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April 30, 1975: South Vietnam government falls to the Communist Viet Cong

The following events occurred in April 1975:


April 1, 1975 (Tuesday)Edit

April 2, 1975 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The CN Tower was topped off at 1,185.4 feet or 553.33 meters in height, as the last section was put into place by a helicopter, making the building the largest free-standing structure in the world. The Tower would open on June 26, 1976.[3]
  • A bus, carrying French pilgrims on its way back from Notre Dame de la Salette to Loiret, lost its brakes, then plunged 80 feet into a ravine near Vizille, killing 27 people.[4]
  • Born: Adam Rodríguez, American TV actor (Eric Delko on CSI: Miami) in Yonkers, New York
  • Died: Dong Biwu, 89 Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China since 1959

April 3, 1975 (Thursday)Edit

  • Bobby Fischer refused to play in a chess match against Anatoly Karpov in Manila, turning down a chance to receive at least $1,500,000 and becoming the first world chess champion to voluntarily give up his title. At Amsterdam, the FIDE voted to award the title to Karpov the world chess championship title. Fischer had not defended the title since winning it in 1972, and Karpov became the new champ "without moving a pawn".[5]
  • At the request of John Gunther Dean, the American ambassador to Cambodia, U.S. President Ford ordered the evacuation of all Americans from Phnom Penh.[6]
  • Israel and South Africa signed SECMENT, a secret mutual defense agreement, following a meeting in Jerusalem between the defense ministers, P. W. Botha of South Africa and Shimon Peres of Israel.[7]
  • Born:
  • Died: Mary Ure, 42, Scottish film actress and wife of actor Robert Shaw, died of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates.

April 4, 1975 (Friday)Edit

April 5, 1975 (Saturday)Edit

April 6, 1975 (Sunday)Edit

April 7, 1975 (Monday)Edit

April 8, 1975 (Tuesday)Edit

April 9, 1975 (Wednesday)Edit

April 10, 1975 (Thursday)Edit

  • The legislature for the Kingdom of Sikkim, located in the Himalayan Mountains, voted to abolish the monarchy and to make the nation one of the states of India.[26]
  • Lee Elder became the first African-American golfer to play in the Masters' Tournament [27]
  • Born: Matthew Phillips, New Zealand native who later became a player for the Italian national rugby union team; in Kaitaia
  • Died:

April 11, 1975 (Friday)Edit

April 12, 1975 (Saturday)Edit

  • Operation Eagle Pull started as the United States closed its embassy in Cambodia, and began the evacuation of all American citizens. American military helicopters from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock, and 180 U.S. Marines from the amphibious assault ship USS Okinawa, arrived at Phnom Penh. There was no interference from the Khmer Rouge during the rescue.[29]
  • Died: Josephine Baker, 68, African-American dancer who attained fame in France and then worldwide

April 13, 1975 (Sunday)Edit

  • In Lebanon, snipers of the Christian Phalangist Kataeb militia attacked a bus carrying Muslim Palestinians to the inauguration of a new mosque in the Beirut suburb of Ain El Remmeneh, killing 27 and wounding 18.[30] The attack, which came soon after an assassination attempt against Phalangist leader Pierre Gemayel that killed four of his bodyguards, triggered a new civil war that would last for more than 15 years.[31]
  • Chadian coup of 1975: François (Ngarta) Tombalbaye, 56, who had been President of Chad since 1960, was assassinated in a coup d'état by soldiers led by General Félix Malloum.
  • The first victim of the Trash Bag Murders was found in California near San Juan Capistrano, and identified as 21-year-old Albert Rivera. The murders would continue until March 13, 1977, when a 17-year-old boy disappeared after meeting a friend identified as David Hill. Hill and his roommate, Patrick Kearney, would turn themselves into the Riverside County Sheriff on July 1, 1977. Kearney would confess to 28 murders, dating back to 1968, while Hill would plead guilty to three.[32]
  • Born: Bruce Dyer, English footballer who became the first "£1 million-teenager" in 1994, for Crystal Palace; in Ilford
  • Died: Larry Parks, 60, American film actor nominated for an Oscar in 1946, and blacklisted in 1951

