2 days ago
Monday, April 29, 2013
In March 1975 the CIA and Army Intelligence(?) published a report stating the Army of South Vietnam could most likely last into 1976. The final North Vietnamese offensive began March 10, 1975. By March 25 the defenders were routed, Hua was captured. Da Nang fell 3 days later. And the attackers set their sights on Saigon. The rapidity of the collapse of the country caught both sides off guard.
On April 3 President Ford ordered the start of Operation Babylift , it's aim to airlift 2000 orphans out of the crumbling country. Days later, Operation New Life hastily transported 110,000 refugees from Vietnam.
The first rocket barrage hit Saigon April 27, the attack on Saigon's military airport the morning of the 29th effectively closed the airport stopping large scale airlifts. After brief consultation with Washington, a bit of prior planning and a lot of quick thinking, the largest helicopter airlift in history began evacuating US military forces and South Vietnamese refugees from the US Embassy compound. By the morning of the 30th the military orders were given, evacuate American's only. South Vietnam ceased to exist. It feels like yesterday.
Thirty years earlier:
On April 29, 1945 members of the 1st Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry, under the command of Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks, entered Dachau. When they discovered a train of 36 boxcars bearing the corpses of prisoners who had been transferred to Dachau in the last weeks of the war, they rounded up any remaining SS camp guards. Around 60 were executed. Others were beaten. Afterwards a military investigation submitted a report to General George Patton, commander of the 3rd Army, who chose not to take any action. The report was declassified in 1991.