Today marks the 46th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, which signified the true end of the Vietnam War. Who could forget that famous picture of people queued up on a Saigon building (mistakenly thought to have been the US Embassy), getting on a UH-1 helicopter leaving Vietnam, as shown in this video:
There were some other great pictures in that video, too. However, the real last helicopter flight out was that of a CH-46 (Callsign “Swift 22”). The video describes the helicopter evacuation operations that were part of Operation Frequent Wind, the largest such operation in history, which commenced on 25 April 1975:
Commander Task Force 76 received the order to execute Operation Frequent Wind (initially Talon Vise), the evacuation of U.S. personnel and Vietnamese who might suffer as a result of their past service to the Allied effort. When the operation ceased on May 2, the Vietnamese Navy group set sail for reception centers in the Philippines and Guam in Operation New Life. Thus, this operation ended the U.S. Navy’s role in the 25-year American effort to aid the Republic of Vietnam in its desperate fight for survival.
The non-Communist Vietnamese who escaped the country have long referred to April 1975 as “Black April.” Those who escaped to the US have become some of the most patriotic and anti-Communist of all Americans. Many of them, as well as their progeny, mark Black April on 30 April each year. Here is a typical comment from one person on the 40th anniversary that explains what Black April means:
For Van Truong Le in Boston, this is a painful day, a time he and others who fled Vietnam call “Black April.”
“Because that was when folks from South Vietnam lost our country to the North Communist regime,” he said. “It was the day we lost our country. So we refer to it as Black April 1975. In fact for the last 40 years on April 30, the Vietnamese who have resettled here for the most part commemorate and observe that day as a day to commemorate the loss of Vietnam.”
And that name fits with good reason. Forced reeducation camps and a communization of the economy were in store for those who remained in Vietnam, as part of North Vietnam’s Communist takeover. Here is an excerpt of an account by Quyen Trong, who relates his father’s oral history:
After the Fall of Saigon on April 30th, 1975, every South Vietnamese man, from former officers in the armed forces, to religious leaders, to employees of the Americans or the old government, were told to report to a re-education camp to “learn about the ways of the new government.” Many South Vietnamese men chose to flee on boats, but others had established lives and loved ones in Vietnam, so they willingly entered these camps in hopes of quickly reconciling with the new government and continuing their lives peacefully. According to my father, the government said re-education would only last for ten days, and at most two weeks. However, once there, the men were detained for many years in grueling labor camps.
The time of imprisonment was physically demanding and morally disheartening. “The Communists put people like me into the jungle so that we would get sick and slowly die off. That was their goal… Everyone was miserable. Many people died of sadness… One week I’d see one gravesite. As the weeks went on I saw more and more graves.”
Prisoners endured long days of menial labor and physical pain. “Everyday I needed to get 20kg of bamboo shoots. We had to peel the outside until we reached the soft white middle to collect. I worked in the jungle where there were leeches skinny as chopsticks. But once they stuck onto you and sucked on your blood, they would swell like fat sausages. I would lie there at night, tired and not knowing why, and my friends would see a big leech on my foot and pry it off.”
Before the likes of the cancel culture rewrite the history of the Vietnam War, it is important to remember that US and South Vietnamese forces won virtually every major battle during the war, including the 1968 Tet Offensive, which wiped out the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force, but which the pro-Communist Walter Cronkite (and others) spun as a “strategic American defeat” to American television audiences. An excellent discussion of how Tet was falsely spun by the North Vietnamese Communists and their sycophants in the American media and anti-war movement (which was possibly the most successful information operation in history) can be found here entitled “Tet Declassified.” That Communist info op convinced Americans that the war was lost, which led to the “Vietnamization” of the war effort, to the Paris Peace Accords, to the American withdrawal from Vietnam, and ultimately to Operation Frequent Wind.
Why was the war lost? A tragedy of bad decisions and strategic errors. That the US evolved ridiculous Rules of Engagement but no mission success criteria doomed the American effort to failure. Body counts, aircraft sorties and bombs dropped, artillery rounds fired, etc. The US “counterinsurgency strategy” was completely wrong, given the overwhelming military superiority of the US versus the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. And LBJ’s management of the war effort from the Oval Office severely constrained commanders in the field. Allowing unfettered access by the American news media to unit-level operations was a strategic mistake, which led to the likes of Cronkite falsely spinning the reality on the ground to Americans watching the “television war.”
By 1971 or 1972, the war was essentially won in South Vietnam, and after the Christmas bombing of Hanoi in December of 1972, North Vietnam’s will to continue had been broken. However, it was the Democrat majority in the US Congress who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and who deliberately forfeited the war after all US forces were withdrawn for US political reasons, as well as suspended military aid to the South Vietnamese. That latter perfidious act was the coup de grâce. Funny how nobody mentions that these days, as the DC Democrats push their Communist agenda down our throats. Some things never change.
I have a number of good friends who are Vietnam veterans who served honorably, faithfully, and bravely during the war. A lot of them are Airedales (Navy-speak for naval aviators) who flew many combat missions. One was a POW in North Vietnam for over 6 years. They are all better men than I, and I salute their service and their personal sacrifices. As do I salute the honored dead who have been dissed by the Left for decades. [And then there’s the slime called Jane Fonda…]
Even at their advanced ages, these men are ready to man the barricades in the event they are needed to defeat the domestic Communist threat to the United States that is plainly undermining the US Constitution and our constitutional Republic. Their patriotic service may still be required, and they know that there is no Operation Frequent Wind that will save their grandchildren if the US falls to communism.
And the escapees from South Vietnam and other Communist countries now living in the US will be right there with them manning the barricades.
Remember Black April!
[H/T: Rick B]