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Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam

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The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon's airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 29, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of Unit The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon's airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 29, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of United States cargo planes ferried Vietnamese refugees, American civilians, and soldiers of both countries to safety while 150,000 North Vietnamese troops marched on the city. With Saigon now encircled and the airport bombed out, thousands were trapped."Last Men Out "tells the remarkable story of the drama that unfolded over the next twenty-four hours: the final, heroic chapter of the Vietnam War as improvised by a small unit of Marines, a vast fleet of helicopter pilots flying nonstop missions beyond regulation, and a Marine general who vowed to arrest any officer who ordered his choppers grounded while his men were still on the ground. It would become the largest-scale evacuation ever carried out--what many would call an American Dunkirk. In a gripping, moment-by-moment narrative based on a wealth of recently declassified documents and indepth interviews, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin focus on the story of the eleven young Marines who were the last men to leave, rescued from the Embassy roof just moments before capture, having voted to make an Alamo-like last stand. As politicians in Washington struggled to put the best face on disaster and the American ambassador refused to acknowledge that the end had come and to evacuate, these courageous men held their ground and helped save thousands of lives. They and their fellow troops on the ground and in the air had no room for error as frenzy broke out in the streets and lashing rains and enemy fire began to pelt the city. One Marine pilot, Captain Gerry Berry, flew for eighteen straight hours and had to physically force the American ambassador onto his helicopter. Drury and Clavin gained unprecedented access to the survivors, to the declassified "After-Action reports" of the operation, and to the transmissions among helicopter pilots, their officers, and officials in Saigon secretly recorded by the National Security Agency. They deliver a taut and stirring account of a turning point in American history which unfolds with the heart-stopping urgency of the best thrillers--a riveting true story finally told, in full, by those who lived it.


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The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon's airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 29, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of Unit The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon's airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 29, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of United States cargo planes ferried Vietnamese refugees, American civilians, and soldiers of both countries to safety while 150,000 North Vietnamese troops marched on the city. With Saigon now encircled and the airport bombed out, thousands were trapped."Last Men Out "tells the remarkable story of the drama that unfolded over the next twenty-four hours: the final, heroic chapter of the Vietnam War as improvised by a small unit of Marines, a vast fleet of helicopter pilots flying nonstop missions beyond regulation, and a Marine general who vowed to arrest any officer who ordered his choppers grounded while his men were still on the ground. It would become the largest-scale evacuation ever carried out--what many would call an American Dunkirk. In a gripping, moment-by-moment narrative based on a wealth of recently declassified documents and indepth interviews, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin focus on the story of the eleven young Marines who were the last men to leave, rescued from the Embassy roof just moments before capture, having voted to make an Alamo-like last stand. As politicians in Washington struggled to put the best face on disaster and the American ambassador refused to acknowledge that the end had come and to evacuate, these courageous men held their ground and helped save thousands of lives. They and their fellow troops on the ground and in the air had no room for error as frenzy broke out in the streets and lashing rains and enemy fire began to pelt the city. One Marine pilot, Captain Gerry Berry, flew for eighteen straight hours and had to physically force the American ambassador onto his helicopter. Drury and Clavin gained unprecedented access to the survivors, to the declassified "After-Action reports" of the operation, and to the transmissions among helicopter pilots, their officers, and officials in Saigon secretly recorded by the National Security Agency. They deliver a taut and stirring account of a turning point in American history which unfolds with the heart-stopping urgency of the best thrillers--a riveting true story finally told, in full, by those who lived it.

