Last days in vietnam

Last Days In Vietnam Wer streamt "Last Days in Vietnam"?

Als die nordvietnamesische Armee Ende April die südvietnamesische Hauptstadt Saigon erreicht, müssen die US-Offiziere sich einem moralischen Dilemma stellen: Sollen sie die offiziellen Anweisungen befolgen und nur amerikanische Staatsbürger. Last Days in Vietnam ist ein US-amerikanischer Dokumentarfilm von Regisseurin Rory Kennedy aus dem Jahr Im Film werden Archivaufnahmen von. Die Doku lässt die letzten Tage des Vietnam-Krieges Revue passieren. Die Kämpfer des Vietkong stehen vor den Toren Saigons und die US-Soldaten haben. In den chaotischen letzten Tage vor dem Ende des Vietnamkrieges, als der Sieg der kommunistischen nordvietnamesischen Truppen unmittelbar bevorstand. Der preisgekrönte Dokumentarfilm lässt die letzten Tage des Vietnam-Krieges mit Archivaufnahmen und bewegenden Interviews Revue passieren.

last days in vietnam

Jetzt die DVD per Post leihen: Last Days in Vietnam () mit Richard Armitage von Rory Kennedy. In den chaotischen letzten Tage vor dem Ende des Vietnamkrieges, als der Sieg der kommunistischen nordvietnamesischen Truppen unmittelbar bevorstand. Rory Kennedys oscarnominierten Dokumentation Last Days in Vietnam beleuchtet die chaotischen letzten Wochen des Vietnam-Krieges.

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Verne Gay. The film is rich in archival-memory and first-person recollections of many key figures, of higher and lower or no rank at all.

Robert Lloyd. There's nothing innovative in the filmmaking, it's simply a gracefully told story - tense here; poignant there - with strong detailing.

Brad Wheeler. Archived film of the final, chaotic push to clear the embassy compound by helicopter is as dramatic as any thriller, heightened by stories of bravery and risk.

Linda Barnard. A testament to people, as one source puts it, "doing their best under terrible circumstances. Kristin Tillotson.

This is both a gripping suspense story and a profound moral drama. Kennedy's take on this dark and convoluted quagmire finds its balance somewhere between oblique reportage and post-hoc apologia.

Di Golding. As impossibly large-scale and labyrinthian wars can become, it is still the human element that shines through, for better or worse.

Stephen Saito. It's a brilliant, harrowing, emotionally potent documentary by a director with unimpeachable liberal credentials - a Kennedy, no less.

Kyle Smith. It's a fascinating saga of institutional denial and personal commitment - both of which are somehow bound up in the personal arc of Graham Martin.

Norman Wilner. Totally unbalanced film. The North Vietnamese army becomes the symbol of invading barbarians when as Walt Kelly put it, "We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Louis Proyect. Paints a true-life picture of ordinary people with human consciences defying their orders and the law to do the right thing when bureaucracy fails them.

MaryAnn Johanson. Top Box Office. More Top Movies Trailers. Certified Fresh Picks. Fargo: Season 3. The Flash: Season 6. Into The Dark: Season 2.

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Email address. Log In. First Name. In other words, reenter the war. They were terrified of him. They believed that Nixon, if necessary, would bring back American air power.

But in August, , he was gone. Nixon resigned because of Watergate. And overnight, everything changed. Hanoi suddenly saw the road to Saigon as being open.

The Communist conduct throughout the course of the war had been violent and unforgiving. For example when the city of Hue was taken over by the North Vietnamese, several thousand people on a long blacklist were rounded up, schoolteachers, government civil servants, people who were known anti-Communists, and they were executed, in some cases even buried alive, so panic was but a millimeter away.

Bruce Dunning reports. One day we would get orders to defend Da Nang. On the next, we would get orders to abandon it.

We're racing down the runway, leaving behind hundreds and thousands of people. Another dozen of them, running along grabbing at the air stair.

We're pulling them on as fast as we can. There's a sea of humanity jamming on. Impossible, uh, to stop the crowd. We're pulling away, we're leaving them behind!

We're pulling up with the… people are falling off the air stairs! The plane is taking off. So you saw the World Airways flights being mobbed by South Vietnamese soldiers.

You saw ships with thousands of refugees, including lots of soldiers. You saw out of control panic. Basically any boats, trucks, airplanes or anything going south were besieged by people wanting to get onboard.

The North Vietnamese decided to escalate, escalate, escalate, escalate at every turn to see if the United States would react.

We have objected to that violation. It's a tragedy unbelievable in its ramifications. We had a wave of humanity. And , North Vietnamese troops moving right behind them.

I had become so concerned I decided to pull our best Vietnamese agents in out of the woodwork to try to see what they could tell us about Communist planning, which obviously was rapidly evolving.

