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Students Evacuate Saigon February 8, 1965

by Renee (Daniels) King, ACS

Tan Son Nhut Airport Circa February 8, 1965. Students and dependents evacuating Viet Nam. Renne (Daniels) King Collection. Submitted by Renee (Daniels) King. CLICK Image for Larger View.

This picture was taken during dependent evacuation from Viet Nam at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon on February 8, 1965.

The picture is worth a thousand (or more) words.

I was in a state of shock.

That morning Dad woke me up and said I would be taking the school bus as usual. But it might or might not actually arrive at school (huh–not school?). But if it did I would not be staying for very long (what was he talking about?)…And then he said to pack a bag with things I really wanted to take with me (how could I get my dog Inky and my turkey Lucy in a bag)…And that was all he could say.

The bus did take me to school. But within an hour I was back on the bus. To my surprise it let me off at the air base. All the other kids and their moms (and some dads) were there. My Dad gave me this beautiful corsage (it was almost as big as my head) and kissed me. He promised he would see me again. But I wasn’t sure. I was so scared.

Plane after plane flew in and filled up and took off. Within a couple of hours my Mother and brother and I were on our way to Oakland California. Then Clarksville Tennessee.

I remember it like yesterday. One of the many strange times in Viet Nam.

But all in all the most exciting time of my life. In the most beautiful place I ever lived.

After Bob received this, he sent me an email saying …

“You had a pet turkey in Saigon!?! Now that is a *first* for me. In all my life I’ve never known a girl who had a pet turkey! – lol. I can’t wait to hear about your Saigon turkey. I didn’t even know they had turkeys in Saigon. Probably because while living in Saigon most of my time was spent pursuing my interests in baseball, rock n roll, ba muoi ba, and girls in preparation for my aspirations, at the time, to become an international playboy – lol.”

Here is my reply.

Bob…Yes, I could write a whole nother story about Lucy. My Dad worked in Hue and only came home every other weekend or so. Mr. Ving, my Dad’s interpreter, gifted us with Lucy Thanksgiving 1963. As he understood Turkey was the guest of honor at a traditional American Thanksgiving. She arrived in a huge basket. She was restrained by rope. Very sad sight to behold. The cook brought her to my Mom and asked what she should do. Neither her mother, the housekeeper, her brother, the gardener, nor she wanted to kill the turkey. Mom, very surprised at the unexpected present, didn’t either. So she was cut loose and freely roamed our walled compound yard and garden. She (we really never really knew whether she was a she or he…wouldn’t have known how to tell) became enamored with her reflection in the left rear hubcap of our yellow Ford Galaxy 500. I guess we could have named her Narcissus. But we had already named her Lucy…Lucy Brown. The car stayed parked in the garage except for an occasional Sunday drive to the countryside…Mostly to visit Mr.Ving’s son, a 19-year-old lieutenant in the ARVN, at Ben Hoa. And for a couple of weeks when some repairs were being made to the garage. Lucy almost lost her mind then. The car was parked in the lane of the compound. She would sit at the gate and peer out, pining pathetically. Well, I don’t know what happened to her after the evacuation. I like to think the housekeeper and her family took Inky and her with then. And they all remained safe..And Lucy died in her sleep at a ripe old age…Whew…Where did that come from?…Well, you asked…Renee

I could write so much more … and will one day.

15 comments to Students Evacuate Saigon February 8, 1965

  • marie-colombe (perry) wright

    Renee,
    Wonderful to see that picture of you at Tan Son Nhut….since that was the last I saw you, it is wonderful to see you again this way. I have a lot of pictures from those days…

    Where are you?..would love to reconnect..
    big hug,
    Marie

  • Renee Daniels King

    Marie…So good to hear from you…I am living in Montgomery, AL…Where are you?…Don’t you just love this website?…You never know who you will hear from next…It will be great to reconnect?…I would love to see the old pics you have…I have some more,too… Love, Renee

  • Sarah Rogers

    Great story Renee! The Lucy chapter was very entertaining.

  • Sandy Hanna

    When we lived in Saigon in 1960 we were constantly being given gifts of animals and we too didn’t know what to do with them. I wouldn’t allow them to be killed so all in all we ended up with: three turkeys, one banty rooster, one stork, one monkey, three dogs, cats, and even an elephant. They were wonderful pets, but getting to the market to get fresh shrimp for the stork was a job shared by all. I have one question for you Renee – your dog Inky. We had a dog named Inky that we gave away when we left in 1962 (we had to place all these animals before we left). He was a wonderful dog – brown with almost black stripes – could the dog you had be one in the same? We had lived on Phan Than Guian and I think we left him with the house and whomever would be occupying it next. Not sure on that one and don’t have any family member to ask any more.

    Sandy

    • Renee Daniels King

      Wow, Sandy…I love your story…I can’t really remember how Inky came to live with us…He was a GREAT dog…REALLY smart and sweet…I do know he had no clue he was a dog…Whoever had him before us had really loved him…I remember he and I were both horrified when my Dad’s friend, Mr. Paul Vogel an American war correspondant, came to our home for dinner…He remarked that Inky would make a delightful addition to the evening’s menu…Inky and I just stared at each other in disbelief…We both understood the implication perfectly…

  • Frank

    Wow! what a great memory!

