When Big Blue

Went to War


Why would a unique group of IBM Corporation bachelors choose to leave good stateside jobs and risk their lives to live and work in a war zone? What are their stories and what happened to these civilians during and at the end of the war? When Big Blue Went To War describes a special military sponsored mission, gives some insight into the business side of war and relates the adventures of a cast of dedicated professionals. Learn about how data processing was used to monitor and manage the air and ground war.

    This is the story of IBM’s role in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and of the men who laid their lives and careers on the line to support a war that was fought with the help of extensive on-site data processing. Approximately 250 IBM ‘wild ducks’ were handpicked for these overseas assignments. They worked with, lived with and played with the military while installing and servicing IBM equipment utilized by our Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines throughout South Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Some of these IBMers remained overseas after the war, some brought Vietnamese brides home and some returned to traditional IBM careers. All felt a deep patriotic duty to the United States and its intended role in Southeast Asia. They all learned about wartime chaos, danger, life and death.

                                                     "Farmers by day, Viet Cong by night"


    IBM’s mission escalated and de-escalated in parallel with that of the U.S. forces.  By 1973 most US Nationals had withdrawn along with the military’s computing equipment. In 1975 the author took part in an interesting but failed effort to assist IBM Vietnamese employees escape the communists during the Fall of Saigon. The story of how our own US Embassy held these IBMers hostage in Saigon is told for the very first time.

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