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Vietnam War (1945-1975)

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Title: Vietnam War (1945-1975)


1
Vietnam War (1945-1975)
2
Vietnam War (1945-1975)
  • The Vietnam War was the longest war in United
    States history.
  • Promises and commitments to the people and
    government of South Vietnam to keep communist
    forces from overtaking them reached back into the
    Truman Administration. Eisenhower placed military
    advisers and CIA operatives in Vietnam, and John
    F. Kennedy sent American soldiers to Vietnam.
    Lyndon Johnson ordered the first real combat by
    American troops, and Richard Nixon concluded the
    war.

3
Early Involvement
  • After World War I, a nationalist movement formed
    in Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh. Ho was educated in
    the West, where he became a disciple of Marxist
    thought. Ho resented and resisted the French.
    When the Japanese invaded Vietnam during World
    War II, they displaced French rule. Ho formed a
    liberation movement known as the Viet Minh. Using
    guerrilla warfare, the Viet Minh battled the
    Japanese and held many key cities by 1945.
    Paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence, Ho
    proclaimed the new nation of Vietnam a new
    nation Western powers refused to recognize.

4
Early Involvement
  • France was determined to reclaim all its
    territories after World War II. The United States
    now faced an interesting dilemma. American
    tradition dictated sympathy for the
    revolutionaries over any colonial power. However,
    supporting the Marxist Viet Minh was unthinkable,
    given the new strategy of containing communism.

Ho Chi Minh
5
Domino Theory
  • American diplomats subscribed to the domino
    theory. A communist victory in Vietnam might lead
    to communist victories in Laos, Cambodia,
    Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Such a
    scenario was unthinkable to the makers of
    American foreign policy.
  • President Truman decided to support France in its
    efforts to reclaim Indochina by providing money
    and military advisers. The United States
    financial commitment amounted to nearly 1
    billion per year.

6
Early Involvement
  • The French found Ho Chi Minh a formidable
    adversary. Between 1945 and 1954 a fierce war
    developed between the two sides. Slowly but
    surely, the Viet Minh wore down the French will
    to fight. On May, 8th, 1954 a large regiment of
    French troops was captured by the Vietnamese led
    by communist general Vo Nguyen Giap at Dien Bien
    Phu.

7
French Withdrawl
  • The rest of the French troops withdrew, leaving a
    buffer zone separating the North and South.
    Negotiations to end the conflict took place in
    Geneva. A multinational agreement divided Vietnam
    at the 17th parallel. The territory north of this
    line would be led by Ho Chi Minh with Hanoi its
    capital.

8
The US Takes Over
  • The southern sector named Saigon its capital and
    Ngo Dinh Diem its leader. This division was meant
    to be temporary, with nationwide elections
    scheduled for 1956. Knowing that Ho Chi Minh
    would be a sure victor, the South made sure these
    elections were never held.

9
The US Takes Over
  • During the administrations of Eisenhower and
    Kennedy, the United States continued to supply
    funds, weapons, and military advisers to South
    Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh turned North Vietnam into a
    communist dictatorship and created a new band of
    guerrillas in the South called the Viet Cong,
    whose sole purpose was to overthrow the military
    regime in the South and reunite the nation under
    Ho Chi Minh.

10
The US Takes Over
  • The United States was backing an unpopular leader
    in Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem was corrupt, showed little
    commitment to democratic principles, and favored
    Catholics to the dismay of the Buddhist majority.
    In November 1963, Diem was murdered in a coup
    with apparent CIA involvement.

11
Buddhist Protests
  • On June 11th, 1963 a Buddhist protest march was
    making its way down one of Saigons busiest
    arteries, Phan-Dinh-Phung St. The procession of
    around 400 Buddhist monks and Nuns moved through
    the city until they hit Le-Van-Duyet St where a
    light blue Austin that was part of the
    procession, the car seen in the background of the
    picture, stopped. The hood was raised as if the
  • car had engine trouble while the nuns and monks
    in the parade quickly surrounded the car forming
    a circle of some seven monks deep. Thich Quang
    Duc a 66 year old monk calmly got out of the car
    and walked to the center of the circle sitting on
    a cushion provided for him. His religious
    brothers removed a jerry can of fuel from the car
    and proceeded to pour it over Quang-Duc who was
    now meditating in the lotus position. Quang-Duc
    with his Buddhist prayer beads in his right hand,
    then opened a box of matches, lit one and was
    instantly engulfed in flames. He did not move
    while his body was incinerated, while Malcome
    Browne the only western reporter present snapped
    the picture of the monk on fire..

