The Fall of Saigon | A Soldier’s Perspective

Vietnam War veteran Caesar Smith describes his feelings regarding the U.S. retreat after the fall of Saigon. Smith was a career military officer who served two tours in Vietnam. This segment is from Iowa Experience: Vietnam, a panel discussion recorded at Iowa PBS in Johnston, IA on September 10, 2017.


Caesar Smith: I wish I could tell you exactly what I was feeling at the time.

Dean Borg, Moderator: Why can't you?

Caesar Smith: It's hard to draw, go back to -- I was home, I was watching it on television like everyone else at that time, I came back in '69. And after I got back and I looked back at everything that had happened I knew we were about ready to cash in and get on out of there. And the fact that it was happening after everything had been done I had an emotion of I'm glad we're not going to lose any more of our soldiers over there, but at the same time this is a terrible way to have to leave the country.

Dean Borg: You were saying really, let's cut our losses.

Caesar Smith: Well, yeah.

Dean Borg: Cut bait and get out.

Caesar Smith: If you're going to go, go and the longer you wait and you know that the North Vietnam Army is going to keep coming forward, you're either going to have to fight and fight, they weren't going to stop fighting and let you plan for the next year to strategically withdraw. That wasn't going to happen. We knew that wasn't going to happen, at least I don't think it was going to happen. They were going to continue to fight and push so we had to make a decision and make it and get out. Now remember, I was just a lonely little soldier. All the things that was going on the political side of the war I have no idea why they said get out and get out now. But if we had decided to go we had to go and there was no easy way out.

©2017 Iowa PBS


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