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Report Dated April 4, 1975, From President Gerald R. Ford to Hon. Carl Albert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in Compliance With Section 4(a) (2) of the War Powers Resolution, Relative to the Transport of Refugees From Danang
Hon. CARL Albert,
Speaker of the House of Representatives,
(C/O Ambassador Bush).
APRIL 4, 1975.
As you know, last Saturday I directed United States participation in an international humanitarian relief effort to transport refugees from Danang and other seaports to safer areas farther south in Vietnam. The United States has been joined in this humanitarian effort by a number of other countries who are offering people, supplies and vessels to assist in this effort. This effort was undertaken in response to urgent appeals from the Government of the Republic of Vietnam because of the extremely grave nature of the circumstances involving the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees. This situation has been brought about by large-scale violations of the Agreement Ending the War and Restoring the Peace in Vietnam by the North Vietnamese who have been conducting massive attacks on the northern and central provinces of South Vietnam.
In accordance with my desire to keep the Congress fully informed on this matter, and taking note of the provision of section 4(a) (2) of the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), I wish to report to you concerning one aspect of United States participation in the refugee evacuation effort. Because of the large number of refugees and the overwhelming dimensions of the task, I have ordered U.S. Naval vessels to assist in this effort, including Amphibious Task Group 76.8 with 12 embarked helicopters and approximately 700 Marines. These naval vessels have been authorized to approach the coast of South Vietnam to pick up refugees and U.S. nationals, and transport them to safety. Marines are being detailed to vessels participating in the rescue mission. The first vessel entered South Vietnam territorial waters at 0400 a.m. EDT on April 3, 1975.
Although these forces are equipped for combat within the meaning of section 4(a) (2) of Public Law 93-148, their sole mission is to assist in the evacuation including the maintenance of order on board the vessels engaged in that task.
As stated above, the purpose of the introduction of United States Naval vessels into Vietnamese waters is to assist in an international humanitarian effort involving vessels of several nations, including both military and civilian craft. The United States participation in this effort includes the charter of commercial vessels, the use of Military Sealift Command vessels with civilian crews, as well as United States naval vessels with military crews. This effort is being undertaken pursuant to the President's constitutional authority as
Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive in the conduct of foreign relations and pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, which authorizes humanitarian assistance to refugees, civilian war casualties and other persons disadvantaged by hostilities or conditions relating to hostilities in South Vietnam.
You will appreciate, I am sure, my difficulty in telling you precisely how long United States forces may be needed in this effort. Our present estimate, however, is that this operation may involve the presence of United States Naval vessels in Vietnamese waters for a period of at least several weeks.
GERALD R. FORD.
Report Dated April 12, 1975, From President Gerald R Ford to Hon. Carl Albert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in Compliance With Section 4(a)(2) of the War Powers Resolution, Relative to the Evacuation of U.S. Nationals From Cambodia
Hon. CARL ALBERT,
THE WHITE HOUSE, Washington, D.C., April 12, 1975.
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. SPEAKER: As you and other members of Congress were advised, in view of circumstances in Cambodia, the United States had certain contingency plans to utilize United States Armed Forces to assure the safe evacuation of U.S. Nationals from that country. On Friday, 11 April 1975, the Khmer Communists forces had ruptured Government of the Khmer Republic (GKR) defense lines to the north, northwest and east of Phnom Penh and were within mortar range of Pochentong Airfield and the outskirts of Phnom Penh. In view of this deteriorating military situation, and on the recommendations of the American Ambassador there, I ordered U.S. military forces to proceed with the planned evacuation out of consideration for the safety of U.S. citizens.
In accordance with my desire that the Congress be fully informed on this matter, and taking note of Section 4 of the War Powers Resolution (P.L. 93-148), I wish to report to you that the first elements of the U.S. forces entered Cambodian airspace at 8:34 P.M. EDT on 11 April. Military forces included 350 ground combat troops of the U.S. Marines, 36 helicopters, and supporting tactical air and command and control elements. The Marines were deployed from helicopters to assure the security of helicopter landing zone within the city of Phnom Penh. The first helicopter landed at approximately 10:00 P.M. EDT 11 April 1975; and the last evacuees and ground security force Marines departed the Cambodian landing zone at approximately 12:20 A.M. on 12 April 1975. The last elements of the force to leave received hostile recoilless rifle fire. There was no firing by U.S. forces at any time during the operation. No U.S. Armed Forces personnel were killed, wounded or missing, and there were no casualties among the American evacuees.
