Saigon Fell on April 30, 1975

compiled by Dee Finney

09-09-09 - SILLY DREAM - I was on a big yellow school bus with my mother-in-law . my husband, and my brother-in-law, and a bunch of kids.

My husband and my brother-in-law dressed down to gold skimpy bathing trunks and did an Egyptian kind of circus act dance and my brother-in-law swung my husband in the air in a circle by his feet.  I wondered at the time why they didn't shave their bodies.  They had all their hair on them, including chest, belly and legs. It was rather ugly looking at the time.

After the dance performance was over, my mother-in-law roasted a chicken on the bus.  This was not your usual fare either.  The chicken was plucked live and it stood in the barbecue and entertained the kids while it was being roasted.  This chicken was over 40 pounds as well so it took awhile and the chicken told stories and jokes to the kids while he was standing in the roasting pan.

After my mother-in-law left the troop, it was up to me to roast the chicken.  I don't know how I learned to pluck a live chicken, but I did it, and my roasted chicken act was just as successful as hers.




9-9-09 - VISION VISIT -  I went back to bed to get some more sleep because I had gotten up just after 4 a.m with the dumb dream about the chickens being plucked alive.  All of a sudden, this man appeared in front of me and started talking about bombs falling, and he said, "You just don't remember the bombs falling in 1975.

That was the end of my ability to sleep, because I was seeing a map with a bunch of islands on it, and I had to know what the man was talking about.



The fighting, of course, didn't stop when America left Vietnam. By March 13, 1975, North Vietnamese troops were 35 miles north of Saigon. People from the south fled with their injured children. Roads became massive traffic jams. On March 29, 1975 the communists from the North were closing in on Da Nang.

By April, people tried to board helicopters transporting fleeing refugees to safety. Mobs, hoping for a seat in a chopper, showed up at the U.S. Embassy. Americans were also trying to get out of the country before Saigon fell. Sometimes a fist to the face was part of the door-closing process.

Bombs fell on the capital city as people scoured the ruins for survivors. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975 when North Vietnamese soldiers took over the Presidential Palace. On the same day, troops overran Tan Son Nhut (sometimes spelled Tan Son Nhat) air base.

Today Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam, is called Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi, the former capital of the North, is now the seat of government for the unified country.

"Vietnam vets," those Americans who fought in the war, returned to a divided country. The popular music of the time, included the timeless 'or What It's Worth.' Many wondered how it was that fellow citizens (who never had to risk their lives) had "the guts" to scorn them. Drafted veterans had not asked to fight. Many did not want to go "to Nam" in the first place. Others joined various branches of the military because they were motivated by idealism and a sense of patriotic duty.

But for the first time in the history of the nation, thousands of Americans were contemptuous of fellow citizens who went to war at their government's behest. The country's collective anger about Vietnam was directed more at the people who fought than at the politicians and military leaders who ordered the fighting.

Bob Greene, the journalist who also writes for the Chicago Tribune, collected and verified stories from returning Vietnam vets. Readers leave his book Homecoming, now out of print, stunned and outraged. A quote from Tony J. (at page 30) makes the point:

Well, I had to take this fellow's body to his wife - she was nineteen years old... I was helping the mortician take the casket out of the hearse. Of course I was in my dress uniform, medal and all that, and the American flag was over the casket and some guy walked by when we had it about halfway and the fool spit on it and said, "Good, he deserved to die."

Not until later, after the veterans themselves built "The Wall" with private donations, did Americans really show support for the men and women who endured the unpopular struggle in Vietnam. Today, the Wall has become a sacred place.

Filled with the names of all 58,219 who fell, written in their order of sacrifice, it is often the site of grief and tears. It is where those who survived can speak to those who died. It is the spot where one can honor the memory of a buddy by leaving a memento that only had meaning between friends.

And, more than anything else, the Wall represents what Americans finally learned. A nation, if it is truly great, neither scorns nor disgraces the people who respond to their country's call.

Fall of Saigon

Fall of Saigon
Part of Vietnam War
Date 30 April 1975
Location Saigon, South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam)
Result North Vietnamese victory
North Vietnam
South Vietnam
Văn Tiến Dũng
Trần Văn Trà
Hoàng Cầm
Le Duc Anh
Dinh Duc Thien
Vu Lang
Nguyễn Hữu An
Pham Van Dong (ARVN general)
Nguyen Van Toan
Nguyen Hop Doan
450,000 31,000

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.

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. 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. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, which was the largest helicopter evacuation in history.[1] 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.


Various names have been applied to the incident. Fall of Saigon is the most commonly used name in English. 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-communism Vietnamese people overseas.

North Vietnamese advance

The rapidity with which the South Vietnamese position collapsed in 1975 was surprising to most American and South Vietnamese observers, and probably to the North Vietnamese and their allies as well. For instance, a memo prepared by the CIA and Army Intelligence and published on 5 March indicated that South Vietnam could hold through the current dry season—i.e. at least until 1976.[2] These predictions proved to be grievously in error. Even as that memo was being released, General Dung was preparing a major offensive in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, which began on 10 March and led to the capture of Ban Me Thuot. The ARVN began a disorderly and costly retreat, hoping to redeploy its forces and hold the southern part of South Vietnam, perhaps an enclave south of the 13th parallel.[3]

Supported by artillery and armor, the North Vietnamese continued to march towards Saigon, capturing the major cities of northern South Vietnam at the end of March—Huế on the 25th and Da Nang on the 28th. Along the way, disorderly South Vietnamese retreats and the flight of refugees—there were more than 300,000 in Da Nang[4]—damaged South Vietnamese prospects for a turnaround. After the loss of Da Nang, those prospects had already been dismissed as nonexistent by American Central Intelligence Agency officers in Vietnam, who believed nothing short of B-52 strikes against Hanoi could possibly stop the North Vietnamese.[5]

By 8 April, the North Vietnamese Politburo, which in March had recommended caution to Dung, cabled him to demand "unremitting vigor in the attack all the way to the heart of Saigon."[6] On 14 April, they renamed the campaign the "Ho Chi Minh campaign," after revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, in the hopes of wrapping it up before his birthday on 19 May.[7] Meanwhile, South Vietnam failed to garner any significant increase in military aid from the United States, snuffing President Nguyen Van Thieu's hopes for renewed American support.

PAVN forces reached Xuan Loc, a strategic gateway situated on the highway into Saigon, on 9 April. The battle of Xuan Loc lasted until 20 April, and though the ARVN fought with extreme tenacity, the communists captured the town. The North Vietnamese front line was now just 26 miles (42 km) from downtown Saigon.[8] The victory at Xuan Loc, which had drawn many South Vietnamese troops away from the Mekong Delta area,[8] opened the way for PAVN to encircle Saigon, and they soon did so, moving 100,000 troops in position around the city by 27 April. With the ARVN having many fewer defenders, the fate of the city was effectively sealed.


The rapid North Vietnamese advances of March and early April led to increased concern in Saigon that the city, which had been fairly peaceful throughout the war and whose people had endured relatively little suffering, was soon to come under direct attack.[9] Many feared that once Communists took control of the city, a bloodbath of reprisals would take place. In 1968, PAVN and National Liberation Front (NLF) forces had occupied Hue for close to a month. After the Communists were repelled, American and ARVN forces had found mass graves. A study prepared for the U.S. mission in Vietnam indicated that the communists had targeted ARVN officers, Catholics, intellectuals and businessmen, and other suspected counterrevolutionaries.[10] More recently, eight Americans captured in Ban Me Thout had vanished and reports of beheadings and other executions were filtering through from Hue and Da Nang, mostly spurred on by government propaganda.[11] Most Americans and other Westerners wanted to evacuate the city before it fell, and most South Vietnamese wanted to leave as well.

As early as the end of March, some Americans were leaving the city. For instance, ten families departed on March 31.[12] Flights out of Saigon, lightly booked under ordinary circumstances, were full.[13] Throughout April the speed of the evacuation increased, as the Defense Attaché's Office (DAO) began to fly out nonessential personnel. Many Americans attached to the DAO refused to leave without their Vietnamese friends and dependents, who included common-law wives and children. It was illegal for the DAO to move these people to American soil, and this initially slowed down the rate of departure, but eventually the DAO began illegally flying undocumented Vietnamese to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.[14]

On 3 April, President Gerald R. Ford announced "Operation Babylift", which would evacuate about 2000 orphans from the country. One of the C-5A Galaxy planes involved in the operation crashed, killing 138 passengers and seriously reducing the morale of the American staff.[15] In addition to the 2000 orphans evacuated by Babylift, Operation New Life resulted in the evacuation of over 110,000 Vietnamese refugees.

Administration plans for final evacuation

By this time the Ford administration had also begun planning a complete evacuation of the American presence. Planning was complicated by practical, legal, and strategic concerns. The administration was divided on how swift the evacuations should be. The Pentagon sought to evacuate as fast as possible, to avoid the risk of casualties or other accidents. The U.S Ambassador to South Vietnam, Graham Martin, was technically the field commander for any evacuation, since evacuations are in the purview of the State Department. Martin drew the ire of many in the Pentagon by wishing to keep the evacuation process as quiet and orderly as possible. His desire for this was to prevent total chaos and to deflect the real possibility of South Vietnamese turning against Americans, and to keep all-out bloodshed from occurring.

Ford approved a plan between the extremes in which all but 1,250 Americans—few enough to be removed in a single day's helicopter airlift—would be evacuated quickly; the remaining 1,250 would leave only when the airport was threatened. In between, as many Vietnamese refugees as possible would be flown out.[16]

Meanwhile, Martin began (in his words) "playing fast and loose with exit visas"[citation needed] to allow any and all who wished to leave Saigon to depart by any means available in the early days. Without the Pentagon's knowledge, Martin and Deputy Chief of Mission Wolfgang Lehmann had already begun allowing thousands of South Vietnamese nationals to depart.

American evacuation planning was set against other administration policies. Ford still hoped to gain additional military aid for South Vietnam. Throughout April, he attempted to get Congress behind a proposed appropriation of $722 million, which might allow for the reconstitution of some of the South Vietnamese forces that had been destroyed. Kissinger was opposed to a full-scale evacuation as long as the aid option remained on the table, because the removal of American forces would signal a loss of faith in Thieu and severely weaken him.[17]

There was also concern in the administration over whether the use of military forces to support and carry out the evacuation was permitted under the newly-passed War Powers Act. Eventually White House lawyers determined that the use of American forces to rescue citizens in an emergency was unlikely to run afoul of the law, but the legality of using military assets to withdraw refugees was unknown.[18] The evacuation of Saigon also had to compete for resources with the imminent evacuation of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, which fell on 17 April.