April 14, 1975 (Monday)Edit

  • "No-frills service" began for airline passengers in the United States, as National Airlines began offering a 35 percent discount off the air fare for passengers who were willing to give up airline food and drink service. Four other airlines-- American, Continental, Eastern and Delta began offering discount service the same day. All five had obtained permission from the Civil Aeronautics Board.[33]
  • The Federal Election Commission, created on October 15, 1974, began operations with the swearing in of six commissioners by U.S. President Ford.[34]
  • Voters in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim overwhelmingly approved abolishing that nation's monarchy and merging with neighboring India. The final result was 59,637 in favor and only 1,496 against.[35]
  • A Chorus Line, which would go on to become a long running Broadway musical, was first performed, at the New York Shakespeare Festival.[36]
  • Born:
  • Died:
    • Fredric March, 77, American film actor, Academy Award winner for Best Actor in 1932 and 1946
    • Clyde Tolson, 74, Associate Director of the FBI, second only to J. Edgar Hoover

April 15, 1975 (Tuesday)Edit

  • Karen Ann Quinlan, 21, collapsed after drinking several gin and tonics in addition to having already taken the tranquilizers Valium and Darvon.[37] She would become the subject of a landmark case in the "right to die" movement, In re Quinlan. After a Massachusetts court ruled that a person could be taken off life support in cases where there was no prospect of recovery, she would be removed from the respirator on May 22, 1976. To the surprise of most people, Quinlan was able to breathe on her own, and would live, comatose, for another nine years. She would die on June 11, 1985, at the age of 31.[38]
  • The leftist government of Portugal nationalized most of that nation's basic industries and began a land reform program.[39]
  • Born: Paul Dana, American race car driver, in St. Louis (killed in racing accident, 2006)
  • Died: Richard Conte, 65, American actor

April 16, 1975 (Wednesday)Edit

April 17, 1975 (Thursday)Edit

  • The Cambodian Civil War came to an end when the government of Cambodia surrendered at 7:00 in the morning to the Khmer Rouge guerrillas when they captured Phnom Penh.[42] That evening, sound trucks operated by the new regime began warning Pnompenh residents of an imminent bombing attack and directing them to flee the city into the countryside.[43]
  • Former U.S. Treasury Secretary John B. Connally was acquitted of all charges by a federal jury in a bribery trial in Washington. Connally, who had been wounded during the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, then later switched from the Democrats to the Republicans, had been under consideration by Richard M. Nixon as successor to Vice-President Agnew in 1973, but was bypassed in favor of Gerald Ford, who became President upon Nixon's resignation.[44]
  • Born: Lee Hyun-il, South Korean badminton player, in Seoul
  • Died:
    • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, 86, President of India from 1962 to 1967
    • Long Boret, 42, Prime Minister of Cambodia since 1973, was executed by the Khmer Rouge shortly after surrendering. Long Boret and Sisowath Sirik Matak were the only two of the seven "supertraitors" designated by the Khmer Rouge for trial and execution, and had remained in Cambodia despite being aware of the list. The five who escaped were former President Lon Nol, General Sosthène Fernandez, former Chief of State Cheng Heng, guerrilla chief Son Ngoc Thanh, and former premier In Tam.[45]

April 18, 1975 (Friday)Edit

April 19, 1975 (Saturday)Edit

April 20, 1975 (Sunday)Edit

April 21, 1975 (Monday)Edit

  • South Vietnam's President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu resigns and flees the country to Taiwan five days later. After going to Thailand, Thiệu, who was succeeded by Vice-President Trần Văn Hương, moved to London. He would pass away in Newton, Massachusetts, on September 29, 2001.[52]
  • The CBU-55, at the time what was described as "the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal", was used in combat for the first and only time. A Republic of Vietnam Air Force C-130 dropped the fuel bomb, which consumed all oxygen within a radius of 70 meters, killing 250 North Vietnamese troops near Xuân Lộc, capital of Bình Tuy Province. Despite a stiff resistance by the south, the province would fall later in the day.[53]
  • Members of the Symbiomese Liberation Army, which had kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, who had been kidnapped on February 4, 1974, robbed a branch of the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California. Unlike previous bank robberies by the SLA, the group killed a bystander. Myrna Opsahl, a 42-year-old mother of four, had been at the bank depositing money collected by her church from the previous day's services.[54] Hearst was identified later as the driver of the getaway car.[55]
  • Died: Sisowath Sirik Matak, 61, former Prime Minister of Cambodia, was executed by the Khmer Rouge after choosing to remain in Cambodia rather than to evacuate.

