Flightline Friday – 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon May 1, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, General Catholic, Glory, history, scandals, Society, technology.
Yesterday, April 30, 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and the end of decades of conflict in Southeast Asia. A sad end to a sad war, one that was probably doomed to failure from the moment the Kennedy Administration made the decision to put America at the forefront of the conduct of the war by approving the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem has been treated very unfairly by history, especially by Western historians, but that’s a post for another day. I say doomed to failure, because the American way of war has never been well-suited to protracted, relatively low intensity counter-insurgency conflicts. As George C. Marshall said at the beginning of WWII, the United States does not have the stomach for a 7 year long war. And he has been proven right over and over again – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. The British managed to fight a counterinsurgency in Malaya, as a sort of swan song for all their martial imperial efforts, which also lasted for more than a decade but was fought much more reasonably and successfully concluded with the crushing of the communist insurgency. The British knew that you can help local forces fight an insurgency, but you can’t do it in place of them. Also, it is much better to use the absolute minimum of force in such efforts, rather than to use the ludicrous amounts of firepower we Americans have generally favored.
Anyway, I’m short on time, so I’ll just have to wrap this up really quick. The American betrayal of South Vietnam was made complete by the abysmal performance of Ambassador Graham Martin, who refused to initiate evacuation plans for locals who had collaborated with the US-led effort until it was really quite late. Martin had to be more or less forced to initiate the evac plan at all, so deluded was he that the South Vietnamese could somehow rally and defend the southern 1/3 of the country. As a result, even though the Air Force and Marines, principally, managed to evacuate tens of thousands of loyal South Vietnamese, tens of thousands more were left behind to a grim fate. The father of a friend of mine, an outstanding Vietnamese Catholic who had nine children, all of whom now reside in the US (and at least one of whom is a priest), spent years in hellish communist “re-education” camps. The re-education failed, as my friend and his entire family remain vehemently anti-communist and continue to work to support both Vietnam’s liberation from the yoke of Marxist oppression, and, even more, for the liberty of the Church in that still suffering land.
The following videos deal with that evacuation effort and the last days in Saigon. Over 135,000 South Vietnamese managed to flee in 1975, with hundreds of thousands (millions?) more later (including my friend and his family). About half of those were evacuated by the US. The other found their own means of escape, frequently using American military hardware like Hueys, horribly overloaded, to fly as many friends and family as they possibly could (some of the achievements were incredible) to safety with the US Seventh Fleet waiting offshore.
Two good vids:
Another interesting video, unfortunately badly marred by careless overlay of graphics, showing the best danged aircraft carrier ever (ok, maybe CV-6 Enterprise could argue the point) CV-41 Midway taking part in the evacuation. A tiny fraction of the billions of dollars in war materials and equipment left behind managed to make it to Midway around the 6 minute mark:
As I said, many South Vietnamese performed heroic efforts flying overloaded helos and aircraft out to waiting US ships. So many landed that after a while, there was no more space to store them, and they began to dump them over the side. Many of these UH-1Hs were practically new with only a few hundred hours on them. Towards the end of the video below, US personnel were not sure what to make of the O-1 Bird Dog that kept circling the Midway. Finally the pilot flew over and dropped a note saying he intended to land. You see that from the 7 minute mark or so on. That was one heck of a bit of flying. He had his entire family inside the tiny Cessna:
Have a blessed Feast of St. Joseph worker.