J. D. Sneed
Nha Trang Evacuation April 1975
(no photo available)
Iím trying to remember detail from those days and Iím finding that thereís a lot of holes in my memory but I will try to relay what I remember. I was stationed in Nha Trang in April 1975 and was evacuated along with Painter, McCormick, Brown and Moya. We had heard that the north Vietnamese were moving south and that we would be leaving but we had a few weeks before we had to worry. Things were tense in town over the last week or so with refugees coming into town. We were pulling three 12s with 36 off and I had just came off my last 12. I ate and went to bed on the 4th floor where my room was located Iím not certain how long I had slept but I was awoken by the sound of a helicopter it sounded like it had just passed my window. I jumped up and went to my window to look when I opened my window I could not believe what I saw the compound was filled with people it looked like thousands of people and they were at the consulate door I knew I had to get inside the consulate so I put on my Blues so that there would be no questions about who I was. I grabbed my 12 gage and headed for the door. For the most part every one moved out of my way with a loud gang way I had to use force only one or twice. I have to tell you I was a little nervous passing through that crowd. When I reached the door of the consulate I think it was McCormick and someone else let me in. After coming inside I was told to destroy as much of the communication equipment as possible we took our weapons and blew hell out of the Teletype machines. After that I was moved outside to the tennis courts on the north side of the building. I was told to guard the gate on the west side of the courts there was an Air America guy who I wish I could remember his name standing with me with a 16. There were a few attempts to climb the fence but a charge to the gate and a yell to get down brought most every one down. This went on for what to me seemed forever I remember seeing faces in the crowd that I knew had worked for us and some were pleading to be let in there was nothing I could do for them. Finally we got the word that we would be catching the next helicopter to the airport We had moved every one that we could and it was time to go. We stood our ground and waited it seamed like along time for that bird to show longer than the previous trips I remember thinking that it was going to be a long walk to the airport. Finally our bird showed up and we ran to board. The trip to the airport only took a few minutes. Once we got there all the other planes had left and we were loading the last civilians on board and were down to the last few. I was last in line waiting for my turn to get in. I was watching our rear when a group of south Vietnamese came around the back of the plane led by an air force officer. Once they came up to me the officer lowered his weapon on me and demanded that I let his group enter the plane. The pilot of our plane must have seen what was gong on so he started to taxi down the runway. So I stuck my weapon in the officers face and told him to drop his weapon or I would fire, Some one later told me that I hit him at this point but I donít really remember that, any way he dropped his weapon and I dropped every thing I had and ran to the plane that was rolling down the strip. There was a man at the door yelling at me to move my ass. When I reached the door the same guy grabbed me and pretty much threw me inside onto the floor. From there we flew to Saigon. My time in Saigon was spent helping the Marines there and marrying the woman that I had been living with for nearly a year I have to say that not for the help of ambassador Martin and Col. Kean I would have never got her out of country. Iím not sure why my detachment was sent to the Philippines before the last day I have felt like I let the Saigon detachment down by leaving and that I donít really belong to their group. But felt that I should relay my story on what I remember. I donít remember thing very well from those day but something that has always stuck in my mind was riding down the on the elevator in the Marine house in Saigon with a young Marine named Judge who came up to me and asked what it had been like. I told him not to worry to do what he was told and he would be fine. When I heard that he had been killed I felt mad that he had been sent to Saigon in the first place I felt that it was no time to be sending in fresh Marines. I know now that thatís just the way things are and that what Marines do.
CPL. JD Sneed
Nha Trang det.