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White Christmas: The Fall of Saigon

A short “documentary” about the fall of Saigon and the role that the Bing Crosby song, “White Christmas” played in this historic event. The recording was broadcast on the radio on April 30, 1975, as a secret, pre-arranged signal precipitating the U.S. evacuation of Saigon.

7 comments to White Christmas: The Fall of Saigon

  • Richard Turner

    An ironic Christmas gift! Who is Robinson Duffy and how did the video migrate to this website?

    • Happy Holidays Rique!

      Robinson E. Duffy is a rather anonymous individual who maintains a Channel on YouTube were he posts a limited number of videos he produces as *Self Portrait Studios*.

      Bob

  • Mike McNally

    I love Christmas. Thanks for all the great Christmas links. A couple technical points on the Fall of Saigon. I heard the message live in Saigon on 29 April 1975. I can’t swear to what version of “White Christmas” was played. However, Chuck Neil, who intended to play the Bing Crosby version, said he couldn’t find it. So he played the Tennessee Ernie Ford version. He set it on auto, then left. I was still in the Embassy after midnight, that is, on the 30th, but the only commercial radios I heard were tuned to the BBC shortwave news.So Tennessee Ernie Ford may still have been singing on the 30th, but I can’t swear to it. And thanks to the Russian-born Jew, Irving Berlin, for his great song. Merry Christmas…Mike

    • Happy Holidays Mike!

      Thanks for the information regarding *White Christmas*. You could be correct. I guess the only thing known for certain is that *White Christmas* was played. Like so many things from back in that era, things tend to get distorted over time. Most accounts one finds on the Internet say it was the Bing Crosby version. But, that could be just because his was/is the most well known version of the song. Personally, I think they should have played the *ELVIS* version of White Christmas – LOL – πŸ™‚

      Perhaps some one else who was there while the song was playing on April 30, 1975 will see this and recall which artist’s version was actually played. This could get interesting! – LOL – πŸ™‚

      Bob

      PS: Update of additional information 12/24/2011: You may or may not have already seen this article of an eye witness’s account of the last days during the fall of Saigon. According to him the official code for evacuation of Saigon was:

      … The American embassy had distributed a 15-page booklet called SAFE, short for “Standard Instruction and Advice to Civilians in an Emergency.” The booklet included a map of Saigon pinpointing “assembly areas where a helicopter will pick you up.” There was an insert page which read: “Note evacuation signal. Do not disclose to other personnel. When the evacuation is ordered, the code will be read out on American Forces Radio. The code is: THE TEMPERATURE IN SAIGON IS 112 DEGREES AND RISING. THIS WILL BE FOLLOWED BY THE PLAYING OF I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS.” …

      To read the complete article *The Fall of Saigon 1975: An Eyewitness Report by John Pilger* – Click Here

      Most of the information I’ve come across on the Internet says the *official code* simply said to play *Irving Berlin’s I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas* with no mention of a particular recording artist.

      Interesting. It is, it is …

  • Mike McNally

    Bob,On Christmas, I listened to the Bing Crosby version of White Christmas, and also a portion online of the Tennessee Ernie Ford version. I’ve tried to think back to that brief moment on 29 April 1975, in Saigon, when I heard the message playing. I’m pretty sure that my thought at the time was that it was NOT Bing Crosby singing. I hope Chuck Neil will write a book about his Vietnam experiences. Perhaps he will find the person who turned off the tape. Or perhaps it shutdown automatically at some point. It might not even have been playing after midnight on the 30th…Mike McNally

    • Hi Mike,

      These puzzles are always sooooo interesting – LOL – πŸ™‚

      Not having been present when this event occurred and going only on what I’ve heard from you and others, and what I’ve read about it so far … my conclusion is that since the official code instructions simply said to play White Christmas, I’d imagine with all that was going on, the person who put the record on the turn table most likely grabbed the first record of White Christmas he found, turned it on and got the heck out of there. Anyway that’s what I’d have done – LOL.

      Are you in contact with Chuck Neil? If so maybe you can ask him.

      Hmmm …. this could make one heck of a *contest* for the site! – πŸ™‚

      Again, thank you for your input and contribution. Much appreciated!!

      Wishing you and yours a fantastic New Year!

      Bob

      PS: I may have found photo’s that might contain pictures of that plane you where looking for awhile back. One of the guys who was at 3rdFH has given me access to a collection of over 1,200 photographs of Saigon. I’m still going through them. I’ll let you know if I find the plane.

    • Puzzle solved, Mike!

      Curiosity got the best of me, so I did some heavy duty searching on the Internet this evening. Results: Found an article written by Chuck Neil about what actually happened. I’ll post the article here on the blog. It was not the Bing Crosby version of White Christmas that was played. Stay tuned for the *real story* – LOL – πŸ™‚

      Bob

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