The Vietnam war ended 38 years ago with the fall of Saigon. As late as March 1975 the CIA estimated that the South Vietnamese forces could hold on till at least 1976. Yet when a military collapse begins it snowballs into something much larger. The last days of South Vietnam saw a desperate evacuation American civilians and personnel and other refugees epitomized by the picture below.
As the North Vietnamese closed in on Saigon, the South Vietnamese government crumbled. President Nguyen Van Thieu resigned on April 21 blaming the United States for not coming to the aid of South Vietnam. By this time with final victory in sight North Vietnam had no interest in negotiating a political settlement.
By daybreak of April 30, North Vietnamese troops had started entering Saigon. President Duong Van Minh ordered an unconditional surrender to engage in “a ceremony of orderly transfer of power so as to avoid any unnecessary bloodshed in the population.” North Vietnam was not interested. As Colonel Bui Tin entered the Independence Palace with his tank unit he curtly informed the last President of South Vietnam – “There is no question of your transferring power. Your power has crumbled. You cannot give up what you do not have.” The South Vietnamese government was dissolved and the long Vietnam War was over. Saigon would be renamed Ho Chi Minh City.