• Weird History

How One Photo Captured The Chaos Of The Vietnamese US Embassy Evacuation

On April 29, 1975, chaos erupted throughout the streets of Saigon – the capital of South Vietnam – as the US Embassy closed its gates for the last time, signaling to the Vietnamese people that US involvement in the Vietnam War was finally coming to an end. However, officially ending the US occupation of Vietnam also involved promptly evacuating US military and civilian personnel from the Embassy, and with Saigon under the control of the People's Army of Vietnam (the army associated with North Vietnamese powers), the only way out was up. However, in order to get out, you had to beat out lots of others making desperate bids to escape, and, as one photo of a man punching another off of a helicopter demonstrates, the violent melee meant survival of the fittest.

With the nearby airport having been all but destroyed, US military helicopters had to be brought in by the dozens to evacuate as many US and South Vietnamese people as possible before it was too late. This created an even greater panic as people stormed the streets and rooftops surrounding the embassy while watching helicopters flee the area – never to return. 

By the morning of April 30th, nearly 1,000 Americans and more than 5,000 Vietnamese had been evacuated while thousands more continued to rush the Embassy compound in hopes of achieving freedom for themselves and their children. 

  • The Nearby Tan Son Nhut Airport Had Been Bombed Beyond Recognition By The People's Army

    Photo: YouTube
    • When The Last Helocopter Came In, People Were Still Trying To Break Through To The Roof Of The Embassy To Escape

      Photo: YouTube
      • Small Vietnamese Huey Helicopters Evacuated Up To 50 People At A Time

        Photo: YouTube