On the 8th of April, I met with one of our best agents who said, "the Communists are gonna drive on Saigon.

They're gonna be in there by Ho Chi Minh's birthday", which was May 19, literally a month away.

We couldn't repair or replace equipment. Field hospitals had to reuse soiled bandages. We had many obstacles.

We didn't know how much longer we could last. By the 5th of April, the North Vietnamese had 15, even 16 divisions heading in the direction of Saigon.

They were bringing SA-2 missiles down to provide anti-aircraft cover for their forces. There were people who were saying, "Look, we've gotta do some heavy, heavy planning here because depending on how this goes and it doesn't look good now, we may all have to evacuate.

And Ambassador Martin wouldn't tolerate or countenance such thought. That was defeatism. That was poisonous to the prospects of the people we're here to help.

But people could see what was going on. And they started leaving, especially the Americans. To be perfectly honest with you, I'm really scared.

I think the situation's a lot worse than we know about. It held that in an emergency, all Americans still in the country, about 6, people, would be evacuated.

And that no South Vietnamese would be evacuated with them. The schools not closing but You can't stay here. You can't live with the communists.

Especially if you have a connection with the Americans. Then you really gotta get out. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : If we really made up a list of endangered South Vietnamese, the ones who really worked closely with us during the war, this number could be , Including their families, many more than that.

But the idea of talking about an evacuation and of planning for an evacuation of Americans, let alone an evacuation of Vietnamese, was still an anathema in the embassy.

Graham Martin, U. I think the answer is quite definitely no. I mean, you have There are tens of thousands of South Vietnamese employees of the United States government, of news agencies, of contractors and businesses for many years whose lives, with their dependents, are in very grave peril.

If the very worst were to happen, at least allow the orderly evacuation of Americans and endangered South Vietnamese to places of safety.

We'd pulled out our troops in and public opinion at that point shifted. The people of the United States having seen Watergate, having seen the deception of the generals weren't about to give any help in Southeast Asia.

And, you know, Kissinger knew this. The North Vietnamese just rolled down the coast. Saigon was clearly threatened. The situation was urgent.

Urgent understates it. Ambassador, half of the South Vietnamese Army has disintegrated, we're in grave trouble. Please, sir, plan for an evacuation.

At least allow us to begin putting together lists of South Vietnamese we should rescue. It's not so bleak, and I won't have this negative talk.

Young officers in the embassy began to mobilize a black operation. Meaning, a makeshift underground railway evacuation using outgoing cargo aircraft that would be totally below the radar of the ambassador.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : People like myself and others took the bull by the horns and organized an evacuation.

In my case, that meant friends of mine who were senior officers in the South Vietnamese military. As the North Vietnamese came closer and closer to Saigon, these people were dead men walking.

I had arranged a signal with my intelligence community friends that if I said, "I'm having a barbecue," that meant come to a certain pre-designated place and bring your families and only bring one suitcase because we're going to have a party.

But it was understood the party meant I was going to get them out. Black Ops were essentially violating the rules.

In this case, meaning, "You're not allowed to bring out Vietnamese military people who were under obligation to stand and fight.

But sometimes there's an issue not of legal and illegal, but right or wrong. Without any immigration papers, anything, passports, you name it.

And when they began showing up in the Philippines, Martin hit the roof and fired him! But that didn't stop other state department people who had Vietnamese friends and family members.

They continued to organize these makeshift airlifts. And we were getting reports of this town falling and that province falling and so on.

And then we were attacked. Hasty came by to give me a report on the damage. The North Vietnamese had overrun some South Vietnamese artillery batteries and managed to turn those around and shell the center of Can Tho.

And that I should not try to take any Vietnamese out. Because it was too dangerous, and I should only restrict myself to evacuating Americans using my three helicopters.

Well, I'd been there for almost five years at this point and I was committed to the Vietnamese. I did have a responsibility, I thought, for the people who worked for us, and who had given their loyal service to us over many years.

So I decided that despite the order from Saigon, we're gonna really make an effort to evacuate the people in Can Tho who I thought might be in mortal danger.

This could be hundreds of people. So I spent one sleepless night worrying about this, "How am I going to do this?

We don't need helicopters. We can go down the river. It's 70 miles from Can Tho down to the mouth of the river. So I found two invasion barges and got them ready to go.

We could see that the South Vietnamese army was eroding. Supplies had been cut off, and you could see the armaments dwindling. They lacked simple things like barbed wire and bags for sand bags.

They were rationing their artillery shells because they were running out. The military support, the materiel support, was not coming.

The first was to save as many people as we could. He cared for the human beings involved; they were not just pawns that once they had lost their military power were abandoned.

The second was the honor of America -- that we would not be seen at the final agony of South Vietnam as having stabbed it in the back.

