Kevin Delany passed away Jan. 15 in Bethesda from complications of Alzheimer's disease, his family said.
His exploits in Vietnam on behalf of the employees of the ABC News bureau and their families were remembered as “heroic” by ABC News vice president Bob Murphy.
"He was always a gentleman and what he did to save our Saigon staff was heroic and amazing," Murphy said. "It set a standard for professional responsibility and human care that we have tried to follow ever since."
Delany served as an ABC News bureau chief in Asia in the early and mid-1970s and was in Saigon in late April 1975 when the North Vietnamese were bearing down on the city.
World News Videos | US News Videos
Originally, 58 people were to be rescued, but the number grew “as families ‘discovered’ sons and daughters they had overlooked.” Delany arranged with the U.S. Embassy to get the people out in groups on different days via CIA-run aircraft -- a dicey operation the whole way.
“Crammed into two large vans, we arrived at the main gate only to have a nasty looking Vietnamese MP [military police] officer ignore our pleading and document waving and order us away from the gate,” Delany wrote of one attempt. “We drove around the base to a back gate only to be waved off again. Time was running out to get to the CIA terminal, and we went back to the main gate for one last try. I asked the heads of households to give me all of their Vietnamese piasters [currency] – soon to become worthless.”
Delany gave the money to an ABC cameraman who was able to slip it to the guard at the main gate. With a fistful of cash, the guard let them through.
“’Thank god for corruption,’ I thought, ‘The system still works,’” he wrote.
Read More Now