Tags: CIA | Vietnam | Polgar | Snepp | war

Last CIA Vietnam Station Chief, Thomas Polgar, Dies

Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 08:04 AM

By Elliot Jager


Thomas Polgar, the last Central Intelligence Agency station chief in South Vietnam, has died at the age of 91 in Florida, The New York Times reported.

In April 1975, Polgar helped rescue the last remaining Americans in the country onto evacuation helicopters. One of his final acts before destroying the agency's cable-sending machine was to put out a closing message:

"This will be final message from Saigon station.

"It has been a long and hard fight, and we have lost. This experience, unique in the history of the United States, does not signal necessarily the demise of the United States as a world power.

"The severity of the defeat and the circumstances of it, however, would seem to call for a reassessment of the policies of niggardly half-measures which have characterized much of our participation here despite the commitment of manpower and resources, which were certainly generous. Those who fail to learn from history are forced to repeat it. Let us hope that we will not have another Vietnam experience and that we have learned our lesson."

Polgar came to the CIA from the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services. Born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, he became a U.S. citizen during the war.

He retired from the spy agency in 1981, going on to work in a variety of positions including for the Senate committee looking into the Iran-Contra affair.

In the Paris peace process, which ended the Vietnam War in 1973, North Vietnam had promised to respect its demilitarized zone with the South and pursue reunification through negotiations.

Frank Snepp, a CIA analyst in Vietnam, accused Polgar of failing to impress on U.S. decision-makers the North's commitment to take over the South at all costs. Polgar said he respected Snepp but that "what he's giving is the private's view of the war," according to the Times.

Polgar died March 22 in Winter Park, Fla., the Times said.

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