The Fall of Saigon III

Lead: Given all the broken promises it is surprising that South Vietnam survived as long as it did.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1969 newly elected President Richard Nixon faced a decision. Over a half million U.S. troops were involved in Vietnam. The war was not winnable. Absent an invasion of the North or the unlikely chance that North Vietnam would give up its attempt to absorb the South, America would continue to use up men and materiel hopelessly shoring up a regime in the South many considered hardly better than the one seeking to replace it. At home the war was unpopular. Some were opposed to the fighting on general terms, but most Americans were frustrated at the continuing hemorrhage of blood and treasure in a conflict that was going nowhere. Democracies are capable of great sacrifices in wartime, but continuing public support requires that the purposes of the war be very clear and the ultimate goal be to win. The sooner the better. Nixon knew he could not deliver a victory and therefore was going to have to break America's promises to Vietnam and pull out the troops.

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The Fall of Saigon II

Lead: In 1975, Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese Army. It was the
culmination of two decades of failed, flawed, but good intentions.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the Geneva Conference divided Vietnam in the mid-1950s Indochina enjoyed a restless peace. The North however, would not give up. Ho Chi Minh, now the symbol of Vietnamese independence, was determined to rule a united Vietnam. His government organized the Viet Cong in the South and slowly began to put pressure on the Saigon regime.

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The Fall of Saigon I

Lead: In the wee morning hours of April 30, 1975, the second Vietnamese War came to an end.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the great mistakes made first by the French and then by the United States during the various stages of the Vietnam Conflict was the failure to understand it as a civil war. In 1945 the Vietnamese were divided. Probably most people in Vietnam wanted to be left alone to live out their lives with ancient habits undisturbed. Others were attached to the colonial French and welcomed their return after the defeat of Japan. Others were nationalists, wishing to be rid of the French, but desiring to adopt western patterns of democracy and market economics. A very small minority, led by Ho Chi Minh, were also nationalists, but were attracted to Communist system. Where would Vietnam go?

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United States Leaves Saigon (Vietnam)

Lead: In late April 1975, the American war in Vietnam, representing 15 years of sacrifice of both blood and treasure, came to an end.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: FLASH MARTIN TO SCOWCROFT PLAN TO CLOSE MISSION AT ABOUT 0430 APRIL LOCAL TIME. DUE TO NECESSITY TO DESTROY COMMO GEAR, THIS IS LAST MESSAGE FROM EMBASSY SAIGON.

 

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Dedication of Vietnam Memorial

Lead: In 1982, the nation dedicated the Vietnam War memorial in Washington. It became one of the ways healing over the war came to America.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The war in Vietnam divided the United States, politically, philosophically, and socially. Yet many, indeed 58,000 warriors, paid the ultimate sacrifice in support of America’s fight for the independence of South Vietnam. In the late 1970s, the nation moved to recognize their sacrifice. Even as the war, the memorial was a source of controversy. Out of 1420 submissions, that of Yale student Maya Lin was selected. It was strikingly different from other memorials. A v-shaped wall of black stone with the names of the dead carved in chronological order, it lacked the heroic sculpture of other monuments. This choice aroused powerful opposition which argued that it was an inappropriate honor. The sometimes vicious and personal criticism of Lin was so intense that her name was ignored when the memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982.

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The Last Full Measure – Cu Chi Tunnels of Vietnam II

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time (is presented by the people of _________ and) is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose sacrifice gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Content: Captain Herbert Thornton only recruited volunteers into his elite unit. The bad air, booby traps, and the prospect of a horrible and bizarre death made the challenge of going down into the tunnels of Cu Chi, northwest of Saigon, and Vietnam in general, more than you could require of just anyone. They called themselves “Tunnel Rats” and took as their motto “Non Gratum Anus Rodentum” or in pidgeon latin “not worth a rat’s ass.” Thornton, the chemical officer of the First Infantry Division when it arrived in Vietnam in 1966 and one of the first to lead the group, thought the tunnel rats had a certain élan about them. He called them, “a sort of oddball hero.” “It takes a special kind of being. He’s got to have an inquisitive mind, a lot of guts, and a lot of real moxie into knowing what to touch and what not to touch to stay alive.”

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The Last Full Measure – Cu Chi Tunnels of Vietnam I

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time (is presented by the people of _________ and) is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose sacrifice gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Content: Connecting Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, Highway Number One meanders along the coastline of Vietnam until it reaches Hanoi in the north. Just few miles west of the former capital of the South, the highway bisects one of the most contested provinces of the two wars for Vietnam. Cu Chi province lies on the piedmont or Mekong terrace, between the dry foothills of the central highlands and the rich swampy rice fields of the Mekong Delta. One of the few places in South Vietnam where troops and armor could operate nearly all year long, it was like a dagger pointed at the heart of the South’s nerve center.

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Last Full Measure – Gulf of Tonkin Incident – II

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: On August 2, 1964 USS Maddox, a destroyer on intelligence watch in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam, was attacked by three enemy torpedo patrol boats. Maddox destroyed the boats, but narrowly escaped a triple torpedo spread launched before the boats were sunk. The destroyer was ordered to remain on station as an assertion of freedom of the seas and two days later, now joined by another destroyer, USS Turner Joy, the whole scenario seemed about to repeat itself. Maddox’s radar picked up three enemy boats that seemed to be closing fast in an attack pattern. Commodore John Herrick, commander of the patrol, radioed for air support and soon both ships and planes were pounding away at the approaching bogies. There was no unimpeachable evidence that an attack command had been broadcast on enemy frequencies as there had been two days before, there was no evidence of debris after the engagement and no real evidence that the three contacts actually attacked the Maddox and Turner Joy. Nevertheless, officers and crew of the two ships certainly felt they were under attack and acted accordingly.

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