12
Buddhist Protests
  • Passers-by stop to watch as flames envelope a
    young Buddhist monk, Saigon, October 5th, 1963.
    The man sits impassively in the central market
    square, he has set himself on fire performing a
    ritual suicide in protest against governmental
    anti-Buddhist policies. Crowds gathered to
    protest in Hue after the South Vietnamese
    government prohibited Buddhists from carrying
    flags on Buddha's birthday. Government troops
    opened fire to disperse the dissidents, killing
    nine people, Diems government blamed the incident
    on the Vietcong and never admitted
    responsibility. The Buddhist leadership quickly
    organized demonstrations that eventually led to
    seven monks burning themselves to death.

13
The US Takes Over
  • Few of Ngo's successors fared any better, while
    Ho Chi Minh was the Vietnamese equivalent of
    George Washington. He had successfully won the
    hearts and minds of the majority of the
    Vietnamese people. Two weeks after the fall of
    Diem, Kennedy himself was felled by an assassin's
    bullet.
  • By the time Lyndon Johnson inherited the
    Presidency, Vietnam was a bitterly divided
    nation. The United States would soon too be
    divided on what to do in Vietnam.

14
Gulf of Tonkin Incident
  • In August 1964, in response to American and GVN
    espionage along its coast, the DRV launched a
    local and controlled attack against the C. Turner
    Joy and the U.S.S. Maddox, two American ships on
    call in the Gulf of Tonkin. The first of these
    attacks occurred on August 2, 1964. A second
    attack was supposed to have taken place on August
    4, although Vo Nguyen Giap, the DRV's leading
    military figure at the time, and Johnson's
    Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara have
    recently concluded that no second attack ever
    took place. In any event, the Johnson
    administration used the August 4 attack as
    political cover for a Congressional resolution
    that gave the president broad war powers. The
    resolution, now known as the Gulf of Tonkin
    Resolution, passed both the House and Senate with
    only two dissenting votes (Senators Morse of
    Oregon and Gruening of Alaska). The Resolution
    was followed by limited reprisal air attacks
    against the DRV.

15
Gulf of Tonkin Incident
  • Throughout the fall and into the winter of 1964,
    the Johnson administration debated the correct
    strategy in Vietnam. The Joint Chiefs of Staff
    wanted to expand the air war over the DRV quickly
    to help stabilize the new Saigon regime. The
    civilians in the Pentagon wanted to apply gradual
    pressure to the Communist Party with limited and
    selective bombings. Only Undersecretary of State
    George Ball dissented, claiming that Johnson's
    Vietnam policy was too provocative for its
    limited expected results. In early 1965, the NLF
    attacked two U.S. army installations in South
    Vietnam, and as a result, Johnson ordered the
    sustained bombing missions over the DRV that the
    Joint Chiefs of Staff had long advocated.

16
Operation Rolling Thunder
  • The bombing missions, known as OPERATION ROLLING
    THUNDER, caused the Communist Party to reassess
    its own war strategy. From 1960 through late
    1964, the Party believed it could win a military
    victory in the south "in a relatively short
    period of time." With the new American military
    commitment, confirmed in March 1965 when Johnson
    sent the first combat troops to Vietnam, the
    Party moved to a protracted war strategy. The
    idea was to get the United States bogged down in
    a war that it could not win militarily and create
    unfavorable conditions for political victory. The
    Communist Party believed that it would prevail in
    a protracted war because the United States had no
    clearly defined objectives, and therefore, the
    country would eventually tire of the war and
    demand a negotiated settlement. While some naive
    and simple-minded critics have claimed that the
    Communist Party, and Vietnamese in general, did
    not have the same regard for life and therefore
    were willing to sustain more losses in a
    protracted war, the Party understood that it had
    an ideological commitment to victory from large
    segments of the Vietnamese population.

