Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

“Will the Last American Leaving Saigon Please Turn Off the Light at the End of the Tunnel”

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Frequent Wind

A history post, the first week of May, 1975. Saigon actually fell to the North Vietnamese on 30 April, the Americans having evacuated about 7,000 people by helicopter in Operation Frequent Wind. Image above from same. It was pretty traumatic for a lot of Americans, though not comparable to the decades of trauma Vietnam suffered. So, what happened that week:

May 1st, 1975, a Thursday. Not much happened today. Nothing important ever happens on Thursday. One of the great mysteries of history.

May 2nd. The last South Vietnamese soldiers surrendered at the Battle of Long Xuyên. Google failed me, was unable to find out anything about this purported battle.

May 3rd. USS Nimitz commissioned, the first supercarrier. The first of ten. And with these billion dollar bad boys at their disposal, the US never lost a war again.

May 4th. Moe Howard dies. The last surviving member of The Three Stooges. His brother had died a few months previously. Their story is really interesting, another topic for a blog post someday. Cambodia, recently taken over by the Khmer Rouge, invaded Phú Quốc island, disputed territory with Vietnam. It was the first of a series of provocations which would eventually lead to Vietnam invading Cambodia and overthrowing the Khmer Rouge regime. The Khmer Rouge were kinda crazy, they seized a US ship, the Mayaguez, later in this month.

May 5th. Another quiet day. I think all sorts of sportsball records were broken this week, millions of baseballs thrown, something like that. Doug’s Darkworld is not the place for such.

May 6th. The first Moon Tree planted. One of the Apollo astronauts brought a package of tree seeds to the moon in 1971, though they only orbited the moon, they didn’t land on it. Then they were planted all over the USA, and in a few foreign countries. I’ve seen the ones planted in Tilden Park above Berkeley. I thought they were cool, but to some I’m sure they just look like regular trees. Philistines.

May 7th. President Ford announced the end of the Vietnam War officially as far as veterans benefits and such. It was essentially the first time in more than two decades where the US wasn’t involved in Vietnam. The US fully supported the artificial state of South Vietnam that was created in 1955 after the French defeat in the First Vietnamese War. And the US was neck deep in supporting the French during the first war, even offering them the use of nuclear weapons during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. So basically the American “experience” in Vietnam lasted from 1945 until 1975.

So yes, odds and ends happened that week, the major events in Vietnam transpired the previous week. And Americans are arguing about the US war in Vietnam still. If some people refusing to accept we lost the war or blaming the loss on hippies and the media can be called arguing. When nations lose wars, myths explaining away the loss become popular. And a case can be made that Americans are particularly prone to refusing to accept defeat gracefully. I guess it’s human nature, but still, it’s getting old. If we had learned anything from Vietnam, we wouldn’t have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan etc.

It’s not really a debate because the people believing in same are no different than anti-vaxxers for the most part, they can’t even admit the possibility they might be wrong. Argued with one who trotted out a fake quote by General Giap, the architect of France and America’s defeat in Vietnam. The fake quote had Giap saying “Just one more bombing raid and we would have surrendered.” Yes, after enduring more bombs than were dropped by all of the participants in all of World War Two, one more raid would have done the trick. Insert rolled eyes.

In any event, America’s Vietnam war was an ill considered war against a determined enemy who had numerous advantages. And despite massive application of US troops and firepower, we were never really close to achieving our goal. Which was to establish South Vietnam as an independent American ally in the region. The corrupt South Vietnamese government was never able to inspire confidence and loyalty in its troops. No amount of money, bombs, or Agent Orange could fix that. Here it all is in one article, with plenty of footnotes.

Next week, who knows. I have a global warming post written. Maybe more history. There’s always some science news. Have a great weekend everyone.

(Helicopter being pushed off the deck of an aircraft carrier to make room for more during the American evacuation of Saigon. Photo credit: U.S. Marines, Official Marine Corps Photo.)


Written by unitedcats

May 3, 2019 at 6:39 am

Posted in History, War, World

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