The Rescue of 1975, America’s Untold Accomplishment
When South Vietnam fell to the Communist forces of North Vietnam on April 30, 1975, a wave of Vietnamese citizens fled the country in order to avoid persecution by the new regime. The former South Vietnamese Navy, with the help of the Americans, would succeed in saving an estimated 30,000 Vietnamese refugees. This accomplishment would go unrecognized for nearly thirty-five years. The American soldiers didn’t regard the rescue as anything significant, viewing their rescue as just part of their duty.
The USS Kirk, an American military vessel, encountered the Vietnamese refugees on and around Con Son Island, immediately providing them with food, water, shelter, and medical assistance. The USS Kirk then led the Vietnamese naval vessels, fishing boats, and cargo ships, filled with refugees, to safety, meeting up with other US Navy ships. As a result of their efforts, approximately 30,000 Vietnamese refugees were taken to safety in the Philippines and out of the Communists’ reach.
It is only recently that this great humanitarian accomplishment became largely recognized. Since America held a feeling of bitterness towards Vietnam after the tragic conclusion of the war, the public was not interested in the happenings in that general area. Also, the soldiers themselves never considered what they did to be anything extraordinary, so the story was never widely publicized. Today, rising interests in humanitarian work have prompted journalists and investigators to explore the American feat in Vietnam, so the story of this great rescue is finally known to the world.