While American citizens were generally assured of a simple way to leave the country just by showing up to an evacuation point, South Vietnamese who wanted to leave Saigon before it fell often resorted to independent arrangements. The under-the-table payments required to gain a passport and exit visa jumped sixfold, and the price of seagoing vessels tripled.[19] Those who owned property in the city were often forced to sell it at a substantial loss or abandon it altogether; the asking price of one particularly impressive house was cut 75 percent within a two-week period.[20] American visas were of enormous value, and Vietnamese seeking American sponsors posted advertisements in newspapers. One such ad read: "Seeking adoptive parents. Poor diligent students:" followed by names, birthdates, and identity card numbers.[21]

 Political movements and attempts at a negotiated solution

As the North Vietnamese chipped away more and more of South Vietnam, internal opposition to President Thieu continued to accumulate. For instance, in early April, the Senate unanimously voted through a call for new leadership, and some top military commanders were pressing for a coup. In response to this pressure, Thieu made some changes to his cabinet, and Prime Minister Tran Thien Khiem resigned.[22] This did little to reduce the opposition to Thieu. On 8 April a South Vietnamese pilot bombed the presidential palace and then flew to a PAVN-controlled airstrip; Thieu was not hurt.[23]

Many in the American mission—Martin in particular—along with some key figures in Washington believed that negotiations with the Communists were possible, especially if Saigon could stabilize the military situation. Ambassador Martin's hope was that North Vietnam's leaders would be willing to allow a "phased withdrawal" whereby a gradual departure might be achieved in order to allow helpful locals and all Americans to leave (along with full military withdrawal) over a period of months.

Opinions were divided on whether any government headed by Thieu could effect such a political solution.[24] The Provisional Revolutionary Government's foreign minister had on 2 April indicated that the PRG might negotiate with a Saigon government that did not include Thieu. Thus, even among Thieu's supporters, pressure was growing for his ouster.[25]

President Thieu resigned on 21 April. His remarks were particularly hard on the Americans, first for forcing South Vietnam to accede to the Paris Peace Accords, second for failing to support South Vietnam afterwards, and all the while asking South Vietnam "to do an impossible thing, like filling up the oceans with stones."[26] The presidency was turned over to Vice President Tran Van Huong. The Communist line, broadcast by Radio Hanoi, was that the new regime was merely "another puppet regime."[27]

 Last days

All times given are Saigon time.

On 27 April, Saigon was hit by three NVA rockets – the first in more than 40 months.[8]

 Operation Frequent Wind

A Marine provides security as helicopters land at the DAO compound.

Before daybreak on 29 April, Tan Son Nhut airport was hit by rockets and heavy artillery. In the initial shelling, C-130E, 72-1297, c/n 4519, of the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing, out of Clark Air Base, Philippines, was destroyed by a rocket while taxiing to pick up evacuees. The crew evacuated the burning aircraft on the taxiway and departed the airfield on another C-130 that had previously landed. The continuing rocket fire and debris on the runways caused General Homer D. Smith, the U.S. defense attaché in Saigon, to advise Ambassador Martin that the runways were unfit for use and that the emergency evacuation of Saigon would need to be completed by helicopter.[28]

Originally, Ambassador Martin had fully intended to effect the evacuation by use of fixed-wing aircraft from the base. This plan was altered at a critical time when a South Vietnamese pilot decided to defect, and jettisoned his ordnance along the only runways still in use (which had not yet been destroyed by shelling).

Under pressure from Kissinger, Martin forced Marine guards to take him to the air base in the midst of continued shelling, so he might personally ascertain the situation. After seeing that fixed-wing departures were not an option (a mammoth decision Martin did not want to make without firsthand responsibility in case the helicopter lift failed), Martin gave the green light for the helicopter flights to the embassy to begin in earnest.

Reports came in from the outskirts of the city that the North Vietnamese were moving.[29] At 10:48 a.m., Martin relayed to Kissinger his desire to activate "the FREQUENT WIND" evacuation plan; Kissinger gave the order three minutes later. The American radio station began regular play of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," the signal for American personnel to move immediately to the evacuation points.[30]

Under this plan, CH-53 and CH-46 helicopters were used to evacuate Americans and friendly Vietnamese to ships, including the Seventh Fleet, in the South China Sea.[31] The main evacuation point was the DAO compound at Tan Son Nhut; buses moved through the city picking up passengers and driving them out to the airport, with the first buses arriving at Tan Son Nhut shortly after noon. The first CH-53 landed at the DAO compound in the afternoon, and by the evening, 395 Americans and more than 4,000 Vietnamese had been evacuated. By 23:00 the U.S. Marines who were providing security were withdrawing and arranging the demolition of the DAO office, American equipment, files, and cash. Air America UH-1s also participated in the evacuation. [32]

The original evacuation plans had not called for a large-scale helicopter operation at the U.S. embassy. Helicopters and buses were to shuttle people from the embassy to the DAO compound. However, in the course of the evacuation it turned out that a few thousand people were stranded at the embassy, including many Vietnamese. Additional Vietnamese civilians gathered outside the embassy and scaled the walls, hoping to claim refugee status. Thunderstorms increased the difficulty of helicopter operations. Nevertheless, the evacuation from the embassy continued more or less unbroken throughout the evening and night.

Vietnamese refugees arriving on a U.S. Navy vessel.

At 03:45 on the morning of 30 April, the refugee evacuation was halted. Ambassador Martin had been ordering that South Vietnamese be flown out with Americans up to that point. Kissinger and Ford quickly ordered Martin to evacuate only Americans from that point forward.

Reluctantly, Martin announced that only Americans were to be flown out, due to worries that the North Vietnamese would soon take the city and the Ford administration's desire to announce the completion of the American evacuation.[33] Ambassador Martin was ordered by President Ford to board the evacuation helicopter.

The call sign of that helicopter was "Lady Ace 09", and the pilot carried direct orders from President Ford for Ambassador Martin to be on board. The pilot, Gerry Berry, had the orders written in grease-pencil on his kneepads. Ambassador Martin's wife, Dorothy, had already been evacuated by previous flights, and left behind her personal suitcase so a South Vietnamese woman might be able to squeeze on board with her.

Model of US embassy in Saigon. The rooftop staircase that can be seen in the model is on permanent display at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"Lady Ace 09" from HMM-165 and piloted by Berry, took off around 05:00 - had Martin refused to leave, the Marines had a reserve order to arrest him and carry him away to ensure his safety.[34] The embassy evacuation had flown out 978 Americans and about 1,100 Vietnamese. The Marines who had been securing the embassy followed at dawn, with the last aircraft leaving at 07:53. A few hundred Vietnamese were left behind in the embassy compound,[35] with an additional crowd gathered outside the walls.

The Americans and the refugees they flew out were generally allowed to leave without molestation from either the North or South Vietnamese. Pilots of helicopters heading to Tan Son Nhut were aware that PAVN anti-aircraft guns were tracking them, but they refrained from firing. The Hanoi leadership, reckoning that completion of the evacuation would lessen the risk of American intervention, had instructed Dung not to target the airlift itself.[36] Meanwhile, members of the police in Saigon had been promised evacuation in exchange for protecting the American evacuation buses and control of the crowds in the city during the evacuation.[37]

Although this was the end of the American military operation, Vietnamese continued to leave the country by boat and, where possible, by aircraft. South Vietnamese pilots who had access to helicopters flew them offshore to the American fleet, where they were able to land; those who left South Vietnam this way include at least General Nguyen Cao Ky. Most of the South Vietnamese helicopters were dumped into the ocean to make room on the decks for more aircraft.[37] South Vietnamese fighters and other small planes also landed on American carriers.[38]

Ambassador Martin was flown out to the USS Blue Ridge, where he pleaded for helicopters to return to the embassy compound to pick up the few hundred remaining hopefuls waiting to be evacuated. Although his pleas were overruled by President Ford, Martin was able to convince the Seventh Fleet to remain on station for several days so any locals who could make their way to sea via boat or aircraft may be rescued by the waiting Americans.

Many Vietnamese nationals who were evacuated were allowed to enter the United States under the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act.

Decades later, when the U.S. reestablished diplomatic relations with Vietnam, the old U.S. Embassy property was returned to the U.S. The historic staircase that led to the rooftop helicopter was salvaged and is on permanent display at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Capitulation of South Vietnam

A PAVN tank crashes through the gates of the Independence Palace.

At 06:00 on 29 April, General Dung was ordered by the Politburo to "strike with the greatest determination straight into the enemy's final lair."[39]

After one day of bombardment and general offensive, the North Vietnamese were ready to make their final push into the city. In the early hours of 30 April, Dung received orders from the Politburo to attack. He then ordered his field commanders to advance directly to key facilities and strategic points in the city.[40] The first PAVN unit to enter the city was the 324th Division.[41] Duong Van Minh, who had been president of South Vietnam for only three days, at 10:24 announced a surrender and asked South Vietnamese forces "to cease hostilities in calm and to stay where they are," while inviting the Provisional Revolutionary Government to engage in "a ceremony of orderly transfer of power so as to avoid any unnecessary bloodshed in the population."[42]

However, the North Vietnamese were uninterested in a handover and simply took the city, arresting Minh. The gates of the Independence Palace were destroyed by PAVN tanks as they entered, and the NLF flag was raised over the Palace at 11:30. At 15:30, Minh broadcast over the radio, stating "I declare the Saigon government...completely dissolved at all levels."[citation needed] The dissolution of the South Vietnamese government effectively ended the Vietnam War.


 Turnover of Saigon

The Communists renamed the city after Ho Chi Minh, former President of North Vietnam, although this name was not frequently used outside of official business.[43] Order was slowly restored, although the by-then-deserted U.S. embassy was looted, along with many other businesses. Communications between the outside world and Saigon were cut. The Communist party machinery in South Vietnam was weakened, owing in part to the Phoenix program, so the North Vietnamese army was responsible for maintaining order and General Tran Van Tra, Dung's administrative deputy, was placed in charge of the city.[41] The new authorities held a victory rally on 7 May.[44]

According to the Hanoi government, more than 200,000 South Vietnamese government officials, military officers, and soldiers were sent to "reeducation camps", where torture, disease and malnutrition were widespread.[45]

One objective of the Communist government was to reduce the population of Saigon, which had become swollen with an influx of people during the war and was now overcrowded with high unemployment. "Reeducation classes" for former soldiers in the South Vietnamese armed forces indicated that in order to regain full standing in society they would need to move from the city and take up farming. Handouts of rice to the poor, while forthcoming, were tied to pledges to leave Saigon for the countryside. According to the Vietnamese government, within two years of the capture of the city one million people had left Saigon, and the state had a target of 500,000 further departures.[43]

30 April is a public holiday in Vietnam, known as Reunification Day (though the reunification of the nation actually occurred on 2 July 1976) or Liberation Day (Ngày Giải Phóng).

