April 8, 1975 – The Bleed-Out – Pressure From The Pentagon Over Vietnam
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As the situation in Vietnam went from bad to worse to hopeless – the Pentagon was pressuring The White House to pressure Capitol Hill to provide $ 1/2 Billion in immediate Military aid to the South Vietnamese government. Even the Pentagon was less-than-optimistic that this sum would do any good; Pentagon Officials were hoping it would be a delaying tactic, and offered a somewhat feeble assessment that the South Vietnamese Army could “turn this thing around if we sent in enough equipment”. Trouble was, the South Vietnamese Army was busy abandoning U.S. equipment as fast as it arrived. And many on Capitol Hill realized that; saying it as pointless to keep sending in military aid if the Army wasn’t willing to turn the tide around. A few Hawks insisted the situation was not hopeless, and that Military Aid could be used as a bargaining chip in negotiating a peace settlement with North Vietnam – although, it was difficult to imagine just how that would work, and the answers were obscure at best. Most felt the South Vietnamese government wasn’t showing any viable form of leadership and that what was really at stake was another wholesale U.S. boots-on-the-ground involvement in Vietnam – and that wasn’t going to happen any lifetime soon. But all felt that President Ford would have to be extremely persuasive in order for Congress to go along with more Military aid for South Vietnam. It was felt that for too long, Congress rubber-stamped requests for more military aid without any bottom line in sight. According to Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, the message to the Pentagon was – “enough was enough”.
And on top of all that, a disgruntled member of the South Vietnamese Air Force went on a bombing run of the Presidential Palace in Saigon. At first it was feared a military coup was in the making, but later it was discovered the bomber was a pilot, upset that the government didn’t evacuate his family from Da Nang before it was captured by the North Vietnamese. 3 people were killed on the ground.
Meanwhile – other events happened on this April 8th in 1975. Rumors of successful negotiations in what was hoped to be a settlement in fighting in Cambodia between government forces and the Khmer Rouge. Exiled Cambodian President Lon Nol was reported to be flying to North Vietnam for talks with officials there.
Orphans were arriving in the U.S. from Saigon, but it was reported those airlifts may slow down. Questions arose as to why so many orphans were sick and criticisms were leveled at U.S. Aid agencies who were funding relief efforts, but that the money was going to the South Vietnamese government, rather than directly to relief efforts.
It was also discovered that secret agreements had been struck between the U.S. and the government of South Vietnam. When pressed as to the nature of those agreements, White House and State Department officials offered no comment.
On Capitol Hill – at the bribery trial of John Connally, the Defense finished cross-examination of Jake Jacobsen, a Texas lawyer and one-time friend of Connally as well as Bob Lilly, the Dairy Industry lobbyist who claimed to have given Jacobsen the money which was then given to Connally. Connally’s defense claimed Jacobsen pocketed all the money and that Connally never received any of it. And around and around it went.
Also on this day, baseball great Frank Robinson went to work as the first Black Player/Manager of the Cleveland Indians Baseball team, the first major league Baseball team to do so. His first day on the job – Robinson the Player hit a home run – Robinson the Manager saw his team beat the New York Yankees 5-3.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this April 8th in 1975, as presented by NBC Nightly News.