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April 30, 1975 – News from Vietnam was pouring in faster than it could be reported. As the last of the U.S. forces left, along with dependents, embassy workers and whoever could scramble and fight their way on to the last departing helicopters and transport planes out of the country and to safety, the North Vietnamese Army, along with Viet Cong quickly raced in and established a base of operations and secured whatever areas in question were still resisting.
And while the news heard in the U.S. was that of escape and rescue and putting the events of the past few days into historic perspective, The Voice of Vietnam as well as The BBC World Service were reporting what was still going on inside Saigon and the chaos that was still taking place. The Voice of Vietnam was breathless; repeating the news over and over that the Vietnam War was over. The BBC was straightforward and matter-of-fact. Most foreign news outlets still had correspondents on the ground as well as some American organizations, and were reporting the unfolding events.
At approximately 10:30am Major Pham at Tan Son Nhut Air Base heard of the surrender broadcast of President Minh and went to the ARVN Joint General Staff Compound to seek instructions. He called General Minh who told him to prepare to surrender. Pham reportedly told Minh, “If Viet Cong tanks are entering Independence Palace we will come down there to rescue you, sir.” Minh refused Pham’s suggestion and Pham then told his men to withdraw from the base gates. At 11:30 the PAVN entered the base.
At Newport Bridge the ARVN and PAVN continued to exchange tank and artillery fire until the ARVN commander received President Minh’s capitulation order over the radio. While the bridge was rigged with approximately 4000lbs of demolition charges, the ARVN stood down and at 10:30 the PAVN column crossed the bridge.
PAVN T-54/55 tanks under the command of Colonel Bùi Tín burst through the gates of the Independence Palace around noon. They found Minh and 30 of his advisors sitting in chairs on the palace steps, waiting for them. As Colonel Tin approached, Minh said “The revolution is here. You are here.” He added, “We have been waiting for you so that we could turn over the government.” Tín curtly replied, “There is no question of your transferring power. Your power has crumbled. You cannot give up what you do not have.” Later that afternoon, Minh went on the radio for the final time and announced, “I declare the Saigon government is completely dissolved at all levels”. The Vietnam War was over.
Here are two reports – one, the first minute from The Voice Of Vietnam and the other, the regular hourly news from the BBC World Service for April 30, 1975.