Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75
George J Veith
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Black April addresses that deficit. A culmination of exhaustive research in three distinct areas: primary source documents from American archives, North Vietnamese publications containing primary and secondary source material, and dozens of articles and numerous interviews with key South Vietnamese participants, this book represents one of the largest Vietnamese translation projects ever accomplished, including almost one hundred rarely or never seen before North Vietnamese unit histories, battle studies, and memoirs. Most important, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of South Vietnam’s conquest, the leaders in Hanoi released several compendiums of formerly highly classified cables and memorandum between the Politburo and its military commanders in the south. This treasure trove of primary source materials provides the most complete insight into North Vietnamese decision-making ever complied. While South Vietnamese deliberations remain less clear, enough material exists to provide a decent overview.
Ultimately, whatever errors occurred on the American and South Vietnamese side, the simple fact remains that the country was conquered by a North Vietnamese military invasion despite written pledges by Hanoi’s leadership against such action. Hanoi’s momentous choice to destroy the Paris Peace Accords and militarily end the war sent a generation of South Vietnamese into exile, and exacerbated a societal trauma in America over our long Vietnam involvement that reverberates to this day. How that transpired deserves deeper scrutiny.
3rd Division to close in behind the ARVN regiments on Route 19. Further attacks in Binh Dinh later that night convinced Phu he had to act. At 11:00 A.M. on 31 March, Phu ordered Niem to retreat to Qui Nhon and defend the city. Niem quickly ordered his two regiments on Route 19 to withdraw, but the trap was sprung. PAVN now had a regiment of the 3rd Division behind both the 41st and 42nd Regiments, while the 968th Division was pressing against them from the west. The 41st Regiment commander,
defenses. The PAVN columns would then have had to fight their way through, delaying the final assault on Saigon. Dung’s choice to first clear away II Corps and then move toward Saigon was one of the most critical, though little-known, strategic decisions of the final offensive. With the collapse of ARVN defenses, the coast stood wide open. The PAVN command learned from radio intercepts that ARVN forces were withdrawing from Cam Ranh and that on 1 April the II Corps headquarters had fled toward
aircraft, had begun picking up a large volume of Communist chatter. Although this signaled a potential massing of PAVN forces, Nghi still believed that he could recapture the two cities. He became even more excited when he learned that the PAVN 10th Division had left Cam Ranh. Retreating ARVN soldiers who managed to slip through the lines also provided intelligence on enemy dispositions at Cam Ranh, leading Nghi to believe that the area was lightly held, which it currently was. Unfortunately for
Minh is no longer a representative of the Third Force but instead has become an American lackey who is being used to oppose the revolution. In the current situation, anyone, no matter who he is, who is placed at the head of the puppet government is a lackey of the Americans. We must carry out our unshakable resolve to . . . completely liberate South Vietnam, and reunify our nation.”18 To punctuate that sentiment, Van Tien Dung’s solitary air strike hit precisely at the same moment as Minh’s
the two battalions of the 45th Regiment organizing on Hill 581. The 45th was considered the best regiment in the 23rd Division, but here the results would be diametrically opposite to the 53rd’s. The main reasons were the lack of prepared fortifications and the desertion of many enlisted men to find their families. The PAVN 24th Regiment, 10th Division, heavily supported by armor and an anti-aircraft battalion, had secretly moved into place on the night of 13 March. While C-119 gunships kept a