30 review for Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam

  1. 5 out of 5

    JD

    This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from. The book covers the last days of American presence in Vietnam before the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in April 1975. Called the American "Dunkirk" of Vietnam, the evacuation ended with Operation Frequent Wind, which is still the largest helicopter evacuation ever. The story is told through the eyes of the Marine Security Guards at the Saigon embassy and focuses mainly on the last 11 Marines taken of the roof at the end of op This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from. The book covers the last days of American presence in Vietnam before the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in April 1975. Called the American "Dunkirk" of Vietnam, the evacuation ended with Operation Frequent Wind, which is still the largest helicopter evacuation ever. The story is told through the eyes of the Marine Security Guards at the Saigon embassy and focuses mainly on the last 11 Marines taken of the roof at the end of operations. Well written and researched, this book covers all the angles and takes you into the thick of the action, from the Tan Son Nhut Air Base where American forces suffered it's last combat casualties of the war to Terry McNamara's escape odyssey from Can Tho by landing craft. Highly recommended!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam is a heartbreaking 3-Star read. The last few chapters bring back to life the shame, sorrow, frustration and wasted courage of the war in Vietnam as the Marine Security Guards at the US Embassy evacuate as many as possible as the NVA is battering down the door to Saigon. The book covers the last 2 days, mainly telling the story of the MSG at the Embassy and at other locations, such as the consulate in Can Tho. The book is div Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam is a heartbreaking 3-Star read. The last few chapters bring back to life the shame, sorrow, frustration and wasted courage of the war in Vietnam as the Marine Security Guards at the US Embassy evacuate as many as possible as the NVA is battering down the door to Saigon. The book covers the last 2 days, mainly telling the story of the MSG at the Embassy and at other locations, such as the consulate in Can Tho. The book is divided into several portions. First is the realization, by the US, that the conventional attack by the North is not stopping; second is the delusional expectation that a diplomatic or negotiated solution could save the situation; third is the main rescue effort to extract as many as possible and lastly, the final pullout of the US soldiers/embassy staff, leaving many Vietnamese and allies behind that should have been evacuated. The book lost a star for a somewhat erratic style, jumping around to give personnel backgrounds and supporting information while trying to tell a chronological story. I would have preferred the authors spend a few chapters up front setting the stage and giving us the all the background stories. Then spend the rest on the action hour-by-hour. The storyline is disjointed. The book lost another star for the poor editing. Many errors surfaced, such as calling various military unit “Royal”. There were no “royal” units in South Vietnam. There are many other editing or proofreading mistakes (e.g., flying a F-15 vs. the F-5) that should never have made it into the book. I enjoyed how they wove in the contemporaneous moves and plans of the NVA general leading the assault; I thought they could have really added more to that side of the story. Why couldn’t they have included a map or two? It would have made things a bit clearer when talking about stories outside the Embassy walls. Overall, this is a good story and the last part of the book is riveting. The “Can Tho Yacht Club” is an amazing yet humorous escape story of chutzpah, luck and heroism by a State Dept representative and a young Marine NCO. Conversely, the scene where the Marines have to abandon some of the Vietnamese and, shamefully, many allied Koreans, is terrible to contemplate. The book is worth the time to read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I was torn on this one - It probably deserves more than a three, but less than four. It's really not a bad book, with interesting character sketches thrown in at odd times. I was blown away by some of the phraseology, like "smiles like he just closed an orphanage" or "smelled as ripe as the inside of a leper". Other than a single use of the phrase "one of the only" the book was nicely written. It definitely took the book too long to get going, what with all the background, character sketches and I was torn on this one - It probably deserves more than a three, but less than four. It's really not a bad book, with interesting character sketches thrown in at odd times. I was blown away by some of the phraseology, like "smiles like he just closed an orphanage" or "smelled as ripe as the inside of a leper". Other than a single use of the phrase "one of the only" the book was nicely written. It definitely took the book too long to get going, what with all the background, character sketches and political infighting. Once the action started, it consisted basically of Marines being shot at by incredibly poor marksmen without being granted permission to shoot back. Consequently, as an action and adventure book this didn't really do it for me. What the book achieved was to bring into focus the incredible waste and anguish of warfare: currency being burned, millions of dollars worth of aircraft deep-sixed, families torn apart, lives ruined, all for nothing. The entire Vietnam war was a waste from start to finish because it cost millions of lives, untold billions of dollars, and in the end nothing was changed in the country of Vietnam. The survivors were left with the taste of betrayal and deceit bitter in their mouths and the USA suffered a serious reversal. I couldn't help but think of all the good that could have been done for the world with the manpower and materiel that was thrown away on this futile conflict.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Pessolano

