Book Review: Getting Out of Saigon
How Ralph White Helped Save 113 Vietnamese Civilians
By Ken Jablon, CAA President
Here is the plot:
A young bank officer of a large American bank is asked to take over and operate the Saigon, Vietnam branch. It’s April 1975, and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) is about one day’s march from Saigon.
He realizes that if he doesn’t get the Vietnamese employees out of the country, they will probably be executed by the NVA. He has no idea how to do this and the American ambassador will not help him. He does have $25,000 in cash and a pistol in a briefcase that he carries around with him.
The officer is 27 years old.
This is an interesting plot for a novel or even a film, except that it all happened.
Ralph White (photo, left), the author of this book, was that Chase Manhattan Bank officer who saved 113 Vietnamese civilians (bank employees and their families), not because he was ordered to, but because it was the right thing to do.
It is a gripping, well-written story with interesting and well-drawn characters. You already know the outcome, but you don’t know how it can be accomplished. He considered stealing a rice boat, which he would navigate down the river to the sea, or stealing a small plane, which he would pilot himself, to somewhere. Although he spent time preparing for both of these possibilities, neither worked out in the end. All of this took place within a couple of weeks of their leaving, just days before Saigon fell.
The story continues on as the refugees travel to the Philippines, Guam and then to New York, where Chase employees take Vietnamese families into their homes.
I believe anyone will be interested in this book, but Chase bankers will especially enjoy it. Even though I started with Chase a year after this happened, I knew everyone mentioned at Chase New York headquarters and almost everyone in the Regional headquarters in Hong Kong, which made this very personal for me.
Other stories on the CAA website about Chase's experience in Vietnam:
Chase's Vietnamese Staff Evacuees
Chase Host Families for Vietnamese Evacuees in 1975
The book, published by Simon & Schuster, was released on April 4, 2023. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at various chain and independent bookstores.
Click here for the website about the book, which includes dates on Ralph White's book tour.
From Lynn Giuffre (posted April 23, 2023): Courtesy of “Libby” (among my most useful and appreciated apps), I recently completed the audio version of Getting out of Saigon. As a longtime employee and alumna, this read served to reinforce and enhance my pride and appreciation for what is and was the best of “Chase”..its “people”.
Kudos to the author and all those who did the right thing.
From Mary Corkery (posted March 25, 2023): I remember very early in my career a Chase employee telling a story of being sent to Saigon strapped with cash to ensure the safety of our staff in Saigon. I recall him telling us about a plane being sent and employees having a few hours to make such an incredibly difficult decision. One of the most fascinating stories I’ve heard. I want to say his first name was Bob but not sure. I also recall we had a cultural event at CMP after the first attack on the WTC, and a number of individuals who were rescued told their stories.
I hope you are able to book an event with Mr. White. These stories need to be told.