The Vietnam War is known to be one of America’s toughest wars, starting in November of 1955 and ending with the “Fall of Saigon” in March of 1975. In 1973 all American combatant troops had departed Vietnam due to a peace treaty which only left a couple thousand Americans for humanitarian aid with only a handful of Marines for their protection. The North Vietnamese knew that with American military forces withdrawn, taking over South Vietnam would no longer be a challenge. As the North Vietnamese Army started migrating south the remaining Americans relied on the U.S. Government to develop a plan to safely extract the remaining personnel without involving U.S. combatant forces.
This plan turned out to become the largest helicopter evacuation in American history and lasted less than forty eight hours. It consisted of sixteen Sikorsky CH-53 “Sea Stallions”, sixteen Boeing CH-46 “Frogs”, four Bell AH-1J “Snakes”, and two Bell UH-1E “Hueys” and became officially designated as Provisional Marine Air Group Thirty-nine (MAG-39), with other assets from 3rd Air Division, nineteen different Wings, and three Squadrons. Operation Frequent Wind was the last official American Operation in the Vietnam War.
The Paris Peace Accord agreement in 1973 ended the American military combatant involvement in the war and U.S. combat troops left the Republic of Vietnam. The U.S. government continued to aid South Vietnam to allow the government to achieve a more self sustainable state. The humanitarian aid project only left a couple thousand American employees at the Defense Attaché Office (DAO), Tan Son Nhut Airport, the U.S. Embassy compound in downtown Saigon, and four consulates at Da Nang, Nha Trang, Bien Hoa, and Can Tho with only a handful of Marines to protect them.
The military forces were led by Maj. Gen. Homer D. Smith who assumed command in 1974. Maj. Gen. Smith reported to the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Graham A. Martin and to Admiral Noel A. M. Gaylor who was the Pacific Command, Commander in Chief. While in country the U.S. had little to no involvement in any fighting between North Vietnam and the Republic of South Vietnam to stay in compliance with the Paris Peace Accord.
In 1975, word disseminated that the communist military forces were preparing for a major offensive attack. In March of 1975 the North Vietnamese made their first attack since the peace treaty with the U.S. Government in 1973. The U.S. Government was going through the presidential resignation of President Richard Nixon, so the government had little interest to approve more aid for South Vietnam or to reintroduce American forces into the conflict.
On March 14, 1975 Ban Me Thuot, one of the largest cities in South Vietnam, was attacked and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu was forced to withdrawal his forces from Pleiku and Kontum. By the end of the month, enemy forces had captured the strategic bases of Quang Tri, Hue, Tam Ky, and Da Nang which were the...