March 20, 1975 – Writing On The Wall In Vietnam
March 20, 1975 – The subject was Vietnam on this day – not of American involvement or casualty numbers, but reports that the North Vietnamese army was on a steady, relentless advance South, and that South Vietnamese attempts at turning this tide were rapidly failing.
Reports that North Vietnamese control over South Vietnamese territory was expanding dramatically and as of this newscast, there was no indication where or when the takeover would stop. Two South Vietnam provinces fell on this day. The day before it was Quang Tri and Thu Tien, site of the Imperial Capitol City of Hué. the loss of Hue was described as a major psychological blow. Earlier in the week, three other South Vietnamese provinces were given up. So far, about a fifth of South Vietnam was now under North Vietnamese control, with hundreds of thousands of refugees on the roads heading out of the central highlands, heading for safety along the coast. People were leaving simply because they had heard rumors that South Vietnamese troops were not going to defend the city of Dalat. Most didn’t know why they were leaving or where they were going, but they were leaving because the government gave them no assurances that the city would not be taken by the Communists.
It was the same story all week, and the mood in Saigon was grim. The air of emergency gripping the provinces was being felt in the Capitol of South Vietnam. The American Embassy and other U.S. installations were alerted against the possible threat of terror attacks. With rumors that Vietcong were preparing assaults and that a coup against the Thieu government was imminent, Army paratroopers were deployed in and around the city. President Thieu took to the airwaves to refute reports that provinces were falling to the Communists and that the city of Dalat was not in any danger.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill – Defense Department officials were blaming Congress for the situation in Vietnam. Officials claimed the gains were the direct responsibility of Congress, who had curtailed funding for the war – and if such funding had been in place, none of the current chaos would be happening.
And that’s a little of what was going on, this March 20, 1975 as reported by NBC Nightly News.