Academic journal article Military Review

The Lucky Few: The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk

Academic journal article Military Review

The Lucky Few: The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk

Article excerpt

THE LUCKY FEW: The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk

Jan K. Herman, U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2013, 192 pages, $39.95

Two years after the United States withdrew from Vietnam under the auspices of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, Saigon fell to the communists and the Republic of Vietnam ceased to exist. The images of the chaos that reigned as the North Vietnamese tanks surrounded and then stormed into the South Vietnamese capital city were seared into the memories of those who watched. Some of the most vivid of these images depicted panicked South Vietnamese citizens fleeing the North Vietnamese onslaught by sea to U.S. ships waiting offshore in the Tonkin Gulf. This group included the remnants of the South Vietnamese Navy and others who took to the sea in whatever vessels were available, as well as those who commandeered helicopters and flew out to meet the U.S. fleet.

The Lucky Few tells the unique story of the crew of the USS Kirk, a destroyer that played a major role in the 7th Fleet effort to assist people caught up in the fall of South Vietnam. Trained for war and expecting to be involved in combat, the crew of the Kirk found themselves involved in a massive humanitarian operation to save those who had managed to escape their dying nation. In the process, the Kirk played a major role in the rescue of 32,000 refugees and the escape of thirty-two vessels from the South Vietnamese fleet to sanctuary in the Philippines. …

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