April 22, 1975 (Tuesday)Edit

April 23, 1975 (Wednesday)Edit

  • Speaking to an audience of students at Tulane University in New Orleans, U.S. President Ford announced that "Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned." [58] Earlier in the day, the U.S. Senate had voted 75-17 to approve $250 million in humanitarian aid and use of U.S. troops to evacuate South Vietnam, but declined to take up Ford's request for any further military aid.[59]
  • Pol Pot, the rarely seen Khmer Rouge commander-in-chief and new leader of Cambodia, arrived at Phnom Penh to begin his revolutionary plans to build Democratic Kampuchea.[60]
  • Born: Olga Kern, Russian classical pianist, as Olga Pushechnikova in Moscow
  • Died: William Hartnell, 67, British actor who had been the first of 13 to portray Doctor Who in the show of the same name, from 1963 to 1966.

April 24, 1975 (Thursday)Edit

  • West German Embassy siege: Six terrorists of the Baader-Meinhof Gang (officially the "Red Army Faction" terrorists took over the West German embassy in Sweden, took 11 hostages, and demanded the release of 26 of the group's jailed members (including Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof). Reversing prior West German policy, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt's government refused to give in to terrorist demands, offering nothing but an opportunity for the group to get away. In response, the group murdered two embassy employees, military attaché Andreas von Mirbach and Heinz Hillegaard. As Swedish commandos were preparing to storm the building, a terrorist bomb detonated, apparently accidentally, destroying the structure and allowing the hostages to escape after the 12-hour siege. Two of the six terrorists were fatally injured by their own bomb, and the others were captured while trying to leave. The event marked the beginning of the decline of domestic terrorism in West Germany.[61]
  • Colorado Attorney General Joyce Murdoch invalidated all six marriage licenses for same-sex marriage that had been issued by Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex since March 26. Rorex had issued the first license to two men after being advised by the District Attorney that nothing in Colorado law prohibited a marriage between two people of the same gender.[62]
  • Died: Pete Ham, 27, Welsh musician who led the group Badfinger, hanged himself.

April 25, 1975 (Friday)Edit

April 26, 1975 (Saturday)Edit

  • Boxer George Foreman, in his first ring appearance since losing the world heavyweight championship to Muhammad Ali (and 19 years away from winning the world title again), fought five different challengers in Toronto as part of a televised exhibition promoted by Don King as "Foreman versus Five".[65] Rather than facing one challenger for 15 rounds, went up to 3 rounds with each fighter. The "Fearsome Fivesome" consisted of Alonzo Johnson, Jerry Judge, Terry Daniels, Charlie Polite, and Boone Kirkman, and each received $7,500 for appearing.[66]

April 27, 1975 (Sunday)Edit

  • Duong Van Minh was unanimously (134-0) elected as President of South Vietnam by the National Assembly, and authorized to negotiate a peace agreement with the Viet Cong and with North Vietnam. "Big Minh" replaced Tran Van Huong, who had refused to step aside after a week as President, the next day.[67][68]
  • Born: Kazuyoshi Funaki, Japanese ski jumper and 1998 Olympic gold medalist; in Yoichi, Hokkaidō
  • Died: John B. McKay, 52, U.S. Air Force test pilot, twelve years after sustaining serious injuries in the November 9, 1962 crash of an X-15 aircraft.