17
The Tet Offensive
  • By 1968, things had gone from bad to worse for
    the Johnson administration. In late January, the
    DRV and the NLF launched coordinated attacks
    against the major southern cities. These attacks,
    known in the West as the Tet Offensive, were
    designed to force the Johnson administration to
    the bargaining table. The Communist Party
    correctly believed that the American people were
    growing war-weary and that its continued
    successes in the countryside had tipped the
    balance of forces in its favor. Although many
    historians have since claimed that the Tet
    Offensive was a military defeat, but a
    psychological victory for the Communists, it had
    produced the desired results. In late March 1968,
    a disgraced Lyndon Johnson announced that he
    would not seek the Democratic Party's
    re-nomination for president and hinted that he
    would go to the bargaining table with the
    Communists to end the war.

18
My Lai Massacre
March 28, 1968 - The initial report by
participants at My Lai states that 69 Viet Cong
soldiers were killed and makes no mention of
civilian causalities. The My Lai massacre is
successfully concealed for a year, until a series
of letters from Vietnam veteran Ronald Ridenhour
spark an official Army investigation that results
in Charlie Company Commander, Capt. Ernest L.
Medina, First Platoon Leader, Lt. William Calley,
and 14 others being brought to trial by the Army.
A news photos of the carnage, showing a mass of
dead children, women and old men, remains one of
the most enduring images of America's involvement
in Vietnam.
19
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • The situation inherited by Richard Nixon was no
    less a "mess" than it was in November 1963 when
    Lyndon Johnson rose to the presidency. In fact,
    it was much worse. Over 500,000 troops were
    stationed in Vietnam Americans killed in action
    averaged 1200 a month. And domestic opinion
    about the war was divided (no consensus on a
    course of action in Vietnam), negative (a
    majority felt that the war was a mistake), and
    pessimistic (people saw little progress at the
    peace talks and believed the fighting would go on
    for at least 2 more years). Added to the mix
    were the racial divisions in the country, the
    skepticism toward within the anti-war movement,
    and a long standing antipathy toward Nixon among
    Democratic loyalists.

20
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • Nixon and Kissinger quickly agreed upon two
    premises about American policy in Vietnam. First,
    the war in Vietnam was not "winnable" in any
    conventional sense of the term. Public opinion
    would tolerate neither an escalation nor the
    continuation of a status quo that included over
    1,000 killed per month. Second, a unilateral
    withdrawal was not feasible because the political
    costs, both domestic and international, were
    unacceptable. Withdrawal would dissolve Nixon's
    political base at home and, as Kissinger
    continually emphasized, undermine American
    credibility abroad. 2 Apart from the military
    situation in Vietnam, the political problem
    confronting President Nixon was complex. How
    could Nixon "buy time" to achieve his
    understanding of "peace with honor" without
    succumbing to Lyndon Johnson's fate of eroding
    public support?

21
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • The history of his first administration reveals
    that Nixon's strategy consisted of four
    components
  • 1. Vietnamization
  • 2. The "Politics of Polarization"
  • 3. The "Madman" scenario
  • 4. Triangular Diplomacy

22
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • Vietnamization
  • First, it was necessary to reduce American
    casualty rates and the number of combat troops in
    Vietnam. To this end, Nixon defined his policy
    as "Vietnamization" -- the idea that South
    Vietnamese would gradually assume a greater
    combat role and ultimately eliminate the need for
    American ground forces. Because the US would not
    withdraw abrubtly, the policy of Vietnamization
    would require time. The domestic political
    objective was to convince the public that the
    Army of South Vietnam could eventually handle the
    war on their own.

23
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • The "Politics of Polarization"
  • To buy time, Nixon had to build a larger and more
    reliable base of support within the American
    public. His popular vote margin in the 1968
    election was razor thin. However, to his
    advantage, the Democratic coalition was shattered
    in 1968 and there were political opportunities.
    To exploit these opportunities, the
    administration would pursue a "politics of
    polarization" in which it would, at one and the
    same time, appeal to a "silent majority" and
    attempt to isolate opponents and paint them, in
    one manner or another, as extreme.

24
The Silent Majority
  • The "Politics of Polarization"
  • To buy time, Nixon had to build a larger and more
    reliable base of support within the American
    public. His popular vote margin in the 1968
    election was razor thin. However, to his
    advantage, the Democratic coalition was shattered
    in 1968 and there were political opportunities.
    To exploit these opportunities, the
    administration would pursue a "politics of
    polarization" in which it would, at one and the
    same time, appeal to a "silent majority" and
    attempt to isolate opponents and paint them, in
    one manner or another, as extreme.

