On the day before
the end, before 17 April, I was in the
military fortification at the airport. This was because I was a soldier.
I was right inside the military fortification. There was shooting inside
the fortification. And there were incoming rounds falling onto the
warehouse where aircraft equipment and aircraft engines were stored,
setting it on fire.
The battle started at one or
two o’clock and went on until about five o’clock before the
fortification was overrun. The Khmer
Rouge first attacked from the Vihear Khuor Pagoda side,
approaching the airport from the front and along the sides. They had to
press the attack for a long time before getting in.
And the fortification, a
fortification like the one at Pochentong Airport
fallen. It only fell because all the big shots in charge ran for it. The
base commander, the technical commander, the [incomprehensible] commander, all
these gentlemen had followed each other in flight to Thailand
, one after the other!
All that were left were the
middle-ranking types, and they couldn’t hold off the Khmer Rouge. There were some Majors and
Colonels from the technical side, maybe one commander. There was the guy
from [incomprehensible] there, too. But he wasn’t very enthusiastic about
resisting and took off with all his people.
It was because of things
like this that there was no way to resist. Otherwise, the airport
shouldn’t have fallen. American experts had come to inspect the airport
defenses. It was no piece of cake. It was encircled by rings of barbed
wire and there were really big fortifications.
An American expert had
personally supervised the construction of these defenses. There was
something every hundred meters. It was really something. And there was a
lot of ammunition, too. But what could we do? There was certainly going
to be a breakthrough. We had already lost. So everybody ran for it. And
the big shots, these Majors and Colonels, they were running, too.
By this time I was no longer
in the airport itself, but on the perimeter, at one of the entrance
points. All the big shots were gone. There was only me, a Colonel who
was the deputy chief of the [incomprehensible] and a single battalion commander.
These guys who were Majors and Colonels, like this commander [incomprehensible]
Prum Po, he was already changed into civilian clothes and ready to run.
But I said, “Nobody’s deserting! Deserters will be shot! Now’s not the
time to run. Now’s not the time to abandon your subordinates, your
troops!” He tried to drive out in a car with the engine roaring, but he
But then by five o’clock,
everything was out of control. People were surging through, the
dependents of the troops and everybody. Nobody was listening to orders.
Everybody was pressed up against the fence, and he ran for it. The enemy
shells kept dropping in. And there were planes from Kampong Som
, Kampong Chhnang
, which came to help, to make air
strikes. A moment after the air strikes occurred, the enemy was in.
It was almost five before I
left. I spent that night near Stung Meanchey
. It was impossible to get into Phnom Penh
. After spending the
night in Stung Meanchey
the next morning when it got light, I headed into the city. I only got
as far as the Monk’s Hospital.
I hadn’t even
reached my house, but the Pol
Potists were already there. If I hadn’t run into a friend of
my, the Pol Potists would
have made me pull down my pants and parading me round the streets in a
truck. The officers who had thrown away their weapons, these lieutenants
and majors, who were all split off from each other, were being rounded
up by this Khmer Rouge who
made them pull down their pants. If a friend of mine hadn’t shown up and
given me a ride to my house in his car, I would have been up there with
my pants down like the rest of them!