Last Days in Vietnam

Synopsis: During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only--or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can.
Director(s): Rory Kennedy
Production: American Experience/PBS Films
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.6
Metacritic:
86
Rotten Tomatoes:
95%
NOT RATED
Year:
2014
98 min
$408,651
Website
6 Views

As we began to contemplate evacuation,

the question, the burning question was,

"Who goes,

and who gets left behind?"

I borrowed a truck

and I basically sent

the signal to my folks,

and this meant a group of

South Vietnamese majors,

lieutenant colonels,

colonels and their families

to muster at an address

in downtown Saigon.

I drove down there, they

loaded up onto the truck,

and I drove them to the airbase.

And I had told them, "When

you hear three thumps,

"that means hold the babies' mouths.

"Don't breathe, don't

talk, don't make any noise

because we're going

through the gatepost. "

I saluted in uniform

as a captain of the United States Army.

The guard waved me through,

and I drove straight

out to the flight line

to an aircraft that was awaiting.

One Vietnamese colonel that was

putting his family on the plane,

he had wanted to stay in

Vietnam to defend the country.

And this full colonel had,

like, eight kids and a wife.

And he was in tears, the family...

The family were in tears,

and I said to him, "Get on the plane.

"Just... go.

Go. "

It was a terrible, terrible,

terrible moral dilemma

for everybody.

We today have concluded

an agreement to end the war

and bring peace with honor in Vietnam.

We have adopted a plan

for the complete withdrawal

of all U.S. combat ground forces.

We are finally bringing

American men home.

We who made the agreement

thought that it would be the beginning

not of peace in the American sense,

but the beginning of

a period of coexistence

which might evolve as it

did in Korea into two states.

Reconciliation between

North and South Vietnam

we knew would be extremely difficult.

But I was hopeful.

Because of the Paris Agreement,

American soldiers were going home.

But I was on my way back to Vietnam.

I was assigned to Saigon

in the first week of August 1973,

so about six months after the ceasefire.

I would say that between

the State Department people

and CIA people,

the contractors who were there

to maintain infrastructure,

maintain aircraft,

as well as people like me,

we had 5,000 to 7,000

Americans in country.

A lot of the guys had

Vietnamese girlfriends and wives,

in many cases with children.

In general, things were eerily calm

and in many ways normal in Saigon.

My sense was that we

were gonna be there,

you know, pretty much

for a long time to come.

I was assigned to the

American embassy in Saigon.

I was in charge

of the 84 Marine security

guards that were there,

making sure that they kept up

with their physical fitness training.

We were there to protect American lives

as well as American property.

It was just a

day-to-day job.

The Ambassador there was

a guy named Graham Martin,

a North Carolinian, just as I was.

He spoke with a slow Southern drawl.

He was a great gentleman.

He was a cold warrior in the old stripe.

He'd lost an adopted

son in Vietnam to combat.

And he was not gonna give up

South Vietnam to the Communists.

He was determined to keep U.S. aid

flowing into Saigon.

When the ceasefire occurred in 1973,

everybody toasted it with Bloody Marys

in the U.S. embassy.

It was a grand party.

We thought peace was at hand.

But the Paris Peace Accord

was a masterpiece of ambiguity.

In order to get President

Thieu and the South Vietnamese

to go along with the Paris Agreement,

President Nixon pulled

out all the stops,

and in a letter to President Thieu,

he promised that if the North Vietnamese

were to substantially violate

the terms of the Paris Agreement,

the United States would

respond with full force.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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"Last Days in Vietnam" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 16 Oct. 2019. <https://www.scripts.com/script/last_days_in_vietnam_12246>.

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