United States Ambassador to South Vietnam

At the end of World War II in Asia, France attempted to regain control of Vietnam, as part of French Indochina, which it had lost to Japan in 1941. Following the First Indochina War, the country was split into two parts, the North and the South. The southern part was named the State of Vietnam under the leadership of Bảo Đại. In 1950, the United States recognized the Bảo Đại government, established diplomatic relations, and sent its first ambassador to Saigon in South Vietnam, officially known as the Republic of Vietnam following the rise of Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955. The US was opposed to the communist government of the North, led by Hồ Chí Minh, and did not recognize the northern regime.

Ambassador of the United States to South Vietnam
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg
Seal of the United States Department of State
NominatorThe President of the United States
Inaugural holderDonald R. Heath
as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
FormationJune 29, 1950
Final holderGraham A. Martin
AbolishedApril 29, 1975

Following the Vietnam War, the US Embassy in Saigon was closed and all Embassy personnel evacuated on April 29, 1975, just prior to the Fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese and Việt Cộng forces.


U.S. diplomatic terms

Career FSO
After 1915, The United States Department of State began classifying ambassadors as career Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) for those who have served in the Foreign Service for a specified amount of time.

Political appointee
A person who is not a career foreign service officer, but is appointed by the president (often as a reward to political friends).

The date that the ambassador took the oath of office; also known as “commissioning”. It follows confirmation of a presidential appointment by the Senate, or a Congressional recess appointment by the president. In the case of a recess appointment, the ambassador requires subsequent confirmation by the Senate to remain in office.

Presented credentials
The date that the ambassador presented his letter of credence to the head of state or appropriate authority of the receiving nation. At this time the ambassador officially becomes the representative of his country. This would normally occur a short time after the ambassador’s arrival on station. The host nation may reject the ambassador by not receiving the ambassador’s letter, but this occurs only rarely.

Terminated mission
Usually the date that the ambassador left the country. In some cases a letter of recall is presented, ending the ambassador’s commission, either as a means of diplomatic protest or because the diplomat is being reassigned elsewhere and replaced by another envoy.

Chargé d'affaires
The person in charge of the business of the embassy when there is no ambassador commissioned to the host country.

Ad interim
Latin phrase meaning "for the time being", "in the meantime".
Portrait Name Type Title Appointed Presented credentials Terminated mission
  Donald R. Heath[1] Career FSO EE/MP June 29, 1950 October 22, 1950 June 25, 1952[2]
  Donald R. Heath Career FSO AE/P June 25, 1952[3] July 11, 1952 November 14, 1954
  G. Frederick Reinhardt Career FSO AE/P April 20, 1955 May 28, 1955[4] February 10, 1957
  Elbridge Durbrow Career FSO AE/P March 14, 1957 April 16, 1957 May 3, 1961
  Frederick E. Nolting Jr. Career FSO AE/P March 15, 1961 May 10, 1961 August 15, 1963
  Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Political appointee AE/P August 1, 1963 August 26, 1963 June 28, 1964
  Maxwell D. Taylor Political appointee AE/P July 1, 1964 July 14, 1964 July 30, 1965
  Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Political appointee AE/P July 31, 1965 August 25, 1965 April 25, 1967
  Ellsworth F. Bunker Political appointee AE/P April 5, 1967 April 28, 1967 May 11, 1973
  Graham A. Martin Career FSO AE/P June 21, 1973 July 20, 1973 April 29, 1975

Deputy AmbassadorsEdit

Portrait Name Start date End date
  U. Alexis Johnson June 1964 September 1965
  William J. Porter September 1965 May 1967
  Eugene M. Locke May 1967 January 1968
  Samuel D. Berger March 1968 March 1972
  Charles S. Whitehouse March 1972 August 1973


  1. ^ Heath was also accredited to Cambodia and Laos but resident at Saigon.
  2. ^ Promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
  3. ^ Edmund A. Gullion was serving as Chargé d'affaires ad interim when the Legation in Saigon was raised to Embassy status on Jun 25, 1952.
  4. ^ Reinhardt was reaccredited when South Vietnam became a republic; presented new credentials on February 24, 1956.