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U.S. Will Not Evacuate Dependents of Personnel from South Vietnam

Feb. 17, 1964 - The United States is not contemplating evacuation of the dependents of its official personnel in South Vietnam, despite the Communist terrorist campaign, officials in Washington said today. The Johnson Administration feels that terrorist attacks like yesterday’s bombing of a Saigon movie theater are aimed at forcing such a repatriation. Policy at present is to keep the families there and fight back with special security measures. The Marine Corps today identified an officer killed in yesterday’s explosion as Captain Donald E. Koelper (pictured), 32 years old, of Pasadena, California.

The determination of the U.S. to remain in Vietnam was reaffirmed today in a State Department statement which said: “If the Viet Cong believe that the latest outrage will affect the determination of the United States to continue the support of the Vietnam Government and people, they are surely mistaken. Such acts will only harden our determination to work to achieve the time when Vietnam is at peace and its people are able to lead their lives in freedom and prosperity.”

The U.S. Embassy in Saigon has long had plans to evacuate Americans by air within 48 hours if the need arose. There is great reluctance among diplomats, however, that an evacuation now would be advisable.

Today, one Vietnamese shrugged his shoulders and said: “If the Americans admit they can’t protect their own families, they should also admit they can’t protect us. The Americans have another country they can go to, but we don’t have another country.”


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