On this day in 1975, people all over Saigon, listened intently to Armed Forces Radio. It was one song they were listening for on that hot muggy April day. Bags packed. Three days of food at the ready, they listened. When it came on, thousands of people who worked for the Americans scrambled to their pre-arranged pick up points. The song was White Christmas by Bing Crosby. One such point was the American Embassy. My wife Lynda and I sat transfixed to our little TV in our two room apartment on Los Higos in Alhambra. The iconic scene of the people scrambling up that ladder to the roof of the Embassy and those waiting on the ground, screaming, panicking, pushing and pulling one another for better position for escape. They were the ones who worked for the CIA, who knew they would be executed if they did not leave. Maids, cooks, drivers, interpreters, all levels of people who had worked for the biggest employer of Saigon, the United States government. And now the boss was leaving behind tanks, aircraft, artillery pieces of all sizes and small arms enough that the North Vietnamese would not have to buy weapons for years. Most importantly was the human misery that we were leaving behind on the ground. We just could not get them all out! And with his father not letting go of his little arm in that sad morass of unplanned chaos, my good friend Que miraculously made it out.
Here’s to you Que and the first wave of Vietnamese immigrants that made it out that day. Welcome home.