25
The Silent Majority
  • The polarizing effect of Vice President Agnew's
    attacks were intentional and part of the
    political strategy of the administration. As
    Agnew noted, "I say it is time for a positive
    polarization. It is time to rip away the rhetoric
    and to divide on authentic lines." 9 President
    Nixon and his political advisors were strongly
    influenced by The Emerging Republican Majority,
    published by Kevin Phillips in 1969 and called
    "The Political Bible of the Nixon Era" by
    Newsweek magazine. In the book, Phillips argued
    that the once potent New Deal coalition of the
    Democrats was in shambles. Nixon could, Phillips
    contended, build a permanent national majority
    for the Republicans by holding his traditional
    Republican base while augmenting that base with
    southern Democrats (many of whom voted for George
    Wallace in 1968) and other conservative elements
    in the Democratic Party.
  • At 930 PM on November 3, President Nixon
    addressed a national television audience from the
    White House. This speech, whose date was
    announced just two days before the first
    moratorium, was designed to buy time in Vietnam
    and to reach out to dissident Democrats along
    with Nixon's core constituency. In the speech,
    the president traced the history of American
    involvement in Vietnam, highlighted the
    negotiating efforts of administration since
    taking office, outlined his policy of
    Vietnamization, and placed the blame for the
    continuation of war on the government of North
    Vietnam. The speech reached its crescendo when he
    appealed to the public for support

26
The Silent Majority
  • And so tonight-- to you, the great silent
    majority of my fellow
  • Americans-- I ask for your support. I pledged
    in my campaign
  • for the Presidency to end the war in a way that
    we could win the
  • peace. I have initiated a plan of action which
    will enable me to
  • keep that pledge. The more support I can have
    from the
  • American people, the sooner that pledge can be
    redeemed for
  • the more divided we are at home, the less likely,
    the enemy is to
  • negotiate at Paris. Let us be united for peace.
    Let us also be
  • united against defeat. Because let us understand
    North Vietnam
  • cannot defeat or humiliate the United States.
    Only Americans
  • can do that.
  • - Nixons Silent Majority Speech Nov. 3, 1969

27
The Silent Majority
  • The public reaction to the president's speech was
    most favorable. Among those who watched the
    address, 77 approved of how Nixon was handling
    the situation in Vietnam and only 6 disapproved.
    In the wake of the speech, Nixon's overall
    approval rating climbed from 56 to 67. Although
    Nixon had increased his personal support, other
    indicators suggested that the public remained
    divided on policy in Vietnam. 55 of public now
    classified themselves as "doves" with only 31
    using the "hawk" label (down from 41 after the
    TET offensive).

28
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • The "Madman" scenario
  • A "madman theory" was devised for negotiating
    with the government of North Vietnam. In this
    gambit, Henry Kissinger would emphasize, in his
    meetings with representatives of North Vietnam,
    the volatility of President Nixon's personality.
    He would warn the North Vietnamese that Nixon was
    unpredictable, that he could fly into a rage, and
    that this could happen in response to either
    North Vietnamese military action or intransigence
    in the peace talks. A similar theme was sounded
    by Kissinger in his dealing with the American
    press. Over the course of the term, Nixon
    provided a number of examples to give credence to
    Kissinger's claims secretly bombing Cambodia,
    bombing Hanoi and Haiphong, invading Cambodia and
    mining Haiphong harbor.

29
Escalation of the Vietnam War
  • Triangular Diplomacy
  • Finally, Nixon pursued a "geopolitical" approach
    to the war as well. During the first years of
    his term, Nixon discovered reason to believe that
    both the Soviet Union and People's Republic of
    China were interested in what became known as
    detente -- an easing of Cold War tensions and
    expanding trade relations. This interest, plus
    the suspicions between USSR and the PRC, would
    provide Nixon with leverage for pressing the
    Soviets and Chinese to "do business" with the
    U.S. and to pressure the North Vietnamese to
    settle the war.
  • When we examine the history or chronology of the
    first Nixon administration, each component is
    evident as is the manner in which the components
    "meshed" into both a political strategy for
    getting America out of Vietnam and reelecting
    Nixon in 1972.

