Honourable Exit – saving the South Vietnamese


Honourable Exit

How a few brave Americans risked all to save their Vietnamese allies at the end of the war

By Thurston Clarke

Published by Scribe
RRP $49.99 in hardback • ISBN 9781925520996

In Honourable Exit, Clarke revisits the last days of the Vietnam War to uncover the previously untold story of a life-saving mass evacuation.

During those final days, a number of Americans — diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, missionaries, contractors, and spies — risked their lives and disobeyed orders to help their translators, drivers, colleagues, neighbours, friends, and even perfect strangers to escape.

By the time the last US helicopter left Vietnam on 30 April 1975, these heroic Americans had helped to spirit over 130,000 South Vietnamese to resettlement in the US and life as American citizens.

The book begins with an iconic photograph taken by Dutch photojournalist Hubert Van Es on the afternoon of April 29, 1975. It depicts a US helicopter landing on the roof of the United Press International (UPI) building at 22 Gia Long Street. The location in the photograph had been misidentified at the time as being the US Embassy. 22 Gia Long Street was among a number of sites across Saigon that had been identified and made ready for helicopter evacuations.

Those saved by the efforts of the Americans were later to liken their saviours to those who helped Jewish families escape the Holocaust. Hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese faced execution or life in concentration camps with the takeover by the communist regime of the north.

This is a deeply moving book, one that restores one’s faith in humanity. In the face of community opposition and political cowardice, a small band of people found the courage to do what was right.

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