The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part I)
John E. Carey
I was there til near the end. My last trip in and out was two days before the NVA assault began on the outskirts of Saigon. It was total anarchy.
I was stationed at Clark AB, and we were dedicated, including the volunteers, mostly dependent wives and children, to doing everything we could, to get as many people out of Nam as we could. The mission I was most involved in, was Operation Babylift, and we were able to get @3,000 children out of country and adopted.
I lost a very good friend on the first OB flight out, when a C5A crashed, shortly after take-off.
Of course you understand, I was only one Airman in a huge operation involving thousands.
Standing on the tarmac at Tan Son Nhut, providing security for the aircraft, crews, and passengers gave me a limited perspective of all that was happening around me. Looking at the masses of frantic people surrounding the base, and looking into the eyes of the South Vietnam people we were boarding, told me stories that words never could, or that I could ever express adequately in words.
I had friends in Intelligence, that informed us on what they were seeing, as the NVA rolled steadily to Saigon, and the occasional rocket, mortar, and sapper pot shots at us, was a constant reminder that our time there was limited, so the sense of urgency on everyone's part was constant.
The night time combat landing in a C130 was the best wild ride I have ever had, even though the giggles from the weightless moments, were stifled with the reality that the reason we had to land that way was because of the SAM sites moving closer in near the AB. I did have a friend on the very last C130 to land at Tan Son Nhut, and it was destroyed by rocket fire, and the way they got out was two ARVN Huey pilots picked them up, and flew them out to a ship, which would not let them land, due to International Law, so they cut engine, and belly-flopped into the Gulf, so they could be rescued.
He said sailing back to Subic for the next couple of days, crammed into a tiny bunk, gave him plenty of time to reflect on what had happened. Tell your wife for me, I and my brothers and sisters did everything we could to get as many people out as possible, but the task was enormous.
We risked our lives, and some gave theirs, for no other reason than we are a caring people, and despite the cold and harsh policies produced by Congress, we would have fought to the death to protect Vietnam and their citizens.
I have met a number of people that were children when their families fled Vietnam, and have heard the tales of all the years of privation and fear. I can't begin to imagine what life for her and her family must have been like, and am glad to know they survived their journey, and wish only the best for them.
"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."