They said "No more. You know? No more troops, no more money, no more aid to the Vietnamese. I had never heard Ford use a curse word in all the time I'd known him.

But when I showed him this story, he said, "Those sons of bitches. I mean, it wasn't just us; it was a whole bunch of ships.

We were standing by for the evacuation of Americans. I was a terrible letter writer. I would write one letter for my wife's ten letters.

And she didn't like that. So she said, "We're going to exchange tapes. It's been such a We went with the rest of this huge task force of ours up into about We planned it to death.

Graham Martin is the responsible guy. But the military is responsible for giving him all kinds of plans.

And this is how we got into the four options. The first option was you would take commercial ships right up the Saigon River to couple blocks from the embassy.

You would load whoever you wanted to bring out on these ships, and you'd be done with it. The second option was, you know, United and Continental and Flying Tiger airlines were still using Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base at the time, and you could've brought anybody you wanted out by commercial aviation.

The third option was military fixed-wing aviation, the C5As, the Cs, which carry a lotta people. You could have brought them out of Tan Son Nhut on those.

We had 75 Marine Corps helicopters out there. The helicopter option -- that was absolutely the last resort. You know they don't go very fast; they don't carry that many people.

That was if everything else failed. Saigon was full of rumor, of false stories. Whether we were gonna have a last attempt to draw a line across the country at Saigon and the south would remain a free republic.

All of these things, and it was all churning all around. The fighting was close to Saigon but hadn't shown up in the streets of Saigon.

I served as a naval officer and three and a half tours in Vietnam. Two of those years as a Special Forces advisor with a boat river division, all Vietnamese.

I could tell jokes and hear jokes in Vietnamese, and once you start off like that, you eventually end up being able to dream in Vietnamese.

In my mission was to remove or destroy as many ships, boats, anything I considered to be a benefit to the enemy.

I met with Captain Do Kiem, who was the operations officer of the Vietnamese navy. And you must help me come up with a plan to keep the Vietnamese Navy ships, given to us by the United States, out of the hands of the Communists.

We had to keep this secret. If word got out it would have had an effect on the morale of the people in the street. Many of them had Vietnamese wives, mistresses, whatever.

Just hadn't left. And they were basically letting us know we're not leaving without our families. Finally, we were given authority, by the ambassador, to bypass the immigration laws and send these Vietnamese out of the country.

So, then we started an operation basically to get out the Americans and their Vietnamese dependents. We still had no organized plan for evacuating high-risk South Vietnamese, because we had an ambassador who was making up his mind on the wing.

We have been reducing the population here as measure of prudency and will take measures to reduce it further as a, as a question of prudence.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The ambassador was extremely skittish, and I guess understandably so, about talking about evacuation, about sending signals that an evacuation was being planned or even executed.

He feared it would trigger a panic. And in Saigon at that time, it was like, who do you know? The key word would be connection.

There's a lot of people, they try to get their money. Because, if the people have money, maybe they will find a connection to get out.

You want to go? Give me this kind of money. One guy said to me, "your family, tell them to come to the boat dock, I'll be waiting for them.

Everybody was looking for ways to get out as soon as possible. Of course, the Americans we worked with had a plan in place for us.

They told us to get to the meeting place, which was a safe house near the American Embassy and to wait for buses to come to pick us up.

And the only way we could do that was keeping the airport open as long as we could. But it seemed like the North Vietnamese had other ideas.

Communist ground forces have started moving in on Saigon's Tan Son Nhut airport. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The air base was under continuous artillery fire.

I felt the rounds. They were so close the shrapnel was plinking against the fence behind us. It was abundantly clear that it was a whole new ball game.

And then of course, fear a little bit set in because now we knew that it really meant business, you know? Were they gonna continue shelling Tan Son Nhut?

They had given us a warning, you know, "get out. And we need to consider that this is it, Option Four.

And Ambassador Martin wouldn't hear of it. He said, "I want to come out there, I want to see it. There were still rounds coming in.

But there were still artillery fire. And he could see that the main runway was full of craters from North Vietnamese artillery. And it was understood that General Smith was not being premature with recommendation for Option Four.

You got to remember this is an ambassador who had lost his only son in combat in Vietnam. One becomes pretty invested in that country.

He had been holding out hope that some kind of third-party solution could be worked out, so that South Vietnam could continue with some form of independence or autonomy.

And he was being encouraged to think this might be possible. But the morning of the 29th he came to accept the fact that that wasn't going to happen.

You really think we have to do it? That's how heartbreaking it was for him. He finally, reluctantly, gave the go-ahead for the final evacuation.

The message was "the temperature is and rising" and then Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". And sure enough, about 10 o'clock in the morning, I believe, on the 29th, there was Bing Crosby on the airwaves.