    This true story is about the last twenty-four hours of the United States presence in South Vietnam. It centers on a small group of United States Marines that were stationed at the U.S. Embassy. The Vietcong had Saigon surrounded and were just waiting to make their final push into the city. The Embassy was crowded with Americans, third country personnel, and those Vietnamese that were loyal to the United States Government. This led to the largest helicopter evacuation ever. Marine Captain Gerry Ber This true story is about the last twenty-four hours of the United States presence in South Vietnam. It centers on a small group of United States Marines that were stationed at the U.S. Embassy. The Vietcong had Saigon surrounded and were just waiting to make their final push into the city. The Embassy was crowded with Americans, third country personnel, and those Vietnamese that were loyal to the United States Government. This led to the largest helicopter evacuation ever. Marine Captain Gerry Berry flew for eighteen hours, way beyond the mandatory flight time allowed. Twice during the evacuation flights were ordered stopped by Government officials. It was only on the orders of General Richard Carey that flights were resumed, "who insisted that he would arrest any officer who ordered choppers grounded while there were still Marines in Saigon." The small contingent of Marines at the Embassy were responsible for getting over 7000 people out of Saigon. The Marines made it out on the last helicopter just as the Vietcong were entering the city. The book also tells of a heroic escape down the Bassac River in barges that carried over 350 people. The story really hits home when the Marines, when faced with the tough decisions as to who goes and who stays, make known how they felt about the United States withdrawal from South Vietnam. They were upset that our Government reneged on our promise to the these people and held our Government responsible for the collapse of the Saigon government. It is hard to imagine that after over eight years of fighting, the cost to the United States people were over 300,000 casualties and $670 billion dollars. An excellent read that tells of the courage of Marines under tremendous stress and the incompetency of our elected politicians.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Paul Adriaansen

    Who can ever forget the last moments of the Vietnam war? North Vietnam broke up the Paris Peace agreement of 1973 and was invading South Vietnam with a frightening, “Blitz-Krieg” like speed. When Saigon came under siege the American Embassy started the evacuation of its employees, American and foreign citizens, and as many as possible of their South-Vietnamese co-workers and their families. Due to administrative failures, misinterpretations, and “ambassadorial” stress it was impossible for the U. Who can ever forget the last moments of the Vietnam war? North Vietnam broke up the Paris Peace agreement of 1973 and was invading South Vietnam with a frightening, “Blitz-Krieg” like speed. When Saigon came under siege the American Embassy started the evacuation of its employees, American and foreign citizens, and as many as possible of their South-Vietnamese co-workers and their families. Due to administrative failures, misinterpretations, and “ambassadorial” stress it was impossible for the U.S.A. to keep their promises to their former allies and co-workers. No one, living in that era, will ever forget the images of the helpless South-Vietnamese, clinging to the gates, climbing on the walls, desperate to get out. If the role of the U.S. Government was questionable, if not despicable, the Marine Corps lived up to the motto “Semper Fi.” This book is a well deserved tribute to the eleven heroic Marines who were the very last to leave Saigon, minutes before they would have been captured. Great book: gripping, compelling, riveting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    After flipping back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, I've decided to give this one a 3 stars. An overall interesting read but I feel like it never completely took off for me. The story, while very interesting and harrowing, just never gripped me completely. I learned a lot so I'm glad I read this and I am in awe of these brave soldiers, but the writing just didn't cut it for me. I'd actually give it a 3.5 if I could. After flipping back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, I've decided to give this one a 3 stars. An overall interesting read but I feel like it never completely took off for me. The story, while very interesting and harrowing, just never gripped me completely. I learned a lot so I'm glad I read this and I am in awe of these brave soldiers, but the writing just didn't cut it for me. I'd actually give it a 3.5 if I could.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    A sober, well-written work. The authors do a great job putting the reader into the world of the last US personnel in South Vietnam, especially the embassy Marines. The book provides background on the individual Marines involved, and vividly describes how the embassy did what it could to allow helicopters to land while destroying the embassy’s classified documents, how the helicopter crew refused to let a single American be left behind, how dithering Ambassador Martin was, and how pained the Ameri A sober, well-written work. The authors do a great job putting the reader into the world of the last US personnel in South Vietnam, especially the embassy Marines. The book provides background on the individual Marines involved, and vividly describes how the embassy did what it could to allow helicopters to land while destroying the embassy’s classified documents, how the helicopter crew refused to let a single American be left behind, how dithering Ambassador Martin was, and how pained the Americans were at not being able to evacuate their enraged South Vietnamese allies. Unfortunately, the narrative is a little disjointed, and some parts also seemed unnecessary, like the Marines’ experience at earlier postings. There are also no footnotes. There are little things that could have been avoided through better research; Captain Tom Holden (the pilot evacuating the last Marines) is called “Holben.” The authors keep calling the South Vietnamese military “royal” for some reason, and the CH-46 apparently has “skids.” They also refer to a “squad of helicopters,” and “knots per hour.” One Vietnamese pilot is described prepping an “F-15” for takeoff, even though they didn’t exist at the time. The Central Highlands are called “fir-clad.” There is a reference to “Dien Bien Phu Street,” which didn’t exist at the time, and an organization they call “MAAC-V.” They also refer to “.9-millimeter automatic pistols.” Still, a compelling, well-researched book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cj W

