April 30--Liberation Day
Trip Start Apr 15, 2012
24Trip End Jun 06, 2012
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On this day in 1975, NVA tanks breached the walls of the Palace of the President of then South Vietnam. WM read an interesting interview with the tank commander (tank 843)
Guy was a rural Northern peasant farmer who joined the army. The offensive was moving faster than expected. He and another tank were in downtown Saigon and encountered no resistance, so the two of them--excited young guys-- decided to take the palace, which was the seat of government of the enemy.
Neither of these guys had ever been to Saigon and they got lost. They saw a woman and asked her for directions to the palace
When they crashed the gates, the commander of 843 jumped out of his tank because it got stuck. He charged the building with no weapon, carrying only a flag to raise over the building. The other commander jumped out of his tank carrying a submachine gun and ran in. They met no resistance.
The Cabinet was assembled in the basement bomb shelter. The Lt. was met by a minister at the entrance. He demanded to be taken to the President.
The President said "We are prepared to hand over power to you".
This Young Peasant Lieutenant replied "You cannot surrender that which is not yours."
The President ordered a staff to escort the Lt. to the roof to raise the flag. When they walked to the elevator the Lt. balked. "Why are you trying to put me in this box?",he asked.
He had never seen an elevator, and demanded to be shown to the stairway.
This Lt. is retired and now farms shrimp.
The palace is maintained as they found it that day, kind like a Vietnamese Graceland.