As North Vietnamese tanks and infantry continue to push the remnants of South Vietnam’s 22nd Division and waves of civilian refugees from the Quang Ngai Province, the South Vietnamese Navy begins to evacuate soldiers and civilians by sea from Qui Nhon. Shortly thereafter, the South Vietnamese abandoned Tuy Hoa and Nha Trang, leaving the North Vietnamese in control of more than half of South Vietnam’s territory. During the first week in April, communist forces attacking from the south pushed into Long An Province, just south of Saigon, threatening to cut Highway 4, Saigon’s main link with the Mekong Delta, which would have precluded reinforcements from being moved north to assist in the coming battle for Saigon.
This action was part of the North Vietnamese general offensive launched in late January 1975, just two years after the cease-fire had been established by the Paris Peace Accords. The initial objective of this campaign was the capture of Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The battle began on March 4 with the North Vietnamese quickly encircling the city. As it became clear that the communists would take the city and probably the entire Darlac province, South Vietnamese president Thieu decided to protect the more critical populous areas. He ordered his forces in the Central Highlands to pull back from their positions. Abandoning Pleiku and Kontum, the South Vietnamese forces began to move toward the sea, but what started out as an orderly withdrawal soon turned into panic. The South Vietnamese forces rapidly fell apart. The North Vietnamese pressed the attack and were quickly successful in both the Central Highlands and farther north at Quang Tri, Hue and Da Nang. The South Vietnamese soon collapsed as a cogent fighting force and the North Vietnamese continued the attack all the way to Saigon. The South Vietnamese surrendered unconditionally on April 30.
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