Evaluation of the evacuation

Whether the evacuation had been successful was questioned following the end of the war. Operation Frequent Wind was generally assessed as an impressive achievement — Van Tien Dung conceded this in his memoirs, and the New York Times described it as being carried out with "efficiency and bravery"[46] But the airlift was also criticized for being too slow and hesitant and that it was inadequate in removing Vietnamese connected with the American presence.

Ambassador Martin shouldered much of the blame, and did so without feeling the need to explain his motives to the media. Martin's actions had either allowed thousands of South Vietnamese to escape who otherwise would have been trapped, or doomed thousands of others who could not escape. The evacuations might have caused a rash of panic resulting in loss of American lives, or they might not. Meanwhile, from the onset of the evacuation, President Ford and Henry Kissinger were only concerned about the evacuation of crucial American personnel.

However, many in the United States Congress (with no first-hand knowledge of the massive operation) blamed Martin for proceeding too slowly. This was in direct contradiction to the realities of the situation, since Martin had been the one who had allowed many to leave the country days before the final evacuation with little or no official reason.

The U.S. State Department estimated that the Vietnamese employees of the American Embassy in Vietnam, past and present, and their families totaled 90,000 people. In his testimony to Congress, Martin asserted that 22,294 such people were evacuated by the end of April.[47] Of the tens of thousands of former South Vietnamese collaborators with the State Department, CIA, U.S. military, and countless armed forces officers and personnel in risk of reprisal, nothing is known.

Citizens also protested the idea of having Vietnam refugees flown to America because many protesters said "We need jobs, not employees!" while others thought the influx of refugees was commendable saying "We need everybody; we need everybody! Love thy neighbor as thyself. Love the Vietnamese, and love everybody."[48]


April 30 is celebrated as a public holiday in Vietnam as Liberation Day or Reunification Day. Workers get the day off, as well as May 1, and the holiday is filled with much public pageantry.

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. [49]. The event is approached from different perspectives, with arguments that the date was a sign of American abandonment [50], or as a memorial of the war and mass exodus as a whole. The term, "Black April", is the namesake for a rock band which includes two Vietnamese-American musicians [51].


  • Associated Press. "Minh Surrenders, Vietcong In Saigon", The New York Times, April 30, 1975. (accessed January 25, 2007)
  • Brown, Weldon. The Last Chopper: The Dénouement of the American Role in Vietnam, 1963-1975. Kennikat Press, 1976.
  • Butterfield, Fox. "Many Americans Quit Vietnam; U.S. Denies Evacuation Orders", The New York Times, April 2, 1975. p. 1.
  • Dawson, Alan. 55 Days: The Fall of South Vietnam. Prentice-Hall, 1977.
  • Dunham, George R. and Quinlan, David A. U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973-1975. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, 1990.
  • Engelmann, Larry. Tears before the Rain: An Oral History of the Fall of South Vietnam. Oxford University Press, USA, 1990. ISBN 978-0195053869
  • Isaacs, Arnold. Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.
  • Kissinger, Henry. Ending the Vietnam War: A History of America's Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War. Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN 0-7432-1532-X
  • Pike, Douglas. The Viet-Cong Strategy of Terror. 1970. (accessed January 18, 2007)
  • Smith, Homer D. The Final Forty-Five Days in Vietnam. May 22, 1975. (accessed January 16, 2007)
  • Snepp, Frank. Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End Told by the CIA's Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam. Random House, 1977. ISBN 0-394-40743-1
  • Tanner, Stephen. Epic Retreats: From 1776 to the Evacuation of Saigon. Sarpedon, 2000. ISBN 1-885119-57-7. See especially p. 273 and on.
  • Todd, Olivier. Cruel April: The Fall of Saigon. W.W. Norton & Company, 1990. (originally published in 1987 in French)
  • Tucker, Spencer, ed. The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Van Tien Dung. Our Great Spring Victory: An Account of the Liberation of South Vietnam. Monthly Review Press, 1977.
  • Weinraub, Bernard. "Attack on Saigon Feared; Danang Refugee Sealift is Halted by Rocket Fire", The New York Times, April 1, 1975. p. 1.
  • "The Americans Depart", The New York Times, April 30, 1975. p. 40.


  1. ^ Dunham and Quinlan, 202.
  2. ^ Todd, 433.
  3. ^ Tanner, 303.
  4. ^ Dawson, xiii.
  5. ^ Snepp, 280.
  6. ^ Todd, 248.
  7. ^ Todd, 249.
  8. ^ a b c Dawson, xv.
  9. ^ Weinraub.
  10. ^ Pike.
  11. ^ Tanner, 312.
  12. ^ Dawson, xiv.
  13. ^ Butterfield.
  14. ^ Snepp, 312.
  15. ^ Dunham and Quinlan, 157; Snepp, 304
  16. ^ Kissinger, 540-1.
  17. ^ Snepp, 330.
  18. ^ Snepp, 303.
  19. ^ Snepp, 352.
  20. ^ Brown, 318.
  21. ^ Todd, 311.
  22. ^ Snepp, 287
  23. ^ Snepp, 316.
  24. ^ Snepp, 289.
  25. ^ Snepp, 319
  26. ^ Todd, 296.
  27. ^ Todd, 298.
  28. ^ Smith.
  29. ^ Tanner, 313.
  30. ^ Todd, 353.
  31. ^ Accounts of Operation Frequent Wind can be found in Spencer (s.v. "FREQUENT WIND, Operation"), Todd (346-387), and Isaacs.
  32. ^ Esper, George, "Copters Ending Vietnam Era", The Washington Star, Washington, D.C., Tuesday 29 April 1975, page A-1.
  33. ^ Todd, 366.
  34. ^ Todd, 367.
  35. ^ Isaacs gives the number of Vietnamese left waiting as 420.
  36. ^ Snepp, 478.
  37. ^ a b Tanner, 314.
  38. ^ Todd, 370.
  39. ^ Todd, 347.
  40. ^ Snepp, 551.
  41. ^ a b Snepp, 568.
  42. ^ Associated Press, "Minh Surrenders, Vietcong In Saigon".
  43. ^ a b Dawson, 351.
  44. ^ Dawson, xvi.
  45. ^ Snepp, 569.
  46. ^ New York Times, "The Americans Depart".
  47. ^ Snepp, 565.
  48. ^ "Fall of Saigon, 1975 Year in Review"
  49. ^ News: Black April events commemorate fall of Saigon | april, black, saigon, little, vietnam -
  50. ^ Black April 30th 1975
  51. ^

External links

Vietnam Babylift Personal Stories

By Nancy Umbach
The story of her trip to Vietnam

This February I began a journey that I have been planning and dreaming of for over 20 years. A journey to the land of my youngest son's birth place, Vietnam. Many times over the years, I plotted how a trip to Vietnam would take place. My husband and I would take our son Tam and together we would explore his heritage. In my musings, I envisaged us travelling from one end of the country to the other. Visiting villages and cities, tasting the food, smelling and absorbing the essence of the culture and marveling again and again, how a tiny baby came so far to Canada to become the core of our family.

I wanted to watch his face as he rediscovered and reclaimed his homeland. Would he feel an alien, not speaking the language, transported to another world for the second time? Would he be at ease in a country where he was no longer a minority? But ah, we would be there to sustain him, nurture him, and to ease his confusion. What would he truly think and feel?

Today, however, I am in Vietnam, without my husband and son, waiting for my eldest daughter to arrive from Nepal where she has worked for the past five years. This is not how I imagined my visit to my son's birth country would be. How ironic that the child born and raised in Toronto is now living her life in Asia and the child born in Vietnam will never be well enough to leave his adopted country.

This morning was spent in Ho Chi Minh City with Irene Dewarty at the Phu My Orphanage. Irene, who was formally in the fashion business in Paris, came originally to Thailand to volunteer for a few months and stayed. She has been the director here for several years and has adopted a Cambodian boy, who is now eight. There are 268 disabled children at the orphanage, 90% have been reluctantly abandoned by parents unable to care for their children in a country without resources for exceptional children.

It is a clean, well run institution without enough staff and a constant need for funds and medicine. How many of us, who adopted children from Vietnam remember Rosemary Taylor from Australia and Sandra Simpson, Bonnie Cappiccino and Naomi Bronstein from Canada. Strong women, still all working for children. Rosemary in Thailand and Vietnam, Sandra in Bangladesh, Bonnie in India and Nepal and Naomi in Cambodia and now Guatemala. Do we have young crusaders to follow these women? The need is still there for children at home and abroad to have champions to care for them. Standing in the courtyard it all flooded back to me as if it were 1975 and I wept.

Our son Tam's orphanage building no longer exists. I'm not even sure which of Rosemary's homes he was in. It doesn't really matter, just as finding a diagnosis after his first stroke at age seven became a mute point. Tam's world changed forever when he was brought to Canada, as did our lives. Nothing was going to be a cure for Tam nor change what our entire family has had to deal with over the years. Standing on Vietnamese soil and talking to the people and feeling and tasting the very being of the country is what I came to see. His heritage will always be intertwined with mine and I had to experience his culture first hand.

Did I rejoice when our child arrived in 1975 and forget the others left behind? I'd like to think I didn't. I'd like to think that sponsoring South East Asian refugees and now Bosnian and Burmese refugees and helping them to resettle in Canada was a small way to repay the gift of Tam that was given to us. Was this enough? Of course not.

Tam has been a part of our family for 23 years and yet standing here it seems as if only a moment has gone by since that tiny babe was placed in our anxious arms. He weighed only 9 pounds and looked like a plucked chicken, all head and little bones with hanging skin that bled when you touched it. What a roller coaster life he has given us!!

Our family grew to seven children, all unique and special in their own way. They are adults now and on their own journey of life. In my work with adult adoptees and birth relatives, we talk a lot about reunions and closure. "I found my birth mother/sibs and I felt as if the circle was complete." I realize being in Vietnam is part of my closure. Adoptive parents need closure also. I needed to go to the land of my son's birth, just as I continued my journey to Burma (Myanmar) to visit relatives of another son and go to Trinidad to visit the home of our daughter-in-law.

It has taken me 23 years to get here and I am incredibly sad that my son, who has lost most of his brain stem, is not even able to be aware that I am here. I wish I was clinging to my husband's hand for support. I need his arms around me to sustain me. Will I be able to help him visualize what I have experienced? It is his selflessness that has enabled me to be here. It is his willingness to care for our two medically fragile young adults for 5 weeks and his encouragement that I should seize this opportunity to make this pilgrimage that has finally brought a fruition of my dream to come to Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
February 5, 1998

Note: This was given by our 36 year old son Colin on the occasion of Tam's funeral.

I am primarily here today to give thanks. Thanks to everyone here for being a part of Tam's life. Thanks to Tam for the blessing of his life.

Tam flew over to Canada from Vietnam, literally a gift from the sky. He arrived at the Sick Kid's Hospital in Toronto weighing only 9 pounds at 1 year of age. He was in the hospital a month before he was well enough to join his new family. Unfortunately, hospital stays would be a too common feature in the rest of Tam's life.

