April marks a significant month in American history and the waning hours of THE FALL OF SAIGON. America had been involved in Vietnamese affairs for more than 20 years.
The Geneva Conference of 1954 officially ended the War in Indochina and by 1956 world attention was focused on the Mekong River Basin. The Mekong River Project drew countless countries to Southeast Asia including the United States and between 1956 and 1960 the U. S. began funneling money into a pro American South Vietnamese government. In 1963 President Kennedy aware of a coup sanctioned the overthrow of a belligerent noncompliant regime resulting in the murder of South Vietnamese President Diem and his staff.
April 30, 1975 ended U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Including the Fall Of Saigon the United States had been involved in Vietnamese affairs in one way or another for more than twenty years following the end of the Korean War on July 27, 1953. The transition was less than cordial and in many cases an outright bloodbath leaving Indochina in worse condition than the French.
It had been 30 years since Ho Chi Minh began his fight to see his beloved Vietnam reunited under one flag and in April 1975 his dream would be realized. It was called the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and it gave the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) the decisive victory it needed and fought so long and hard for. Hanoi decided after the collapse of the Army of Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) or South Vietnamese Army in several key war zones that Saigon should be taken before the rainy season. Setting their sites on a victory by May 19th, their dead leaders birthday, the Ho Chi Minh Campaign went into full swing.
In early April regiments of North Vietnam’s Army blocked roads in and around Saigon while crippling Bien Hoa airfield with artillery. Cadres of sappers infiltrated the city dismantling transportation and blocking river traffic. Thirty-five miles north of Saigon in Xuan Loc fighting was fierce as North Vietnam’s pilots attacked the presidential palace.
Using the genocide in Cambodia to their advantage North Vietnam was confident of no interference as the U.S. was kept busy evacuating refugees from the Khamer Rouge regime under Pol Pot. Even at the eleventh hour many of Saigon’s elite could not believe the United States would abandoned them. Many officials and Washington visitors acted as if a settlement could be reached and went about their daily routines even with talk of an impending coup.
On April 21st President Thieu resigned in favor of Vice-President Huong but did little to slow the onslaught as forces now blocked all major routes from Long Bien in north Saigon to the Delta in the south. By April 25th Saigon was isolated and Xuan Loc fell as artillery bombardments and ground assaults entered Saigon proper in the east. Artillery then crippled Tan Son Nhat Airport stopping a mass exodus by air and reassuring that no help would arrive. On April 28th President Nuong, only in office for a week, resigned in favor of President Minh as captured aircraft continued to attack airfields and major arteries sealing Saigon’s fate.
For Americans April 30,1975 was the day of reconning as the final pull out and evacuation of the masses tried to connect with helicopters, ships, and planes. The evacuation was untimely poorly executed and chaotic to say the least and only a third of Washington’s at risk personnel and Vietnamese employees escaped. On April 30, 1975 President Minh ordered all South Vietnamese forces to cease fighting and lay down their arms. The Ho Chi Minh Campaign had achieved it’s goal and the war in Southeast Asia was over.