Bing Crosby, singing : "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The plan was when the signal was given, Americans still in Saigon would immediately go to pick up zones around the city so that buses could then come to these 13 locations and get everyone out to the airbase where they would be helicoptered to the fleet.

We had prepared three or four landing zones right across the street from the main runway of Tan Son Nhut airbase.

Areas which had not been under artillery fire. Where heavy lift helicopters could come in. It was a good plan, they had good facilities, they had good security.

Now that Option Four had been declared, I don't think anyone said, "Okay. We have 7,, 6,, 5,," or what have you left to evacuate.

I think it was, "We are going to bring out everybody we have left at the airport, and everybody who might show up, and at a point in time, the embassy will evacuate its few hundred by buses to us and it'll be over.

It was word of mouth. Everybody in Saigon that day seemed to want to leave, and by the time I got to my pickup point, it was chaos.

Everybody knew these buses were going to be going out to Tan Son Nhut airbase and there would be an escape from Vietnam.

Everybody was alerted, including all the Vietnamese that I had informed. And we got everybody down to the boats.

Our plan was that my deputy would bring up the rear and he would go through the consulate buildings and make sure that we had destroyed all of the sensitive material.

Staff Sgt. Hasty stayed and helped him. And then we drove down to where Terry McNamara was loading people onboard the landing craft.

We were trying to be as unobtrusive as possible in doing so. We did not want a repeat of Da Nang. We set sail with two landing craft, packed with 18 Americans and and something Vietnamese.

The biggest concern, of course, was basically the North Vietnamese or what remnants of the VC were there would ambush us at the narrowest portion and basically we'd get our ass handed to us.

Evidentially, the orders had gone out from on high to stop, you know, anybody going out. You know, military officers and people of military age.

There actually were a couple including the deputy Air Force commander who put on civilian clothes and snuck on the boat.

But I wasn't going to go back to Can Tho. So there was a standoff in the middle of the river. I asked the Vietnamese officer in charge to get in touch with the navy commander, Commodore Thang.

I had had gotten Commodore Thang's wife and children out of Saigon. I was hoping that he would reciprocate.

And he did. He came down finally and in a very loud voice said, "You don't have military people on here or people of military age.

But we continued on nonetheless. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : As the morning progressed, the helicopter evacuation was pretty well underway.

But the timing of when it would be over wasn't really our timing, it was, frankly, what the North Vietnamese would tolerate. How long would they stand by and let us do this?

But that morning, Ambassador Martin received a message that said within 24 hours the U. Meaning, we had to be gone.

We thought, "We're going to get ordered to leave. We were to be the sole U. Lock ourselves in a room and then come out when the dust is settled and introduce ourselves to the North Vietnamese.

This was not a popular plan. But we complied. And around 11, , we drove to the embassy. And when we got there, it was teeming with people.

The embassy compound was the size of a city block. It was big. And all sides of it were filled feet back.

Fortunately, people were by in large very controlled. They were very patient. They were just hoping desperately to get in.

During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War , the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape.

On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.

Last Days in Vietnam received positive reviews from critics. Rob Nelson of Variety , said in his review, "Rory Kennedy's documentary combines astonishing footage from Saigon in April with contemporary recollections from some who were there.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last Days in Vietnam Film poster.

Last Days In Vietnam Video

𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐃𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐧𝐚𝐦 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟒 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐌𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐅𝐫𝐞𝐞

The helicopter option -- that was absolutely the last resort. You know they don't go very fast; they don't carry that many people. That was if everything else failed.

Saigon was full of rumor, of false stories. Whether we were gonna have a last attempt to draw a line across the country at Saigon and the south would remain a free republic.

All of these things, and it was all churning all around. The fighting was close to Saigon but hadn't shown up in the streets of Saigon.

I served as a naval officer and three and a half tours in Vietnam. Two of those years as a Special Forces advisor with a boat river division, all Vietnamese.

I could tell jokes and hear jokes in Vietnamese, and once you start off like that, you eventually end up being able to dream in Vietnamese.

In my mission was to remove or destroy as many ships, boats, anything I considered to be a benefit to the enemy.

I met with Captain Do Kiem, who was the operations officer of the Vietnamese navy. And you must help me come up with a plan to keep the Vietnamese Navy ships, given to us by the United States, out of the hands of the Communists.

We had to keep this secret. If word got out it would have had an effect on the morale of the people in the street. Many of them had Vietnamese wives, mistresses, whatever.

Just hadn't left. And they were basically letting us know we're not leaving without our families. Finally, we were given authority, by the ambassador, to bypass the immigration laws and send these Vietnamese out of the country.