From the beginning, we recognized in Tam a magical personality that drew people to him. By unspoken consensus, he was the heart of our family. I believe he will continue to be that heart. We were pulled around his orbit for so many years, like planets around a bright sun. For those who loved and took care of Tam, I suspect you also felt the influence of his gravity.

As children, many of our happiest times were spent at our cottage on Georgian Bay. Tam loved swimming in the bay, building sand castles, and sitting in front of the fireplace.

I remember all the games we used to play. One of his favourite boardgames was called Sorry and Tam thought it was so funny to say "I'm sorry" as he soundly beat you at that game. I remember how he would throw a blanket over his head and pretend to be a ghost to scare you, and sitting with him on our living room couch taking turns blowing a feather back and forth between us.

Tam loved to snuggle in bed and have stories read to him. When Mom would get tired of reading "Winky the Wacky Witch" for the hundredth time, she would sing Tam to sleep.

Mischevious is a word that could certainly be applied to Tam. The stories about Tam's exploits are endless. There was the time he fed the entire contents of our fridge to the dog, and he dumped an entire container of fish food into the Sindrey's fish tank, killing all of their fish. Mom told me how he squirted toothpaste over all the clothes in Marilyn Phillips closet, and lit a fire in the kindling box rather than in the fireplace.

Tam would have been 30 this June 12th. I count it a miracle that we had him around us for as long as we did. We have lived with the real possibility of Tam dying for over 20 years. We learned to cope with the temper tantrums, the hospital stays, the multiple brushes with death, while he had to learn to cope with the severe physical challenges. Yet Tam always defied the doctor's predictions with his stubbornness and powers of recovery.

My world has changed. I now live in a world without Tam here before me yet a world with Tam still in my heart. I know I will learn to cope with Tam gone. What I still find hard to think about is the actual leaving. Tam being taken away from us; we being taken away from Tam. Tam now as an influence, as many fond memories. Tam not a burning sun now, but an invisible gravity.

Tam was a connoisseur of noise. He loved to listen to music for hours. And it would not be enough just to turn up his record player to the maximum volume. He would precede his listening sessions with a well practiced slam of his bedroom door. Then he would put his finger on the record and spin it faster and faster. You knew which songs were his favourite when he would start banging his fist or foot on the floor to keep time.

Does your family hold on to their dinner dishes and cutlery when singing grace? Tam's favourite grace was singing Johnny Appleseed and he would get us all to sing it at the top of our lungs while he would wind up, give a few practice swings of his arm, and deliver the coupe de grace by pounding his fist on the table on the final "Amen." The bangs were so loud that Cassandra's knees would rise up involuntarily to hit the bottom of the dinner table.

Tam did everything with a lot of verve. He even had a unique way of disrobing. Every item of clothing, including potentially lethal shoes, would be taken off and then flung heedlessly across the room. When he started running, he would often have trouble stopping. One time he ran right through the kitchen screen door. Another time he ran down the hallway, bounced off the closed bathroom door, and fell down the back stairs. He survived that without a mark on him.

His tenacity would often scare us. After his stroke left him partially paralyzed, he would still walk up and down the stairs with just one hand and one foot. He could even climb into my bunk bed with just the use of his right arm. When these feats became impossible, Tam would just find another way to have fun. He took to sliding down the stairs headfirst on his back, laughing as he bumped his head on each step. When he could no longer reach my bed, he would wake me at five in the morning saying "I love you" as he emptied all of my dresser drawers of their clothes.

Tam did not like going to sleep. He seemed determined to stay awake at all times and was really quite good at it. However, there were many interesting places where we have found him asleep - with his head on a spinning record player, halfway climbing onto a couch, in the bathroom sink with the water running, and at the dinner table with his head in a plate of food. One of Tam's favourite activities while he was awake and others were sleeping was tickling their feet. We all used to try to avoid his early morning wake-up calls by giving him permission to go tickle the feet of the parent or sibling in the next room.

Tam was not unkind. He would often console Mom when she would start crying in frustration with him. His hugs could turn into asphyxiating chokeholds. He would rub your kisses off his face and do anything to avoid them. He would laugh hysterically at your coughs and sneezes. Yet you always knew that he loved you.

For Cassandra, Tam was the older brother she felt protective towards; an example of strength and courage she will always remember. She remembers Tam climbing into her electric wheelchair and then driving it around her bedroom, leaving holes in all four walls. This kind of damage was common, especially during Tam's temper tantrums. Dad remembers repairing the holes in the wall plaster and the broken windows caused by his violent outbursts. Yet Mom felt a sadness when Tam stopped raging. As if he had resigned himself to the overwhelming fact of his deteriorating body.

Two days before Tam died, Hilary and I heard a Raffi song playing incongruously on a pop radio station. It was one of Tam's favourite songs - Shake Your Sillies Out - and Hilary cranked it up with delight just like Tam used to.

I believe we all have gifts to give. And a community is a place where everyone's gifts are given. Thank-you for being Tam's community; and thank-you Tam for giving your gifts of kindness and enthusiasm, stubbornness and strength.

We all had our own way of loving Tam. I want to say thank-you especially to Mom for fighting so hard for Tam his entire life. And thank-you Dad, for being there so much for Tam, when we kids could not always be there. I also want to thank those who comforted Tam during his last time in the hospital and everyone who ever held his hand.

We may say that Tam's body betrayed him. That he was trapped inside a body that slowly fell apart. But this body was his life. And he lived it as fully as he could. He was determined not to let anything get in his way. He struggled with it, he raged against it, but he rarely complained.

Tam and I grew up together and he has influenced me in ways too deep to describe. He is no longer there to grab my hand and not let go. He will no longer poke me painfully in the ribs to get my attention. I cannot sing or read to him anymore. Those opportunities are gone. But there will be similar opportunities with other people, and I hope Tam has taught me to respond to those opportunities with truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

Tam was not just my brother. He was your brother; he was your son. He was your cousin and he was your friend. Tam loved me. And I know you are here because he loved you too.

Note: This was given by our 40 year old daughter Jill who lives and works in East Timor and managed to get home in time for the funeral after 4 days of travel.

Tam Douglas Umbach
29 May 2004

My brother was the toughest, most stubborn person I have ever met. He had a wicked temper and was a head banging sensation. He had a tenacious hold on life and a high tolerance of pain.

Life is full of pain and suffering.
How you live your life in the understanding of this is the test of who you are.
He fought hard for his life.
Many of us have never had to do that in the same way.
We have never been born in a war zone and abandoned.
Survived the war to then come face-to-face with a disease that would rob us of our eyesight, speech and mobility.

Many of us grumble about what life has given us.
Tam was no exception.
He was sad and frustrated with his disease.
One night when he was around 9 years old we curled up together before bed.
He told me he was very sad about what was happening to him and our family.
We cried together.

In destroying my innocence that everything in life is nice and about me, he also taught me at a very young age that preparing for death is part of living.
23 years of living with the fear of losing him is a long time to study this lesson.
During those years, he has tested me more than anyone else in my life.
To accept the pain of slowly losing someone.
To not wait for death, but enjoy life.
To appreciate the love of my family and friends.
To demand compassion, understanding and tolerance from myself as well as others.

Tam changed me profoundly.
He is responsible for shaping who I am and what I do with my life.

So many rituals exist in my family that revolved around Tam.
Midnight ramblings and flooding bathrooms
Singing grace triumphantly while thumping the dinner table.
Hand clapping and dancing whenever the spirit moves you.
Family water fights.
Breaking hospital rules.
"Please return to 4 West"
Long car rides to the cottage with non-stop singing.
"Sing it really fast"
"Sing it really slow"

At times he made me laugh because it was so easy to make him laugh.
Stub a toe.
Cry out 'ouch'.
Say 'sorry'.
Sing a song.
Threaten to Kiss him.

Kiss him and he would wipe it off.
The hand arching out slowly and swiping at his face.
Then his slow grin and commanding 'No'.

Moving towards this day has taken 23 years of my life.
I urge you to:
Overcome an old fear
Accept suffering and live life
Fight for your principles
Don't be so hard on yourself or others
Forget an old grudge
Express your gratitude by being compassionate and tolerant

Tell someone you love them
Tell them again
And again
And again

I love you
Tam Douglas
Tea Leaves
Beetle BombHand squeezed Tight
Let go.

Jill Umbach



A young man's journey of discovery to find out about his lost past in Vietnam.

In 1975, hundreds of children were airlifted out of Saigon to a new home in Australia. One was Zion, whose name was chosen from a bible.

Nearly 30 years later, he has grown into a happy and successful young man, but one without a history.

Zion has no idea who his parents were. He has only two clues to his identity: a birth certificate and a photograph of a malnourished baby.

'Rewind' follows Zion on his first trip back to Vietnam.

MICHAEL CATHCART: Now, in 1975, the long and bitter war in Vietnam was coming to an end with the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. Australia fought in that war for 10 bitter years. But our troops were well and truly gone when the Americans were driven out in one of the USA's most humbling moments. But amidst the horror and the bloodshed of those final days, an extraordinary act of humanity played itself out as hundreds of babies - many abandoned or orphans of war - were rescued from the chaos and flown out to new lives in America, Europe and Australia. One was a baby with a name plucked from the Bible - Zion. Tonight, then, history at a very personal level as Zion journeys back to Vietnam for the first time since he arrived on our doorstep in a cardboard box. The storyteller is Peter George.

ZION MITCHELL: Deep down, deep down, I want to know where I'm from. I want to know bits and pieces about how I got here.

PETER GEORGE: Zion Mitchell is 30 years old, lives in Melbourne and embraces Australia. He's been lucky. A loving adoptive family, good school grades a keen sportsman. Zion's not an outsider, but he does know that he's different.

JENNY MITCHELL, ZION'S ADOPTIVE MOTHER: He's always wholeheartedly entered into the Australian culture. He's more Australian than many Australians I know.

PETER GEORGE: Still it's not surprising he feels an overwhelming need to find out who he really is.

JENNY MITCHELL: I do remember that you had this little scratch on your nose when you arrived.

ZION MITCHELL: When did you think I was yours, though?

JENNY MITCHELL: It felt like you were mine from that very first day.

ZION MITCHELL: It was born out of panic. The South Vietnamese capital Saigon was falling to the Vietcong and in the days before capitulation, 271 babies and children were flown out for adoption. Operation Babylift was one of Australia's most celebrated humanitarian efforts.

JENNY MITCHELL: I have a memory of the air hostess handing over the baby and unwrapping him to see if his nappy needed changing. And I remember taking off his little baby outfit and thinking, "This boy'll never walk," because his legs seemed so skinny. He arrived with chicken pox. He had scabies. He seemed sad. He didn't smile for quite a time. Even though he was tiny, his eyes were quite unlit. I guess one of the things that seemed important to me was to make him smile and make him healthy. I'd take him out shopping or walking, and we were mobbed! Suddenly we'd find ourselves surrounded by people saying, "Is that one of the babies?" Wanting to touch him. So there was some sense of rescue around these babies.

