The Rev. Dale S. Herendeen was one of thirty-four North American missionaries who survived a major Communist attack on the Vietnamese resort city of Dalat. Herendeen attended several colleges in the Los Angeles area, graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary, and has served with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Viet Nam for more than ten years. This is his account of the siege:
We were missionaries gradually being caught in a closing trap. Whether or not the trap was meant for us is irrelevant. We got out just two hours before it shut.
Tuesday, January 30, was New Year’s Day in Viet Nam, the day on which the Viet Cong began their attack. You have to understand the Oriental to know how clever and vicious this was. For Tet is a day when the Vietnamese ordinarily go home to their families, a great and wonderful time when they think of anything but war.
On that day I wrote “Truce?” in my diary. We heard on the radio that the VC had begun to attack the cities in force. Outside our city of Dalat, normally a quiet place, they were infiltrating and ambushing. Nevertheless, my wife Pat and I drove about twenty-five miles down the highway that day to keep a preaching engagement. We got back without incident.
On Wednesday Dalat went on yellow (stand-by) alert. About four in the afternoon the VC sent a message downtown that they would hit the marketplace. That night a curfew was called at eight. Our mission property was spread over a pine-dotted hill covering the equivalent of about two city blocks. I went from house to house telling our missionary staff to stay in their houses.
At 3 A.M. Thursday we were awakened by a great deal of firing. A C47 flare plane, of the type dubbed “Puff the Magic Dragon,” circled overhead. There was ...1
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