I was able to find several articles in the Milwaukee Journal that were published twelve days after President Ford’s request to Congress for aid and troops in order to help with the evacuation from South Vietnam. Evidently, Ford was wanting to bring 131,000 South Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees to the US. The US government decided to give many refugees a short-cut legal procedure so they could enter the US more quickly, and they decided to waive immigration restrictions so that the US could admit the 131,000. The first group of “at risk” Vietnamese (those who worked with US government) had already left by the time this was published.
While trying to find how the American people were reacting, I found a small article which claimed that the group, Veterans and Volunteers for Vietnam, was planning on sending men trained in combat over to Vietnam to fight the Communists; however, the US does not allow citizens to fight for another government. The founder of VVV (a former Marine) claimed the group has 100 men and they wanted “to show the people of South Vietnam and the people of Southeast Asia that not all of Americans are cowards, that the US Congress is not the final voice for all Americans.” He anticipated on receiving several thousand volunteers during the next weeks. I am not sure if the VVV’s goal was to provide protection during the evacuation (which Ford was struggling to get troops for) or to just continue fighting the Communists. Regardless, this gave me a different opinion of the war from the well-known protests.
This being practically the conclusion of the war, I was curious if Americans wanted to just get out of Vietnam or if they were willing to bring some sort of resolution and help through evacuation and resettlement plans. According to a Gallup poll, 49% of those surveyed thought that the US should not use troops to evacuate South Vietnamese (42% in favor). But only 20% opposed to using troops to evacuate Americans. More importantly, 54% of the surveyed people said that if South Vietnamese are evacuated they do not think they should be allowed to live in the US when only 36% said they should. This gave me the impression that a lot of people wanted America to wash its hands of this decade long conflict.
The lofty goal of 131,000 refugees being evacuated was unlikely because of the impeding danger in South Vietnam. This number becomes even more unrealistic if Congress denied the use of US troops as protection because the Communists claimed they wanted the power to demand who would not be allowed to evacuate. The Communists wanted this authority to clearly show the world that they had won the war. This article also showed concern for the same question I had by saying, “It was not clear where Vietnamese would go once they arrived in the US” making this evacuation even less likely to be carried out.
The picture was taken April 29, 1975, six days after this article, so I wonder what led up to this day. It seems obvious that the goal of 131,000 refugees being relocated could not have been reached in this short of time. As I continue my research I will try to answer the several more questions. Were any troops used? How many people were evacuated? Where were the refugees relocated? Were they accepted by Americans? Did this picture capture the last evacuation vehicle? What happened to the people left behind?