So, then we started an operation basically to get out the Americans and their Vietnamese dependents. We still had no organized plan for evacuating high-risk South Vietnamese, because we had an ambassador who was making up his mind on the wing.

We have been reducing the population here as measure of prudency and will take measures to reduce it further as a, as a question of prudence.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The ambassador was extremely skittish, and I guess understandably so, about talking about evacuation, about sending signals that an evacuation was being planned or even executed.

He feared it would trigger a panic. And in Saigon at that time, it was like, who do you know? The key word would be connection.

There's a lot of people, they try to get their money. Because, if the people have money, maybe they will find a connection to get out.

You want to go? Give me this kind of money. One guy said to me, "your family, tell them to come to the boat dock, I'll be waiting for them.

Everybody was looking for ways to get out as soon as possible. Of course, the Americans we worked with had a plan in place for us. They told us to get to the meeting place, which was a safe house near the American Embassy and to wait for buses to come to pick us up.

And the only way we could do that was keeping the airport open as long as we could. But it seemed like the North Vietnamese had other ideas.

Communist ground forces have started moving in on Saigon's Tan Son Nhut airport. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The air base was under continuous artillery fire.

I felt the rounds. They were so close the shrapnel was plinking against the fence behind us.

It was abundantly clear that it was a whole new ball game. And then of course, fear a little bit set in because now we knew that it really meant business, you know?

Were they gonna continue shelling Tan Son Nhut? They had given us a warning, you know, "get out. And we need to consider that this is it, Option Four.

And Ambassador Martin wouldn't hear of it. He said, "I want to come out there, I want to see it. There were still rounds coming in.

But there were still artillery fire. And he could see that the main runway was full of craters from North Vietnamese artillery.

And it was understood that General Smith was not being premature with recommendation for Option Four. You got to remember this is an ambassador who had lost his only son in combat in Vietnam.

One becomes pretty invested in that country. He had been holding out hope that some kind of third-party solution could be worked out, so that South Vietnam could continue with some form of independence or autonomy.

And he was being encouraged to think this might be possible. But the morning of the 29th he came to accept the fact that that wasn't going to happen.

You really think we have to do it? That's how heartbreaking it was for him. He finally, reluctantly, gave the go-ahead for the final evacuation.

The message was "the temperature is and rising" and then Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". And sure enough, about 10 o'clock in the morning, I believe, on the 29th, there was Bing Crosby on the airwaves.

Bing Crosby, singing : "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The plan was when the signal was given, Americans still in Saigon would immediately go to pick up zones around the city so that buses could then come to these 13 locations and get everyone out to the airbase where they would be helicoptered to the fleet.

We had prepared three or four landing zones right across the street from the main runway of Tan Son Nhut airbase. Areas which had not been under artillery fire.

Where heavy lift helicopters could come in. It was a good plan, they had good facilities, they had good security.

Now that Option Four had been declared, I don't think anyone said, "Okay. We have 7,, 6,, 5,," or what have you left to evacuate.

I think it was, "We are going to bring out everybody we have left at the airport, and everybody who might show up, and at a point in time, the embassy will evacuate its few hundred by buses to us and it'll be over.

It was word of mouth. Everybody in Saigon that day seemed to want to leave, and by the time I got to my pickup point, it was chaos.

Everybody knew these buses were going to be going out to Tan Son Nhut airbase and there would be an escape from Vietnam.

Everybody was alerted, including all the Vietnamese that I had informed. And we got everybody down to the boats.

Our plan was that my deputy would bring up the rear and he would go through the consulate buildings and make sure that we had destroyed all of the sensitive material.

Staff Sgt. Hasty stayed and helped him. And then we drove down to where Terry McNamara was loading people onboard the landing craft. We were trying to be as unobtrusive as possible in doing so.

We did not want a repeat of Da Nang. We set sail with two landing craft, packed with 18 Americans and and something Vietnamese.

The biggest concern, of course, was basically the North Vietnamese or what remnants of the VC were there would ambush us at the narrowest portion and basically we'd get our ass handed to us.

Evidentially, the orders had gone out from on high to stop, you know, anybody going out. You know, military officers and people of military age.

There actually were a couple including the deputy Air Force commander who put on civilian clothes and snuck on the boat.

But I wasn't going to go back to Can Tho. So there was a standoff in the middle of the river. I asked the Vietnamese officer in charge to get in touch with the navy commander, Commodore Thang.

I had had gotten Commodore Thang's wife and children out of Saigon. I was hoping that he would reciprocate. And he did.

He came down finally and in a very loud voice said, "You don't have military people on here or people of military age. But we continued on nonetheless.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : As the morning progressed, the helicopter evacuation was pretty well underway. But the timing of when it would be over wasn't really our timing, it was, frankly, what the North Vietnamese would tolerate.

