Saturday, April 02, 2005

April 30, 1975

By Denns Rockstroh

North Vietnamese tanks led the final assault on the South Vietnamese capital city of Saigon 30 years ago.
As the tanks rumbled through the city, one tank commander hailed a man on the street and asked for directions to the presidential palace.
The city was encircled by about 250,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers, who periodically shelled the city and Tan Son Nhut airport as hundreds of thousands fled Vietnam any way they could – by air, boat, bicycle and on foot through Cambodia or Laos.
President Ford ordered American forces not to intervene.
Ford ordered the American Embassy to shut down and evacuate all personnel.
On April 30, 1975 South Vietnam surrendered over the radio and, soon after, a North Vietnamese tank smashed through the iron gates of the presidential palace.
The Vietnam War was over.
An estimated two million of South Vietnam’s 17 million fled the county. About one million of the refugees survived and went on to new lives around the world.
They established new communities in old cities.
In San Jose, California’s oldest city, they eventually formed the largest community of Vietnamese in any city outside Vietnam.