In April 1975, the Chase Manhattan Bank’s senior management asked Ralph White, then 27, to relocate from its Bangkok branch to Saigon branch as enemy troops closed in on the city. The bank needed an American to helm Saigon in its final days, preferably one who was young and single. White was given the mission of keeping Saigon branch open as long as possible and rescuing its senior Vietnamese employees if closing became necessary.
Upon arrival in Saigon White encountered towering obstacles that the bank’s management had not anticipated. A delusional U.S. ambassador refused to support the bank’s evacuation of its Vietnamese employees. The Vietnamese government prohibited its citizens from leaving the country. And fears of a bloodbath made it essential to evacuate all employees, not just the senior staff. Then civil aviation in and out of Saigon was terminated.
When White discovered a clandestine evacuation channel being run behind the U.S. ambassador’s back, he resolved to rescue his staff and their families that way. With legwork and luck White got his families to the U.S. airbase days before Saigon fell.
Getting Out of Saigon is the remarkable true story of a city once called the Paris of the Orient on the eve of cataclysmic destruction.
Photo: JPMorgan Chase Corporate History Collection
"A unique, gripping story from the Vietnam War....White's persona seems like something out of a Terry Southern or Ian Fleming novel—as does his writing. White tells his inspiring story with wit, panache, humility, and a captivating sense of time and place. A fantastic read."
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