Photos show fall of South Vietnam, US withdrawal

Xavier Roger


Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of combat troops departing South Vietnam, the beginning of the end of the United States’ direct military involvement in the unpopular war. 

Two months prior, representatives of the U.S North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed a peace agreement, which included key provisions such as the withdrawal of U.S. troops,  a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the release of prisoners of war, and the peaceful reunification of North and South Vietnam, once new elections were held. 

Military advisers to the South Vietnamese Army, Marines protecting U.S. installations and thousands of Defense Department civilians remained. 

Despite the peace agreement, North Vietnam military officials violated the cease-fire and resumed a full-scale war by 1974. Saigon surrendered to communist forces on April 30, 1975 – one day after the iconic photo was taken of an American helicopter helping people escape off the roof of a CIA safe house.

The following year, South Vietnam was officially united as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

A bon voyage banner stretches overhead in Da Nang, South Vietnam, as soldiers march down a street following a farewell ceremony for some of the last U.S. troops in the country's northern military region, March 26, 1973.
In this March 27, 1973 photo, surrounded by luggage of other departing GIs, U.S. Air Force airman reads paperback novel as he waits to begin processing at Camp Alpha on Saigon's Tan Son Nhut airbase in Saigon as troop withdrawals resume after 10 day-delay.
North Vietnamese Lt. Col. Bui Tin, center, waves as he bids farewell to the last U.S. troops to leave Saigon, South Vietnam, with the final withdrawal of American forces, March 29, 1973.


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