Escape From Danang – March 27, 1975
. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Nightly News – March 27, 1975 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
As the odyssey of Vietnam wound up the last remaining weeks, the panic spread and the evacuations continued. This time is was Danang; second largest city behind Saigon and site of the largest U.S. airbase.
With the relentless and unchecked advance of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops toward Danang, any thought of making a stand and attempting to turn the tide around were useless. The only thing now was escape.
Panic and hysteria reached fever-pitch. With relatives and dependents of South Vietnamese Military personnel clamoring for the few remaining aircraft left at the airbase, widespread violence and reports of planes doubled in capacity with 2 and 3 people strapped in seats and transport planes struggling to take off from the sheer weight of evacuees turned this into a horrific scene of escape.
Word from the ground was the North Vietnamese were some five days away from entering Danang, if that long. Everything was crashing down very quickly and pessimistic reports were coming in by the minute – and by the minute the word was; Danang was doomed.
And while South Vietnam was busy falling apart, from impending disaster and an attempted Military coup to unseat the Saigon government foiled, President Ford was studying the Tax Cut the House passed the previous night.
Even though the calendar said it was Spring, the Midwest was busy digging itself out of a blizzard that dumped 3 inches of snow from the Rockies to the Mid-West. The snow fall wasn’t all that great, but the accompanying winds of up to 60 miles an hour made driving hazardous. It was the second such storm in as many weeks and more was expected to come.
And that’s a small sample of what went on this March 27th 40 years ago, as viewed by The NBC Nightly News.