Oklahoma City, OK, April 25, 2015 --(PR.com
)-- Almost 40 years ago, the world watched as the fate of Saigon sealed the fate of Vietnam. The hotly contested politics of those years, the tragic moments of those last days and the heroic evacuation of not only Americans but tens of thousands of Vietnamese plays a vital role in the newest book in author Spencer Hawke’s Ari Cohen espionage series.
“I remember the events of the Vietnam War playing out for the world on our televisions with the international news,” the British-born author said. “I was young, but the images were striking, and when I began to craft the backstory on my latest villain, those images came back to me.
“As a result, I spent a good deal of time on research of those vital days – April 28-30, 1975 – looking at things from the benefit of nearly 40 years hindsight, and as the anniversary draws near, I feel compelled to be part of the education process that doesn’t forget the incredible events that transpired.”
By April 28, General Văn Tiến Dũng and his North Vietnamese forces had begun their push toward the heart of Saigon in South Vietnam and America’s military had already largely been withdrawn from the country for some time. With the enemy on its way, evacuation of all Americans in the city had been ongoing for weeks.
On April 29, 1975, Dũng began his final attack on Saigon, and General Nguyễn Văn Toàn’s South Vietnamese forces weren’t the only casualties of the heavy artillery bombardment. That day saw the last two deaths of American servicemen in Vietnam – Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge, killed at Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport.
By late afternoon on April 30, the North Vietnamese had taken over the Presidential Palace, and renamed the city after the Democratic Republic’s President Hồ Chí Minh. The Fall of Saigon marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period leading to the formal reunification of Vietnam into a socialist republic, governed by the Communist Party of Vietnam.
But in those precious last days before the South Vietnamese surrendered, Operation Frequent Wind evacuated not only the remaining Americans, but tens of thousands of Vietnamese as well. It was the largest helicopter evacuation in history.
“It’s really with the onset of Operation Frequent Wind that my characters’ story begins,” Hawke said. “I tried looking at those hours with an understanding viewpoint for the Marines who had little or no options to help the throngs of people rushing the American Embassy gates, but at the same time, there is another focus that often goes overlooked.
“The controversy surrounding whether or not the American military should have been in Vietnam often overshadows the amazing things we did in those last hours to help save tens of thousands of Vietnamese people,” he said. “I try to show some of that affinity for the Vietnamese in my novel and I am excited to see the upcoming Last Days of Vietnam documentary coming out that will really tell that amazing story.”
Hawke’s newest novel, "The Orthus Conspiracy," is Book 2 in the Ari Cohen Series, which features a former Mossad agent now working for a 200-year-old secret society created by America’s founding fathers. Orthus isn’t his first novel with a tie to historical fact.
“I am a huge history buff,” he said of the hobby that influences so much of his writing. “My first novel was a Biblical times thriller, and the first book in this series was tied to the 1990’s crash of a stealth bomber in Bosnia.”
Soon, Hawke plans to release a short prequel to the Cohen works, set in 1700s England and America, of course.
"It’s a headache for my editor to double-check all my times, dates, names and places," he said of his writing passion, “but I’m lucky that she loves it as much as me!”