The dramatic story of the chaotic last days of the Vietnam War in April 1975 is an iconic chapter in this controversial war. Books, indelible photos, and news footage have recorded the anarchy at the gates of the U.S. embassy and the departing helicopters loaded to the gills with panicked Vietnamese civilians, distraught State Department employees, and their U.S. Marine protectors. Journalists and authors Drury and Clavin (coauthors of Halsey's Typhoon) give a sprightly account of these events focused on the Marine Security Guards stationed in Saigon and a handful of provincial capitals, and the nearly impossible job they faced as the North Vietnamese Army moved in on the embassy and as U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin dithered while Saigon burned. It's an absorbing tale, filled with selfless and courageous actions by the Marines. The authors relate the experience in docudrama style, replete with reconstructed dialogue that will leave historically exacting readers wishing for more detailed documentation of their research. (May)
An exciting, focused account of the bitter evacuation by helicopter of the last Marines securing the U.S. embassy compound in Saigon on April 30, 1975.
The Americans washed their bloody hands of the Vietnam War with the Paris Peace Accords of January 1973, which stipulated withdrawal from South Vietnam except for a handful of Marine Security Guards (MSGs) and other personnel posted at the embassy and at a defense outpost (DOA) adjacent to the airport in downtown Saigon. The North VietnameseArmy broke the treaty by late 1974 and invaded its southern neighbor, and the Americans at the provincial Da Nang consulate in central Vietnam had already been forced into a horrifically chaotic evacuation by sea. Encircled by the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong by April 29, 1975, Saigon was braced for an invasion, with the North Vietnamese's Gen. Van Tien Dung calling for evacuation of all Americans. The airport, guarded still by U.S. Marines, had been operating nonstop during the preceding weeks to remove tens of thousands of high-risk South Vietnamese, civilian contractors as well as refugees and war brides, but there were still guards at the DOA and numerous personnel at the embassy. As if to prod the Americans not to try anything sneaky, the North Vietnamese shelled the DOA, then the airport, sending up the VC flag, and the only option for evacuation of the Americans was by helicopter. Drury and Clavin (The Last Stand of Fox Company, 2009, etc.) ably narrate this suspenseful saga, full of conflicting personalities including Sgt. Juan Valdez, who was in charge of the MSGs; and the intractable Ambassador Graham Martin, immovable and holding out for peace talks until ordered by presidential request to get out. The authors also skillfully wade through the staggering details of the 600 chopper runs over an 18-hour period.
A thrilling narrative of bravery, bravado and loss.
“Last Men Out tells the real story behind one of the most-referenced but least-understood episodes in recent American history. It’s a gripping tale of heroism and heartbreak – and a reminder of the price paid by those who do our nation’s bidding.”
“This totally riveting and moving story tells how a small band of Marines risked everything to accomplish the harrowing evacuation of American personnel in the last days of the Vietnam War. You feel the fear of facing overwhelming odds, the frustration of a self-serving bureaucracy turning an orderly evacuation plan into a shambles, and the terror and despair of our shamefully abandoned allies. This book tells with authority and power how the light at the end of the dark tunnel of the Vietnam War proved to be the courage, nobility, and discipline of the United States Marine Corps.”
From the Publisher
"Last Men Out tells the real story behind one of the most-referenced but least-understood episodes in recent American history. It's a gripping tale of heroism and heartbreakand a reminder of the price paid by those who do our nation's bidding." Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away