30th of April, 1975. Saigon is about to be overrun by the PAVN
and the Americans are running for their lives.
Offshore, the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Midway
are pushing helicopters into the sea to make room for the next one to land.
Shortly after 10am the Republic of Vietnam
surrenders unconditionally. The remaining Americans flee to the last escape point: the roof of the embassy.
The compound is heavily guarded. Thousands of Vietnamese with some connection to the regime which has just been overthrown are desperate to get in, in order to get out. The Marines guarding the compound fall back, until only the roof is secured.
Outside the embassy is total chaos. At midday the 324th division
storm the Norodom palace
, ending the Vietnam war.
On the streets there are no Westerners. Except perhaps, an Irishman and a Dutchman.
The NBC photographer Hubert van Es
snaps this photograph of the American embassy from outside the compound. Standing beside him is the journalist Barry Fox.
Barry came up in conversation today. I've always been fond of Robert Fisk
's journalism and Barry ruined that for me. We were holidaying together and by coincidence, I was reading Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation
in which he's mentioned and which commences with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
"I was with Robert 24 hours a day in Kabul and I didn't see any of that shit" said Barry.
Fisk's book remains on my shelf, unread.
-SRA. Auckland, 17/vii 2021