March 17, 1975 – NBC Nightly News – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
March 17, 1975 – A day that began with starkly bad news from South Vietnam. For the first time since the conflict began, South Vietnamese forces withdrew, abandoning three provinces to the North Vietnamese, who were said to highly outnumber South Vietnamese troops and effectively shutting off any supply routes which were said to be under the control of the North Vietnamese. With the dismal news, the Saigon government had decided to abandon most of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam because the region became militarily indefensible, well-placed Western sources said. The decision, one of the most momentous of the Vietnam war, followed 14 days of sharp reverses. Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh began evacuating international relief agency personnel as battlefront news continued to be discouraging. The Embassy insisted that it was only a temporary measure “until the situation clarifies a bit,” but Embassy personnel were packing and shipping household effects, and other countries were closing their embassies.
President Ford said that events in Southeast Asia tended to validate “the so-called domino theory” and that the continued existence of a non-Communist government in Cambodia was vital to American security. Answering questions at a news conference at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., he said the military situation in Cambodia had become “very serious” and the North Vietnamese “have apparently launched a very substantial military effort against South Vietnam, against the Paris peace accord.”
And Aristotle Onassis the Greek shipping magnate who amassed the world’s largest privately-owned shipping fleet and was one of the world’s richest and most famous men died on March 15 and was buried on this day. He was married to Athina Mary Livanos (daughter of shipping tycoon Stavros G. Livanos), had a long-standing affair with opera singer Maria Callas and was married to Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of US President John F. Kennedy. Onassis died at age 69 on 15 March at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, of respiratory failure, a complication of the myasthenia gravis from which he had suffered the last years of his life. Onassis was buried on his island of Skorpios in Greece, alongside his son, Alexander.
And that’s just a little of what happened, this March 17, 1975 as reported by the NBC Nightly News.
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