In 1975 my brother was in Vietnam. A few days ago I found one of my mom’s old photo albums. It is full of pictures of my brother’s family–Tomoko, George, Mari and mom. At the back of the album was a typewritten letter she received from John after he had been evacuated from Saigon. I do not know if she received the letter before or after we knew he was safe:
Sunday 20 [April 20, 1975]
It looks as though this will be my last letter from Vietnam. Things are about as tight as they can get and we have orders to pull the plug. Am sure the full-scale evacuation will be under way before this letter reaches you. RVA and VC forces have Saigon surrounded and have been sighted no less than 8 miles from Tan Son Nhut. They have 130mm cannons and artillery pieces which are American made and very accurate up to 17 miles and this is what we are most afraid of besides their SA-7 missiles.
There are however a tremendous contingent of American forces spread throughout the Pacific and SouthEast Asia for our support. Four Aircraft Carriers alone are waiting off Vung Tau. Think Congress would faint if they knew the extent of this military support.
However, our real enemy seems to be the ARVNs. They are trying to keep the mass evacuation as quiet as possible in order to stop panic and to prevent another Da Nang. Intelligence reported 2 weeks ago that the Vietnamese would try and stop and shoot down departing American Planes! The part where most people will have trouble is getting to the pick-up points when the evacuation occurs. Sure would hate to be on the streets then. Don’t have to worry though as will move into Comm Center here on Tan Son Nhut Tomorrow. We will be picked up by helicopter as soon as alll the equipment is destroyed. Expect this to be Wed or so.
Sent my duffle bag full of cloths to Joyce’s yesterday so all I have is my briefcase and flight bag to carry if I can.
Thats about it for awhile mom. Please don’t write any more and will get in touch as soon as I can.
–Spelling and punctuation copied from John’s original pre-spell/grammar check letter–
He was safely evacuated to a waiting US aircraft carrier on April 25, 1975. As he told the story, on the last helicopter from Tan Son Nhut and as a VC rocket blew up the building as he left it for the helicopter.