My first piece this week was a youtube video, in which a newscaster discusses the evacuation of Saigon by the press. I’m not 100% sure if this is the same evacuation that was on the Gia Long street, but I’m assuming that it is. In the film the narrator speaks of the trials that he and other Americans and press people had to go through to get out. Just as the Vietnamese were fighting to get out alive, so too did the Americans and other press people have to claw and kick their way out.
I find this to be intriguing, how even the ones that were “guaranteed” passage had to fight just as hard as those that were not. The entire ordeal was mass chaos and panic. It looks to me as if every individual out there was in a life or death struggle.
I also noticed techniques used on the boats of the Vietnamese for protection, that we used in Iraq before getting armoured vehicles, namely using sandbags for makeshift armour.
My next piece was a NYTimes article about the evacuation. In the same light as the video, the narration is a rather scarey outlook on the struggle of people to claw their way to freedom. The evacuation lasted for nineteen hours, and utilized eighty one helicopters. Four Marines lost their lives in the final stages, as they assisted roughly one thousand Americans, and several thousand Vietnamese out of the country to safety. Eight hundred Marines were utilized in guarding the evacuation efforts. The best i can tell (and i plan to research it further) the last eleven Marines in the rear-guard were the ones that boarded the helicopter in the photograph taken by Van Es, along with an ambassador and possibly some other people.
The most intriguing thing about all this is that the photograph that symbolizes the “evacuation” may in fact be the photograph of the last leaving. I plan to dig much much deeper into this issue, but it is cool to think that of how much could actually be in one photograph, especially seeing as how it was a chance shot, and nowhere near fully intentional.
The fear that was in the people during the evacuation is palatable. The scrambling, the fighting, kicking, beating, clawing, it’s extreme. Even the ones that were supposed to be there had to struggle harder than those that were gonna be left behind. The Marines were beating people back with weapons. It’s just intense seeing and reading these accounts of the happening.