Vietnamization Policy (02:54)
Ho Chi Minh died in 1969, but Hanoi policies remained unchanged. The Paris Peace Talks were to establish peace between North and South Vietnam and remove American military presence. Nixon promised to build up South Vietnamese forces, but bombed Cambodia in secret.
My Lai Massacre (03:07)
U.S. troops committed atrocities under the command of Lt. Calley. Such war crimes were frequent, but rarely publicized.
Anti-War Sentiments (03:10)
After the My Lai Massacre cover-up, Nixon came under increasing pressure to end the war. Draftees felt the war was lost and their efforts were futile; many became addicted to drugs.
Kent State Tragedy (02:17)
Protests against the Cambodian bombing and Vietnam atrocities resulted in the National Guard killing four students. Nixon halted the draft. North Vietnam President Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger began secret talks.
Vietnam Deescalation (01:55)
In 1971, the Pentagon Papers revealed government deception; Nixon increased troop withdrawal. After the 1972 North Vietnamese offensive, Nixon announced a total withdrawal plan—but continued bombing Cambodia.
U.S. Air Strikes (02:09)
Hear a recording of Nixon and Henry Kissinger discussing bombing methods. Nixon proved no area in North Vietnam was off limits. Witnesses describe the effects of napalm.
Vietnam Cease-Fire (04:08)
Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reached a peace agreement, announced in October 1972. South Vietnamese President Thieu was reluctant to sign. In 1973, U.S. troops withdrew and North Vietnam returned 591 prisoners.
Watergate Scandal (02:59)
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. Nixon's election campaign employed spying and sabotage. In 1974, Thieu resumed fighting; the Khmer Rouge rose to power in Cambodia and Nixon resigned.
North Vietnamese Takeover (03:13)
In August 1974, Gerald Ford was sworn in as president. After U.S. withdrawal, the public lost interest in Vietnam. President Thieu withdrew troops from the North and Hue fell to the communists. Without U.S. aid, South Vietnamese troops were powerless.
Fall of Saigon (02:29)
President Thieu resigned, blaming the U.S. for abandonment. As North Vietnamese troops approached, Americans prepared to evacuate from the embassy and Vietnamese civilians attempted to flee on ships.
Saigon Evacuation (02:46)
Journalists recall escaping from the U.S. embassy. View footage of Marines pulling Americans over the embassy wall and fighting off Vietnam civilians desperate to flee.
Socialist Republic of Vietnam (03:12)
Hear an overview of the North Vietnamese takeover of Saigon, renamed Ho Chi Minh City. South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were persecuted; Stalinist economic policies resulted in near starvation.
Vietnamese Refugees (03:48)
Jimmy Carter pardoned draft dodgers. In 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and defeated the Khmer Rouge; the U.S. imposed sanctions isolating Vietnam. Civilians attempted to flee on overcrowded boats; a survivor recalls his ordeal.
Vietnam War Legacy (02:21)
Agent Orange caused generations of Vietnamese birth defects and cancer in U.S. veterans; they lacked government support. Vietnam was left in poverty and suffered extreme war damage.
Rebuilding Vietnam (03:34)
During the 1980s, Vietnam allowed local economic freedom; coffee and rice sectors flourished. Today, it is a growing economy but the communist government still controls enterprise and imposes censorship. Successful refugees returned to start businesses.
Credits: Fallout & Recovery (00:35)
Credits: Fallout & Recovery
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