How long would they stand by and let us do this? But that morning, Ambassador Martin received a message that said within 24 hours the U.

Meaning, we had to be gone. We thought, "We're going to get ordered to leave. We were to be the sole U. Lock ourselves in a room and then come out when the dust is settled and introduce ourselves to the North Vietnamese.

This was not a popular plan. But we complied. And around 11, , we drove to the embassy. And when we got there, it was teeming with people.

The embassy compound was the size of a city block. It was big. And all sides of it were filled feet back.

Fortunately, people were by in large very controlled. They were very patient. They were just hoping desperately to get in.

So, you have to know somebody. You know. If you're like me, I find my friend and got a little paper to assure us to get in. So several of us went to the embassy.

Then my friend, he showed the paper to the guard, and he just kind of pointing to each one of us, and we, one by one, to go inside of the Embassy.

When I first got in, I feel so good. I'm in America, I'm almost there. They have a courtyard and a swimming pool and we mostly gather around the swimming pool.

And, 1, people there. And they just keep coming in. There was an old pilot named O. You gotta go pick em up. There were a number of very high-risk Vietnamese including the Defense Minister of South Vietnam, all waiting to be rescued.

As they climbed up the ladder to the roof, a photographer took that famous photograph. Many people thought that was the U.

Embassy, it wasn't. But, it indicated to what extent chaos had descended on this entire operation. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : So the CIA choppers were bringing people to the embassy who where then supposed to go to Tan Son Nhut airbase by bus where they would magically find their way to heavy lift helicopters.

It was very clear to the citizenry that something was up and that something was probably the Americans are leaving. Inside the embassy, we discovered as we walked through the buildings and the outbuildings and the swimming pool area and the social club area, everywhere we looked was teeming with Vietnamese.

We counted them and the total number was about 2, There was no hiding it that somehow, people had to have let these people into the embassy.

Was it, you know, marine security guards who looked the other way? Was it American employees in the embassy who were doing kind of what we did with black ops and taking care of their own?

We never got to the bottom of that, and frankly, we never pursued it. So, I said, "Why don't we take out the cook too? They should get out, they had business with Americans.

So, they took the bread truck and they rounded up the tailor, the cooks, and the dishwashers, a few others and their families, and drove them into the embassy compound.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The embassy had become a refuge. People were hoping to get in, and we were hoping to get people out and down to the airbase.

The roads were totally blocked. They'd forced the buses to come back. So, what if the master plan to take people out by air from Tan Son Nhut doesn't work?

Where's our fall back? Where's Plan B? Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : If we were going to bring out everybody who was inside the embassy it was obvious that there was the need for a hasty plan to be developed for a helicopter airlift out of the embassy to the fleet.

And we had less than 24 hours to pull it off. Ambassador, we have to cut this tree down. The ambassador had resisted us cutting that tree because he did not want anybody to be alerted that we were doing any sort of evacuation or were going to do any sort of evacuation.

But finally he succumbed, you know, to just common sense and gave up his-- I guess you could call it a dream, and we cut it down.

So, that morning of the 29th, we had thousands of pages of classified documents we had failed to destroy beforehand. So we went to every office and told them to start pulling stuff.

And piles and piles of paper began coming out, and we began shredding. There was a small building where we handled the pay for the Vietnamese who worked for the embassy.

So, we had to send a message to the Navy, who sent it to the Treasury Department who came back and said, "Destroy it.

And I said "Oh by the way, we're going to lock you in there. But I had a job to do, and it was an important job to do, I thought, to deny the enemy the South Vietnamese Naval ships.

Armitage called and said, "Captain Kiem! We have to leave today. Our plan was to get them running even if they had only one working engine.

We had been told by people in our intelligence community that we might have as long as the 4th of May, but the North Vietnamese were closing in quite tightly, and clearly it was time to send the signal to leave.

I told Armitage that we needed as many sailors as we could muster. But they had to be allowed to bring their families on board with them.

If they weren't, they wouldn't go. I had no idea. But if you know something is right, you must ignore the rules and follow your heart.

It was actually a mission that was called "embassy snatch," I was just supposed to get the ambassador. I land and I said to the people, I said, "I'm here to get the ambassador.

The evacuation of Vietnamese happened because Graham Martin wanted it to happen. We land on the Blue Ridge, General Carey comes out, wants to know where the ambassador is.

I said, "Well, he didn't get on. So that starts the lift. Like I said, we had 75 Marine Corps helicopters. You and your wingman would fly into the embassy, get your passengers loaded and fly back out to the ships.

It was a little over an hour, back and forth. We were very close to the action. We thought that the USS Kirk would just going to be an observer to this whole thing when all of a sudden, on radar, we started seeing these little blips coming out from the shore.

