Vietnam: On the Frontlines | 2000

Documentary, Historical
A look at the Vietnam War told from a soldier's perspective. Over 50 Vietnam veterans are joined by CBS News reporters and cameramen who covered the war as well as military historians to provide a soldier's-eye view of ...more

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Synopsis

A look at the Vietnam War told from a soldier's perspective. Over 50 Vietnam veterans are joined by CBS News reporters and cameramen who covered the war as well as military historians to provide a soldier's-eye view of the key battles and events of the Vietnam War.

In late 1965, the U.S. enters the war full time. From the beginning, President Johnson dictates that it is to be a limited war. As a result, there would be no big battles like D-Day, but a series of inconclusive bloody skirmishes in places with names like Dak To, Con Thein, Khe Sahn and the Ia Drang Valley.

In 1967, the Vietnamese change their strategy and shift from guerrilla warfare in the jungles to a more conventional kind of warfare fought in the cities. In January 1968, North Vietnam launches the Tet Offensive, a series of deadly attacks that strikes at the heart of South Vietnamese cities. Nowhere was the battle fought as strongly as in Saigon and Hue.

President Nixon calls for "peace with honor," but the withdrawal is long and slow. Beginning in 1969, Nixon begins turning over more of the fighting to the South Vietnamese, yet in 1970, he orders the invasion of Cambodia. By 1972, there are so few U.S. troops left that the North Vietnamese go for broke in the Easter offensive. Massive U.S. air and naval bombardment become the only ways to drive them out of South Vietnam.

The final American evacuation of Saigon takes place in April 1975. In the largest U.S. helicopter rescue in history, U.S. Marines pluck American and South Vietnamese off roof tops as the North Vietnamese stand poised to take the city. After the American departure, the North Vietnamese know that there would be no Americans to aid South Vietnam, and victory is at hand.

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