“In Phnom Penn, the Khmer Rouge wearing their black pajamas had already entered, and the Americans were leaving. My father had stayed until the last minute at the request of his supervisor at the embassy. The Americans wanted to be sure that the transmission cables were working well enough that they could get messages in and out of Phnom Penn until they left. Many of the cables had been severed during bombing raids, and it was my father’s job to find and repair them. It was dangerous work. The embassy staff was offering to take all of their Cambodian workers out of the country with them knowing that they would probably be killed if they stayed behind. Many had already gone, but my father had to wait until the last group left, and he would not leave without his family.
“My father called my mother’s cousin who was a medical student in Phnom Penn and asked him to go to Battambang to get us right away, but he refused. He said he’d be risking his life just walking across the air field to the airplane because Khmer Rouge rockets were exploding every few minutes. It was too dangerous.
“So my father, in a panic now, hurried to the airport himself, ran across the tarmac to a small plane scheduled to fly to Battambang, and got into the plane just as the door closed and the plane took off into the air. A rocket exploded where the plane had been standing.
“Through the window he could see the forests and jungle below. He caught a glimpse of the river that flowed both north and south, depending on the season to the Tonle Sap the largest lake in Asia, before the plane veered northwest toward Battambang Province. His anxiety grew as he saw what was happening below. There were clearings where the fields had been harvested but the nearby villages were burning, and the roads were crowded with military trucks, tanks, and jeeps, and mixed with them were ox carts pulled by animals and crowds of people walking and running away from their burning homes. What was happening down there? What would he find when he got home?”
Excerpt from Spare Them? No Profit. Remove Them? No Loss. Page 6.