April 28, 1975 (Monday)Edit

  • David Prosser, the lone security guard at Israel's consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, killed three consulate employees, held another 21 people hostage, and wounded 37 people. Although police initially estimated that six terrorists had seized the consulate,[69] Prosser later revealed that he had fired weapons from different windows on the fifth floor, and had spoken to them by radio using different accents.[70] South African police rushed the building after Prosser began firing from the window at crowds outside the building. Prosser, a South African Jew who had fought for Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur, said that he had seized the consulate because he was dissatisfied with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Prosser was captured alive, and later sentenced to 25 years in prison.[71]
  • Died: Hans Heilbronn, 66, German-born Canadian mathematician and co-discoverer of the Deuring–Heilbronn phenomenon

April 29, 1975 (Tuesday)Edit

  • At 11:08am ICT in Saigon (4:08am GMT), the order to carry out Operation Frequent Wind was received, commencing the evacuation of all Americans from South Vietnam, as well as South Vietnamese nationals who might face retaliation. The first wave of helicopters was dispatched from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock at 12:44 pm and landed by 3:00 pm on the grounds of the U.S. Defense Attaché Office compound at Tan Son Nhut Air Base.[72] The signal to report to the evacuation zone came from the Armed Services Radio station in Saigon, which repeatedly played Bing Crosby's song White Christmas until the employees could leave, after which a long tape of John Philip Sousa marches was broadcast; in all, 70 American helicopters evacuated 1,373 Americans, 5,595 South Vietnamese, and 815 foreign nationals in a span of 18 hours.[73]
  • Two U.S. Marines- Corporal Charles McMahon and Lance Corporal Darwin L. Judge - became the last American servicemen to be killed in Vietnam, the victims of a Viet Cong shelling of the air base. Their remains were inadvertently left behind, and would be buried by North Vietnamese at a Saigon cemetery. On February 22, 1976, the bodies of the two servicemen would be released back to American custody.[74]

April 30, 1975 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The Fall of Saigon took place, effectively ending the Vietnam War as a victory for the Communists, at 10:24am local time (0324 UTC) when South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh announced the surrender of the nation to North Vietnamese invaders. "I believe firmly in reconciliation among Vietnamese to avoid unnecessary shedding of the blood of Vietnamese," said Minh. "For this reason, I ask the soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam to cease hostilities in calm and to stay where they are." Shortly after President Minh called for ceasefire, North Vietnamese tanks knock down the Independence Palace gate. The Viet Cong flag was raised over the presidential palace at 12:15 P.M.[75] Duong Van Minh was taken to radio station to announced unconditional surrender. PAVN soldiers and VC soldiers occupied entire Saigon without resistance after 11 A.M. In Can Tho (Phong Dinh Province), where the South Vietnamese forces are intact and situate on dedicate repulsed incoming VC soldiers, there are reportedly number of ARVN soldiers and officers who want to stay on duty and potentially continue to battle at the urban areas after President Duong Van Minh surrendered. But BG Le Van Hung and Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam ordered the remaining ARVN soldiers stationed there in Can Tho to not to continue battle on the evening similar as the siege of An Loc and later disbanded all remaining units. Both ARVN generals in Can Tho committed suicide. ARVN units around Mekong Delta break apart after hearing President Duong Van Minh unconditional surrender.[76] Earlier in the day, U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin was the last American diplomat to leave Saigon, lifting off of the U.S. Embassy roof at 4:58 am, and at 7:52 am USMC Colonel James Kean and ten U.S. Marines boarded an American helicopter and left, ending the U.S. presence in Vietnam.[77] Saigon was renamed "Ho Chi Minh City"; Huỳnh Tấn Phát of North Vietnam would administer the "Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam" as President until July 2, 1976, when the area would be formally incorporated by the North as part of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.[78]
    • Four ARVN generals committed suicide during Black April to avoid of being sentenced to re-education camps. One of the last general, Nguyen Khoa Nam, committed suicide the next morning on May 1, 1975.
  • Born:
  • Died:


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  30. ^ "29 Die in Guerilla, Lebanese Clash", Milwaukee Sentinel, April 12, 1975, p1
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  45. ^ "Cambodia Ex-Premier Arrives In Thailand", Toledo Blade, April 23, 1975, p4
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