We looked up at the horizon and all you could see were helicopters all heading towards us. They were small helicopters, the little Hueys, which were never part of the evacuation plan.

But they were flying over top of us. We were watching them fly over top over and over and over again.

I figured if we could save one, at least we'd save people. They were packed in there like sardines. So I made the decision: land the helicopter.

So we put him on the radio and he started broadcasting. Land here. He came flying over and landed on our flight deck. And uh, turned out that the pilot, he was the pilot for the deputy chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

Real high up. And he had the general with him; it was a two star general. And uh…the two star general's nephew.

Three women, about four children. It was a big deal for us. And I looked up because there were five, six, seven stacked up, ready to land.

And when they realized that the evacuation was happening and they weren't going to be part of it, they said, "Oh yeah, we are.

Well, we're one of the first ships they saw. There are no wheels on them, they just have skids.

We couldn't think of what else to do, these other planes were looking for a place to land, so we just, just, physically pushed them.

So, we opened up our flight deck, and they begin to land, one right after the other. Some of them are shot at, holes in them.

All with sidearms, some with M rifles. They had no idea what was going to happen so they came out ready for anything, really.

So, we had to disarm them. Everybody had a gun, we took the guns away from them. And about five minutes later, another one came in and landed.

And uh, we pushed his airplane over the side. That was the second one, I helped pushed that one over too. Then the third plane came in.

It landed also. We pushed it over the side. So meanwhile we've thrown three helicopters in the water so far. This is incredible.

I know you probably don't believe any of this, but it's all true. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : By late afternoon, the chopper flow at the embassy really started.

And each time a bird came in, here would go another 40, 50 people. But did the right mix of people get out? And who says that these were the people who either deserved or should have gone out?

At the embassy, a lot of the people who got out happened to be good wall jumpers. One would land on the roof, and one would land on the parking lot.

They would put all the Vietnamese in groups, they would search them and if they had any weapons, all those weapons were thrown into the swimming pool.

And as soon as the chopper would land, they would be brought into the restricted area where a couple of the marines would escort them into the aircraft.

Then they would raise the ramp up and take off. And I remember very distinctly that every time a helicopter coming down, it just blew us away.

We have to duck down to fight with the wind of the chopper. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : Three of the choppers that came in each landed a platoon of 40 marines from the task force.

They had to be brought in because we didn't have enough marines in the embassy security guard to secure the walls. A lot of people, they clenched to the top of the wall but they couldn't get in.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : Each gate was besieged like that, although the side gate was the principle place where they came.

People holding letters saying, you know, "I worked for the Americans, please let me in. But, well, they looked up at the helicopters leaving and I could see their eyes.

Desperate eyes. He had been waiting for orders but his captain had, you know, basically just left. So he and some other pilots picked out the best Chinooks and took off.

He said it was the Wild West at this point. Just you and your horse and you just do what you had to do to survive and take care of your family.

He had given my mom a heads up if she did hear a Chinook coming to get ready. I was six and a half years old. I can still hear the rumbling, a very, you know, familiar rumbling of a Chinook.

When you hear the Chinook coming, you know it's coming. I knew my dad was coming. In Saigon, during my childhood, it was like, say, living in the middle of busy LA.

So, there's really not a big area to land the Chinook. So he came in and landed in a playfield. Caused a lot of wind, caused a lot of commotion.

My mom grabbed my little sister, who was about six months at that time and a little brother who was about three or four years old and myself.

We quickly ran into the Chinook, and we all flew off out into the Pacific Ocean. My dad was afraid for not having enough fuel.

Afraid for a lot of things. He was just flying blind. Then he just saw a ship out there. It came out and tried to land on the ship. Oh, we almost There's no way he could land on Kirk without impacting the ship.

He would have killed everybody on this helicopter plus my crew. We thought that the helicopter would just fly away.

But as the ship was moving forward probably four, five, six knots, something like that, the pilot communicated that he was running low on fuel.

Then, all of a sudden, here comes a human. I jumped out, my brother jumped out. My mom was holding my, my sister. Obviously, very scared.

And she just, you know, trustingly, just with one hand, with her right hand, holding on with her left to brace herself, you know, just, dropped my baby sister.

And then the mother jumped out and he caught her too. Then the pilot flew out on our starboard right side. He hovered with his wheels in and out of the water.

He hovered there for like 10 minutes and we couldn't figure out what was doing and it turned out what he was doing was taking his flight suit off.

Here's a man flying a twin rotor helicopter by himself and at the same time he's taking off a flight suit. How you do it, I've talked to helicopter pilots and they can't figure out how he did that.

You know, like a Houdini, trying to get out of this thing. And finally, he made the helicopter roll to the right as he stepped out the door on the left.

The shrapnel is just blowing up. And suddenly, just quiet. And he pops up, and he's alive. The helicopter was only about 20 feet from him when he hit the water.