30
Invasion of Cambodia
  • On April 20, 1970, President Nixon addressed a
    national television audience. In his speech, he
    reviewed the progress of his Vietnamization
    policy and announced that 150,000 American troops
    would be withdrawn from Vietnam in the following
    year. This was the third and largest announcement
    of troop withdrawals since Nixon took office.
    And, unlike the troop increases of the Johnson
    years, the announcements by Nixon were well
    publicized.

31
Invasion of Cambodia
  • Ten days later, Nixon took to the airwaves again.
    The news this time was more controversial as the
    president announced that American and South
    Vietnamese forces were launching an invasion of
    Cambodia. The object of the offensive was to wipe
    out sanctuaries within Cambodia that were used by
    the North Vietnamese infiltrating the south.
  • In his speech, Nixon emphasized not only the
    strategic value of the operation but also
    American credibility. "If, when the chips are
    down," the president argued, "the world's most
    powerful nation, the United States of America,
    acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces
    of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free
    nations and free institutions throughout the
    world." In order to persuade the public, the
    speech exaggerated the strategic value of the
    operation and contained a number of "whoppers."
    13 The address concluded with a classic
    Nixonian flourish as the president asserted that
    "I would rather be a one-term President and do
    what is right than to be a two-term President at
    the cost of seeing America become a second-rate
    power and to see this Nation accept the first
    defeat in its proud 190-year history."

32
Invasion of Cambodia
  • The response of public opinion to the military
    action was peculiar. The public approved of the
    way Nixon was handling the situation in Cambodia
    by a margin of 50 to 35 in response to the
    question of whether U.S. troops should be sent to
    Cambodia, only 25 responded affirmatively while
    59 said troops should not be sent.

33
Kent State Massacre
  • Despite the nature of the polls, the "Cambodian
    decision" triggered a firestorm of protest. The
    most publicized occurred on the campus of Kent
    State University in northeast Ohio. On the
    evening of May 1, 1970, antiwar protests turned
    violent when the ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training
    Corp) building was torched. In response, the
    Governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, dispatched the
    National Guard to Kent. During another
    demonstration on Monday, May 4th, members of the
    National Guard began firing at demonstrators.
    Four students were killed and eight injured.

34
Kent State / Jackson State
  • In the wake of Kent State, all hell broke loose.
    Two students were killed when Mississippi State
    police fired on a crowd of students at Jackson
    State University. 450 colleges and universities
    went on strike Governor Ronald Reagan closed the
    entire college and university system in
    California within a week, the National Guard had
    been deployed in sixteen different states and on
    21 different campuses. A number of universities
    simply closed down for the year.

35
Kent State / Jackson State
  • In the weeks after Kent State, "hard hats" ---
    the slang for workers in construction and the
    building trades --- staged a series of
    demonstrations in support of Nixon. In one New
    York city demonstration the "hardhats" attacked a
    group of antiwar demonstrators with "fists,
    boots, and hammers, chanting 'Love It or Leave
    It.' " These blue collar workers, traditionally
    Democratic voters, were one of the groups Nixon
    hoped to attract with the politics of
    polarization.
  • The remainder of 1970 saw a continuation of the
    Vietnamization policy. By the end of the 1970,
    there were 335,000 American troops in Vietnam
    (down from 537,000 at the end of Johnson's term)
    with an average monthly casualty rate of 344
    (down from an average of 1,200 during 1968).

36
The Laotian Incursion
  • In early February, 1971,the South Vietnamese
    army, backed by the US air and tactical support,
    launched an incursion into Laos with the intent
    of cutting off the Ho Chi Minh trail. Initially,
    the operation was successful with South
    Vietnamese forces moving twenty miles deep into
    Laos. On February 20th, the North Vietnamese
    launched a counteroffensive and, during nearly a
    month of fighting, captured the territory
    initially occupied by South Vietnamese forces. On
    March 19th, the U.S. began an airlift to remove
    South Vietnamese from Laos and on March 24th, the
    operation was officially declared at an end

37
The Laotian Incursion
  • The Laotian incursion was seen as the first
    "test" of Nixon's Vietnamization policy in the
    sense of revealing whether the army of South
    Vietnam could sustain an offensive. The results
    were, at best, mixed. As Stephen Ambrose notes,
    "the offensive designed to prove that
    Vietnamization was working had turned into a
    rout, made painfully visible to American
    television viewers by footage showing ARVN troops
    fighting among themselves for a place on American
    helicopters extracting them from Laos."

