A Salute to All Who Served During Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind
Operation Eagle Pull was the United States military evacuation by air of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 12 April 1975.
At the beginning of April 1975, Phnom Penh, one of the last remaining strongholds of the Khmer Republic, was surrounded by the Khmer Rouge and totally dependent on aerial resupply through Pochentong Airport. With a Khmer Rouge victory imminent, the US government made contingency plans for the evacuation of US nationals and allied Cambodians by helicopter to ships in the Gulf of Thailand. Operation Eagle Pull took place on the morning of 12 April 1975 and was a tactical success carried out without any loss of life.
Five days later the Khmer Republic collapsed and the Khmer Rouge occupied Phnom Penh.
Operation Frequent Wind was the final phase in the evacuation of American civilians and “at-risk” Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam prior to the takeover of the city by the North Vietnamese Army (PAVN) in the Fall of Saigon. It was carried out on 29–30 April 1975, during the last days of the Vietnam War. More than 7,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from various points in Saigon. The airlift resulted in a number of enduring images.
Evacuation plans already existed as a standard procedure for American embassies. At the beginning of March, fixed-wing aircraft began evacuating civilians from Tan Son Nhat Airport through neighboring countries. By mid-April, contingency plans were in place and preparations were underway for a possible helicopter evacuation. As the imminent collapse of Saigon became evident, Task Force 76 was assembled off the coast near Vũng Tàu to support a helicopter evacuation and provide air support if required. In the event, air support was not needed as the North Vietnamese paused for a week at the outskirts of Saigon, possibly waiting for the South Vietnamese government to collapse and avoiding a possible confrontation with the U.S. by allowing the mostly-unopposed evacuation of Americans from Saigon.
I served as a DINFOS trained Journalist, PO3, aboard the USS Okinawa 1973-1975.
Time for reflections on this time of my life.
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