  • Sandy Hanna

    What color was he – brown with black tiger like striping? My Inky was also so sweet and a really good dog, we had made him part of our family of four kids. Did you get him when he was young or already grown. Just trying to see if it could have been him. If it was I would be so happy he had such a great friend and home. Sandy

  • Renee Daniels King

    Sandy…We may both have been blessed to have loved and been loved by the same wonderful dog!…This warms my heart…Inky was already named and full-grown when we got him…He was brown with black stripes..Medium build…Dad said of the Heinz 57 variety…Avery elite breed…He may have come with the house…Or the housekeeper and her family may have brought him with them from their previous employers…We lived in Cholon…In the same compound with Paul and Bear Delort…And Arlene Ames…Please tell me (us) more about your other pets…Especially the elephant…I had a cat named Tiger..He would come and go as Tom cats will…One time he was gone for 6 months or longer…I thought I would never see him again…One morning he was on the roof of the garage howling…The gardener, about 8 years old, climbed up and brought Tiger down..He had been been bitten by something…I wrapped him up in a towel, hailed a taxi and asked him to take me to a vet…When we arrived I lifted Tiger out of the taxi…All of a sudden he made a remarkable recovery and bolted…I ran after him for several blocks through unfamiliar neighborhoods…I went back to look for him several times but never saw him again…I certainly entertained the locals…Several joined me on my search and remained on the lookout for months…Renee

    • Renee and Sandy … It sounds to me like you both were blessed with the same dog. Like … how many brown with black stripes dogs named Inky could there have been in Saigon …

      Renee I’m with you … I can’t wait to hear about the pet elephant … as I mentioned to you earlier I never knew a girl with a pet turkey … BUT … dang! … a girl with a pet elephant … WOW! … I’m speechless … In all my life I never imagined I’d ever, ever meet a girl with a pet elephant .. as they say “never say never” … LOL 🙂

      Bob

  • Sandy Hanna

    Renee – I think you had my dog. Absolutely spot on description and I’m thrilled. He was incredible. He was family and it was so hard to leave him. When we got him we lived on Don Thi Diem and one of his great talents was to work in tandum with my cat to kill the huge rats that would come out at night. They were a team in this. He was so good natured. I had a blue bellied monkey named Mo Ho Loy (no good girl in Chinese) who would wait around the corner of the house and grab hold to his collar when he went by and ride. This he was not so happy about. The elephant had been given as a gift and the second house on Phan Than Gian had an enclosure that made it possible to keep all the animals. But after it followed me into the house a few times, we ended up walking it to the Saigon Zoo. My Mom didn’t mind the animals, but I think the elephant pushed the envelop. After the fall of Saigon I had heard that the zoo really suffered and I wondered how my little elephant did. Did you have a maid named Thi Ba who had a daughter named Lucy? Anyway, so glad to hear how Inky fared. Thank you. Sandy

    • Wow! Girls what are the odds of this happening!?! … 2 Saigon Kids there at different times having the same dog … AWESOME!!

      Renee and Sandy, thank you so very much for sharing your memories and stories … hearing stories like yours are moments that touch the very core of my soul … and warm my heart … and makes all the time and efforts I’ve put in keeping this blog going all worthwhile … thank you both so very, very much for sharing your memories and stories with us … means a lot to all us Saigon Kids!

      So, Sandy would you care to elaborate on your elephant … like what and how much did it eat? … who washed it? … who in your family got the chore of *cleaning up* after the elephant? … must’ve been fun … lol. I have this vivid picture in my mind of you walking down the street in Saigon with your elephant on a leash (or whatever you use to walk an elephant – lol) … ONLY in Saigon … can you imagine if you tried to keep a pet elephant in the back yard in the States, much less walk down the street with it … It must’ve been an interesting scene at your house when the elephant arrived … [[[ Hi, mom. We’ve got a new pet. Oh, what is it dear. A really cute elephant, mom. A WHAT!?! ..EEEKKKKK … ]]]

      Thanks for sharing girls … I’m loving these stories, as I’m sure all Saigon Kids are …

      Rock Onnnn …

      Bob

  • Sandy Hanna

    One more question – When did you arrive in Saigon? I do believe my father knew your father because I think I remember the name Daniels. We left in July 1962,if you had gotten there then it is possible that my father brought Inky over to you. Sandy

  • Renee Daniels King

    Sandy…We arrived at the end of the summer…Dad worked for USAID but with Philco/Ford Engineers from ’60 to ’62…He began his time in VietNam doing his last tour of Army duty with the Corps of engineers—101st Airborne from ’59 to ’60…He remained after we were evacuate for almost a year…Summer of ’66 he was reassigned to DC…He spent a total of almost 7 years in VietNam…Who did your Dad work for…Relly doesn’t matter as all the Americans pretty much knew each other…Renee

  • Sandy Hanna

    My Dad was with MAAG (Military Aid Advisory Group)in charge of Ordinance and the training of the South Vietnamese Army with regard to this.(He was Patton’s Ordinance officer in WWII). He would have worked with the Army Corps of Engineers in the scope of his job. I have to see if I can find anything in his archives that might mention your Dad. You’re right, none of us ever really thought of each other than as a group of kids in the same predicament…growing up in Saigon, and what a wonderful experience that was. Do you have any pictures of Inky. I’m going to go through my Dad’s slides to see if I can find any of him and will post. Also, will get back to you more on the elephant (Bob). This has been great! Sandy

  • Tom Hanna

    Inky sure sounds like our dog when we were there. He was the smartest dog I have ever know. Sandy neglected to tell you when my parents would have those cocktail parties, which were numerous, she let the monkey lose. It would climb the ladies legs like trees. A scream would be heard and Sandy would be in deep s—. I enjoyed those moments immensley.

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