(At the end of 9,000 days it looked like this . . .)
It was the war that nobody thought would ever end. But eventually it did, and suddenly. Even though the Vietnam war from the U.S. standpoint was over, at least on paper in January of 1973, the conflict between North and South kept going even as American troops were being withdrawn and our presence scaled back down to adviser (more or less ending where we began in 1950). On March 10 1975, North Vietnam launched an offensive and quickly moved south with very little resistance advancing towards Saigon. President Thieu resigned and newly installed President Duong van Minh declared a cease fire and an end to hostilities.
And just like that - it was over.
America woke up to the news on the morning of the 29th, as bulletin after bulletin jammed the airwaves saying that South Vietnam had surrendered and the last U.S. Embassy was finally closed and evacuated and dependents were being airlifted to waiting offshore warships. Panic broke out as North Vietnamese tanks rolled in with thousands of people trying to leave.
And back in the U.S. the post-mortem began that continues even today, with attempts at using the Vietnam experience in the same breath as Iraq and Afghanistan, as illogical as that may seem. Different wars, different peoples, different ideologies entirely
Here is a one-hour glimpse into that day as it happened - this particular day 34 years ago.