38
The Spring Protests, 1971
  • The coming of spring brought more anti-war
    protests to Washington D.C. There were sizable
    demonstrations in March, April, and May. The
    April demonstrations were led by the organization
    known as Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).
    The most dramatic moment of the April protests
    occurred near the Capitol Building where numerous
    combat veterans threw back their medals to
    protest Nixon's continuation of the war.

Another round of demonstrations began on May 3,
1971. For the Silent Majority this was proof
that the students were out of control. It also
led country music singer Merle Haggard to write
Okie from Muskogee which became a rallying song
for the Silent Majority.
39
The Spring Protests, 1971
  • On April 7, 1971, Nixon announced, in a
    nationally televised speech, that 100,000 troops
    would be withdrawn by the end of the year. In an
    impromptu news conference on November 11th, he
    reported that another 45,000 would be withdrawn
    by February 1st, 1972. By the end of 1971, the
    number of U.S. troops in Vietnam would stand at
    157,000 the average number of casualties per
    month would fall to 123.

40
The Pentagon Papers
  • In 1971, the New York Times published excerpts
    from the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret overview
    of the history of government involvement in
    Vietnam. A participant in the study named Daniel
    Ellsberg believed the American public needed to
    know some of the secrets, so he leaked
    information to the press. The Pentagon Papers
    revealed a high-level deception of the American
    public by the Johnson Administration.

41
The Pentagon Papers
  • Many statements released about the military
    situation in Vietnam were simply untrue,
    including the possibility that even the bombing
    of American naval boats in the Gulf of Tonkin
    might never have happened. A growing credibility
    gap between the truth and what the government
    said was true caused many Americans to grow even
    more cynical about the war.

42
The Pentagon Papers
  • By December 1972, Nixon decided to escalate the
    bombing of North Vietnamese cities, including
    Hanoi. He hoped this initiative would push North
    Vietnam to the peace table. In January 1973, a
    ceasefire was reached, and the remaining American
    combat troops were withdrawn. Nixon called the
    agreement "peace with honor," but he knew the
    South Vietnamese Army would have difficulty
    maintaining control.

43
The Pentagon Papers
  • The North soon attacked the South and in April
    1975 they captured Saigon. Vietnam was united
    into one communist nation. Saigon was renamed Ho
    Chi Minh City. Cambodia and Laos soon followed
    with communist regimes of their own. The United
    States was finally out of Vietnam. But every
    single one of its political objectives for the
    region met with failure.
  • Over 55,000 Americans perished fighting the
    Vietnam War.

44
The Fall of Saigon
By April 25th, 1975, after the NVA captured Phuoc
Long city, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang and Hue, the
South Vietnamese Army had lost its best units,
more than a third of its men, and nearly half its
weapons. The NVA were closing in on Saigon, which
forced President Ford to order an immediate
evacuation of American civilians and South
Vietnamese refugees in Operation Frequent Wind.
The operation was put into effect by secret
code. Remaining citizens, refugees, and officials
were to stand by until the code was released.
"White Christmas" was the code, which was
broadcast on the morning of April 29th. Refugees
and Americans then "high-tailed" it to designated
landing zones.
U.S. Marine and Air Force helicopters, flying
from offshore carriers, performed a massive
airlift. In 18 hours, more than 1,000 American
civilians and nearly 7,000 South Vietnamese
refugees were flown out of Saigon.
45
The Fall of Saigon
South Vietnamese pilots also were permitted to
participate in the evacuation, and they landed on
U.S. carriers. More than 100 of those
American-supplied helicopters (more than 250,000
each) were then pushed off carrier decks to make
room for more evacuees. At 403 a.m., April
30th, 1975, two U.S. Marines were killed in a
rocket attack at Saigon's Tan Son Nhut airport.
They were the last Americans to die in the
Vietnam War. At dawn, the remaining marines of
the force guarding the U.S. Embassy lifted off.
Only hours later, South Vietnamese looters
ransacked the embassy as Soviet-supplied tanks,
operated by North Vietnamese, rolled south on
National Highway 1. On the morning of April 30th,
Communist forces captured the presidential palace
in Saigon, which ended the Second Indochina War.
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