35 Years Ago, South Vietnam Fell to Communist Rule

The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the North Vietnamese Army on April 30, 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period leading to the formal reunification of Vietnam under communist rule.

Refugees escaping the Fall of Saigon

North Vietnamese forces under the command of the Senior General Văn Tiến Dũng began their final attack on Saigon, which was commanded by General Nguyen Van Toan on April 29, with a heavy artillery bombardment. By the afternoon of the next day, North Vietnamese troops had occupied the important points within the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace. South Vietnam capitulated shortly after. The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after communist leader Ho Chi Minh. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians associated with the southern regime. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, which was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the population of the city. (source)


Various names have been applied to the incident. Fall of Saigon is the most commonly used name in English, but also Liberation of Saigon is used. It has also been called Sự kiện 30 tháng 4 (April 30 Incident) or Giải phóng miền Nam (The liberation of the south) by the current Vietnamese government and Ngày mất nước (The day we lost our country/nation) or Ngày Quốc Hận (National Hatred Day) or Tháng Tư Đen (Black April) by anti-communist Vietnamese people overseas.

Among Vietnamese refugees in the United States and in many other countries, the week of April 30 is referred to as Black April and is used as a time of commemoration of the fall of Saigon. . The event is approached from different perspectives, with arguments that the date was a sign of American abandonment , or as a memorial of the war and mass exodus as a whole.

Vietnam War Facts:

  • 58,148 Americans were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served.
  • The average age of those killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years.
  • 50,274 were enlisted, average age 22.37.
  • The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year, thanks to the mobility of the helicopter.
  • After Vietnam the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand managed to stay free of communism. The Indonesians expelled the Soviets in 1966.
  • During the Vietnam War the national debt increased by $146 billion (1967-1973). Adjusted for inflation, the debt in 1992 dollars was $500 billion.
  • 6,598 were officers, average age 28.43.
  • 91 percent of Vietnam veterans say they are glad they served.
  • 74 percent said they would serve again even knowing the outcome.
  • 1,276 were warrant officers (NCOs), average age 24.73 years.
  • 11,465 were less than 20 years old.
  • From 1957 to 1973 the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted 58,499. Death squads focused on leaders that included schoolteachers and minor officials.
  • The number of North Vietnamese killed was approximately 500,000 to 600,000. Casualties: 15 million.
  • One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. Although the percentage who died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled.
  • The Tet ’68 offensive was a major defeat for the VC and the NVA.
  • Two-thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers, two-thirds who served in World War II were draftees.