"The temperature is one hundred five degrees and rising!!"
Forty years ago the final American evacuation from Saigon had begun.
An end to the Second Indo-China War. With American defeat and communist victory. For all that meant.
And as recalled and seen on public broadcast television by the two-hour documentary "Last Days in Vietnam".
Communist forces closing in on Saigon the "prepare to evacuate" signal given. The "temperature is rising" message followed by the Bing Crosby rendition of the song "White Christmas".
It not being fully remembered if the rendition was sung by Bing or by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
That signal to the last American personnel in Vietnam unmistakably clear - - make for the exits and fast or else!!
Those last American personnel remaining in Vietnam NOT military for the most part civilian contract employees working for the military in some capacity.
That means of evacuation as originally planned to include: [in order of precedence from most to least desirable]
* American and South Vietnamese naval and commercial shipping.
The Mekong river an internationally recognized waterway from the sea all the way inland to Phnom Penh Cambodia.
* Air lift from Tan Son Nhut air base, using commercial and military aircraft.
* Helicopters, heavy-lift, American Chinook and Sea Stallion each having a capacity of about forty persons.
HELICOPTER ROTARY WING EVACUATION SEEN AS THE LEAST DESIRABLE MEANS, A LAST RESORT.
And again as originally planned the intent to evacuate ONLY American citizens, about 5,000 total as was the rough count, PLUS some essential South Vietnamese allied with the United States and deemed as at great risk.
THE FINAL TOTAL OF AMERICAN AND SOUTH VIETNAMESE EVACUATED DURING THE SPAN OF A FEW DAYS ABOUT 120,000!! Done under conditions chaotic and very risky but nonetheless accomplished. THAT PLAN THE BASE FROM WHICH ALL CHANGE WAS MADE!!
Those heavy-lift helicopters, pilots and crews doing yeoman service without qualification, extraordinary, crashes and malfunction in that confined American embassy compound averted and all under the most trying of circumstances most admirable.
EVEN DURING A PERIOD OF DISASTER AND HUMILIATION HEROISM AND GALLANT EFFORT CAN BE FOUND AND WAS!!