It was amazing. So he lost everything. He didn't own a thing but his underwear when he finally came aboard the ship. He was a tremendous pilot.

The guy was just so cool and calm. We've so far taken a total of 17 helicopters. We ended up with people aboard this ship. They went, they took their money, went to the Navy exchange or commissary, bought all the clothes and food they could get, took it up and gave it to the refugees they had befriended.

They were unbelievable. My mom was just, you know, wow. Symbolically, it was like, the first step onto not American soil but American freedom.

We were, you know at this point, four or five hours from Can Tho. It's a metal landing craft. The sun is beating down, it's hotter than hell.

A less than pleasant voyage. When suddenly, whoosh, bam! Somebody fired a B40 rocket at us. We immediately started returning fire.

We weren't sure who the dip-wad was that was opening up on us, but we continued blazing away as we got past the ambush site.

We said, "Alright. That was just a taste of what's coming. Once we hit the absolute narrowest portion, that's where we're really going to be in danger.

We had to go through narrow channels between the islands. If we're gonna really get, get hit, it'll be there. But, just at that point, dark clouds formed in the sky and it started raining like hell.

The noise of the rain hitting the water on the river was so loud that it muffled the sound of our engines.

And this continued on for about 25 minutes. It was long enough to get us through the most dangerous part of the trip. And as the rain started to let up, we had reached the area of the river past the channel, past the little islands where it opened up into a broad river again.

So somebody was looking out for us that day. And then we saw a faint light on the horizon, and as we got a little bit closer, we could see that they were the lights of a ship's rigging.

So, we said what the heck? So we made for it. We came up alongside and somebody shouted, "Get rid of your weapons. Nobody comes aboard with weapons.

They took us aboard. And I had people with me. The got them into the hold of the ship. We made sure they were taken care of and the Pioneer Contender was going to Guam.

We knew they were safe. Then, your next emotion probably was just determined to get this job done and get these people out.

And then, later, as it went on, you became fatigued and frustrated that you could never make a dent in the amount people that were coming out of the embassy.

You'd ask questions like, "Was the crowd getting any smaller? When are we gonna finish this? Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : The carrier pilots were saying, "Look, it's an uncontrollable sea of people and Ambassador Martin has lost his objectivity.

That Ambassador Martin is trying to evacuate all of Saigon through the U. Each helicopter took about 40 people. He knew that once the Americans were gone, the evacuation would be over.

So they just put one or two Americans on each one. So we got the word out, you know, "We could use some help out here, we only have 75 helicopters.

No, Marine pilots don't get tired. Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : Back at the Embassy under the Ambassador's direction we of course were taking advantage of the presence of the aircraft to evacuate threatened folks.

But there were other independent efforts to get people out. I had an assigned assembly point in the middle of Saigon, and I crammed about 15 people into a nine-person van and then drove through the streets of Saigon through various checkpoints down to the docks.

People would get out and go running for these commercial boats and get on. I made a number of runs and there'd just be more and more and more people.

Finally, as the sun was going down, we're running out of light. Man came up to me. I turned to him and said, "This is, this is my last load.

I can't take anymore. My family's too big My family's too big. It was already getting well into twilight. Got my way through the crowd, it was a big crowd.

I had nothing more I could do. So, I went to get on the helicopter. And Ambassador Martin pulled me out of line and he said, "I know what you've been doing.

I know you've been out there, we've been talking. I wanna thank you. By that time, it was definitely dark.

The lights of the helicopter inside radiated very clearly. I sat down, looked around. I was one of maybe two or three Americans. The rest were all Vietnamese.

And we flew out. I remember that. And people started to elbow each other try to get in the front line. And that's when the Captain Herrington started speaking to us in Vietnamese.

Nobody is gonna be left behind. Speaks Vietnamese. I promise, me and my soldier will be the last one to leave the embassy. Literally, we're so relaxed we have nothing to worry about.

Left meant, inside the embassy compound. And then we calculated how many helicopters it would take to get them out. We told Martin that he had to be on the last helicopter.

Stuart Herrington, Army Captain : All I know is that in Washington, there was confusion about the numbers on the ground.

At 1am, there were 1, people left to evacuate. After we'd had a flurry of choppers, and cleaned out more than half of them and there were people left.

We received an order from Washington that the lift was over other than the extraction of the remaining Americans.

So, General Carey comes out, gives me an apple and a cup of coffee or something and says, "We're under orders from the president. You've got to get the ambassador out.

Only Americans from this point on. We've got these people over here. Last Days in Vietnam Film poster. Retrieved May 7, Retrieved January 15, Retrieved 17 February Archived from the original on May 7, American Experience episodes.

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Last Days In Vietnam Video

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