Forty Years Ago – The Fall of Saigon


This Thursday, April 30, will be the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

On that day in 1975 the North Vietnamese Army rolled into Saigon and the last helicopter carried the last evacuees from the roof of the American embassy.

Charles McMahon (May 10, 1953 – April 29, 1975) and Darwin Lee Judge (February 16, 1956 – April 29, 1975) were the last two United States servicemen killed in Vietnam. The two men, both U.S. Marines, were killed in a rocket attack on the embassy one day before the fall of Saigon.

Charles McMahon, 11 days short of his 22nd birthday, was a corporal from Woburn, Massachusetts. Darwin Judge was a 19-year-old lance corporal and an Eagle Scout from Marshalltown, Iowa.   Each was in Vietnam less than a month.

America left their bodies behind in the rush to leave.  Senator Edward M. Kennedy personally got their remains returned a year later.

Lance Corporal Judge was buried with full military honors in March 1976 in Marshalltown. There was a flag draped coffin, a Marine Honor Guard, and a rifle firing salute. The flag that covered his coffin was folded and presented to his parents. His funeral was so ignored that major and minor media did not bother to attend.

They died forty years ago tomorrow. Rest in peace along with all the others.

Green Cathedral

The son of the Allentown butcher
will lead the way
point man on the sweep today
through God’s heavenly green cathedral

Verdant canopy reaching to heaven
flickering sunlight illuminates
mottled parrots red and blue
on the moss a mantis waits

Her body rises as he kisses her mouth
he knows not where he ends and she begins
Pistol and stamen
intoxicating flower

Why am I here carrying a gun
and not with her
where I would rather be
inhaling her scent?

Tread softly lest I become
a clump of earth.
Will the cathedral know
I have passed this way

if I do not bleed
and mix my essence with the ground?
Will my footprint remain
a calling card of our appointment?

This afternoon just before
the twilight of Apollo
I will kill or be killed
by the son of the rice farmer.




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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2 Responses to Forty Years Ago – The Fall of Saigon

  1. gpcox says:

    It hurts to remember.


  2. beetleypete says:

    I can remember those scenes on the TV news. Helicopters being tipped into the sea from the decks of aircraft carriers remains in my memory, for some reason.
    Best wishes from England. Pete.


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