U.S. involvement in Vietnam was never popular with the American people. Massive protests—like this one in Washington, D.C., on 21 October 1967—seemed to make little difference to government decision-makers. A 9-point cease-fire agreement formally ended the fighting for Americans during January of 1973. Warren K. Leffler took this photo; it is online (with no known restrictions) via the Library of Congress.


The American plan had always called for U.S. advisors to train South Vietnamese military to fight their own war with the North. That process was called "Vietnamization." (Scroll down 50% to view the details.)  It intensified during 1969.

Even so, the fighting continued:

  • MedEvac helicopter near the demilitarized zone ("DMZ") recovers a wounded member of the 101st Airborne Division.
  • Marines are dropped into 5-foot-high elephant grass.
  • Worn-out combat boots reveal the effort of one soldier.
  • When Major Kuster encountered a North Vietnamese MiG, he fired his 20mm cannon at point-blank range. He hit the left wing of the MiG near the fuselage. The major, and his F-105, passed 15-20 feet below the flaming MiG.
  • Americans dropped leaflets urging guerillas and North Vietnamese people to defect to the South.
  • Some of the leaflets provided a Safe Conduct Pass for defecting Viet Cong.

American troops were leaving Vietnam during 1971. The fighting continued, although it was not as intense. Despite the U.S. "wind down," North Vietnam launched a major offensive into South Vietnam during 1972. The United States broke off peace discussions as a direct result.

Later in the year, President Nixon made one of his most controversial decisions as commander in chief. Deciding to literally bomb North Vietnam back to the negotiating table, Nixon ordered the heaviest bombing of the war to take place in Hanoi and Haiphong. The North agreed to resume peace talks on December 19, 1972.

One month later, in Paris, both sides agreed to a 9-point cease fire. President Nixon made the announcement on January 23, 1973. One month later, some very happy American prisoners of war returned home.

Although the long and deadly struggle was over for the United States, it wasn't finished for the people of South Vietnam.

The fall of Saigon was barely two years off.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Dec 15, 2017

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"AMERICANS LEAVE" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2001. Jun 02, 2020.
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