    Inside Sleeve Description: "The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon's Airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 19, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of United Stated cargo place ferried Vietnamese refugees, American civilians, and soldiers of both count Inside Sleeve Description: "The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon's Airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 19, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of United Stated cargo place ferried Vietnamese refugees, American civilians, and soldiers of both countries to safety while 150,000 North Vietnamese troops marched on the city. With Saigon now encircled and the airport bombed out, thousands were trapped. ........ " This book is about the brave Marines and officers who were the last ones to leave Vietnam at the end of the war. With thousands of refugee's and personnel that needed to, at the bombing of the airport, be suddenly air lifted out with helicopters running hundreds of trips back and forth from the Embassy and the Naval ships in the South China Sea, in an operation called 'Frequent Wind' My Thoughts: I wanted to read this book, as I've become more interested in the Vietnam war as my Grandfather is still MIA as a United States Air Force officer. From what I had already known or been told, the Vietnam war was one of the biggest, if not THE biggest mistake in American History. It sounds as though we, as a country, were cocky going into the war, the manpower and the breadth of our armies and strengths, clearly getting to the decision makers heads. It appears as though, from the moment we entered the country, it was doomed a failure of a mission. This book leaves no doubt to that. The amazing story of these Marines, who are for the most part all good men, trying STILL to uphold the reputation of the USA, by getting as many people out as possible, before the North Vietnamese land on their door step. These men are truly the epiphany of what being a Marine is all about. Respect, Honor, Love, Brotherhood, Loyalty. To The End. Simper Fi. If your not interested in non-fiction and or war stories, not your kindof book. But it was interesting enough. This book was a little slow in some places, it could have been that at the time I wasn't particularly patient that week, but, I found some pieces that I had to struggle to get through. Again, probably my impatience at that time. The one thing I didn't like, was the pictures they put in the middle of the book. The pictures themselves, are GREAT to have in the book, just not in the middle! It has pictures of the Marines on the last helicopter and things such as that, at a point in the book where the suspense, and the doubt, of the Marines getting out of there alive is almost at it's peak. So having the pictures where they were, kindof ruined the end of the story a little bit. For those of us like me who had no clue whether they got out or not. Still a good book though. Worth a read. - CJ

