“Strike with the greatest determination straight into the enemy’s final lair”

On April 29, 1975 at 6:00 AM local time, the North Vietnamese Politburo ordered General Dung to “strike with the greatest determination straight into the enemy’s final lair.”  Shortly thereafter, the airport was hit by rockets and heavy artillery effectively closing it.  The only way out was by helicopter and Operation Frequent Wind began.  At 10:51 the American radio station began playing “White Christmas” over and over again as a signal for American personnel to move immediately to their evacuation points.  Throughout the day and night, buses shuttled evacuees from throughout the city to sites where helicopters evacuated more than 7,000 people, mostly Americans.  These sites included the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) compound, the US Embassy and the CIA Headquarters captured in this photo.  Meanwhile, many South Vietnamese descended on various locations hoping to claim refugee status and escape.  Harrowing images of their desperation continues to haunt many.  After years of conflict, thousand and thousands of American lives, most of them drafted, and innumerable Vietnamese were lost in what finally amounted to an embarrassing and heart wrenching conclusion.  Vietnam, this tiny obscure country in Southeast Asia, had torn America apart, destroyed two presidents, and forever changed the way we live.  A sad ending to a very sad story.

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Filed under 1970s, Vietnam

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