The Last Days Of Vietnam.

by Daniel Russ on November 28, 2015

Post image for The Last Days Of Vietnam. SAI2000042702- 29 APRIL 1975 -Saigon, South Vietnam: An Air America helicopter crew member helps evacuees up a ladder on the roof of 18 Gia Long Street April 29, 1975 shorly before the city fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops. HvE/ Hugh Van Es UPI (Newscom TagID: upiphotos078819.jpg) [Photo via Newscom] SAI2000042702- 29 APRIL 1975 -Saigon, South Vietnam: An Air America helicopter crew member helps evacuees up a ladder on the roof of 18 Gia Long Street April 29, 1975 shorly before the city fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops. HvE/ Hugh Van Es UPI (Newscom TagID: upiphotos078819.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

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U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Graham Martin speaks to press after being evacuated from U.S. Embassy in Saigon on April 30, 1975. aboard USS Blue Ridge. (AP Photo) U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Graham Martin speaks to press after being evacuated from U.S. Embassy in Saigon on April 30, 1975. aboard USS Blue Ridge. (AP Photo)

 

 

Graham Martin was the United State Ambassador to South Vietnam when in 1973, Richard Nixon and South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and North Vietnamese President Lê Duẩn signed a peace agreement during the Paris Peace Accords. He was assured that the sacrifices the huge American Army that had bled here would not be in vain. Critics calumniated Martin’s cavalier diffidence to the criticisms that the war was not worth the price in blood. The japery directed at Martin by foreign affairs experts, by generals, and by lifetime policy wonks would not end with these accords. It wouldn’t disappear because Martin was willfully ignorant to the signs, he failed to acknowledge an inevitable conclusion to a slow North Vietnamese build up in the north. He failed to see that the fight America once had against the Communists here had long since evanesced.

 

Martin also failed to see what the outward reflection of the Foreign Assistance Act was that if the North violated the terms of the peace treaty, then the US would re-engage. The fine print really removed the possibility of re-engagement. Few realized the depths of the anger the American public had over this debacle. The poor South Vietnamese would soon be gazing at columns of Communist regulars and tanks skein Southward from behind redoubts and bunkers waiting for the US to come to their rescue.

 

Henry Kissinger wrote in private to Gerald Ford that “in terms of military tactics, we cannot help draw the conclusion that our armed forces are not suited to this kind of war. Even the Special Forces who had been designed for it could not prevail.” US Army Chief of Staff Harold Keith Johnson said, “if anything came out of Vietnam, it was that air power couldn’t do the job.”

 

Around the end of 1974 it looked like the South Vietnamese Army wouldn’t withstand an assault from the north without the assistance of the U.S. North Vietnamese General Hoàng Cầm saw the opening and smashed into the Soujth Vietnamese Army at Phuoc Long, just 80 miles from Saigon. The additional 20,000 troops into South Vietnam by the NVA was a clear violation of the Paris Peace Accords. But jets remained silent on carriers that were too far to make a difference. Hanoi’s leaders had estimated that it would take two long years of fighting to reclaim the south.

 

It took less than two months.

 

Gerald Ford was apoplectic. He intended for the US to honor its promise to safely pull US allies out of our harms way. But Martin’s missives about keeping a low profile evacuating doomed most of them to death under the purview of the victorious NVA and Viet Cong. State Department officials planned rescues anyway by boat and many thousand of South Vietnamese found their freedom at the hands of the Navy. The Navy itself was rather moribund and under serviced now two years after US repair crews and infrastructure had left. Ford tried desperately to help these people but was hamstrung by his inaction regarding Miller.

 

As the NVA conquered territory after territory and approached Saigon, and Graham Martin refused to let the American contingent there evacuate except by Marine helicopter and only from the roves of the US embassy.

 

It was in these final days that films showed us boats made for 200 people carrying 2000 people It was here that we see Americans literally leaving on the skids of helicopters.

 

Ho Chi Minh once said, “You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours…But even at these odds you will lose and I will win.”

 

Today history repeats itself, and sadly so, only not in the steamy dark jungles of Southeast Asia, but in the effulgent fire of the Sun in the deserts of the Middle East.

 

Source: The Last Days of Vietnam, 2014 Directed by Rory Kennedy

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