* Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.

Although the last U.S. ground troops left Vietnam in 1973, the war did not end until Saigon fell in 1975. Although the new communist regime promised a peaceful takeover, chaos reigned as South Vietnamese refugees scrambled to escape the country. Two excerpts from The Post of May 1, 1975:

From News Dispatches

SAIGON, April 30 --

The Vietcong proclaimed the "total liberation" of Saigon yesterday, accepted the surrender of South Vietnam's two-day President Duong Van (Big) Minh and announced that the capital will be be renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the "father of the Vietnamese nation."

As the announcement was made, the flag of the Vietcong's Provisional Revolutionary Government, red and blue with a gold star in the center, flew over the captured presidential palace. Loudspeakers advised Saigon residents, "Do not worry, you will be well treated."

Radio Hanoi said Vietcong troops were ordered to protect the lives and property of the South Vietnamese and foreigners and "not to lay hands on even a needle or thread of the people."

The first conquerers seen entering the center of Saigon were a jeepload of barefoot, teen-age guerrillas, followed in a few minutes by soldiers, perhaps North Vietnamese regulars in jungle fatigues and carrying rifles and grenade launchers.

Some of the tank crews called out "Hello, Comrades," to onlookers. Some Saigon residents waved back. Others stayed silent in doorways, watching.

In Paris, the new government's representatives said the PRG plans to follow a nonaligned foreign policy and that it is ready to have diplomatic relations with all countries, regardless of their character. However, the Vietcong announced that as of 1 a.m. Thursday the PRG would break off diplomatic relations with all governments friendly to the Saigon regime.

There were pockets of resistance in the capital, and a Vietcong broadcast acknowledged that several of South Vietnam's western provinces had not yet been taken, but after more than a century of French colonialism, Japanese occupation and American intervention, the Indochina peninsula was free of foreign intervention. Those still fighting, on both sides, were all Vietnamese.

By Michael Getler

Washington Post Staff Writer

A strongly worded cable from Washington Tuesday afternoon to U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin in Saigon warned the ambassador that President Ford was becoming irritated with the slow pace at which Americans, in comparison to South Vietnamese, were being evacuated by helicopter from the besieged capital.

The message, sent after U.S. Marine and Air Force helicopter pilots had already been through some 12 hours of arduous flying, "left very little to the imagination," according to one senior administration official.

In Washington there were growing fears of a last-minute disaster as helicopter crews grew weary after flying many more hours than planned, the level of ground fire at the rescue choppers increased, and crowds around the embassy tried to claw their way in.

The cable, in effect, forced Martin to stop loading so many Vietnamese and to get the remaining Americans out fast. It limited the number of helicopter flights that would be sent into the embassy area from carriers off-shore and politely suggested to the ambassador that he be on one of those.

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