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The fall of

Saigon:
Vietnam War,
1975
May 2, 2009

Block 5

After fighting for independence from the French, Vietnam was left divided up in

1954. After the Paris peace Accords, a big line was drawn in the middle of the country.

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North Vietnam was communists and South Vietnam was anti-communists. The Saigon

regimes, which were anti-communists, were not happy with half of their country being

communists. Therefore, none of the people from the North were allowed to go into the

South because apparently they were communists. This lead to the decision made by the

Communist Party Leadership in Hanoi to invade the South, take over and unify the

country. At first, the U.S had Saigon’s back and sent 500,000 troops over to Vietnam by

1965. 1968, President Richard Nixon provided arms and resources to South Vietnam.

But soon enough, the U.S figured that the communist army was too strong, so they

decided to pull their troops out of Vietnam and left my March 1973. This left the South

regime to fight the war all on its own. Without any military help from the U.S, this lead

to the final battle, the fall of Saigon.

On April 4th 1975, former commander William C. Westmoreland wanted to help

and send troops over to airstrike over the North. But President Gerald Ford had another

idea; he wanted to send troops over to Vietnam to help evacuate the people and civilians

of South Vietnam. On April 14th, many homeless children were evacuated to the U.S,

only 14,000 made it. On April 21st 1975, President Nguyen Van Thieu of the South

resigned in a bitter speech all over the television. After Thieu resigned, Tran Van Huong

stepped up and took his place as the new President of South Vietnam. President Huong

offered a cease fire, but it was too late, the North army was already on their way down

and getting ready for the attack. On April 26th, communists bombarded the heart of

Saigon just to give the people a taste of what was coming. On April 27th, the city of

Saigon was surrounded by 30,000 communist soldiers. Saigon didn’t stand a chance

with all the communist soldiers and all their deadly weapons. Scores of Vietnamese

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planes were destroyed on ground. People had no electricity and no communication,

which was one of the weaknesses of South Vietnam. April 28th, Duong Van “Big” Minh

became the new President. He also offered a cease fire, but the communists ignored his

request and made their way to Tan Son Nhat airbase. The communists rendered all but

one runway useless. The attack of Tan Son Nhat airbase killed 2 U.S marines. This

angered President Ford and he once again wanted to pull all American soldiers back out

of Vietnam. The National Security Leader, Kissinger decided that it was more important

to save all the U.S soldiers rather than saving all the Vietnamese people whose life

depended on them.

The morning of April 29th, thousands of Vietnamese civilians made their way to

the U.S embassy, Tan Son Nhat airbase. Those thousands of people were pushing and

pulling each other out of the way to get themselves to the gate of the U.S embassy. They

all were flashing papers that they thought authorized them a passage to be evacuated

out of the city. The marine guards on the other hand, were told to only evacuate the

American soldiers, but apparently that was impossible. Nearly 4 thousand people

stormed the ground of the U.S embassy, they climbed the walls, pushed their way

through the gate, and did whatever it took to get them on the helicopter and leave. It

was so crowded to the point where the marine guards had to close the gates to not let

anybody through. There were about 900 Americans left and the Vietnamese people did

not let them leave unless they could come too. Off to the coast of Vietnam, there were

ships waiting for the helicopters to come to evacuate those people. The evacuation

process was slowed by something called Martin’s Foot Dragging. The ambassador

wanted the Americans to stay and help until the last minute. The marine guards then

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had to pull people up the walls to the roof of the embassy to be evacuated. Some

Vietnamese pilots also flew their helicopters to the U.S ship thinking that they could

refuel and go fight again. But when they landed their helicopters, the U.S marine guards

told them that war was over, no more fighting and the marine guards pushed all of the

helicopters off of the ship into the ocean. Finally, at least 5,000 people were evacuated,

including Vietnamese civilians and Americans.

Throughout the time of the war, there were so many innocent victims and

damages that were made in the South. Two days before the final battle, the people of

Saigon were cut off from all their main food resources. People were killed even if they

had nothing to do with it, literally, they could just be sitting in their house and a bomb

could go off and they die. Sometimes, a communist airplane would try to drop a bomb

on a specific target but end up missing and hitting the civilians. Many people were

homeless, dead, wounded, hungry, or maybe even devastated with the death of a family

member. Bombs went off, people were dying, and houses and villages were burned

down to ashes. People were homeless, without a house to live in or any food to eat,

imagine life like that right now. People basically spent every minute wondering if

they’re going to die or when they’re going to die, because it could happen at any

moment. Just think of what could possibly be going through their minds at that time.

Also the Tan Son Nhut airbase was badly damaged. In the end, there were about

750,000 U.S soldiers either dead or wounded. In the South, about 400,000 civilians

dead and 1 million others wounded.

In conclusion, the North ended up winning the war like they planned to. And to

achieve their goal of unifying the country, they crashed into the Presidential palace,

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formed a semicircle and raised their flag in victory. By noon of April 29th, North forces

controlled all of Vietnam. They also captured and imprisoned the President of South

Vietnam. Communists took over the radio station and renamed to city. What was

Saigon is now Ho Chi Minh City. Victory might have been good for the communists but

it was the beginning of the end for the survivors in the South. About 1.5 million South

civilians were forced to move to small farm communities on the country sides. They also

sent many people to Re-education camps, most of those people were the ones that

helped the U.S during the time of the war. Those people were forced to do hard labor, if

they obey, they live but if they refuse, then they die. About 200,000 people were sent

there, some might be released after a few months but others may be imprisoned for

more than 10 years. Over 1 million industrious and educated people were forced to flee

the country. Also people tried to flee the country by boats that they built themselves.

These people were called the “Boat People”. They have a very small chance of getting

away successfully but most of the time, people would get caught by a communist officer,

and end up either killed or imprisoned. But even if they do get pass the officers, their

boat could sink in the middle of the ocean because they were so unprofessionally built or

just with materials that weren’t strong enough to sail the ocean. People were putting

their lives on the line but they were risking it all just for their own freedom. People who

were rich also tried to buy airplane tickets to other countries, but apparently none of the

planes were able to take off. Most of the death and damages was the responsibility of

the United States. Many people were devastated by the end of the war that lasted for 30

years; it had definitely taken its toll on all the Vietnamese people and the American

soldiers.

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Citation

Bussey, Jennifer A. The Twentieth Century, 1960-1980. Farmington Hills, MI: Bonnie Szumski, 2004.

"The fall of Saigon." Www.internationalviewpoint.org. May 2005. 10 Apr. 2009


<http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?page=print_article&id_artcle=771>.

Gavin, Philip. The Fall Of Vietnam. Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books, 2003.

Kluss, Lynn, Karen Bernhart, Ann Clarkson, and Carol Schneider. The Vietnam War. Upper Saddle River,
NJ: Globe Fearon Educational Publisher, 1997.

"North Vietnamese Invasion." Www.ichiban1.org. 13 Apr. 2009


<http://www.ichiban1.org/html/1975_present_postwar/nvn_invasion_1975.html>.

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