The year was 1975. John Riordan was a young American living in South Vietnam. He had served a tour there during the Vietnam conflict, but had finished and moved on to a civilian job. First National City Bank (now Citibank) hired him to work in their newly-opened Saigon branch, one of only three American employees at the bank. The job suited him, and he was promoted to assistant manager.
When the U.S. pulled their troops out of South Vietnam, the North Vietnamese army began to invade. The bank’s home office in New York called to tell the three American employees it was time for them to leave the country. They were evacuated to Hong Kong, which was considered a safe place. But John just couldn’t stop thinking about his Vietnamese co-workers who were trapped in a country that wouldn’t allow them to leave. There had to be a way to get them and their families out. His superiors told him he would be fired if he went back into South Vietnam, but he followed his conscience.
The story was a non-stop read for me. I greatly admired John, who did something most of us wouldn’t have even considered doing. He went back into a dangerous situation to help those he worked with. They were more than just co-workers or neighbors, they were family.