Although these forces were equipped for combat within the meaning of Section 4(a) (2) of Public Law 93-148, their mission was to effect the evacuation of U.S. Nationals. Present information indicates that a total of 82 U.S. citizens were evacuated and that the task force was also able to accommodate 35 third country nationals and 159 Cambodians including employees of the U.S. Government.
The operation was ordered and conducted pursuant to the President's Constitutional executive power and authority as Commanderin-Chief of U.S. Armed Forces.
I am sure you share with me my pride in the Armed Forces of the United States and my thankfulness that the operation was conducted without incident.
GERALD R. FORD.
Report Dated April 30, 1975, From President Gerald R. Ford to Hon. Carl Albert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in Compliance With Section 4 of the War Powers Resolution, Relative to the Evacuation of U.S. Citizens and Others From South Vietnam
The Honorable the SPEAKER,
THE WHITE HOUSE, Washington, April 30, 1975.
DEAR MR. SPEAKER: On April 4, 1975, I reported that U.S. naval vessels had been ordered to participate in an international humanitarian relief effort to transport refugees and U.S. nationals to safety from Danang and other seaports in South Vietnam. This effort was undertaken in response to urgent appeals from the Government of South Vietnam and in recognition of the large-scale violations by the North Vietnamese of the Agreement Ending the War and restoring the Peace in Vietnam.
In the days and weeks that followed, the massive North Vietnamese attacks continued. As the forces of the Government of South Vietnam were pushed further back toward Saigon, we began a progressive withdrawal of U.S. citizens and their dependents in South Vietnam, together with foreign nationals whose lives were in jeopardy. On April 28, the defensive lines to the northwest and south of Saigon were breached. Tan Son Nhut Airfield and Saigon came under increased rocket attack and for the first time received artillery fire. NVA forces were approaching within mortar and anti-aircraft missile range. The situation at Tan Son Nhut Airfield deteriorated to the extent that it became unusable. Crowd control on the airfield was breaking down and the collapse of the Government forces within Saigon appeared imminent. The situation presented a direct and imminent threat to the remaining U.S. citizens and their dependents in and around Saigon.
On the recommendation of the American Ambassador there, I ordered U.S. military forces to proceed by means of rotary wing aircraft with an emergency final evacuation out of consideration for the safety of U.S. citizens.
In accordance with my desire to keep the Congress fully informed on this matter, and taking note of the provision of section 4 of the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), I wish to report to you that at about 1:00 A.M. EDT, April 29, 1975, U.S. forces entered South Vietnam airspace. A force of 70 evacuation helicopters and 865 Marines evacuated about 1400 U.S. citizens, together with approximately 5500 third country nationals and South Vietnamese, from landing zones in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy, Saigon, and the Defense Attache Office at Tan Son Nhut Airfield. The last elements of the ground security force departed Saigon at 7:46 P.M. EDT
April 29, 1975. Two crew members of a Navy search and rescue helicopter are missing at sea. There are no other known U.S. casualties from this operation, although two U.S. Marines on regular duty in the compound of the Defense Attaché Office at Tan Son Nhut Airfield had been killed on the afternoon (EDT) of April 28, 1975, by rocket attacks into a refugee staging area. U.S. fighter aircraft provided protective air cover for this operation, and for the withdrawal by water of a few Americans from Can Tho, and in one instance suppressed North Vietnamese anti-aircraft artillery firing upon evacuation helicopters as they departed. The ground security forces on occasion returned fire during the course of the evacuation operation. The operation was ordered and conducted pursuant to the President's Constitutional executive power and his authority as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Armed Forces.
The United States Armed Forces performed a very difficult mission most successfully. Their exemplary courage and discipline are deserving of the nation's highest gratitude.
GERALD R. FORD.