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in the right-hand seat of the fake national police cars, driven by former South Vietnamese employees, had to be trained and oriented for this extremely dangerous mission. Employees of Pacific Architect and Engineers (a company contracted by DAO to design and build structures) volunteered for this mission which involved learning the eight surface routes so well that they could almost perform the task blindfolded. In addition to this contribution, members of this company also made possible, through the construction and installation of folding ladders, access to rooftops of buildings selected as way stations, which possessed excellent sites for helicopter landing pads but lacked a way to reach the roof itself.37


The last element of preparation involved what Captain Wood termed night "kamikaze runs" necessitated by the road blocks randomly imposed by the national police on various sections of the city of Saigon. Each night the police would close a different sector, and the SPG constantly had to know the status of Santa Fe, Oregon, Texas, and the other five routes. Personal observation was the only solution. Consequently, each night, beginning around mid-April, either Major Sabater, Captain Wood, or Army Captain George Petry would grab an automatic weapon, jump in a jeep driven by a Marine and ride the streets of Saigon.38


For the remaining days in April, these activities and preparations intensified as did efforts to improve the DAO Compound's defenses. To enhance security there, the Embassy moved some of its Marines to Tan Son Nhut shortly after General Carey's visit in mid-April. Major Sabater further solidified the perimeter by rigging petroleum barrels so that they could be exploded into a wall of flames should any group attempt to overrun the compound. Major Sabater also trained a small "militia" to use in the event of an "extreme emergency."39


While immersed in these time-intensive tasks of preparation, Major Sabater, Captain Wood, and Captain Petry experienced an unwelcome interruption. Colonel Howard had been notified that a C-141 carrying approximately $13 million in bills of varying denominations was inbound to Tan Son Nhut. Requested by Ambassador Martin as a final payment to his South Vietnamese employees, the cash had to be picked up by some responsible person. The three officers grabbed their automatic weapons and personally drove a borrowed bread truck to Tan Son Nhuc where they met a C-l4l on the runway with its jet engines still turning. They proceeded to unload crate after crate of American greenbacks into the truck, stacking it from the floor to the ceiling. Once loaded they returned to the DAO and unloaded their cargo in a secure building.* After losing precious time, Sabater, Wood, and Petry returned to their SPG duties and the planning of the evacuation.40


As the last weekend in April 1975 began, the DAO and the 9th MAB concluded their planning efforts. With the DAO ready and the plan for Operation Frequent Wind approved, everyone simply waited for the Ambassador's request to evacuate.


*Many of these same officers helped to burn approximately eight million of these dollars during the afternoon and evening of 29 April, but a full accounting of the undelivered money was never completed, Wood intvw.






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