PETER GEORGE: Not all rescue attempts would prove successful. But many fought hard for the orphans of war. This is the woman who helped bring Zion to Australia.

ELAINE MOIR: That was a very frightening time. We had 600 children in our care and we had to get them all out. Elaine Moir now lives just around the corner from Zion in Melbourne. 30 years ago, she was part of a group of women who made it their mission to find homes in America, Europe and Australia for children from Vietnamese orphanages.

ELAINE MOIR: And so that's how the airlift first started - working out, "How are we going to get all these kids out?" It was late at night, I know. Very late at night. We were surrounded by reams of paper associated with all the children who had to be evacuated. We said, "Well, we're going to have to...divide up the babies." One for America, one for Australia, one for America, one for Australia. And you landed on the Australian group. It's one of those lotteries in life. The terrifying thing, of course, is had you been on the American list, you would have been on Galaxy.

PETER GEORGE: The Galaxy disaster started as a baby airlift provided by the American forces. It crashed on take-off. More than 200 children and adults were killed.

ELAINE MOIR: That was a terrible time. I had lots of friends on that plane. I knew a lot of the kids on the plane.

PETER GEORGE: Despite the horror, there was no time to grieve. There were still other children to get out of the country.

ELAINE MOIR: We had these big cardboard boxes and we put two, and sometimes three, and I think in one case, four, babies in a box because it was such an easy way of dealing with them.


PETER GEORGE: Boxes of babies being sent to a foreign land.

ELAINE MOIR: It's just that there was a war on. And that's what dictated bringing you to Australia. Not leaving you in an orphanage in a war-torn country where your future would have been very dim.


ELAINE MOIR: Oh, and you turned out so beautiful. You turned out so beautiful.

PETER GEORGE: In his new country, the only official proof of Zion's existence is a photo and a copy of a Vietnamese birth certificate. And there's not much that Elaine can add about his previous life. She simply drew his name from a pile of cards.

ZION MITCHELL: I do want to know what happened to my parents. The best outcome would be to know how I got to the orphanage.

PETER GEORGE: He may never know what happened to his parents but to get some inkling of who he is, he feels the need to return to the country of his birth.

ZION MITCHELL: I'm looking forward to getting on the plane. (Tearfully) I'm a little bit scared. That's all.

JENNY MITCHELL: Isn't it good that we all find all the parts of ourselves? And if this journey allows him to explore all the corners of himself I think that's a very good thing. He can only become a stronger individual through doing that.

PETER GEORGE: And so the stranger returns to a strange land.

ZION MITCHELL: Oh, wow. Look at this! I'm lost.

(Speaking to local girls) I'm Vietnamese, but, um, uh... Um...brought up in Australia.

There's definitely a connection. It's odd. (Laughs) Really odd.

PETER GEORGE: The first way station on his journey home is a meeting with an American nun who helped choose children for the airlift. She's Sister Mary Nelle. She remembers a very different time and a very different city.

SISTER MARY NELLE GAGE: Because of the war, because of poverty, because of military encampments here, then orphans were in abundance.

ZION MITCHELL: Do you know...

SISTER MARY NELLE GAGE: (Holding photo of baby Zion) Oh, look!

ZION MITCHELL: Do you know me?

SISTER MARY NELLE GAGE: My God! (Tenderly) Look at this. Oh! Oh! Oh, wow, you're so much more relaxed now.

ZION MITCHELL: Oh, I know. Oh!

PETER GEORGE: Mary Nelle is able to answer some of Zion's questions. His name, she says, was picked at random from the Bible. More importantly, she gives him the address of the orphanage from which he was plucked.

ZION MITCHELL: Can't believe I'm going back to my orphanage, but I am. It is called 'Hope' and so I was probably at that last little end of my straw that I was either going to die or survive. I can't speak Vietnamese. I've got a translator, which is great. So I'm very fortunate. She'll try to help me to try to find as much as I can.

TRANSLATOR: This is your school before.


TRANSLATOR: Yeah. That over there. The whole...this is the whole play area.

PETER GEORGE: They're directed to the orphanage known as 'Hope'. But the orphanage is now occupied by a military newspaper and strictly off limits. Then in an alley by the side, Zion makes a remarkable discovery about his past.

TRANSLATOR: Ah, there's a woman work in the orphanage before, I think.

WOMAN: Come in, please. You want...?

ZION MITCHELL: Come in? Yes, please. If that's OK? Take my shoes off?

TRANSLATOR: Yeah. Take them off.

PETER GEORGE: Although Zion may not remember, he's met this woman before.

ZION MITCHELL: (Laughs) Tell her that I'm doing very well.

PETER GEORGE: It turns out that Han worked in the orphanage. She nursed a sick baby Zion back to health.

HAN: You are strong. I very happy.

ZION MITCHELL: (Tearfully) Yeah, thank you. I'm very happy. I have some serious guardian angels, and this is one living.

PETER GEORGE: But there's another nurse who remembers him - another guardian angel. Han's sister, Ngan. It was she who collected him from a provincial orphanage in the Mekong Delta and brought him to Saigon.

ZION MITCHELL: And I feel like I've got two grandmothers, or two mothers at least. And for me to meet them out of the means that I existed.


ZION MITCHELL: Oh, what a great day!

PETER GEORGE: Zion now knows the region where he was born. His home province had been one of the biggest US Army bases during the war. He's often wondered about his own appearance and whether, in fact, his father could have been an American serviceman.

The next stop is the provincial records office.


ZION MITCHELL: Is this a real certificate? Is this really... Is this a genuine birth certificate?

PETER GEORGE: Zion's been told that his papers might be matched up with the records here. In just half an hour, he could have his full birth details - including his parents' names.

ZION MITCHELL: (Sighs) It's going to be the longest half hour...

TRANSLATOR: Oh, my God, huh?

ZION MITCHELL: Isn't that unbelievable?

TRANSLATOR: Maybe we can find something out.

PETER GEORGE: But it turns out that the original of the birth certificate has been lost.

TRANSLATOR: 264. Your birth certificate's lost.



PETER GEORGE: So it's only up to 200?


PETER GEORGE: My heart went up and down, because... I can't... It was like a lottery ticket. It was...I had a number, they were gonna match that number with another number, I was thinking, my goodness, this could be like...yeah, it could be my parents. But...didn't know what to think or what to feel.

PETER GEORGE: The officials send him on to Vin Long's main cathedral. Its baptism records stretch back well beyond 1975. And this time, Zion's number comes up.



TRANSLATOR: Ah... Five kilometres from here.

PETER GEORGE: The first record of Zion's existence was made by a priest from a nearby village. It's time to return to the place where he was born. But as Zion is about to discover, there are no simple answers in a time of war.

ZION MITCHELL: Especially on the motorbike getting there, and in the courtyard, I was thinking, "This is my village," and you are, you're looking around going, "Do they know me? Are they relatives? Are they my parents?"

PETER GEORGE: Father Khieu was a pastor in a provincial nursery that cared for abandoned babies.

ZION MITCHELL: How are you, Khieu? Pleased to meet you.

FATHER KHIEU: I came from time to time to say mass for them...


FATHER KHIEU: From '73 to '75.

ZION MITCHELL: So were the babies just dropped off at the door?

FATHER KHIEU: Usually left outside of the hospital.

ZION MITCHELL: In the door?

FATHER KHIEU: In the door or in the...the street. Near to the hospital and around the hospital.

PETER GEORGE: Zion, it turns out, was indeed a foundling. He was one of two or three children left here each day with no hint to their identity.

ZION MITCHELL: Do I look Vietnamese?

FATHER KHIEU: Yeah. For me...


FATHER KHIEU: look a bit like a Philippine...

ZION MITCHELL: Philippine, yeah... So I could be a half baby from the US Military and Vietnam? So I could be a mixture.


PETER GEORGE: Father Khieu has no doubt that Zion is a GI baby, but despite that, he is accepted as both Vietnamese and part of the village.

FATHER KHIEU: I'm very happy to have you as a man of my village. We are in the same village.

PETER GEORGE: For Zion, returning to his birthplace has solved one mystery - he truly is a child of war. His past is Vietnam, his future, Australia. He may never find his parents, but he does feel he's found himself.

ZION MITCHELL: I have solved who I am and what...and what I am. My life story is real, it's confirmed. I feel more secure, I feel more at peace. I feel like I've found Zion. I'm not scared of being someone else.

MICHAEL CATHCART: Zion's still in Vietnam, and he tells us he's struggling with the language but really starting to enjoy the experience of being back in the country of his birth. He's actually been contacted by another American nun with more information, but he's decided he's content with his history as it stands.



Published on Monday, April 19, 2004 by
Is Iraq Another Vietnam? Actually, It May Become Worse
by Robert Freeman

A virtual cottage industry has sprung up comparing Iraq with Vietnam. And well that it should. Vietnam cost the lives of not only 58,000 Americans but of three million Vietnamese. Neither the US nor the Iraqi people nor the world need another such horror.

The similarities between Iraq and Vietnam run both shallow and deep. The shallow similarities are obvious and can serve to signal our attention. But it is the deeper similarities, those that shape policy and drive alternatives, that should signal our fears. For they point to the possibility of an outcome perhaps even more calamitous than in Vietnam.

Both Iraq and Vietnam were founded on lies. In Vietnam, the original lie was that an impoverished nation of pre-industrial age farmers posed a threat to the mightiest empire the world had ever known. The Gulf of Tonkin hoax was the manufactured excuse to jump in with all guns blazing. And the Pentagon Papers were the meticulous, irrefutable chronicle of the litany of all the rest of the lies.

With Iraq, we don’t need to wait for a Pentagon Papers to know the trigger or the extent of the lying. It is already notorious. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Connections to Al Qaeda. Complicity in 9/11. A “cakewalk”. Being welcomed as “liberators”. A “self-funding” war. “We’ve found the weapons of mass destruction.” Reducing global terror. Mission Accomplished. The real question in Iraq is not whether the Bush administration has told any lies but rather, almost literally, whether it has told any meaningful truths.

Both wars quickly became guerilla wars. In Vietnam, the battlegrounds were jungles, rice paddies, and small rural hamlets. It was the antithesis of the set-piece battle style of warfare the U.S. military had been built and trained for. In Iraq the battlegrounds are city blocks with houses, apartments, stores and schools. In both settings, the enemy controls the timing, scale, and place of engagements.

They shoot opportunistically and quickly melt away into their surroundings. Combatants are indistinguishable from civilians with the result that eight civilians are killed for every combatant. This understandably alienates the civilian population from its “liberators” while increasing its support for the resistance—an inescapable and fateful cycle. In Vietnam, this process became mockingly known as “winning the hearts and minds of the people.” It hasn’t been graced with a name yet in Iraq.