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kash

    I don't mean to dishonor the good work done by the US Marines during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 and I don't mean to be disrespectful to the authors who have had good intentions, clearly, to write this book. However I think there are several major problems with this book and I am going to list them: 1- It is way too long and could have been 80-100 pages shorter, 2- The story is not joined. I think it is mainly because two authors have written it instead of one, 3- The text is poorly edited I don't mean to dishonor the good work done by the US Marines during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 and I don't mean to be disrespectful to the authors who have had good intentions, clearly, to write this book. However I think there are several major problems with this book and I am going to list them: 1- It is way too long and could have been 80-100 pages shorter, 2- The story is not joined. I think it is mainly because two authors have written it instead of one, 3- The text is poorly edited and is in dire need of a professional editing. For example, the author(s) constantly go back and forth between using abbreviations for South Vietnamese military and their full names and even then they have got them wrong. As we all know South Vietnam (Vietnam as whole) was a republic and therefore I don't see why they have referred to their air force and marines as Royal Vietnam Air Force or Royal Vietnamese Marines. Seriously, you'd think the authors would have known this simple fact.. Another example: Page 107; the authors refer to a Vietnamese pilot getting his "F-15" ready for take-off (which they must have meant an F-5). Vietnamese air force didn't have F-15s and neither did the US at the time. Editing for its paper back edition would be good. I'd also recommend cutting the length of the stories and slashing the number of pages to less than 150. We don't need to know every single conversation between the "Top" and his subordinates or what went on with some marines in their previous postings. Readers don't need to know what happened to the Japanese film crews in Saigon or British embassy flag pole. It distracts the reader and makes for one very boring book. The authors should have stayed with the US Marines' story of evacuation and the daring flights done by the USAF, USN and the Marine Corps flyers. All in all, you can basically read the first few chapters to get a decent background of the characters and then skip all the way to the last 2-3 chapters to see what happened. I did not do that though. I swear I tried to read the whole thing and it took me a long time since it is a very boring book for sets of actions that could have been and must have been very fast paced and thrilling. I liked the way the story of flag recovery from a distant US consulate in Vietnam was told but then there are parts of the book that you can literally skip without losing/missing the story line. I'd say don't waste your money on this book if you're a military history buff.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    The iconic photo of the "last" helicopter out of Saigon on the US Embassy roof - was in fact not the final evacuation. 11 USMC Embassy guards remained, and in fact, were almost abandoned. This riveting story covers the last 24 hours and the Marines' determination, their character, including their flaws. It shows how we abandoned our allies, including the Vietnamese Embassy Wardens, who were told that if they stayed and helped , they'd be evacuated and were then left behind. The CIA took care of t The iconic photo of the "last" helicopter out of Saigon on the US Embassy roof - was in fact not the final evacuation. 11 USMC Embassy guards remained, and in fact, were almost abandoned. This riveting story covers the last 24 hours and the Marines' determination, their character, including their flaws. It shows how we abandoned our allies, including the Vietnamese Embassy Wardens, who were told that if they stayed and helped , they'd be evacuated and were then left behind. The CIA took care of themselves, leaving others behind - and causing miscommunications that delayed evac and possibly were responsible for many who were left behind. Chaos as panicked ARVN pilots evacuated in helicopters, causing danger and probable cause of two US chopper pilots dying. Highly recommended Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam by Bob Drury

