Last U.S. troops exit Vietnam

Last U.S. troops exit Vietnam

   The Vietnam War is the most polarizing and unpopular war in U.S. history. U.S. involvement lasted nearly fifteen years, beginning in 1961 and continuing through the presidencies of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B Johnson and Richard Nixon, and was one of the biggest events in the Cold War. The United States went to Vietnam to fight against the communists in North Vietnam, but even the United States could not defeat the North and would ultimately decide the fate of South Vietnam when the United States retreated back home.

   In January 1973, representatives from the United States, South Vietnam, and the North Vietnamese guerilla force, Viet Cong, met in Paris to sign the Paris Agreement, which would allow the United States to pull away from the war “honorably.” It would allow the North and South of Vietnam to reunify their nations peacefully and possibly end hostilities in the region. Viet Cong forces were not to advance any farther and were to not be reinforced if they were already in South Vietnam.

   An exit plan had already existed since 1969 and would see all United States military personnel leave the county six years before the actual war would end. This, however, was not an option. The eyes of the world were on Vietnam and leaving the nation after just 4 years would be an embarrassment to America and the Western World.

   The newly signed peace deal would not even last three months, as even before the last American troops left Vietnam on March 29, communist forces began to advance into South Vietnam. By 1974, full scale war would resume between North and South Vietnam and would not end until 1975.

   By April 1, 1973, all United States troops and citizens, other than 7,300 Defense Department employees and United States embassy guards, left South Vietnam.

   Without American ground and air support, South Vietnam became vulnerable and was no match to North Vietnam’s communist forces. As Viet Cong encroached towards the capital of South Vietnam, chaos ensued. People rushed the United States embassy, seeking and begging for asylum. Helicopters would land on nearby aircraft carriers, drop off all the passengers, and would be pushed off the deck to make room for another helicopter to land. Only 110,000 South Vietnamese refugees were able to evacuate.