The history-making, chaotic evacuation of Saigon 40 years later

Daily News Article - May 1, 2015


NOTE TO STUDENTS: This article is quite long, but well worth reading.

1. What was Operation Frequent Wind? (How many were evacuated in less than 24 hours?)

2. What difficult questions did U.S. authorities face when determining the details of the airlift?

3. What was the mood in the city prior to the airlift?

4. What triggered the airlift? (Why did the U.S. use helicopters to evacuate so many people?)

5. a) What were Marine Corps pilot Gerry Berry’s orders?
b) Tony Coalson flew choppers for Air America, the CIA air service. What were his orders for the airlift?

6. How/why was the original airlift plan changed?

7. a) Who were the crowds trying to get into the U.S. Embassy in Saigon that day?
b) Why were they afraid?

8. Why was the airlift so difficult/dangerous for the helicopter pilots?

9. a) What did some South Vietnamese pilots do?
b) Why did American sailors have to push these pilots’ helicopters overboard?

This is a very long article, but gives the reader a brief understanding what the pilots experienced that day. Of course, many interesting questions are raised from the article. Do an internet search for any of the following, or try to find the answer to one of your own questions. Some possible searches:
a) Col. Berry learned years later that a 9-year-old Vietnamese boy he evacuated that day had grown up to be a U.S. Marine chopper pilot himself. Who is that boy? Did the two ever meet?
b) What did the 11 Marines left behind (who were finally rescued) think during the time they were barricaded on the roof of the embassy? Who were these 11 men? A book was written about them “Last Men Out” - can you find any news interviews with these men?
c) What happened to the 420 non-U.S. citizens who, according to the 2014 documentary, were promised airlifts out but instead were left behind? Did any of them ever make it out of Vietnam later?
d) Who are the “Boat People”? How many made it safely to the U.S.?