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Bob Drury’s Last Men Out is based on a compelling idea – the last few days in Vietnam of the last Americans to leave – that flounders in execution. What were dramatic and poignant moments and images in American history become rather dull stretched out over 300 pages. The center of the story – the Marines at the U.S. embassy – is primarily a story of waiting for airlifts. While I have no doubt that the Marines were in peril and faced their duties with heroism, without actual events to show the re Bob Drury’s Last Men Out is based on a compelling idea – the last few days in Vietnam of the last Americans to leave – that flounders in execution. What were dramatic and poignant moments and images in American history become rather dull stretched out over 300 pages. The center of the story – the Marines at the U.S. embassy – is primarily a story of waiting for airlifts. While I have no doubt that the Marines were in peril and faced their duties with heroism, without actual events to show the reader, Drury must resort to telling the reader over and over about the peril. To drive the narrative, Drury instead focuses on the action elsewhere around the country, including a particularly fascinating amphibious evacuation down the Mekong River. Recommended for those with a particular interest in the American conflict in Vietnam; for those with a more general interest in history, I suspect better options are available.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    I’m tempted to say “bug out” but I won’t. The harrowing experiences surrounding the exit of Americans from Vietnam in the last couple of days of April 1975 were indeed spectacularly heroic. The story centers on 11 Marine Service Guards (MSGs) on duty at the U.S. Embassy. Technically they were under command of the U.S. Ambassador and his main efforts seemed at odds to what was militarily feasible in terms of evacuating thousands of American citizens and Vietnamese refugees. In the end, only two M I’m tempted to say “bug out” but I won’t. The harrowing experiences surrounding the exit of Americans from Vietnam in the last couple of days of April 1975 were indeed spectacularly heroic. The story centers on 11 Marine Service Guards (MSGs) on duty at the U.S. Embassy. Technically they were under command of the U.S. Ambassador and his main efforts seemed at odds to what was militarily feasible in terms of evacuating thousands of American citizens and Vietnamese refugees. In the end, only two MSGs lost their lives (inexperienced “newbie’s “ just arrived on the scene). Altogether over 7,000 people were helicopter lifted out of Saigon before it was occupied by North Vietnam forces; about 300 Vietnamese left behind. They could have been “saved” as well had it not been for State Department obstinacy and interference with military efficiency.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    Last Men Out gave me a feeling of the chaos of war in a way that I haven't gotten from other military/battle books. And more importantly, I got a sense of the amazing discipline, dedication and sacrifice the Marines involved with the evacuation and the Navy pilots did their work with during the last hours of our evacuation. The author touched very little on the politics in Washington, but what there was gives a good sense of why so many things went wrong in Vietnam. I put on some Janice Joplin w Last Men Out gave me a feeling of the chaos of war in a way that I haven't gotten from other military/battle books. And more importantly, I got a sense of the amazing discipline, dedication and sacrifice the Marines involved with the evacuation and the Navy pilots did their work with during the last hours of our evacuation. The author touched very little on the politics in Washington, but what there was gives a good sense of why so many things went wrong in Vietnam. I put on some Janice Joplin while reading, and coincidentially had been with a Vietnam Vet earlier in the week who saw tanks outside the office building we were in instead of the air conditioning unit that was there. To quote from an old folk song, when will we ever learn?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Great book about the last Americans in Vietnam, with a couple of minor errors. The story of the Marine Security Guards assigned to the U.S. Embassay in Saigon and other posts around the country. The reader will be befuddled by the incompetence of American politicans and commanders who, after abandoning hundreds of Vietnamese that had been promised transport out of the country, almost left U.S. Marines behind as well. This book cries out for a movie version. As mentioned there were a couple of mi Great book about the last Americans in Vietnam, with a couple of minor errors. The story of the Marine Security Guards assigned to the U.S. Embassay in Saigon and other posts around the country. The reader will be befuddled by the incompetence of American politicans and commanders who, after abandoning hundreds of Vietnamese that had been promised transport out of the country, almost left U.S. Marines behind as well. This book cries out for a movie version. As mentioned there were a couple of minor errors, the authors consistently refer to the Royal Vietnamese Air Force, which had not been called Royal in over twenty years and they refered to Vietnamese F-15 fighters when they probably meant F-5, but these errors take nothing away from the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Interesting book delving into the inside of the end of the Vietnam War and how the last marines who were still there, almost were left behind. This was totally against Marine policy of No MAN Left Behind. Detailed the last few months before the final departure and revealed the horrors seen, allies being killed. Also, immense guilt and despair at having to leave behind some of the nationals who had been promised a ride out at the end if they had helped the Americans. The troops on site deeply felt t Interesting book delving into the inside of the end of the Vietnam War and how the last marines who were still there, almost were left behind. This was totally against Marine policy of No MAN Left Behind. Detailed the last few months before the final departure and revealed the horrors seen, allies being killed. Also, immense guilt and despair at having to leave behind some of the nationals who had been promised a ride out at the end if they had helped the Americans. The troops on site deeply felt this guilt, and, wondered of the men in Washington had any such remorse at what was being done. Those nationals who were left behind was soon be arrested and imprisoned by the insurging north Vietnamese Army.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    This is a fast paced ( the book really only focuses on a 48 hour window), thriller that is a sort of “Band of Brothers” to the MSG’s ( Marine Security Guards” ) who served at the embassy and at the consulates up until the final American evacuation of South Vietnam in April 1975. The authors brief vignettes on each marine bring them all to life as they work together to get through these harrowing hours. Their courage saved several thousand people’s lives, even though the big decision makers back This is a fast paced ( the book really only focuses on a 48 hour window), thriller that is a sort of “Band of Brothers” to the MSG’s ( Marine Security Guards” ) who served at the embassy and at the consulates up until the final American evacuation of South Vietnam in April 1975. The authors brief vignettes on each marine bring them all to life as they work together to get through these harrowing hours. Their courage saved several thousand people’s lives, even though the big decision makers back in Washington seemed detached and listless. This is a very good read and the authors in my opinion hit their target. If you are a serious military historian, then yes, you should read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Trudi

