April 29, 1975 – Vietnam: End Of The Road – Fall Of Saigon
April 29, 1975 – Vietnam – the end had been predicted for some time, ever since word of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and a gradual phasing out of American military support in favor of the South Vietnamese Army assuming the position. But the end of the story was coming – the South Vietnamese government was embroiled in chaos. The South Vietnamese Army was in a state of disarray and demoralization. Continuing a war that most were questioning seemed like a waste of time, energy and life. The end came swiftly, faster than American and South Vietnamese observers had predicted as resistance to North Vietnamese and Vietcong advances crumbled.
On this day, events were moving even faster – On April 21, President Thieu announced his resignation, handing the Saigon government over to General Duong van Minh with the hopes of negotiating a ceasefire. But by the 29th the war was clearly lost and Thieu announced that the South Vietnamese government and armed forces had surrendered.
But there was still the matter of the remaining American officials, troops, media and civilians and their airlift to safety. A full-on panic ensued as Vietnamese civilians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in an effort to be on one of the few remaining Marine Helicopters leaving the embassy to safety and awaiting U.S. ships.
Because the events were moving so fast and the news was in confusing bursts, here is a two-hour distillation of the events, along with an interview with President Ford by CBS News correspondents. There are also a few special broadcasts on the end of the war, peppered with bulletins regarding the unfolding events as they were happening. One of those nail-biting days in history as it was being reported and observed.
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