Both wars used the palpable fiction of “democracy” to pacify the American public into quiescence. In Vietnam, “democracy” took the form of a clique of wealthy, urban, Catholic dictators running a country of poor, rural, Buddhist peasants. After the US had its puppet, Diem, assassinated in 1963, it took two years and seven different governments before a suitably brutal but still obeisant figurehead could be found.

In Iraq, a “governing council” of US-appointed stooges pretends to represent Iraqi interests by handing over almost all industries to large U.S. corporations—all of which just happen to be munificent donors to the Republican party. Commenting recently on the handover of “sovereignty,” US proconsul Paul Bremmer noted in seemingly oblivious irony that, “There’s not going to be any difference in our military posture on July 1st from what it is on June 30th.” This is democracy™ for foreign subjects, American style.

But there are still deeper bases for comparing Iraq with Vietnam. It is these that are most disquieting for America’s prospects.

Both wars were against victim nations already deeply scarred by colonial domination. It is this legacy that poisons all U.S. sanctimony about installing “democracy” in Iraq. Vietnam was dominated for over a century by first the French, then the Japanese, then the French again, and eventually the Americans. But all the Vietnamese people ever wanted was to be free of such domination, to craft for themselves their own destiny, much as the American colonists had done in their revolutionary war.

Iraq, too, bears the scars of a long and repressive colonial legacy. It was created in the aftermath of World War I, literally carved out of the sand by the British for the sole purpose of controlling the world’s oil supply. The US helped Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party overthrow the uppity Karim Qasim in 1963 but its purposes were the same as the British’s: to control the world’s supply of oil. The aggressively disinformed American public is unaware of this legacy and, therefore, the reason behind Iraq’s vociferous resistance to its would-be “liberation.”

Still deeper in meaning is the strategic context of the two wars. Both wars were fought in the vanguard of grand U.S. strategy. In Vietnam, the strategy was “Containment,” George Kennan’s famous formula for stopping the Soviet Union from expanding its empire. Eisenhower’s overwrought and ultimately disproved version had dominoes falling from Laos and Cambodia, on to Thailand and Burma, all the way to India.

In Iraq, the grand strategy is global hegemony. It is the neo-conservatives’ vision of the once-in-a-millennium chance to dominate the world. With the Cold War ended and no plausible military challenger in sight, such a chance must not be let to pass, certainly not for want of sufficient “manhood”. Iraq is simply the first tactical step in this vision, the basis for controlling the world’s oil and, thereby, the US’s strategic competitors. This is the reason the Pentagon plans to leave 14 military bases in the country indefinitely—to project military power throughout the Persian Gulf, site of 55% of the world’s oil.

Finally, it is the ideological context that perhaps most eerily presages (and dooms) the U.S. role in Iraq—just as it did in Vietnam. The Vietnam quagmire was formed in the toxic aftermath of World War II. When China fell to the communists in 1949, Republicans mounted an ideological dragnet to purge the government of those who had “lost China.” This morphed into Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts of the 1950s that targeted supposed “communist sympathizers” throughout the country.

It was close personal knowledge of these ideologically-driven purges that drove Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and even Nixon to aver that they would never allow the U.S. to fail in Vietnam for fear of being portrayed as “soft on communism.” Despite the fact that all of these presidents were warned—repeatedly—that Vietnam was unwinnable, all “soldiered on”, dooming ever more soldiers and civilians to death and destruction.

For years, the public rationale for U.S. involvement in Vietnam had been to keep Vietnam out of the hands of communists. But in March 1965, before the massive escalation that would make the war irreversible, Pentagon briefers told President Johnson that the true U.S. goals in Vietnam were, “70% to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat; 20% to keep South Vietnam (and adjacent territories) from Chinese hands; 10% to permit the people of Vietnam a better, freer way of life.” This is the smoking gun of the ideological aversion to withdrawal.

And so, because of the strategic imperatives of containment and the ideological pressures of McCarthyism, the U.S. couldn’t stay out of Vietnam. But because of the colonialist taint, the nature of guerilla war, the ludicrous fiction of “democracy”, and the foundation of lies that undergirded the entire venture, it could never win either. This was the essential, inescapable, tragic dilemma for America in Vietnam: it could not manage to stay out; but it could never manage to win.

Much the same can already be said of Iraq. Bush’s latest post-hoc rationale, that “we’re changing the world,” betrays a near-messianic obsession to stay. Such compulsion is impervious to mere logic or facts. Steadily increasing violence and chaos are cheerily parried with ideological divinations that these are actually proof we are winning! In psychiatric wards, this would be dismissed for what it actually is: dangerous delusion.

But as was the case with successive presidents in Vietnam, the necessity “to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat” now drives Bush policy more than anything else. And we should be clear: this goes far beyond the need to simply maintain appearances until November. If the U.S. is driven from Iraq, the credibility of U.S. force and the potency of U.S. power in the world will be irreparably damaged, far more than it was by the loss in Vietnam. This is why Iraq may actually become worse than Vietnam.

The reason is that military force has increasingly become the principal tool of persuasion for the U.S. in the world. Unlike the 1960s when its economy was still the envy of the world and its ideals were still the model for many nations, the U.S. economy is now a wreck and U.S. ideals are in tatters.

The private U.S. economy is so uncompetitive it runs a half trillion dollar a year trade deficit with the rest of the world. And the U.S. lives so far beyond its means it runs a half trillion dollar a year federal budget deficit. It must go, hat in hand, to the rest of the world to borrow these sums, well more than two billion dollars a day. This is hardly a model of economic vibrancy. And the U.S.’s civic culture—what the neo-cons once lauded as “the soft power of ideas”—is now feared and mocked by much of the world, including former allies. And herein lies the danger.

What is the point of spending more on the military than all of the rest of the world combined if it cannot deliver when called upon? In Vietnam, General Curtis LeMay answered this question with his famous dictum: “We’ll bomb them back into the stone age.” And Nixon tried, mightily. During one twelve-day period in December 1972 (the “Christmas Bombings”), the U.S. dropped more tons of bombs on North Vietnam than it had dropped during the entire period from 1969 to 1971, the military height of the war. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

This is now the danger for both Iraq and the U.S. Because of Bush’s strategic commitment to global hegemony and his messianic ideological persuasions, the U.S. cannot get out of Iraq; but because of the realities of colonialism, guerilla war, phony democracy, and the foundation of lies to justify it all, it will not be able to win either. Does this sound familiar?

Worse, the forces for moderation in Vietnam (such as they were) are nowhere in sight in Iraq. There is no independent media capable of calling out the emperor’s nakedness. There is no China next door to threaten another Asian land war should U.S. aggression become too heinous. There are no allies the U.S. needs to heed for its Cold War against the Soviet Union. In fact, without the Soviet Union, the U.S.’s former allies look more and more like its future competitors. Hence its public derision for their counsel of restraint.

Finally, if Iraq falls, Bush’s cabal of neo-conservative policy makers, never so much concerned with American interests as they are with their own, will be decisively, publicly, embarrassingly repudiated. All of this is a formula for potential catastrophe.

The damage to U.S. prestige in the world for its illegal invasion of Iraq is already done. The danger now is that in his desperation to “avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat,” the repudiation of his entire presidency, and a generation-long disdain for U.S. military power, Bush will resort to apocalyptic barbarism. This is exactly what Nixon did trying to salvage “peace with honor” in Vietnam. It is this temptation that only the American public can force Bush to resist.

Robert Freeman writes about economics, history, and education. He can be reached at



U.S. Military Experts Devise Another Vietnam-Like Debacle

by Rory Cripps | August 23, 2009 at 07:35 pm
My original intent was to make this story a "non-opinion" story. But after reading the crap in the following highlighted stories, my emotions got the better of me. Here goes:

The idiot and murderous American military brass can't accept the fact that the "war" in Afghanistan is unwinnable. They're like some geek that studies a martial arts manual; and on that basis,  gets into a fight, and gets his ass kicked. And then the geek goes back  home and re-reads the martial arts manual and goes back out on the street and gets his ass kicked again. 

The bloodied geek goes back home and re-reads his martial arts manual again . . .certain that the next time he'll win the fight. Of course he loses the next fight . . . .

That's what the American military brass is today: A bunch of geeks that think that they're so smart and yet they can't fight their way out of a paper bag. They sit on their  fat collective asses and send young American men and women to some hell-hole, like Afghanistan, in order to engage those that have no regard for human life. And the U.S. military men and women, that are sent to hell-holes like Afghanistan, are given strict orders not to respond in kind . . . .

The Vietnam debacle occurred over thirty years ago. The war in Afghanistan is similar in many respects. It's obvious that the U.S. military brass and the U.S. government haven't learned a thing throughout  the past thirty years when it comes to fighting a war . . .

The U.S. military's top uniformed officer expressed concern Sunday about eroding public support for the war in Afghanistan and said that country remains vulnerable to being taken over again by extremist forces.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said President Obama's new strategy for defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda was a work in progress as more U.S. troops are put in place.

Just over 50 percent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this past week said the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.

Adm. Mullen, a Vietnam veteran, said he's aware that public support for the war is critical. "Certainly the numbers are of concern," he said, but, he added, "This is the war we're in."

Three years ago, the U.S. had about 20,000 forces in the country. Today, it has triple that, on the way to 68,000 by year's end when all the extra 17,000 troops that Mr. Obama announced in March are to be in place. An additional 4,000 troops are arriving to help train Afghan forces.

"I recognize that we've been there over eight years," Adm. Mullen said. "This is the first time we've ever really resourced a strategy on the civilian and military side."

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and top GOP member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he wants the military leadership in Afghanistan to use the same aggressive approach that Gen. David Petraeus used successfully in Iraq.

He said the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, should say exactly how many troops he needs in Afghanistan, let the Congress debate it, and Mr. Obama would make the ultimate decision.

Troops in Afghanistan should "clear and hold" an environment for people so that economic and political progress can be made, he said. Mr. McCain said he worries Gen. McChrystal will be pressured to ask for lower troop totals than he needs.

Mr. McCain acknowledged that public opinion on Afghanistan is slipping, but he said that opinion could be reversed.

"I think you need to see a reversal of these very alarming and disturbing trends on attacks, casualties, areas of the country that the Taliban has increased control of."

Gen. David H. Petraeus plans to open an in-house intelligence organization at U.S. Central Command this week that will train military officers, covert agents and analysts who agree to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan for up to a decade.

The organization, to be called the Center for Afghanistan Pakistan Excellence, will be led by Derek Harvey, a retired colonel in the Defense Intelligence Agency who became one of the Gen. Petraeus' most trusted analysts during the 2007-08 counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq.

Mr. Harvey distinguished himself in Iraq by predicting that the Iraqi insurgency would spiral out of control, at a time when it was widely underestimated by the Bush administration, in 2003 and 2004.

