When on April 29th 1975 North Vietnamese forces started attacking the outskirts of Saigon Martin gave the order to commence operation Frequent Wind.
The signal for the evacuation was the broadcast on Armed Forces Radio of the quote “the temperature is rising” followed by eight bars of the Irving Berlin song White Christmas.
Originally large scale helicopter evacuations were not planned for the Embassy.
But as things deteriorated and people could not get to Tan Son Nhat airport which was under bomb and rocket attack, the Embassy was used as a staging area.
Wave after wave of helicopters would land on the rooftop of the Embassy, where French, Americans and South
Vietnamese military families would all be ushered into the arriving helicopters.
Outside the Embassy compound thousand of Vietnamese swarmed around the Embassy compound hoping and pleading for escape.
So desperate to escape, Marines talk of seeing a women toss her baby over the barbed wire of the fence in the hope they would take it, or of a man offering a bag of uncut gems for a chance of freedom.
By about 3am on the following morning of April the 30th, the ambassador had gone and the only Americans remaining were the U.S. Marines.
The order was then given to airlift Embassy documents and American citizens only.
Vietnamese still there who had worked many years for the U.S. Embassy or military were refused the helicopter evacuation service.
To the regret of many Americans who were there, hundreds of Vietnamese who had been promised a way out were left behind.
In particular the U.S. Embassy staff were concerned with evacuating Vietnamese who had worked for US AIS, USIS and the embassy, as these were people who more than likely would be on the communist enemies' list, and would be killed for allying with the U.S. enemy during the war.
The remaining marines barricaded the entrances, rolled down steel doors, dropped grenades down the elevators so they could not be used and went to the roof.
As the Marines lay on the roof of the Embassy to avoid sniper fire until the last helicopter finally arrived, the crowds outside drove a full water truck through the outer gates.
Swarms of Vietnamese flooded into the compound and rushed into the building.
With a desperate mob of refugees desperately trying to gain access to the roof, the final helicopter finally arrived at 8am for the remaining marines.