World

View of Cambodia's fall by one of the few government ministers to take US evacuation offer

  • In this Tuesday, April 7, 2015, photo, retired U.S. diplomat Timothy M. Carney poses for a portrait in his home in Washington. Carney was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia in 1975 and was key in organizing the helicopter evacuation of nearly 300 people. He tried to persuade Cambodian government leaders to flee but nearly all of them stayed behind, only to be executed by the Khmer Rouge shortly after the Americans pulled out. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    In this Tuesday, April 7, 2015, photo, retired U.S. diplomat Timothy M. Carney poses for a portrait in his home in Washington. Carney was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia in 1975 and was key in organizing the helicopter evacuation of nearly 300 people. He tried to persuade Cambodian government leaders to flee but nearly all of them stayed behind, only to be executed by the Khmer Rouge shortly after the Americans pulled out. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 18, 2015, photo, Long Botta, 72, a Cambodian member of Parliament, is interviewed by the Associated Press in Paris. He served as minister of culture in the U.S.-backed government and was one of only two Cambodian leaders evacuated. The rest chose to remain behind and were executed by the Khmer Rouge. Contacted by American diplomat Timothy Carney, he was given 45 minutes to gather his wife, two children, one suitcase and $50 before being extracted from Phnom Penh by helicopter. The event left him psychologically disturbed for several years. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)

    In this March 18, 2015, photo, Long Botta, 72, a Cambodian member of Parliament, is interviewed by the Associated Press in Paris. He served as minister of culture in the U.S.-backed government and was one of only two Cambodian leaders evacuated. The rest chose to remain behind and were executed by the Khmer Rouge. Contacted by American diplomat Timothy Carney, he was given 45 minutes to gather his wife, two children, one suitcase and $50 before being extracted from Phnom Penh by helicopter. The event left him psychologically disturbed for several years. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)  (The Associated Press)

A snapshot of Cambodia's fall, from a government minister evacuated by the United States in 1975:

NAME: Long Botta

HOMETOWN: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

CAMBODIA EXPERIENCE: Served as minister of culture in the U.S.-backed government and was one of only two Cambodian leaders evacuated. The rest chose to remain behind and were executed by the Khmer Rouge. Contacted by American diplomat Timothy Carney, he was given 45 minutes to gather his wife, two children, one suitcase and $50 before being extracted from Phnom Penh by helicopter. The event left him psychologically disturbed for several years.

LIFE AFTER CAMBODIA'S FALL: Joined the non-communist resistance fighting the Vietnamese-installed government in Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, lived for a time in France and finally returned home in 2005 to begin what he says is a "second political life." At 72, he is now a member of Parliament from the party opposing authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

REFLECTIONS: Boarding the evacuation helicopter, Long Botta thought the Americans were planning a government-in-exile or armed resistance against the Khmer Rouge. "Only 15 minutes after the helicopter took off, then the (soldier) told us: 'Welcome on board.' I said to myself, 'Finished. We will leave Cambodia forever.'"

At that moment he felt betrayed by the U.S. government, but later he reflected: The Cambodians had destroyed themselves through gross corruption.