April 1975: The Evacuation of Saigon

I’ve told the story of my escape under fire from Saigon on the night of 29 April 1975 in this blog, but I’ve never given the figures of aircraft and people involved. Here are the numerical facts:

On 29 April 1975, in a span of 18 hours, 70 American helicopters evacuated 1,373 Americans, 5,595 South Vietnamese, and 815 foreign nationals from South Vietnam to ships of the 7th Fleet cruising in the South China Sea. It was the largest helicopter-borne evacuation ever conducted. It was accomplished by a task force of U. S. Navy/Marine and Air Force units. The evacuation of personnel from Saigon itself took 17 hours and required 590 Marine and 82 Air Force helicopter sorties.

I can find no figures for the number of Air America helicopters or sorties involved, but the aircraft of that privately-owned corporation in South Vietnam were a part of the operation, known as FREQUENT WIND. In fact, I myself escaped on an Air America chopper.

More tomorrow.

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