FirstSpear

40th Anniversary of the End of the Viet Nam War

Saigon, the capitol of the Republic of Viet Nam, fell 40 years ago today on 30 April, 1975 to invading North Viet Namese troops after decades of fighting.  Seen below is an image of the evacuation of  Saigon.  There are so many iconic images from that war but this one shows us the end of the struggle.  

  
Viet Nam was very much a part of our national psyche as I grew up in the 60s, 70s and 80s and affected me in may ways.  When I enlisted in 1985 my drill sergeant was a Viet Nam veteran as were most of the senior NCOs and Officers I worked for over the next decade.  Much of what I learned about soldiering came from them and their hard earned lessons of fighting a very capable enemy.  I owe them all much. 

I’d like to take today to reflect on them, their service and the generation that raised me, including my father.  I’d  also like to raise a toast to those who fell during that conflict in defense of our ideals.  

Thank you all for your dedication.  I personally gained a lot from it and it was not in vain.  

14 Responses to “40th Anniversary of the End of the Viet Nam War”

  1. I too enlisted in the Army in “85. All my Drill Sergeants were combat vets from that conflict too. My first “Platoon Daddy” was a Viet Nam vet, as was almost my entire CoC. I learned so much field craft from these people, I still use most of it today.

    I always respected the guys that stayed in the service after that war.

    • Mike Bolton says:

      I enlisted in 1981. Like you, I had many Vietnam Veterans as NCO’s and Officers while in basic and AIT. Our running songs were still about Vietnam and “Charlie Cong.”

      I think the rooftop pictured above is not actually the U.S. embassy. It is close to the embassy though and I could be wrong about that. That picture has come to symbolize the end of the war for the US in Vietnam. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. AER says:

    An interesting fact on that picture is that its not the US Embassy.

    The picture was of an apartment building for the employees of the United States Agency for International Development, its top floor reserved for the Central Intelligence Agency’s deputy chief of station. The address was 22 Gia Long Street in Saigon. The UH-1 is on the elevator shaft of the building.

    If you look at the pictures of the actual US Embassy in Saigon, you wont find a building that looks like this.

    Always cool to find some info like this and see where it came from and how it got mixed up.

  3. John Smith says:

    I think that wary, hard bitten generation of grunts formed the solid layer that our current military successes are built on. I’m aware that this could be said of most line on line era shifts but these guys seem to have created something lasting.

    The lessons, both political (considered cliché) and tactical, resonate even today… with very real power.

    This is their victory.

  4. Mohican says:

    Thanks for your sacrifice and service there!

  5. KP says:

    I don’t know how well known it is but I want to add that the Vietnamese community in general has a lot of respect and gratitude for the Americans who fought on our behalf. It’s a hell of a thing to ask your young and able to fight for someone else. The US GI is often doing just that, and I can say that the ones from that war left an impression on the collective consciousness of Republic of Viet Nam expatriates.

    From a family that immigrated 40 years ago, know that America is great.

    • Eddie says:

      It’s a shame the American people didn’t believe hard enough in South Vietnam, we lost a great nation that could be prosperous and innovative, that could make a difference in regional conflicts. The Commies made us lose a lot of good friends.

      • Riceball says:

        It didn’t help much that we were handciapped during the war an our civilian leadership made the military effectively fight the war with one hand tied behind their backs. They refused to listen to the professionals and things only got worse when Johnson took over after JFK was assassinated and micro managed the war from the White House.

        The really sad thing is that while we did learn a lot from the way the war in Vietnam was fought we’ve also forgotten a lot about what we learned, especially in terms of how to fight a counter insurgency. Instead of doing direct action missions and kicking doors and the like we should be sending Special Forces out to embed in the villages to like and work with the people like they did in Vietnam, conventional forces should be used to supplement the SF and be the ones doing most of the actual fighting.

        • Brett says:

          …and the civilian leadership still hasn’t, and never will, learn a damn thing.

          • Mark says:

            Word… That’s why we haven’t been successful on a long term basis in any conflagration our military has been thrust into.

        • Terry B. says:

          Riceball,

          When I enlisted in 1975 nearly 100% of the NCOs and officers were VN vets, at least in the Infantry. And the ones who stayed on during the mid to late 70s especially deserve the thanks of the nation because they had to literally rebuild the Armed Forces almost from the ground up after that conflict.

          But don’t give the senior military leadership of the day a pass on losing the war in VN. Those professionals that you speak of had been brought up in conventional wars of maneuver in WW II and Korea. The fact is that most of them didn’t have a clue how to effectively fight an insurgency.

          That is not to take away from the valor of the individuals who fought that war. But as we all well know, winning all the battles but losing the war anyway is still not a win. I saw precisely the same dynamic in Iraq and Afghanistan time and time again.

          From day one, just like in VN, very few of our senior leaders in uniform or the civilians in Washington ever had a clear concept of what we were supposed to be trying to accomplish. A good number didn’t have a clue and never got one.

          I won’t argue specific tactics that might or might not have worked better (then or now). But I would say this, if the US and our allies are fighting to prop up a central government that has little if any legitimacy with most of their own population…then, sadly, our strategy is doomed to failure. No matter how hard or smart or valiantly we fight.

          TLB

  6. Son of Saigon says:

    I was 3 years old in Saigon and I still hurt and tear up thinking of my lost country of South Vietnam. My father was in ARVN and went to hard labor camps called “re-education” camps for many years. Our family suffered and persevered through the continuous persecution following 1975 at the hands of Communists. I was put in jail at 5 years old because some Communist policeman looked up my papers and my name and found that my family fought against the North with the Americans. Eventually after five years of constantly being the target for retribution, our family decided we would escape by boat to find freedom and liberty or we shall die as a family at all costs.

    I’ve have thanked many American vets while living here in America, my new homeland.

    But I hurt for the South Vietnamese soldiers, some served more than 13+ years in prison. I am sadden by all the women, children and families that died at sea escaping Vietnam and those who suffered rape and everything else at the hands of pirates and the soldiers of Thailand’s refuge camps. I was there..I heard the screams.. you don’t forget.

    You will find that Vietnamese Americans here in the US are more than willing to stand and defend this country against all enemies..foreign or domestic.

    Why?

    Because America took us in where we had no where else to go.

    Thank you for your compassion and all vets who served in Vietnam!

  7. Some powerful comments here everybody – thanx for sharing