He later dissented from the emerging consensus in Congress and the CIA, when he said, as early as March 2007, that al Qaeda had been strategically defeated. This was during the early days of the surge, at a time when most of the intelligence community thought the Sunni insurgency was intact.

Mr. Harvey said the new center would focus on integrating all sources of information to develop strategic products for both war fighters and decision makers in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We have tended to rely too much on intelligence sources and not integrating fully what is coming from provincial reconstruction teams, civil-affairs officers, commanders and operators on the ground that are interacting with the population and who understand the population and can actually communicate what is going on in the street," he said. "If you only rely on the intelligence reporting, you can get a skewed picture of the situation."

Mr. Harvey calls this approach "widening the aperture."

Asked whether the new training commitments suggest a long-term military presence in Afghanistan, Mr. Harvey said those decisions are above his pay grade. But he said, "Even if we downsize, we are still going to have investments in South Asia."

A retired four-star general who helped develop the Iraq counterinsurgency strategy, Jack Keane, compared Mr. Harvey's work to that of a homicide detective: "deliberate, methodical, thankless work, putting all the evidence together to form a story."

"As it turns out, Harvey in my view is the only intelligence analyst who was right from the beginning to the end in Iraq. So it's no wonder that General Petraeus, who has tremendous confidence in him, wants him to focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is the next-thorniest problem our troops are facing," Mr. Keane said.



September 6, 2009

Afghanistan could become another Vietnam for the U.S.: former IRGC chief
Tehran Times Political Desk

TEHRAN - Afghanistan could become another Vietnam for the U.S. and its allies, according to the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor on military affairs.

“It seems that the defeat of the United States’ military strategy will be much worse in Afghanistan than in Iraq, and the possibility that Afghanistan will become another Vietnam for the U.S. and its allies is increasing,” Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday.

Signs of a velvet revolution plan in post-election incidents

Safavi also said that there were signs of a plan for a velvet revolution after the June 12 presidential election.

“Some signs of a velvet revolution became evident” in the illegal incidents that were provoked by certain people after the election, he added.

Safavi noted that soft threats cover a wide range of activities meant to induce people to change their views. For example, these activities are usually meant to persuade people to adopt Western values, he added.

“A velvet revolution requires education because the attitudes, values, and thoughts of nations can be changed through education. The Americans and the British have come to the conclusion that only soft threats can bring about the necessary changes in independent nations,” he said.

Safavi cited Georgia as an example where the United States educated over 200 individuals in the U.S., who put what they had learned into practice when they returned home.

Thus, it is necessary for the Islamic Republic of Iran to understand the sources of soft threats and to devise plans to counter them, he added.

He also criticized certain presidential candidates, saying they did not recognize the threats against the nation, and thus their reputations were ruined in the eyes of the people.

The election was one of the most successful elections since the victory of the Islamic Revolution and could have raised Iran’s profile in the international arena, he noted.

However, the activities of a number of political groupings and prominent figures were in line with the West’s objectives and undermined the effect of a tremendous turnout, he stated.

Some candidates were not able to control their parties and in fact were controlled by their parties, and these candidates oppressed the nation and undermined the system, Safavi said.

Obama didn’t change U.S. foreign policy

Elsewhere in his remarks, Safavi pointed out that U.S. President Barack Obama has not changed U.S. foreign policy.

“The military strategy of the Obama administration has not changed remarkably from that of the Bush administration except for the withdrawal of 35,000 military forces from Iraq and the increase in the forces in Afghanistan,” he said.

The presence of over 200,000 foreign troops in the region and the increasing number of military bases in the Middles East are the root causes of regional instability, he observed.

And peace and security can only be established in the region when all foreign troops are withdrawn, he said.

He went on to say that animosity toward the U.S. is at its highest level ever in the region.

U.S. promoting Iranophobia in the region

Safavi also stated that the U.S. is promoting Iranophobia in the region.

“The Americans are trying to instill Iranophobia into the minds of a number of Arab leaders in the region,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly told the Arabs that Iran is the main threat to them, not Israel, he noted.

And former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney held a four-hour meeting with an Arab leader about the alleged Iranian threat to Arab states, he said.

Safavi also pointed out that the Iranophobia strategy has allowed the U.S. to sell billions of dollars of weapons to the Arabs.

Iran can give devastating response to any aggression

Commenting on Israeli officials’ threats to attack Iran, Safavi said that Iran’s armed forces would deliver an “unimaginable” response to any attack.

“Although the Iranian armed forces have great might, they will not underestimate the Israeli threat. However, if they make any mistake, Iran’s (response) will be unimaginable and very devastating,” he insisted.

Israeli officials have had frequent meetings with officials of certain countries, and Israel will make some political and probably (also some) military moves by the end of the (Iranian calendar) year (March 2010) to compensate for their humiliating defeats in the 33-day and 22-day wars in Lebanon and Gaza, Safavi stated.



Going Round and Round in Our Circle Game
Going Round and Round in Our Circle Game

By J. G. Fabiano
Mar 12, 2008


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Back in November of 1986, I wrote an article entitled, "Bleeding Heart, and Proud of It". It described how my brother-in-law and I had always reflected a classic confrontation between conservative and liberal. Into the new millennium we still defend philosophies that began early in our lives. He is now a builder pushing his conservative ideals of free growth and commerce while I am a liberal teacher praying that uncontrolled growth will not destroy the reason I decided to move to Maine over 37 years ago.

Our arguments intensified during the Reagan administration. He was thrilled when our nation decided that it could no longer afford the social programs of the 1970's. Reagan declared them full of fraud and deceit. In the early 1980's my brother-in-law was thrilled to show me that because of Reagan's conservative policies the economy enjoyed a strength it never had before. That was true up to the mid-1980. After that our economy suffered through double digit inflation and interest rates. At the end of this decade we did pull ourselves out after many of our banks failed and property rates went in a direction they were never supposed to go. The problem was that the lost social programs never came back. The concept of health insurance for all and the elimination of poverty in our nation was not only forgotten but also blamed for the excesses of our nation's wealthy.

In the early 1990's, despite the euphoria over our victory in the Persian Gulf War, it was easy for candidate Clinton to quote Mr. Reagan's campaign slogan from 1980, urging each of us to ask the question," are we better off than we were four years ago?" At that time most of us were not. Mr. Clinton beat Mr. Bush and off into the 1990's we were thrown. My brother-in-law was horrified exclaiming that the modest recovery of 1990 would be destroyed by the liberal ideas of that Governor from Arkansas. Little did he know that this would be the beginning of the largest economic growth in our nation's history? But, little did I know that the poor would get poorer and that national health care and the elimination of poverty would still remain a dream from the past.

On issues of foreign policy, our ideas were also highly polarized. My brother-in-law still believes that any policy promoting the strength and security of our nation is necessarily the best and most moral policy. Back in 1986, I argued that history shows that any time one nation tries to impose its will on another; disaster strikes the societies of both nations. I tried to convince him that Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Central America were supposed to represent great victories but in hindsight we all know they didn't. Even the police actions of Panama, Somalia, The Persian Gulf, and the Balkans seem to have made us ignore the social problems we have in our own backyard.

When it comes to the pursuit of wealth, my brother-in-law is deeply entrenched into the capitalist system. In other words, he believes that our nation is based on competition and that the Darwinian concept of "survival of the fittest" is all that exists. I argued in 1986, that never before in the history of our nation has there been so much power behind the idea that success and happiness must be measured in terms of how much money is acquired. These ideas are now at their highest pinnacle in that the people of the new millennium are gambling in a market that everyone understands is destined to fail. For how can something that doesn't exist, succeed?

I, in my bleeding heart role, begged to have him look at the consequences of the "yuppie" mentality. I advised him that drug use is on the rise because of this compulsion for the need for money. In 1986, the financial bubble exploded on all that were part of it. Even the builders and entrepreneurs of York felt the floor fall out from beneath them. It took ten years for property values to regain the strength they had before the times of incredible inflation and bank failures. From 1995 to 2000, our financial and real estate markets have once again boomed. The names of the people who ran into York looking for their fortunes have changed but they are pretty much the same kind of people. The "tech" market propelled this boom into a growth that seemed unstoppable. But, like Newton stated, everything that goes up has a tendency to come down.

In 1986, the family structure was becoming all but non-existent. In 1991, the family had officially joined the ranks of the dinosaur along with the single income, the ability for most of us in this country to own a home, and the capacity to believe our children's lives can be better than our own. Even the concept that education must be offered equally to all Americans has been altered to state that the best education will be offered only to those who can afford it. Today many in our nation want to take public money away from our schools and give it to private schools so that the rich would not have to pay too much for their private education. No one argues, not even my brother-in-law that if this system of vouchers goes into effect public education for all of our children will literally disappear.

I ended my article back in 1986 by stating that being called a bleeding heart liberal didn't hurt that much. In fact, it actually felt good. But, with a national credit card debt reaching astronomical amounts keeping pace with our trade deficit, kids shooting kids in our schools, zoos, and just about everywhere else, prison populations surpassing those of Russia and China, the working poor becoming the rule and not the exception, and the possibility of national health care being compared to seeing pigs fly, my bleeding heart is just about running out of blood.

The problems of the roaring 1980's devastated the hopes of America's future. I am not that naïve to realize there is not much we can do about the past but I am not too foolish to understand that we can and must change the way we do business as a nation in the future. But, the 1990's showed us we are not. We are still allowing our lawmakers to continue the ways of the past, which are destroying our future.

I find in 2000, even my conservative brother-in-law does not argue that the road our nation took during the 1980's was ill advised. I can see in his eyes that the policies we enjoyed in the 1990's seem to be bringing us into a dangerous time. As a professional bleeding heart I can only watch the times for it is too late to change them.

We are now in the year 2008. We have suffered through an attack we thought impossible, we started a war based on lies we thought would be over before the beginning of a new President's second term, our economy is in shambles with inflation eliminating any chance of surviving it, and this is the first time in our history our children will not be as well off as we were.

In 1986, I wrote that I was proud to be a bleeding heart liberal. In 1991, I found myself in a position of throwing a gate to the wind. Now in 2000, I find that I have little blood to give. In 2008, I clearly understand we are making the same mistakes of our past but these mistakes seem to be deeper and darker. I know it is again time for a change but I pray it is a real change instead of the kind we have been forced to suffer through for the past 22 years; a change to put our nation back on the track of taking care of all of its citizens. In fact, I have been waiting for that change for over 20 years now. The only thing that makes me feel better is that my brother-in-law and I have traveled full circle and are now beginning to agree more. I guess it is because we've both seen the future before and we know that we will need each other to survive it again.

