Randy Smith and son present Marine Corps Commandant with Vietnam memento

Randy Smith of Venice, Fla. isn’t just any Marine. He’s a former Marine Guard, who on April 29, 1975, took down the American flag for the last time at the United States Embassy in Saigon then flew away in the next to last U.S. helicopter to leave that beleaguered capital at the close of the Vietnam War.

Randy and his son, Brett, look at old pictures from the father's tour in Vietnam almost 40 years ago. The photo shows Cpl. Smith, a Marine Corps guard at the American Embassy in Saigon, being greeted by Ambassador Graham Martin during the Marine Corps' birthday celebration on Nov. 19, 1974. Photo provided

Randy and his son, Brett, look at old pictures from the father’s tour years in Vietnam almost 40 years ago. The photo shows Cpl. Smith, a Marine Corps guard at the American Embassy in Saigon, being greeted by Ambassador Graham Martin during the Marine Corps’ birthday celebration on Nov. 19, 1974. Photo provided

Smith and his 17-year-old son, Brett, who will join the Corps this summer, “ambushed” Marine Corps Commandant James Amos at the entrance to the Boca Royale Golf and Country Club near Englewood, Fla. Friday evening. The four-star general was there for a speaking engagement.

Father and son presented him with a framed memento of that long-ago war.

The inscription reads:

“One Thousand Piaster Note presented to Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, being at the Boca Royale Semper Fi Event March 22, 2013 Randy Charles Smith, the Last Marine to stand duty Post One, American Embassy Saigon, Vietnam and the Last Marine to take down the flag in Vietnam presents a One Thousand Piaster Note taken by Cpl. Smith from the Embassy Compound during the final days of the evacuation.

“In keeping in the highest tradition of the United States Marine Corps the world’s finest fighting force ever, Randy Charles Smith certifies this to be true and binding.

Semper Fidelas,

Randy C. Smith
Sergeant of Marines
Sept. 27, 1973 – Sept. 26, 1077

“I thought it would be neat to give the commandant one of my 1,000 Piaster notes I took from the embassy the day it fell to the North Vietnamese Army in 1975 along with its accompanying plaque and have my son there to see it,” the Vietnam Marine said.

“The general is a down-to-earth good guy. He was very appreciative. I knew we made an immediate bond because when we were leaving he punched me in the chest,” Randy explained.

This is what the chaos in the street outside the American Embassy in Saigon looked like the day the North Vietnamese Army marched into Saigon on April 29, 1975 and took over. Photo provied

This is what the chaos in the street outside the American Embassy in Saigon looked like the day the North Vietnamese Army marched into Saigon on April 29, 1975 and took over. Photo provided

The connection between Gen. Amos, Randy and his son goes like this: “I was a 17-year-old senior in high school from Beaver Creek, Ohio when I joined the Marine Corps in 1974. My son is a 17-year-old high school senior from Venice High School in Venice, Fla. and he’s about to join the Corps.

“The fact that the commandant came to Venice to speak at an annual fund raising event for wounded Marines on the same day I joined the Corps 40 years ago is more than a coincidence. It struck me as a God-thing,” Randy said.

“It would be super to find out what Gen. Amos does with my plaque. It would be great if it went up on his wall somewhere,” the Vietnam vet concluded.

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. and is republished with permission.

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