In late April 1975, the outskirts of Saigon were reached by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). On April 29th, the United States knew that their token presence in the city would quickly become unwelcome, and the remaining Americans were evacuated by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.
U.S. commander General William Westmoreland was in charge of all operations during the Vietnam War until 1968. He commanded units full of young men placed in an alien environment, with no clear front in the conflict. Life in the jungle became a horrific experience for U.S. troops. Illegal drugs filtered their way into the daily routine of many servicemen, quickly corrupting any morale that had once been present.
North Vietnam's commitment to cease hostilities, as spelled out in the Paris Agreement, was hollow. Even as the U.S. military was rapidly departing the region, the NVA was plotting various strategic game plans to take the south.
Fall of Saigon and Operation Frequent Wind
By April 25th, 1975, after the NVA captured Phuoc Long city, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang and Hue, the South Vietnamese Army had lost its best units, more than a third of its men, and nearly half its weapons. The NVA were closing in on Saigon, which forced President Ford to order an immediate evacuation of American civilians and South Vietnamese refugees in Operation Frequent Wind.
U.S. Marine and Air Force helicopters, flying from offshore carriers, performed a massive airlift. In 18 hours, more than 1,000 American civilians and nearly 7,000 South Vietnamese refugees were flown out of Saigon.