American Experience: Last Days in Vietnam

Moxie Firecracker Films / WGBH Educational Foundation   |   USA

During the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as South Vietnamese resistance crumbles. The United States has only a skeleton crew of diplomats and military operatives still in the country. As Communist victory becomes inevitable and the U.S. readies to withdraw, some Americans begin to consider the certain imprisonment and possible death of their South Vietnamese allies, co-workers, and friends. Meanwhile, the prospect of an official evacuation of South Vietnamese becomes terminally delayed by Congressional gridlock and the inexplicably optimistic U.S. Ambassador. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, a number of heroic Americans take matters into their own hands, engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations in a desperate effort to save as many South Vietnamese lives as possible. The film tells a part of the story of the Vietnam War that had not been told before. Most Americans had seen the iconic image of the helicopter on a roof that final day, but few people know of the bravery of American men and women whose loyalty and heroism saved the lives of a great many at-risk South Vietnamese who otherwise would have faced certain imprisonment or deaththat admist one our country's most shameful moments, there was no shortage of courage.