Jim Fabiano, a teacher and writer who lives in York, is a past recipient of the Maine Press Association's award for Best Weekly Column. You can E-mail Jim at:

© Copyright 2002-2008 by Magic City Morning Star




Published on Monday, March 31, 2003 by Reuters
Mubarak Says Iraq War Will Produce "100 bin Ladens"

CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Monday the U.S.-led war on Iraq would produce "one hundred new bin Ladens", driving more Muslims to anti-Western militancy.

A wounded Iraqi girl in central Iraq March 29, 2003. Confused front line crossfire ripped apart an Iraqi family on Saturday after local soldiers appeared to force civilians towards U.S.
marines positions. The four-year old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, was screaming for her dead mother, while her father, shot in a leg, begged to be freed from the plastic wrist cuffs slapped on him by U.S. marines, so he could hug his other terrified daughter. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
"When it is over, if it is over, this war will have horrible consequences," Mubarak told Egyptian soldiers in the city of Suez.

"Instead of having one (Osama) bin Laden, we will have 100 bin Ladens," he added. Osama bin Laden is the Saudi-born fugitive Islamic militant leader blamed by the United States for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Egypt, a key regional U.S. ally which has cracked down hard on Islamic militants, publicly opposes the war launched by Washington to overthrow President Saddam Hussein.

European opponents of the war, led by French President Jacques Chirac, have also argued that military action against Iraq would fuel terrorism and split the international coalition assembled by Washington to fight bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Mubarak said Iraqi forces fighting U.S. and British troops were "guarding Iraq's lands and defending its national honour and nobility" in the conflict.

Reflecting widespread public anger at what many Arabs see as Western aggression against an Arab country, he said the war woould cause a "great tragedy (and) destroy a deep-rooted culture and people".

"Egypt's position has been and still is clear in rejecting...the military option and rejecting participation in military action of the coalition forces against brotherly Iraq," he said.

Mubarak said the war had raised many questions, especially among the Arab and Muslim peoples of the Middle East, about the "credibility of the international system of collective security represented in the United Nations".

Many Arabs think Washington has employed double standards in enforcing U.N. resolutions on Iraq while not making Israel comply with resolutions demanding withdrawal from Palestinian territories and an end to Jewish settlements.

Mubarak read out the highlights of an international plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace called the "roadmap", saying that while the Palestinian Authority had accepted it, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had asked for 100 changes.

"This means the roadmap has been rendered meaningless. Unless the big powers agree and put forward a mechanism to implement it without any alterations...I believe the roadmap will not move on the right road and it might lead to complications," he said.

Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd


Obama in Egypt reaches out to Muslim world

  • President Obama touches on Iran, Mideast conflict, wars in Iraq, Afghanistan
  • Obama says U.S. doesn't want to keep troops in Afghanistan
  • U.S. "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," Obama says
  • Obama calls America's "strong bond" with Israel "unbreakable"
June 4, 2009

(CNN) -- President Obama delivered his long-awaited and wide-ranging speech Thursday on American and Muslim relations, offering a hand of friendship to Islam and addressing an array of quandaries and conflicts dividing the two cultures.

President Obama urges a new chapter in ties between the U.S. and Muslims in a speech Thursday in Cairo, Egypt.

President Obama urges a new chapter in ties between the U.S. and Muslims in a speech Thursday in Cairo, Egypt.

At Egypt's Cairo University, Obama quoted from the Quran as he expounded on Islam's glories and rights, the legitimate rights of Israel and the Palestinians, Iranian nuclear aspirations, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women's rights, economic development, and religious rights and democracy in the Muslim world.

The address, billed as a fence-mending mission between the United States and Islam, urged those present and the people across the globe viewing the speech on television to enter a new, productive and peaceful chapter in their relationship.

Obama's stop in Egypt is part of a trip that started in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and will continue later to Germany and France. Video Watch Obama's entire speech »

"I know there are many -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- who question whether we can forge this new beginning," Obama said, emphasizing that "it is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward, to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share."

Obama reiterated a statement he made in Turkey in April.

"In Ankara, I made clear that America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam.

"We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security -- because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people."

Obama explored the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, endorsing a two-state solution and urging compromise and understanding between "two peoples with legitimate aspirations." A reaction to Obama's speech

And then he entered into the conflict's thickets, understanding claims from both sides. He said the United States "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" seen by Muslims as impediments to Middle East peace. Video Watch as Obama seeks a "new beginning" »

"This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

Calling America's "strong bond" with Israel "unbreakable," he said, "It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied."

He denounced the denial of the Holocaust and anti-Semitic stereotyping, and criticized anyone who would threaten Israel's destruction.

Expounding on the plight of Palestinians, Obama said "it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."

"For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," he said. Video Watch Obama discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict »

"They endure the daily humiliations -- large and small -- that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own."

Obama also denounced Palestinian violence and the rejection by some of Israeli existence -- both seen by Israel as obstacles to peace. The president conjured the lessons of America's civil rights movement when he urged Palestinians to "abandon violence."

"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong, and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation," he said. "It was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding."

The conflict, Obama said, needs to be seen from a larger perspective, not from the viewpoint of one side or another. And both sides must live up to the responsibilities of the moribund "road map" peace process, he said. Video Watch CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Obama's message of detente »

He added that the Hamas movement -- which controls Gaza -- and has some support among Palestinians must end violence and recognize past agreements. He also urged Arab states to no longer use the conflict to distract their peoples from other problems.

"The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security," he said.

Obama talked about

the importance of confronting violent extremism, touching on the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Emphasizing the fact that the United States entered Afghanistan by "necessity" and not "choice," he countered the stances of some "who "question or justify the events of 9/11."

"But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with," he said.

Obama said the United States does not seek to keep its troops in Afghanistan or establish military bases there but needs to continue the fight against "extremists," with both military power and investment in the infrastructure and economy of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case," he said.

He addressed the conflict in Iraq, calling it unlike Afghanistan "a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world."

"Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible," he said.

He said the United States needs to help Iraq "forge a better future and leave Iraq to Iraqis."

"I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012."

Speaking about prohibiting torture and the closing of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, Obama talked about working on "concrete actions to change course" and correct abuses in the war on terror.

"Just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals," he said.

Obama dwelled on the tensions over nuclear weapons between the United States and Iran and the "tumultuous history" between the countries.

He pointed to the U.S. role in overthrowing a democratically elected government during the Cold War era and Iran's role in hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

The president reiterated his desire to move forward with Iran on many issues, saying the "question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build."

"But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path."

The United States and other Western nations have opposed what they believe are Iran's intentions to develop nuclear weapons.

Obama said that any nation, including Iran, "should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." He said such a "commitment" is at the treaty's core and "it must be kept for all who fully abide by it."

"And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal," Obama said.


Circle in the Sand: Why We Went Back to Iraq

by Christian Alfonsi
Circle in the Sand: Why We Went Back to Iraq Cover
ISBN13: 9780385515986
ISBN10: 0385515987

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An important, massively researched and revelation-filled work of history that uncovers how decisions made by the first Bush White House preordained the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq.

“Is this a one-time thing, or should we foreshadow more to come?”

This was the prophetic question posed by National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft in a secret April 1991 memorandum about the postwar management of Iraq, two months after the United States had defeated Iraqi forces in Operation Desert Storm—but left Saddam Hussein securely in power. Circle in the Sand challenges the widely held notion that Saddam’s survival was the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision by the first President Bush and his inner circle (especially the “Reluctant Warrior” Colin Powell) to call off the Desert Storm campaign "one day too soon."

Through interviews with the Bush team’s principal decision makers—including President George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Brent Scowcroft, and Paul Wolfowitz—as well as hundreds of never-before-revealed White House documents, Christian Alfonsi shows how Saddam’s survival was the result of a calculated decision, albeit one with disastrous consequences, which had settled the issue of how the first Iraq war would end long before it even began. Circle in the Sand also provides the definitive account of the collapse of the first Bush administration’s Iraq policy after the war.

Unprecedented in its detail about the decision making inside the Bush White House during the first Gulf War, Circle in the Sand provides not only a dramatic portrait of history in the making but also a compelling rationale for the United States’ mishandling of the current situation in Iraq. Did we invade Iraq in 2003 to ensure that George W. Bush would not suffer an electoral fate in 2004 similar to his father’s defeat in 1992? Circle in the Sand forces us to consider that disturbing scenario and its larger implications for the American war on terror.


"This isn't the first time Robert Gates has worried about an American occupation of Iraq. In December 1991, with the first Bush administration on the brink of war to expel Iraq from Kuwait, then-Deputy National Security Adviser Gates led the high-ranking committee that unanimously urged President George H.W. Bush not to make regime change one of Operation Desert Storm's war objectives. Toppling the... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)


“The roots of the Iraqi tragedy start long before 9/11, and Alfonsi shows — through his use of newly declassified documents, extensive interviews, and rather remarkable records of official conversations — how Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others fatally misread the lessons of the 1991 Iraqi war to produce the debacle of the 2003 Iraqi invasion. This account is necessary for understanding that tragedy.”

Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor, Cornell University


“This fascinating and well-documented book shows how the decisions made by the Administration of George Bush senior about Iraq and Saddam Hussein failed to meet its expectations and thus opened the way for the spectacular policy reversals carried out — sometimes by the same men — after George W. Bush came to power. Alfonsi demonstrates that very different definitions of the national interest can be profoundly flawed."

Stanley Hoffmann, Buttenwieser University Professor, Center for European Studies, Harvard University


“The roots of the Iraqi tragedy start long before 9/11, and Alfonsi shows — through his use of newly declassified documents, extensive interviews, and rather remarkable records of official conversations — how Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others fatally misread the lessons of the 1991 Iraqi war to produce the debacle of the 2003 Iraqi invasion. This account is necessary for understanding that tragedy.”

Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor, Cornell University


Circle in the Sand is an important, exhaustively researched, and fluidly written analysis of the impact of the conduct of the first Gulf War on the outbreak of the second. Alfonsi argues, based on remarkable first hand interviews with the participants, that the misguided invasion of Iraq in 2003 was driven less by fear of WMD and terrorism than by fear that Saddam Hussein might once again triumph over a Bush national security team.”

Louise Richardson, Executive Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and author of What Terrorists Want


“Circle in the Sand is an important, exhaustively researched, and fluidly written analysis of the impact of the conduct of the first Gulf War on the outbreak of the second. Alfonsi argues, based on remarkable first hand interviews with the participants, that the misguided invasion of Iraq in 2003 was driven less by fear of WMD and terrorism than by fear that Saddam Hussein might once again triumph over a Bush national security team.”

Louise Richardson, Executive Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and author of What Terrorists Want

About the Author

Christian Alfonsi received a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. Circle in the Sand represents the culmination of over a decade of in-depth research on the two Bush presidencies by Dr. Alfonsi. Prior to this, he was a Vice President of strategic Planning at Young & Rubicam Brands in New York, where he currently resides.

Product Details

Alfonsi, Christian
Random House


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