    I continue to be fascinated by the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia, etc. - so I was very interested in "Last Men Out." It tells the story of the American pullout from Vietnam in April 1975 through the experiences on those last few days of the Marines deployed to guard our Embassy in Saigon. What a mess! Such brave men. It follows those Marines and all they did in those last days as well as giving their backgrounds and what was happening in the Embassy, the role of the Ambassador, the Secretary of St I continue to be fascinated by the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia, etc. - so I was very interested in "Last Men Out." It tells the story of the American pullout from Vietnam in April 1975 through the experiences on those last few days of the Marines deployed to guard our Embassy in Saigon. What a mess! Such brave men. It follows those Marines and all they did in those last days as well as giving their backgrounds and what was happening in the Embassy, the role of the Ambassador, the Secretary of State, etc. I learned a lot.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I liked this read. Had the right combination of detail and personal stories during an interesting set of events. Clearly an example of a debacle in a war of debacles. So many stories out there on the Fall of Saigon and the evacuation of the American Marines and Embassy personel. Some sad stories for the people left behind and the crazy process they went through. I would give this about 3.5 stars but would round up. If you have an interest in the actual events, this is a good summation and well w I liked this read. Had the right combination of detail and personal stories during an interesting set of events. Clearly an example of a debacle in a war of debacles. So many stories out there on the Fall of Saigon and the evacuation of the American Marines and Embassy personel. Some sad stories for the people left behind and the crazy process they went through. I would give this about 3.5 stars but would round up. If you have an interest in the actual events, this is a good summation and well written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

    Half-way through this book I was ready to put it down. But my fellow book club members encouraged me to keep reading. This is the perfect example of a book that starts slow and really finishes with a bang (excuse the pun). This book is an engaging story of the very exciting, stressful and defining moment in American history, the end of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Bob Drury is a great story teller.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Dubczak

    Enthralling read. Historical story told in narrative form that created a realistic picture of the tense debacle that was America's final hours in Vietnam. The last-minute heroics it took to evacuate the US Embassy in Saigon was a true testament to the nature of the Marine Security Guards. The picture is painted clearly, and I found my heartbeat quickening as the last few helicopters left the embassy compound during Operation Frequent Wind. Enthralling read. Historical story told in narrative form that created a realistic picture of the tense debacle that was America's final hours in Vietnam. The last-minute heroics it took to evacuate the US Embassy in Saigon was a true testament to the nature of the Marine Security Guards. The picture is painted clearly, and I found my heartbeat quickening as the last few helicopters left the embassy compound during Operation Frequent Wind.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Will

