“When the evacuation is ordered, the signal will be read on Armed Forces Radio. That signal is: ‘The temperature in Saigon is 105 degrees and rising.’ This will be followed by the playing of, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”
That announcement triggered Operation Frequent Wind, the almost unbelievable evacuation plan executed by United States forces on the 29th and 30th of April, 1975 when more than 7,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from various points in Saigon. The total number of Vietnamese evacuated or self-evacuated, ending up in the custody of the United States for processing as refugees to enter the country, totaled 138,869. But hundreds of thousands were left behind that then faced ‘re-education’ by the victors. The re-education camps, modeled on Soviet Gulags (and in some cases operated similarly as a Nazi concentration camp) soon became full. The New Economic Zone programs announced were thinly veiled justification for the confiscation of all assets held by the South Vietnamese people.
The smoke had cleared over Vietnam, but the country still ran with blood.
This is the continuing saga, started in Behind the Smoke Curtain, of American journalist Scott Reynolds, wounded and left behind as Saigon fell. Imprisoned–tortured and held secretly in solitary confinement–he and another prisoner, Tuan, a young former South Vietnamese army officer, escape during a camp uprising. A female guard at the camp who has fallen in love with Tuan reluctantly helps them. Traveling at night and hiding during the day not long after their escape they find Lan, a teenage girl who is escaping her own Hell having killed the New Economic Zone Commander that had tried to rape her. Together they evade patrols and informers and try to make their way to the coast to find a boat to escape Vietnam.
This is their story.