As an Honorably Discharged Viet Nam Era Veteran there are many things that I will never forget nor want to forget from my time served over forty years ago. (Including my return home.) Everything from the mishandling of the entire war by the political elite down to the despicable treatment of the men and women who served upon their return home. Approximately FIFTY-EIGHT-THOUSAND-ONE-HUNDRED-FIFTY-ONE AMERICAN-SERVICEMEN-WERE-KILLED... and in my... and many others hearts... I don't believe we were ever truly given the ability to win. It's not often you get to read a book about the Viet Nam era that is able to zoom in with the literary equivalent of a high powered telescope to one set of circumstances... and one small band of men... that shines a well overdo light on a group of individuals, who despite all going to hell around them... displayed what it truly means... in the greatest of terms to be an American fighting man.
On January 27, 1973 the Paris Peace Accords were signed, "THE UNITED STATES AND ALL FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS AGREED TO WITHDRAW THEIR COMBAT TROOPS FROM SOUTH VIETNAM WITHIN SIXTY DAYS"... fast forward to April 1975 and Saigon is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of enemy troops. Some NVA's... some former ARVN,s... some Vietnamese "Cowboys". Every person, from almost every country, not affiliated with these "conquerors" are trying to get out of Saigon fearing for their lives. Left to defend the American Embassy... along with fearing for their own lives... and wanting to get out were a handful of MSG's (Marine Corp Security Guards) that when the final "crap" was hitting the fan... and that included a tidal wave of people trying to knock down the gates surrounding the Embassy... untold assault weapons being fired in the vicinity... had an enlisted man vote that was unanimous about staying and helping more refugees escape... even with the odds very high that this would turn into the Marine's "Alamo"!
**"IF IT COMES TO IT, WE FIGHT AND DIE LIKE MARINES."
The local airport was taken over and partially destroyed so any attempt to get the refugees... the ambassador... the Marines out... could not involve any fixed wing aircraft. The only hope was to get helicopters in to the embassy. The author's expertly... and with great feeling introduce each of these brave Marines and what earlier traits may have forged them into the heroes that occupy this place and time. As was "S.O.P." (Standard Operating Procedure) during this time in our military (And believe me, I can vouch for that!) with all hell breaking loose... the Marines had to battle their own Ambassador to chop down a tree that would make it possible for larger helicopters to land and save lives. All during this time the Marines had to continue the high priority of burning and destroying classified information.
In addition to the Marines in the embassy, the chopper pilots from the ships were heroic and refused to quit as long as there were American Servicemen in that embassy. One pilot flew for eighteen straight hours. Every emotion known to an American fighting man was tapped... trying to save lives without sleep or showers and with their emotions already pulled thinner than razor wire... their internal humanity and sense of right and wrong were lambasted by their allies the South Vietnamese soldiers who had fought side by side with them for years... yelled at one of the MSG's: "AMERICAN COWARD! WHY ARE YOU ABANDONING US? WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR PROMISES?" The MSG "WAS AT WIT'S END-HE AGREED WITH EVERYTHING THEY SAID."
*OPERATION FREQUENT WIND* as it was named was being referred to "AS THE AMERICAN DUNKIRK. U.S MARINE HELICOPTER PILOTS FLEW 682 SORTIES INTO SAIGON DURING OPERATION FREQUENT WIND. A TOTAL OF 395 AMERICANS AND 4,475 VIETNAMESE AND THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONALS WERE EVACUATED FROM THE DAO, WITH ANOTHER 978 AMERICANS AND 1,220 VIETNAMESE AND OTHERS RESCUED FROM THE U.S. EMBASSY. ALTOGETHER, OVER 7,000 PEOPLE WERE LIFTED OUT OF THE CITY BEFORE IT WAS OCCUPIED BY NORTH VIETNAMESE TROOPS AND THE VIETCONG."
A perfect, emotional, touching, end to this miraculous saga is the postscript that details the thirty-fifth anniversary of this historic event on April 30, 2010.