriental, ah,
virtually, to get into the grounds of the Embassy at that point in
Now when I got into the Embassy the helicopter evacuation had not started yet. And
it was basically calm. People were being ordered into ah, the various
ah, units that ah, and their bags organized so that they could get on
And for several ah, hours I had a bit of relief in which time I was
able to patrol oh at least the perimeter of the Embassy and ah, see how
the the Marines were faring and talk to them and ah, generally attempt
to assure them that ah, we were not about to face a major NVA Sapper
assault on the grounds of the Embassy because I, you know, one possible problem at that
point was that they might over react. I mean, all of these Orientals
looking the same.
any event, ah, at one point in the early afternoon we had some
Vietnamese officials that ah, wanted to come through the police compound
which was adja—adjacent to the Embassy – directly adjacent. And I went over to
assist the Marines in that, uh and needless to say, it was a very tense
moment because we were literally letting the Vietnamese police officials
into the Embassy but
we were keeping the rest of the police and their staff there, and it
became a very tense confrontation.
had to literally and ah, and ultimately brutally force a number of the
policemen to stay back into their compound and not let them into the
though we were letting their leadership in. Under uh, no doubt a
previous agreement, but it was a pretty messy affair to say the least.
the afternoon the helicopters began the evacuation – began landing in on
the grounds of the Embassy initially, and then ah, ultimately off the roof. And I
had no role to play in that, and in that sense at that point, I was a
passive observer for the first time after ten frenetic days. And I had
an opportunity to at least observe and and ah, and get a sense of what
had happened, of what had actually befallen us.
remember walking through the various offices of the Embassy which was then
virtually deserted except...everyone was concentrated in just a few
offices ah, waiting for information or ah, as to what to do next. And
for most of them that meant they were leaving, they had no role left, I
mean, people were were semi-comatose, in shock, demoralized, uh, trying
to have a drink to forget about it all.
And it was virtually all over, and they had no role, most of them, to
play any more. I had no role, I thought. At that point I walked through
these offices seeing the refuse of what had been left behind of ah, our
individual ah, commitments there, books, pipes, whatever, I had nothing
left myself. I'd left everything.
had ah...I eventually picked up ah, someone's book – I think it was
book on strategy – I thought perhaps it might make some light reading on
the plane, you know. But, uh, I say this only in irony, it was a
terrible dispiriting moment to realize that it really was all over and
we virtually were completely in the hands of our own military personnel
at that point. That was all that was left to do.
As it turned out later in the evening, around ah, 1:00 in the morning,
one of the Marines had fallen off the helio pad, off the roof of the
seriously injured himself. And since I had been involved in ah, in ah,
helicopter work during my days as a soldier during the war, I went up in
the roof and for the last four hours that I was there assisted the
Marines bringing the helicopters, and making sure that people were
properly organized in the stairwell and didn't get blown off by the prop
blast of the helicopter as they made their way across the helio pad to
The last group that I in fact put on the aircraft were the Ambassador
and his immediate staff, and as I recall, this was about 4:30 in the
morning. I, the ah, helicopter pilot just before that helicopter had
been told that on the next helicopter, uh the Ambassador and his staff
were ordered, if you will, to leave the country and uh, on the next
helicopter that came in assisted the Ambassador up into the airplane and
the rest of his staff and they left.
At that point, it was certainly definitively over. My role, and I had
no further role to play, ah, consisted in getting on the next helicopter
and leaving the country. (sniff)