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Three Marines would serve in this capacity before the final chapter of the Vietnamese Marine Corps came to a close. It met its end with two of its brigades, 147 and 468, deployed northeast of Saigon in blocking positions, while its headquarters element and an undersized battalion remained at Vung Tau. Only the officers and men of the headquarters unit escaped capture as they and their dependents evacuated by air in the last days of the republic. On 30 April 1975, after President Duong Van Minh surrendered to the Communists and ordered his soldiers to lay down their arms, the Vietnamese Marines marched from their positions near Long Binh to their base camp at Song Thon. After arriving there the battalion commanders and their men changed into civilian clothes and began to exit the base. As this was occurring, the invading NVA entered Song Than and rounded up the officers, taking them prisoner. The capture of these officers ended the proud history of the VNMC and for them it began a new life in North Vietnamese reeducation camps, some of the same camps occupied earlier in the war by many of the 47 U.S. Marine Corps prisoners of war.


The war was costly to the U.S. Marine Corps. From 1965 through 1975, an estimated 730,000 men and women served m the Marine Corps; approximately 500,000 of that number served in Vietnam. The Marines sustained casualties of more than 13,000 killed in action and 88,630 wounded, nearly a third of all American casualties in the war.


Would a strategy of pacification as Marine commanders advocated early on, rather than a strategy of attrition as followed by ComUSMACV, have made for a different outcome? Was a direct amphibious assault against North Vietnam possible without leading to a larger conflagration? Could the United States have occupied Laos and Cambodia and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail without bringing in China? Was there a way for civilian and military poltcymakers to have better explained the war to the American people? Should we have gone into Vietnam in the first place? These are the unresolved questions about America's longest war.





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