    As I read the book I remember my feelings on May 1975. As a Vietnam veteran I felt a great sense of loss on how the war ended. How much greater the were the feelings of those who had lost family members and those who lost limbs, health and emotional stability. The book was fragmented but so was the war and the book really gave you an idea of how those men tried to do their best to help everyone they could under the circumstances. Walt Meyers

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becca Bridget

    There's a slow start to the story as the author describes the background and training of the numerous service members who were serving in Vietnam at the end of the war. The tension- and the story- picks up as the NVA advances on Saigon and Americans are ordered to lead. Drury paints a truly desperate picture as the Americans are forced to rely on evacuation by helicopter. There's a slow start to the story as the author describes the background and training of the numerous service members who were serving in Vietnam at the end of the war. The tension- and the story- picks up as the NVA advances on Saigon and Americans are ordered to lead. Drury paints a truly desperate picture as the Americans are forced to rely on evacuation by helicopter.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Rudisel

    The heart ache and terror and heroism in those final days... What a monumentally futile task those last men (and the refugees needing escape) faced. Yet they did such a magnificent job doing what they could when things looked so entirely hopeless. So very personalized. So very moving. Riveting. Great job. Highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jdblair

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this sad story of our departure from South Vietnam in 1975. The book introduces many of the MSGs and gives a very personal look at the individuals and what they went through. After reading this book, you wonder why we stayed in Vietnam as long as we did. There was so much waste of men and resources over the years we were there.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    One of the best books I have read on the Vietnam War. Chronicles the final days in April 1975 when the city of Saigon was surrounded by Communist forces and about to fall. The sense of impending doom is palpable, sometimes I could swear I could smell the city burning.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Grahambo

    Simply told, but earnest and compelling. Not a historical account, however clearly describes the claustrophobic collapse of the perimeter and the shame as the Vietnam war came to an end.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Paints a picture of the last days in Vietnam.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hollis

    This is an excellent book on an often overlooked group of soldiers, diplomats and events during America's involvement in Vietnam. This is an excellent book on an often overlooked group of soldiers, diplomats and events during America's involvement in Vietnam.

  29. 5 out of 5

    William

    A very easy read about little known events during a controversial period of US history. I enjoyed this book immensely and it's a great read for anyone who has interest in the Vietnam War. A very easy read about little known events during a controversial period of US history. I enjoyed this book immensely and it's a great read for anyone who has interest in the Vietnam War.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Downing

    This book was so well written. It was very hard to read...emotionally. Vietnam was a complex, difficult time to understand. Our service men were treated so poorly and often lumped into broad generalizations of character that sickens me. So many men and women put their everything into helping people and their sacrifice is often lost or forgotten. Regardless how you feel about Vietnam, I encourage you to read books like this one to better understand the issues that sculpted the time frame. The cha This book was so well written. It was very hard to read...emotionally. Vietnam was a complex, difficult time to understand. Our service men were treated so poorly and often lumped into broad generalizations of character that sickens me. So many men and women put their everything into helping people and their sacrifice is often lost or forgotten. Regardless how you feel about Vietnam, I encourage you to read books like this one to better understand the issues that sculpted the time frame. The chaos of the final days in Vietnam is overwhelming. I was born in 1982 and the history I learned about Vietnam in academic settings and personal visits to memorials told so little of the actual experience of Vietnam, or the defining issues of the conflict. The dangerous and deadly rescue missions detailed in this narrative explain the heart of our veterans who were there. To any and all of you who were there doing the task assigned to you in Vietnam...thank you. I wish detailed, informative information chronicled in this book was mandatory reading for high school age students in America.

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