Blogs, Fall of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Operation Frequent Wind, Static in the Airwaves, Tim L O'Brien, Vietnam War
Today marks the 37th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the end of a sad and painful chapter in American history. The day our country’s legacy as a beacon of freedom which stood tall and mighty against the threats of tyrants came to an end.
April 30, 1975 marked the conclusion of the United States involvement in Vietnam as the last helicopter airlifted from the US Embassy while the North Vietnamese marched into, and took control of Saigon.
As the wop-wop sounds from the Huey helicopter faded into the air, the Vietnam War was over. Over 58,000 brave Americans lost their lives in the jungle. An estimated quarter of a million South Vietnamese military lost their lives as well. As we abandoned the South Vietnamese people that day, we also abandoned the sacrifices made my so many young Americans.
The United States was no longer invincible.
Television sets in living rooms all across our country showed the chaos and struggles of the South Vietnamese people trying desperately to board the last remaining helicopters in fear of being left behind. We saw the desperation and fear on their faces, and in their eyes.
Operation Frequent Wind went down as the largest helicopter evacuation. More than 1,000 Americans and nearly 6,000 Vietnamese escaped from various locations in Saigon and taken to U.S. aircraft carriers waiting offshore. More than half the refugees were taken to the USS Midway.
Corporal Charles McMahon, eleven days away from celebrating his 22nd birthday, and 19-year old Lance Corporal Darwin Judge, both U.S. Marines, were killed in a North Vietnamese rocket attack, one day before the Fall of Saigon. They were the last two servicemen killed in Vietnam.
So on this day, and everyday, remember the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, so that we may enjoy the freedoms envied by so many.
The Vietnam War and the turbulent 60’s left us with lasting images of the evils that exist in this world. The sobering realization of the darkness that lies deep within each of us. Photographic images that are engrained in our memory, as a chapter in our history, to make sure we never forget the past.
A reminder that war is hell. For everyone.
Louise Behiel said:
thanks for the reminder tim. I watched the news coverage of this terrible war from the safety of Western Canada. why is it that we don’t all learn the lessons of war? old men make the decision and young men die carrying it out. very sad.
Tim L O'Brien said:
Thank you for stopping by today Louise. I watched the news coverage of this from the safety of my home as a young boy. This time period has intrigued me.
Tameri Etherton said:
Powerful post, Tim. Those images will stay with me. It is beyond my comprehension why people do these things. You’re absolutely right ~ war IS hell.
Tim L O'Brien said:
Thank you Tameri. There are certain images of this war that just don’t go away.
Thank you for this post, Tim. I’m reminded of the Vietnam war often. One of my husband’s best friends is a veteran. He was one of the fortunate ones who returned home. Agent Orange did quite a number on him, plus malaria, and other scars which weren’t evident from the outside but his injuries serious, nonetheless. There are many like him. They deserve the best of care. I hope they’re all getting the help they need.
And it’s so sad to think of the horrors the Vietnamese people have dealt with.
Tim L O'Brien said:
Our veterans do deserve the best of care. I hope your friend is getting good care.
A heavy topic and hard to hear, but extremely important. There is a lot of ugliness in the world and we can either close our eyes to it or deal with it in the best way we know how. Unfortunately, a lot of times, there are no easy answers.
Always good to be mindful our our service men and women and the sacrifices they make.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Tim L O'Brien said:
It is a heavy topic, but one to always remember. It’s easy to ignore the ugliness when it’s not happening in our own neighborhood. Which is why it will continue to be important to never forget the past in order not to repeat it.
Doug Stephan said:
Definitely conjures up unpleasant memories. I recall watching the “body count” at the beginning of the evening news each night and wondering if one or both of Mark Jackson’s two brothers who were serving as helicopter pilots during the war might be included in the casualties; that really brought the war close to home for me. I also remember the feeling you describe when we evacuated, the overarching sense of defeat and that something had fundamentally changed for the Nation. In some ways we’ve never really gotten over the social divisions that developed during that war.
The Vietnam war is often discussed as useless and a failure, which of course begs the question whether any war can be considered a success (I’d posit that WWII and the Balkans were), but I’m not sure it can be categorized that way. After all, it’s impossible to know what would have happened in that region in the absence of US intervention. Might people still be suffering under oppressive regimes such as N. Korea or would communism have collapsed under it’s own weight anyway? Perhaps the Vietnam war actually delayed the inevitable collapse of communism and prolonged the suffering? I’m not advocating one way or the other, just pointing out the discussion can be taken many different directions.
One thing is for sure, a heavy price was paid on all sides. The real insult was the Vietnam vets never got the recognition they deserved, and so I go out of my way to thank them for their service when I meet one. Thanks for yet another thought provoking post.
August McLaughlin said:
You are a wealth of information. Thank you for another poignant reminder! The photos say as much as the words…
Karen McFarland said:
Vietnam. Oh yes, I remember. I went with my husband the day he had to register for the draft. Fortunately, his number was far enough away to have escaped that nightmare. It was a very strange time Tim. I lived in the L.A. area and we had riots in Los Angeles at the same time people by the hundreds were dying everyday. And you watched this on television. And it was real. It makes me think of that old song. War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing. Just people with money manipulating the world.