50 years ago, Nixon announced the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>50 years ago, Nixon announced the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam

In 1973, the last United States combat troops left South Vietnam, ending America’s direct military involvement in the Vietnam War.

The WorldMarch 29, 2023 · 1:00 PM EDT

First Lt. Jesse Rosen of New York City wears a black armband on his left arm as he is on combat patrol in Vietnam, showing sympathy with anti-war demonstrations back home, Oct. 15, 1969. "It's just my way of silently protesting," Rosen said.

Charles J. Ryan/AP

Fifty years ago this week, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” a single by Tony Orlando and Dawn, was on its way to No. 1 on the charts.

The famous song told the story of one man’s homecoming. 

For many Americans, the song held symbolic meaning — as its release coincided with President Richard Nixon's announcement of the withdrawal of the last US combat troops from Vietnam, ending America’s direct military involvement in the war.

Although the Vietnam War didn't end on March 29, 1973 — the withdrawal, in its 50th anniversary this week — still holds an important place in US history, especially for American veterans. More than 58,000 Americans were killed in action, and some 300,000 were wounded in the fighting. 

A Vietnamese newsboy sells newspapers in Saigon with the headline announcing the US troop withdrawals hours before President Richard Nixon was slated to formally announce the withdrawals, Sept. 16, 1969.


Nick Ut/AP

Until then, Nixon had resisted bringing the troops home, as did previous presidents: John F. Kennedy adhered to something called the Domino Theory. If the democratic government of South Vietnam were to fall to the Communists, so too, would other Southeast Asian nations. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, went on to send half a million US troops overseas to prevent a Communist victory.

The fighting in Vietnam was filmed and televised like no previous war.

American troops prepare to board ship at Danang in 1970 for trip back to the US under withdrawal orders. Troops are Marines of the 26th Regiment.



TV news — and Walter Cronkite from CBS, for example — took a critical view. In 1968, he called for the US troops to come home.

Women Strike for Peace demonstrators sit in the street at the intersection of Executive and Pennsylvania Avenues outside the White House in Washington, DC, Sept. 20, 1967. Police lined up to limit the number of Vietnam War protesters to 100, while the rest, after some scuffling and pushing, sat down in the street. 



At Woodstock in 1969, Jimi Hendrix captured some of the rage that was tearing the US apart.

Two ammunition men, Spec. 4 Donald Looper 9 of Washington, DC, left, and Spec. 4 Walter Rice of Huntsville, Ala, right, watch helicopters land at landing zone Lassiter in South Vietnam, April 27, 1972, as they listen to President Richard Nixon's speech on troop withdrawals on radio. Both men are attached to the 1st Cavalry Division.


Koichiro Morita/AP

The public was torn by news of the My Lai Massacre — the mass murder of South Vietnamese civilians by American troops — the 1970 Kent State shootings at an antiwar protest, revelations from the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and media images of soldiers' coffins being unloaded from US military planes.

A GI gets a closeup photo as President Nixon meets with troops of the 1st Infantry Division at Di An, 12 miles northeast of Saigon, on his eighth visit to South Vietnam and his first as president, July 30, 1969. During his stopover, Nixon also met with Nguyen Van Thieu, the South Vietnamese president, to discuss US troop withdrawals and with senior military commanders to review tactics in the Vietnam War.


Bob Daugherty/AP

Nixon, and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger expanded the war, while pushing a diplomatic initiative to end it.

Anti-war leaders meet in Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, Feb. 8, 1971, to discuss their news conference and plans for rallies to protest the South Vietnamese incursion into Laos. From left are David Dellinger, David Ifshin and Rennie Davis. 


Bob Daugherty/AP

That happened in 1975, when South Vietnam fell to the North, and Saigon was renamed in honor of the Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh.

US Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, carry one of their dead to an evacuation helicopter on June 25, 1969, after engaging a North Vietnamese unit in the hills near the Laotian Border south of Khe Sanh in South Vietnam. The Marines are among the first troops scheduled to return home in the first major troop withdrawal by the US.



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